Adopting and Adapting in Our Teaching
“We first adopt, then we adapt,” President Dallin H. Oaks once observed when answering a question about the balance in pursuing a prepared lesson and following a prompting to change from what may have been planned. “If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it.”
Pedagogically, countless teaching plans have had to adapt over the past many months. The Covid-19 pandemic, with its associated shift to remote instruction in teaching settings worldwide, has forced religious educators to evaluate effective ways to continue to teach students the doctrines and principles of the gospel. This pressure to adapt has made President Oaks’s comments all the more relevant. He continued, “There is a temptation, when we speak about this flexibility, to start off by adapting rather than adopting. It’s a balance. It’s a continual challenge. But the approach of adopting first and then adapting is a good way to stay on sound ground.”
This issue of the Religious Educator aims to help readers more fully adopt the message of the Restoration we will be studying and teaching this year. Articles seek to deepen understanding of the First Vision as taught in general conference, the Atonement of Jesus Christ as discussed in Doctrine and Covenants 19, and ascension as taught across scripture. Other articles address practical matters of adapting teaching to the needs of students and the challenges of a pandemic weary world. President Kevin J Worthen of Brigham Young University leads this issue, examining the process and power of hope in our lives, while a subsequent article explores how the Book of Mormon models effective distance learning.
I pray this issue helps us all more fully adopt the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ while adapting our teaching in Spirit-directed ways to serve those in our charge.
Scott C. Esplin
Editor in Chief
 “A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks” (Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, 7 August 2012).
 “A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks.”