With a new semester in full swing, I have done a great deal of preparation for my classes. This first week, I have mentally and digitally mapped out how, when, where, with whom, and what I am going to study. But all of that planning was rather superficial, or better said, there was no depth in my preparation. Now, there's nothing wrong with that; making a schedule and seeing what resources to use and such for a course is something I would recommend. But this week I was reminded that I should spiritually prepare myself for school as well, as odd as it sounds. Let me explain.
In my biology class, my professor introduced the course by explaining the effectiveness of inquiry learning, which obviously involves much more student interaction and critical thinking than a traditional lecture does. Then she showed some studies done between a couple of groups: community college students taking Bio 100, BYU students not majoring in biology taking Bio 100, and Bio majors taking Bio 130. Each group of students was given a pre-test before any material was taught. Obviously, the Bio 130 students did significantly better than the other two groups. However, after given the course, using inquiry learning, a test was given and both groups in the Bio 100 class improved greatly compared to the pre-test. Actually, they had better scores than the Bio 130 students, who did not improve significantly. Now, I don't think the reason why he presented this study to us was to talk about inquiry learning, but to talk about humility and willingness to learn. He pointed out that many Bio 130 students already knew quite a bit about biology and thought they knew everything, and so they would not pay attention in lectures or study as much. The Bio 100 groups didn't know half to nothing, but they were also very eager to learn in the setting of inquiry learning (maybe they wouldn't have been in a traditional lecture setting and for that reason inquiry learning was an important factor in the study). So his final points were, in fact, humility and desire. That reminded me of two scriptures that I pondered over today:
9 ¶Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
2 Nephi 28:
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
These scriptures reminded me of a couple of principles:
1. The Lord loves to teach the humble. The imagery that Isaiah gives of a child "weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts" is to demonstrate that principle.
2. We learn things bit by bit, little by little, not everything at once.
3. Those that heed the Lord and listen to his council will receive more knowledge and understanding, while those that are prideful and don't look to the Lord will not gain knowledge, and even lose what they had. I saw this in the study that my Bio professor presented. The Bio 130 students learned very little, shown by poorer test scores and a smaller improvement gap than the Bio 100 classes.
There's one more principle that goes with all this. In my religion class, we were discussing Moses' encounter with Satan, and how he tried to cast him off. Moses tries 3 times to cast Satan off, saying "Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not", "Depart hence, Satan.", and "Depart from me, Satan" (Moses 1, verses 16, 18, and 20 respectively). Unsuccessful, Moses fears for his life while Satan is ranting and screaming. Finally, Moses declares: " In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan." (v. 21). Satan then left, and our professor taught us that it was because only Christ has total power to cast off the devil. He explained that it is part of Heavenly Father's plan that we are not capable to do all things on out own, but that through Christ we can do all things that strengthen us (Philippians 4:13). We are supposed to use our agency to follow Christ, and have faith that he will deliver us from whatever trials or vices we may be facing.
I am glad I was able to come across these lessons this week. We can be more successful students and happier people by following these principles. Let me reiterate them:
1. Be humble.
2. Have a desire to learn.
3. Realize that we can't do everything, but Christ can, and he will empower us according to our faith.
I hope that this helps whoever might be reading this, especially if you are a student.