Tag Archives: Teacher

“Line Upon Line”: Continuing to Improve as a Teacher

26 Jun

Chapter 6 of the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook, “Continuing to Improve as a Teacher“, is an excellent reminder of our need to strive for improvement and how to do so. The first paragraph states:

As teachers strive to implement the principles and methods described in this handbook, they should constantly but patiently work to improve. Teachers must learn principles of effective teaching and master effective teaching skills line upon line through study, faith, practice, and experience. (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 78. Emphasis added.)

We find the phrase “line upon line” over and over in the scriptures and the words of the prophets. There are several ways that we can think about how that phrase applies to us as teachers.

One way that I like to interpret “line upon line” is to actually use lines as the object lesson. If we compare ourselves to regular polygons (2-D geometric figures) then this makes a little more sense. Consider what makes these shapes differ and grow–it is simply the adding of a line to the previous shape, “line upon line“.

regular polygons

So lets say that when I started teaching seminary I was a triangle–simple, but VERY useful. As time goes by and I “constantly but patiently work to improve… through study, faith, practice, and experience” I am able to be “added upon” (Abraham 3:26) “line by line“.

As teachers desire to improve and consistently work to teach in a way that is pleasing to Father in Heaven, He will inspire them in their preparation, strengthen their relationships with students, magnify their efforts in the classroom, and bless them with His Spirit to more fully accomplish His work. He will also help them see areas where they can progress as they strive to teach in a way that leads students to understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ. (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 78)

You will notice that by continuing to improve “line upon line” your shape eventually becomes more and more like a circle. Why would you want to become more and more like a circle?

Preview for Regular polygons

Well, we are taught in the scriptures that the course of the Lord is “one eternal round“; so according to this object lesson as you are “added upon”, “line by line“, you become more and more like the Lord. Through His grace and tender mercies we are able to become like the Master Teacher–“line upon line“!

Ultimately, the goal of every religious educator should be to represent as well as possible the Savior of the world as “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). Speaking to a group of seminary and institute faculty, Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “The attributes which it has been my choice privilege to recognize in you brethren and sisters over [the] years are no more nor less than the image of the Master Teacher showing through. I believe that to the degree you perform, according to the challenge and charge which you have, the image of Christ does become engraved upon your countenances. And for all practical purposes, in that classroom at that time and in that expression and with that inspiration, you are He and He is you” (“The Ideal Teacher” [address to seminary and institute faculty, June 28, 1962], 5–6) (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 78–79)

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“Improvement and progression have one eternal round.”

(Hymns, 284, “If You Could Hie to Kolob“)
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