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Monday, February 11, 2013

What to Do When You Have a Bad Seminary Teacher

Dear Bro. Jo,

I am currently having issues with my seminary teacher. Many students had told me that they didn’t like him, but I tried to go into the class with an open mind. I feel like he teaches opinion and not gospel fact. And today just put me over the edge.

Today he had me and another student teach a lesson on Obadiah.

Well my partner had been sick every day that we were supposed to prepare, so I prepared the whole lesson thinking it was supposed to be 5 minutes (it was supposed to be 15) well my partner shows up today and I teach the whole lesson without her help.

Overall we got a B- grade on our presentation because the class was non-responsive (our class only has about 10 members) I thought our lesson was good considering she didn't help me at all.

Well after our lesson my teacher decided that he would allow everyone to take a nap, and then he let us out of class without a closing prayer. I brought up the fact we didn't pray and he told me 'I did that on purpose. We didn't learn anything today so there is no point on saying a closing prayer.'

Truth be told I was offended considering I spent time on the lesson. I don't know what to do because our last quarter of school is almost over, but I have no desire to go back to seminary.

I don't want to be in his class, I don't want to hear opinion.

Any suggestions of how I can improve my attitude Or what I can do?


I appreciate everything you do!

- Sick of Opinion

PS:  Oh I should also add that I am having a hard time feeling the spirit in his class. I am open to the spirit and I feelthe spirit other places, just not in seminary.

Thanks again - s.o.o

Dear S.O.O,

When we don't like someone, that's our problem, not their problem.

Even the most obnoxious and annoying people still have some redeeming qualities. Often we see what we choose to see.

This guy may deserve your frustration, but how is he supposed to overcome that?


I'll bet he has no idea how you feel, and No, being difficult in class isn't going to "give him a clue".

You'll have to talk to him, tell him how you feel, and give him a chance to explain why he is the way he is. 

You may not like what he has to say, but at least if you're open to his feelings you'll learn something about the guy.

Look, I agree that based on what you've shared I'm not a huge fan of this guy, but school, even Seminary, isn't just about the subject matter being taught; often the most important things we learn in school have more to do with learning how to understand people a little bit better.

Why does this person act that way?

What is it that a particular teacher expects?

The bottom line here, is, that you may have to be the bigger person.

Even though you're the kid and he's the adult, you may have to be the one that makes the first step towards reconciliation. But, perhaps most importantly, is that you learn this lesson: Never Let Anyone Keep You from Doing What's Right.

There will always be someone, in Seminary, at Church or even at work that may drive you crazy; don't use them as an excuse to stop going, to stop learning, to stop improving.

If you quit going to seminary the one who will lose out the most . . . is you.

And let's face it; it's not that he's expressing opinion, it's that you Don't Agree with the opinions he's expressing, right?

Because, again seriously, how is anyone supposed to teach any subject without opinion and perspective?

If you've ever been in one of those classes, you'll agree that they're dreadfully boring. 

Finally, let me say this: I agree that there are lots of terrible teachers in the world, professional and otherwise.

Heck, in every class I teach at the local university there are at least a couple students that think I'm awful; I try to be open to what they have to say, even though 95% of the rest of the class is very complimentary. 

Sure, usually these are students that aren't putting in any effort, but I never know when one of them might spark a good idea or have a valid point.

But if this guy truly is bad, and you talk to him and get nowhere (or it gets worse) then you should tell someone.

Don't be vindictive or spiteful, but let his supervisor (and your parents) know of your struggles and the effort you've made to try to overcome them. It's always possible that he needs to be in a different profession.

Best of luck, and please let me know what you decide to do and how it all turns out.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I will talk to him on Tuesday.

I told my patents about my struggles in his class and how my class only has about 7 attending students including me. My father called the supervisor and we are going to talk tomorrow.

I understand how I might have to be the bigger person, and just to clarify I would never drop out of seminary considering it is my favorite class. I was planning on changing to a teacher I have had before and in whose class I have had the most spiritual growth do far.

I agree that without opinion class is boring, but he teaches his opinion as gospel truth. If we (any class member) tries to express our opinion most of the time it us shot down as false, and he proceeds to tell is his is fact (he then can't prove it if we ask for proof).

Also in his class I feel I get a more spiritual lesson by indexing then by listening (I do listen to the lesson until we have about 15 minutes left of class and if I feel I need a bit of a spiritual uplift, I index the rest of the class.)

I know that this class has been a challenge for me, it really makes me question what is true and not.

Thanks for your advice!

-  S.O.O.

PS: I could never imagine you being a bad teacher.

Dear S.O.O,

That's very sweet to say, but trust me, not everyone would agree with you.

It definitely sounds like the talk you and your father are going to have is a good idea. I hope it's productive for all.

Even Seminary Teachers can improve!

I'm glad you're sticking with it.  Switching to another instructor may just be the thing to do.

I hope your conversation goes well,

 - Bro Jo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is just what I needed. I used to love going to seminary, but this year (my last year) there are some people in the class that I really don't like and the dynamic doesn't feel that great. I don't have a problem with my teacher like the person who wrote this letter, but I've found that I really have no desire to go anymore beyond a feeling that I'm supposed to. Last year I had perfect attendance... this year not so much.