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by Wayne B. Lynn

The Church provides a standard set of curricular materials to all of its units throughout the world. Some matters of basic curriculum had been formatted and distributed to the Church membership since the early days of the Church, but as the auxiliary organizations were formed, such as the Sunday School, Primary, Relief Society, and the Young Men and Young Women, each developed its own curriculum to help teach members. Eventually it became desirable to coordinate curriculum materials among these auxiliary organizations to avoid undesirable duplication and to ensure the coverage of important topics at all age levels.

At present, over 200 topics are considered annually in the lesson manuals prepared for the courses included in the Church curriculum. These topics are in the general areas of gospel principles and doctrines, home and family relationships, priesthood and Church government, historical study of the scriptures and the Church, development of individual talents and abilities, community relations, development of leadership abilities, teaching skills and talents, recreational and social activities, and fellowshipping and service activities (Table 1).

The gospel of Jesus Christ, as expounded in the scriptures and supplemented and interpreted by living prophets, forms the basis of LDS curriculum. The purpose of the curriculum was defined by the Prophet Joseph Smith: "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it" (TPJS, p. 121). In support of this purpose,…LDS curriculum centers on the scriptures, and focuses on the nature of the Godhead, the nature and purpose of mortal life, the commandments God has given to his children, and the virtues they should develop. A master plan provides the necessary coordination to assure that all members are taught these principles several times throughout their lives at different levels of understanding and experience.

Although the curriculum is highly coordinated, there are still variations in content and its application. Local units and teachers adapt the materials sent from Church headquarters to meet the local needs and fit the local culture. In areas where literacy is limited or members have had little prior instruction in gospel principles, a simplified curriculum may be used at the discretion of local leaders. Materials for the use of members with disabilities are also provided.

In addition to the lesson materials, the Church has supportive materials to aid both teachers and members. Libraries in most meetinghouses contain illustrations, audio recordings, video presentations, motion pictures, maps, and other aids for both teacher and member use. Satellite broadcasts are also periodically available. The Church also produces three monthly magazines for English-speaking children, youth, and adults, and an international magazine in several different languages to supplement the curriculum of the Church for teachers and to support scripture study by members.

In 1961, Elder Harold B. Lee, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, described the objective of the Church curriculum as "building up a knowledge of the gospel, a power to promulgate the same, a promotion of the growth, faith, and stronger testimony of the principles of the gospel" (Lee, p. 79). He also announced a new emphasis on correlation, citing a need for better coordination among the courses of study and for a reduction in new courses of study each year. The outcome of this charge was an all-Church coordinating council, three coordinating committees (one each for children, youth, and adults), and an extensive curricular planning guide.

In 1972, the Church formed the Internal Communications Department and gave it the responsibility for curriculum planning and writing. All the curricular materials were examined, and from that assessment developed Curriculum Planning Charts. The purposes of the charts were twofold: to measure existing materials, and from the measurement to plan a well-balanced future offering. The actions resulted in the formation of an Instructional Development Department and the establishment of numerous writing committees, whose responsibility is to plan lesson content and methodology for courses in all age groups within the priesthood and auxiliary organizations. Once again, the primary curricular resources are the scriptures, supplemented by quotations from modern prophets. Computer technology discloses the extent of the distribution of the topics throughout the curriculum. The planning charts track not only the number of times a topic is considered, but where the topic has a primary or secondary focus. Instrumental in the development of the present overall curricular plan, the planning charts continue to guide instructional decision making and to produce a unified, balanced, and standardized curriculum, marked by stability and expansiveness.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Church Publications home page)


Lee, Harold B. CR (Oct. 1961):79.


