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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Well-Informed, Unquestioned Desire (aka The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student)

There once was a girl who loved to learn.  While other kids would be outside playing, she could be found sitting on her porch, eagerly and excitedly reading books on advanced topics.

As she progressed from grade school to middle school to high school, her desire to learn more grew as well.

Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that school wasn't challenging enough for the young woman.  Although she read all the textbooks she was supposed to read in school and got good grades, she still wasn't academically fulfilled.

One day, she seized the initiative and approached her high school principal about her situation.  After she expressed her feelings and frustrations, he leaned back in his chair, looked outside and felt the warmth of the sun shining through his office's windows.  After pausing for what seemed like an eternity for the young woman, the principal spoke.  His response was both thrilling and disquieting.  He said:

"I've been watching you, and have seen you reading and learning wonderful things that don't interest the other kids.  I have to say, I am so proud of you, and for the love of learning you have.  I have no doubt you are going to go far in life.

Now, we have an accredited program just for kids like you.  It's a curriculum that's custom-made for you.  That means you'll have to keep attending this school and taking the same classes as all the other kids.  But after school, you'll be able to log on and study at your own pace, as fast and as far as you can handle.  This also means that, provided you pass all your personal curriculum tests, you'll get to graduate early, and with college credits as well.

But I need to warn you of two things:

First, I don't think there are any other kids in our city who are taking this online course.   You just may be the first.  So, if you want to interact with other kids just like you, you'll need to seek them out and find them.  You'll probably succeed at this, but you'll find they live in other cities far away from ours.  So, don't be surprised if some days you feel alone. 

Second, about the other kids here -- they are just as special, and just as wonderful as you are.  But they will have a difficult time relating to you, and understanding why you've chosen to study a more customized, accelerated program after school hours.  They will think you're weird, maybe even a freak.  It'll be even worse if you start telling them about other kids, just like you, in far away cities; they'll likely consider you a member of a group of freaks.  You can forget about assuming significant leadership positions like class president or student body president, because not only the kids, but even some of the teachers here in our area will call you names and will question your motives. 

On the flip side:

First, you will learn things about people, places, nature, even the universe that will excite you, maybe even take your breath away.  And although your mom and dad can't take the special curriculum tests you'll have to take, you'll be able to tell them all about what you're learning, and they'll be thrilled to see how their little girl is growing up.  I mean, really thrilled.

Second, about the kids you'll eventually meet -- you know, the ones in the other cities?  They'll totally relate to you, and you to them.  They'll tell you the things they're learning, and you'll tell them the things you're learning, and you'll all be really amazed at all the cool things you can learn about, and even do.  Not today, and maybe not this year, but over time, a few people here in our city may see a little gleam in your eye and a smile on your face.  They'll be genuinely curious about why you're so happy and beaming.  Those are the people who will be ready to hear about your after-hours online school.

I can't tell you what to do -- this is your decision."

As the girl sat in her chair across from the principal, she heard a song softly playing on his radio behind his desk...

<< go to >>

As the song was ending, the girl looked outside...

felt the warmth of the sun on her face...

and with a little gleam in her eye...

she smiled a huge smile.


  1. Thanks for this. I really appreciate this blog and your words of wisdom elsewhere. It feels great to know that there are other AP students out there. Thanks again.

    Videre faciem Dei

  2. Great post. Just to clarify -- is this the key to Celestial prayer?

  3. Thanks.

    Sincere desire is one pre-requisite, yes. What is prayer without either sincerity or desire?

  4. Thanks for this excellent analogy. It was especially meaningful for me since I taught AP Calculus for 30 years. :)

  5. Just WOW. I can relate in so many ways - ways that I would not be able to easily explain on an internet post ;-) . Thank you for another great article!

  6. I am noticing that some take this AP student concept as meaning that we are being more righteous or that we will be exatled sooner. I am curious what feedback would be best given in situation like this. Thank you!

  7. I have always been one of those "weird" ones who carries church related books in her purse. I can really relate to this AP student of the gospel concept.It's like there's this magnet inside that draws you to find gospel truth and with each discovery you are filled with a greater desire to find more!

