Weekly Quote: Jeffrey Humpherys

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“[I have] little lessons along the way, [such as] the value of homework and the purpose of homework. Because if you look at 3rd Nephi when Christ came, He taught them, ‘Go—pray and ponder and come back, and we’ll talk about it in the morning.’ … The learning didn’t take place in the lecture; the learning takes place after you take that lecture and you take your assignment and you put in 10 hours and [work] to really internalize and make that knowledge and information your own. And that’s an eternal principle as much in religion as it is in mathematics or whatever you are teaching. … That’s what learning really is.”

Jeffrey Humpherys, Department of Mathematics

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Weekly Quote: Mark Butler

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“You can’t serve them if you don’t know them. So that means no matter how large the class, we have to know who we’re talking to. Various professors approach that in various ways, but I think dedicated professors all over this campus, in one way or another, find out who their students are, find out what their concerns are.

Maybe it’s short bios they have them write. Maybe it’s “What’s the most pressing issue going on in your life?” Maybe it’s taking the opportunity to invite one student, or a small group of students, throughout the semester, to their office just to chat for a few minutes. …

Representative sampling will often serve our purposes well, so in a class of 200, we may not be able to meet and know each individual personally, but by meeting a few of them we can kind of know typical issues and typical struggles. In smaller classes such as I teach, I think it’s my duty to know them more intimately. When you know people, then you have the basis to begin to serve them as people. So that would be a starting point: know your students as individuals, as persons, their fears, their dreams, their troubles, their successes, their background.”

Mark Butler, Professor in the School of Family Life, Marriage and Family Therapy

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Weekly Quote: Ken Solen

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

As we walk into class, it’s important that we understand that the journey that [students are] on, and the core principles they’re learning, are more important than any set of details. And if we allow enough time for the core principles, and be less concerned about every single last detail being communicated, and have faith that somewhere we’ll be able to make sure those details get covered, that gives us the flexibility in a class period to pursue a student’s question with a little more time and a little more depth than if we have the classroom period jammed with so many details and such a rigid structure that we don’t have any flexibility.

Ken Solen, Chemical Engineering


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Weekly Quote: Kevin Kelly

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“I [tell] students … ‘Maybe there’s a chance somewhere in your life where you’re going to take what you learn here and you’re going to give back to the church.  Maybe just in your ward, or maybe somewhere else, but hopefully you’re going to take your gifts, your talents, the things you’re given, and you’re going to be able to give them back.’  And I hope I’m an example of that for them, and they can say, ‘I’m going to go out and do something, but maybe I’ll come back and be able to really apply these things someday to help build the Kingdom.’ … I always say, ‘You’re the salt, you guys. … But don’t lose your savour, okay? … Don’t blow it, don’t go out and not make a difference. Be a Mormon. Be proud of that.'”

Kevin Kelly, Department of Communications


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Weekly Quote: Scott Sommerfeldt

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“I think there are two extremes you can go to here. We can easily get the one in [the sciences] where everything is just like any other university. It’s very rigorous: “Here’s the facts, here’s how it works, learn it and that’s it.” The other extreme in my mind is [where] you’re so worried about bringing the Spirit in … [that] it’s a seminary class and all the rigor vanishes; and so it’s … a spiritual high for the student, but they don’t learn anything.

I think there’s a balance in there that we’ve got to find. We’ve got to have a rigorous class where it’s challenging, it’s educational, they’re learning things that the world is trying to learn, but they’re feeling the Spirit as they do it. And that’s not always an easy balance to get.”

Scott Sommerfeldt, Dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

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Weekly Quote: Jini Roby

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.
 

“[It’s] about caring about that individual student and seeing that individual student … as Heavenly Father sees that person.  … And to be an instrument in the lives of these individuals—to help enlighten their lives, to increase their capacity to appreciate who they are and … the world around them, and have increase in their capacity to engage with other people—to be an instrument in that process seems really an amazing opportunity. And I think if we can see it is a privilege, and it’s not something that anybody would be entrusted with,  I think it would be a much more enjoyable, meaningful experience.