1. Home and Family Relationships
1.1 Maintaining a spiritual atmosphere in the home
1.1.1 Having regular family and individual prayers
1.1.2 Keeping the Sabbath Day holy
1.1.3 Establishing the home as the center for gospel study
1.1.4 Seeking the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in all family affairs
1.2 Building right relationships with other family members
1.3 Building confidence and trust in the lives of members of the family
1.4 Developing and fostering individual talents and abilities within the family circle
1.5 Settling family problems harmoniously
1.6 Managing family finances according to gospel principles
1.7 Developing self-discipline and proper conduct in the home
1.8 Promoting respect for the property of other family members
1.9 Learning about human maturation and the process of procreation in the family circle
1.10 Conducting an eternal courtship
1.11 Honoring the priesthood and the patriarchal order in the home
1.12 Honoring womanhood and the distinctive role of girls and women
1.13 Honoring manhood and the distinctive role of men and boys
1.14 Developing modesty and virtue in the home
1.15 Playing together and having fun as a family
1.16 Sharing in the family work schedule
1.17 Appreciating and loving relatives
1.18 Developing parental skills
1.19 Learning to use time wisely
1.20 Being responsible for the temporal well-being of family members
2. Gospel Principles and Doctrines
2.1 Developing an understanding of and a love for the members of the Godhead
2.1.1 The Father
2.1.2 The Son
2.1.3 The Holy Ghost
2.2 Learning the true nature of man and his relationship to the Godhead
2.1.1 As an intelligence
2.2.2 As a spirit child of Heavenly Father
2.2.3 As spirit brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ
2.2.4 The potential to become like Heavenly Father Understanding oneself and developing self-esteem
2.3 Gaining an understanding and testimony of the Plan of Salvation
2.3.1 The premortal existence of man The grand council in heaven The principle of agency in the pre-existence Lucifer Jehovah and his followers The doctrine of foreordination
2.3.2 The nature and purpose of mortal life The earth, its creation and destiny The need for a body of flesh and bone The Fall of Adam and Eve and all mankind (the spiritual and physical deaths) Probation of man: personal accountability and free agency Universal faith Faith in the Godhead Faith in God the Father Faith in Jesus Christ Repentance Baptism Obedience: enduring to the end The mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ Forgiveness Gift of the Holy Ghost Obtaining and building a testimony Covenants Light of Christ Need for opposition Birth of the spirit Revelation Continuing study of the gospel and the scriptures Prayer and meditation Fasting Word of Wisdom Purity of thought The Sabbath day Tithes and offerings Temples and houses of worship Temple marriage and the eternal family Vicarious work for the dead Setting a good example Being humble and teachable Feeling and showing gratitude Justice and mercy Chastity, virtue, and modesty Honesty and integrity Service Sacrifice Law of Consecration Following and sustaining Church leaders Reverence and worship Eternal progress Love and charity Spiritual gifts The Church organization Sharing the gospel with others Apostasy Restoration Dispensation of the Fulness of Times House of Israel Pure and uplifting language Zion The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God Signs of the times The sacrament The endowment Self-mastery Prophets Honoring fathers and mothers Consequences of sin Satan's influence for evil among mortal men Reverence for life
2.3.3 The post-mortal existence of men The state of disembodiment The Second Coming of Christ The Millennium The Judgment The Resurrection Degrees of glory: universal salvation
3. Priesthood And Church Government
3.1 Gaining an understanding of the priesthood
3.1.1 The oath and covenant of the priesthood
3.1.2 The keys of the priesthood
3.1.3 The authority and power of the priesthood
3.2 Priesthood ordinances
3.2.1 What the priesthood ordinances are and their purpose
3.2.2 How the priesthood ordinances are performed
3.3 Understanding general priesthood responsibilities
3.3.1 Home teaching
3.3.2 Welfare
3.3.3 Genealogy
3.3.4 Missionary work
3.3.5 Family home evenings
3.3.6 Fellowshipping and service
3.4 Understanding priesthood organization
3.4.1 The family
3.4.2 Priesthood quorums
3.4.3 Wards and branches
3.4.4 Stakes and mission membership districts
3.4.5 Missions
3.4.6 Regions
3.4.7 General offices
3.4.8 Priesthood departments and programs
3.4.9 Auxiliaries
3.4.10 Church Education System
3.4.11 Calling and sustaining of Church officers
3.4.12 Record keeping
3.5 Knowing the priesthood offices and their duties
3.6 Gaining an understanding of the distinctive role of women in the priesthood structure of the Church
3.6.1 How women share in priesthood blessings and opportunities
3.7 Financial contributions and how they are used
3.8 Church meetings and their purpose
3.9 The Church judicial system
4. Historical Study Of The Scriptures And The Church
4.1 Learning of God's commandments and his dealings with men through a historical study of the scriptures