    Thanks for sharing this post and letting us know that it's okay to be an AP student. It's so comforting to know that there are others out there who can also relate to it.

  8. RE: "AP Students" "being more righteous" -- The scriptures are emphatically clear about this: "there is none that doeth good" (Psalms 14:1; 53:1-3) and "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). Perhaps the best answer can be found in the Book of Mormon:

    "I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
    And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you." (Mosiah 2:21,25)

    RE: "AP Students" "will be exalted sooner" -- I'm presuming you're speaking of one receiving their Calling and Election made sure, which is "to have the day of judgment advanced" (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:325-353). That's entirely up to the individual and the Lord.

  9. hahaha...okay, so you have SO described my life! I love this parable. I am the one with the esoteric library and the huge stack of Hugh Nibley books and the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha and such. I was the one who wanted to become a professional Seminary teacher before they were allowing women to do that. My father was the same way only he passed away before some of my favorite books were even written.

    But I have to say, besides my father being this way, I actually have found a few others who live in my town that are like-minded. I don't feel as lonely as I used to. There is an awakening going on. And sometimes it is the most unlikely people who surprise you with their understanding of things. And sometimes I am very surprised at who wants nothing to do with the AP courses. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that we are all working our way up the mountain, whether we are taking the long, circuitous route or we are taking the steep switchbacks. They all end at the same place if we are doing our best.

  10. I love learning more and more about the gospel and always was a little weird as a kid. It is definitely one of the roads less taken. I am excited about the many resources that we have for learning today. I am trying to look at the deeper meanings of things of the things that I read and hear. Now, I find that I am trying to find more of the meaning and message about the everyday experiences in my life and the relationships that I have. I am fascinated by the interconnections in life. This is helping me to progress in different ways, maybe more directly than in learning what others have to say. I guess that is because my life is the script that the Lord wrote specifically for me to bring me back to Him. I am looking for meaning, and messages and patterns. I am learning how much more power I have within myself to progress and learn with the Lord's help.

  11. Just finished "Ten Parables" yesterday. Love that you wrote a parable. :) Very meaningful. Well done!

  12. Just beautiful and so powerful Every time I read it I feel it describes my life. Thanks again!

  13. Here I am again, getting teary eyed reading over your parable. (your posts have a tendency to do that :) )
    I used to feel I had to live a life of seclusion for being an "AP" student of the gospel.
    I feared persecution and ridicule from others. I felt like not many understood why I would have such a love for the gospel and feel drawn to study so much.
    Thank you for letting me know that I'm not "weird" and for encouraging me to let my dreams take flight.

  14. Dear Stephanie (and everyone else who's commented so far),

    Thanks for the compliments on the parable. But truth be told, the credit really should go to the person who showed it to me in the first place.

    I don't have the mortal words to express how much I love "The Master School Principal"...

  15. So in the past week as I have been reading many of the posts by topic, I kept seeing this one (or more correctly having the spirit point it out) but was kinda turned off by the title as I was never an AP student and not so successful in the generic school realm, so would brush off the prompting. Tonight after feeling the spirit almost nag me to read it I finally gave in. What can I say, Wow! I had to laugh as of course it spoke deeply to my soul and I could feel my whole being rejoice!

    My brother sent me this text the other day, I don't know the original source--
    "There is no glory in being adjusted to a maladjusted society. Don't worry if you never did fit in."
    I often can't help but feel so aware of this fallen mortal state, as a stranger in a strange land.

    As Nibley says, "It shouldn't all be a mystery to are free to go as far as you want...ever seeking more knowledge, more truth, more light."

    It is truly a great comfort to me to see that there are like minded people out there. Thank you for the parable, bless you all who seek truth:)

  16. I have just recently been guided to this blog site, and have been moved deeply by the Spirit with so many of your posts! This one especially rings true to my heart, and I an relate so much to it over the past 4-5 years of my life! After a previous experience my soul yearns to once again meet the Master School Principle and dwell and better connect with others in the AP courses!