Self-Guided Teaching and Learning in the Family

October 4, 2012 – Continuing my posts about family and home, I return to the Book of Mormon record to review the example set forth by Lehi and his children. During their temporary stay in a valley referred to in the record as the Valley of Lemuel (thus named by Lehi, after one of his sons), Lehi expounded his prophecies and revelations to his family, testifying to them of the Lord’s current and future work and His (the Lord’s) mission on earth (see 1 Nephi 10:2-16).

I find it interesting that only one of his children, Nephi, thereafter took responsibility to act in the learning process, demonstrating a level of learning that few seem to desire, let alone seek after. Nephi wrote, “after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father … was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto those who diligently seek him. … For it came to pass, after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 10:17; 11:1.) What followed was a glorious, agency-initiated learning experience.

It is apparent from later chapters that Lehi’s teachings generated a great deal of discussion in the family (see 1 Nephi 15:1-3, 8-9), but that discussion had taken the form of contention, confusion, and doubt, all of which indicate a lack of agency and faith-based learning in spiritual things.

I have a few questions that I’m pondering after reading this chapter:

  • How typical is Lehi’s experience wherein only one of his children choose to personally act in faith in the learning process? (By the way, from the record, we can tell that Lehi had at least six children at this point.)
  • How many parents/teachers do/have witnessed similar outcomes, statistically speaking, and why?
  • Why did Nephi feel a desire to learn more (and personally own that knowledge)?
  • As a parent/teacher, what do I do for the other five who, presumably, don’t take responsibility to act for themselves in the learning process and/or didn’t adhere to the principles of gaining spiritual knowledge (1 Nephi 15:8-9)?

For those not familiar with the story, in part due to his faith and use of agency, Nephi saw in vision the same things that his father had seen and thereafter demonstrated in the remainder of his writings that he clearly understood what his father had taught.

1 Nephi 10 can be read here.

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