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President Spencer W. Kimball’s 1975 address “The Second Century of Brigham Young University”
has been the topic of focused discussion in our McKay School leadership meetings this year. In his prophetic description of our university’s future, there is a clarion call for placing “heavy and primary emphasis . . . on the quality of teaching at BYU.” For teaching to be of quality, it must be both effective and good (in a moral sense) (see Gary D Fenstermacher and Virginia Richardson, “On Making Determinations of Quality in Teaching,” Teachers College Record 107, no. 1 [January 2005]:186–213).
In other words, quality teaching must be successful in realizing its intended learning outcomes, but effectiveness is not enough. The nature of the subject matter cannot be dismissed, nor do successful outcomes justify the means. Thus quality teaching must be effective, but it also entails morally good content and methods of instruction.
President Kimball’s revelatory discourses over the decades provide important possibilities for refinement of this conception of quality teaching for our work in the McKay School. In his 1967 address “Education for Eternity,” President Kimball made a prophetic plea for our subject matter to be “bathed in the light and color of the restored gospel” (morally good content). In 1975 he asked for our instruction to be characterized by a “gospel methodology” (morally good methods). Teaching morally good subject matter with morally good methods is a challenging responsibility, but it is the most exciting part of teaching on this unique campus and the only way to make a claim for quality teaching that leverages spiritual power and fully realizes the mission and aims of a BYU education.
This month, I invite us all to consider how we might better bathe the content of our work in the light and color of the restored gospel and also employ a gospel methodology in all that we do in our faculty, staff, and administrative roles.