– Jini Roby, Department of Social Work

For more about how you can help students develop both intellectually and spiritually, we invite you to visit Engaging Faith & Learning with Students.
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Weekly Quote: John McBride

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.
 

“The way I try to integrate the gospel … is that at the very beginning [I] let the students know that … I really, sincerely care about them, [and] I try to break down the barriers. … But the point is that I show them that I care about them, and I don’t just say it; … I try to express it. … And so it’s very gratifying to see a student really believe me when I say, “Yeah, come talk to me, and we’ll spend an hour, two hours, whatever it takes.” … I just try to put myself in their position—which is easy to do, because I’ve spent most of my life at school or research and always feeling like I’m struggling. … But I think the important thing, for me, is to really get them to believe that I care about them and then prove it by doing some things that are extra: leaving my door open, pleading with them to come see me. … That’s what I offer the students.

– John McBride, Department of Geological Sciences

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Weekly Quote: Douglas Prawitt

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“We have to be striving to be the people that we need to be, and then we just need to love our students, and … you can’t fake that. Either you do or you don’t; and if you do, you walk into the classroom, and the sharing—of who you are, and the effort that goes with it, and the openness, and everything that has to be there—will be there. And the students will trust you; they’ll open up their hearts and minds to be taught both the information and the more spiritual aspects of it.

“You know, you can put together a long list of things [we should be doing], but unless (1) we’re striving to be who we need to be, and (2) we truly do love our students, I don’t know how much good the rest of the list does you.”

– Douglas Prawitt, School of Accountancy

For more faculty members’ advice on teaching by the Spirit, check out faithandlearning.byu.edu.
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Weekly Quote: George Handley

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“I generally feel like my main objective is just to get the students to know where I stand spiritually. There’s something Elder Holland said, in his talk about parenting, that I think is true of teaching … ‘As long as your kids know where you stand on the fundamentals, there’s a lot of gray area that you can then go explore with them. But if they don’t know where you stand on those things, then it starts to feel like you’re adrift.’ [see footnote*]

And I think if my students can get that sense—that I am totally devoted to this Church and totally devoted to this gospel, but I’m not afraid to ask hard questions, … to challenge you on hard questions … for the sake of developing you intellectually, … and especially when we get onto sensitive topics—I just try to preface that by saying, ‘Let me just tell you where I come from and how strongly I feel about the restored gospel. And then maybe you’ll know that when we get on to these difficult questions, it’s because I love the Savior, and I want to know the truth, that I want to ask these questions—not because I want to undermine you, or undermine the Church, or anything like that.’ And I think that helps them a little bit.”

George Handley, Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature


*Dr. Handley is paraphrasing here. Readers are encouraged to read the original talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, entitled “A Prayer for the Children,” which was given in April 2003. The section to which Dr. Handley was referring begins, “In this Church there is an enormous amount of room …

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Weekly Quote: Tom Sederberg

Weekly quotes come from BYU faculty members who are regarded by their students as being both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging.

“I’d like to comment on Brigham Young’s instruction to Karl G. Maeser. … He said, ‘You don’t even teach the multiplication tables without the Spirit.’ I believe that you can teach things that on the surface seem completely independent of the gospel, such as math and computer science, engineering, physics … [without] bringing in a testimony of the gospel or anything else. … More often than not, I will have a prayer before I go into the classroom and invite the Spirit in my preparation, in my delivery.  I firmly believe that the Spirit can enlighten your teaching of material completely independent of what we normally think of as gospel doctrine.  It can enlighten teaching of computer science and math and engineering and quicken our understandings.  I’ve heard President Eyring speak of getting a testimony of the principle of thermodynamics.  I believe that [can happen], and it ought to be a commonplace experience at BYU when you invite the Spirit in.”

Tom Sederberg, Professor of Computer Science

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