4.2 Obtaining an overview of the scriptures, how we received them, and what they contain
4.3 An overview of the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price
4.3.1 A study of the creation of the earth and man's beginnings upon the earth (Genesis, Abraham, Moses)
4.3.2 Ancient Israel and the prophets (Old Testament)
4.4 An overview of the New Testament
4.4.1 The life and mission of Jesus Christ (The four Gospels)
4.4.2 The Early Church (Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation)
4.5 The Apostasy
4.5.1 The Reformation period
4.6 An overview of the Book of Mormon
4.6.1 God establishes a covenant people in the New World (1 Nephi through Omni)
4.6.2 God's dealings with the ancient Americans before Christ (Words of Mormon through Helaman)
4.6.3 The Church of Jesus Christ in ancient America (3 Nephi through Moroni)
4.7 The Restoration, an overview of early modern Church history and the Doctrine and Covenants
4.7.1 Organization and establishment of the Latter-day Church (Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith, Documentary History of the Church)
4.8 Modern prophets and Church growth
4.8.1 A study of later modern Church history and Church expansion (Conference Reports and other official documents)
5. Development Of Individual Talents And Abilities
5.1 Understanding and applying the simple social graces
5.2 Appreciating and participating in things of cultural value
5.2.1 Drama
5.2.2 Music
5.2.3 Literature
5.2.4 Dance
5.2.5 Art and handicraft
5.2.6 Speech
5.3 Continuing with formal or informal education in secular and religious fields
5.4 Improving employment and career planning skills
5.5 Improving homemaking and household maintenance skills
5.6 Keeping physically fit and active
5.7 Gaining an appreciation for nature and the creations of God
5.8 Knowing the skills of outdoor living and survival
5.9 Knowing the values of good health care
5.10 Knowing the values of work and of being self-sustaining
5.11 Knowing how to handle health emergencies
6. Community Relations
6.1 Fulfilling our responsibilities in civil government and community affairs
6.2 Maintaining high community standards
6.3 Making appropriate use of community facilities and institutions
6.4 Taking appropriate part in community social and service organizations
6.5 Building a positive community image for the Church and Church members
6.6 Balancing involvement in community and Church activity
6.7 Being obedient to civil laws
6.8 Being a good friend and neighbor
7. Development Of Leadership Abilities
7.1 Developing effective communication skills
7.2 Delegating responsibility
7.3 Following up on delegated responsibility
7.4 Learning the duties of our callings
7.5 Utilizing problem-solving techniques
7.6 Using inspiration in decision making
7.7 Conducting effective meetings
7.8 Setting and achieving goals
7.9 Keeping and using adequate minutes and records
7.10 Following line and staff organizational patterns
7.11 Recognizing and developing the leadership potential in others
7.12 Sustaining and using the help and counsel of those who preside over us
7.13 Working with committees and groups
7.14 Keeping an eye single to the glory of God
7.15 Observing the stewardship principle
7.16 Motivating ourselves and others
7.17 Evaluating progress and recovering from temporary setbacks
7.18 Accepting responsibility and being personally accountable
7.19 Using Church organizations and programs to accomplish objectives
7.20 Effective planning
8. Development Of Teaching Skills And Talents
8.1 Identifying student needs and interests
8.2 Teaching for understanding of ideas and concepts
8.3 Teaching for reinforcement of or change in behavior
8.4 Reaching individual needs of class members
8.5 Making proper preparation to teach
8.6 Seeking qualified help to improve teaching skills
8.7 Practicing in a teaching situation
8.8 Teaching with testimony and with the power and influence of the Holy Spirit
8.9 Using a variety of methods and techniques
8.10 Maintaining order and reverence in the classroom
8.11 Setting a proper example for those whom we teach
8.12 Evaluating the progress of students
8.13 Establishing effective communication with and among students
9. Recreation And Social Activities
9.1 Participating in sports and competitive athletics on ward, stake, region, and multi-region levels
9.2 Participating in camping and nature study activities
9.3 Participating in dancing, parties, outings, and other social activities
10. Fellowshipping And Service Activities
10.1 Orienting new members to Church programs and activities
10.2 Using Church programs, resources, and activities to fellowship members and nonmembers
10.3 Fellowshipping those from varying racial, national, cultural, and language backgrounds
10.4 Participating in service activities and projects
10.4.1 In families
10.4.2 In priesthood quorums
10.4.3 In girls' and women's groups
10.4.4 In ward, stake, and regional groups
10.5 Sharing individual resources with those in need
10.5.1 Material goods
10.5.2 Skills and talents
10.6 Brotherhood and sisterhood

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Curriculum

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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