Dear 100 Hour Board,
What do you think are the chances of the Church getting rid of early-morning seminary?
I went to seminary at 6 am all through high school (like 10 years ago). In a lot of ways I loved it, and I believe it blessed my life, but honestly in a lot of ways it also made my life really hard. As more and more research seems to come out about the importance of sleep--specifically of teenagers' sleep--I have to wonder sometimes if early-morning seminary is actually worth it for these kids. Thoughts?
-Seminary survivor (barely)
I don't think they will. However this is also like 2 hour church - no one thought they would actually do it and then they did it. But it's a chance to further teach the youth, have them make closer friendships and connections with other LDS youth on a daily rather than weekly basis, and in some senses inoculate them against "the world" or "anti" material. Today especially we're seeing declining rates of youth activity in the church, as about 25% of YSA are active. Seminary may be seen as a way to keep youth staying active as they transition into being a YSA (especially as many replace seminary with institute, even more chances to make LDS friends and be inoculated), so they may be very unlikely to get rid of it.
Personally I think it'd be fantastic if they got rid of it. I got up around 5 each morning to make it to 6 am seminary on top of multiple AP classes, sports, band, choir, debate... I don't know how we survived it either. Maybe if they do get rid of it we can tell horror stories about it around the fire at future youth campouts. "When I was your age..."
-guppy of doom
I promise this anecdote is going somewhere. Bear with me.
I lived about a 15 minute drive from my church, which wouldn't have been so bad if my school hadn't been a 15 minute drive in the exact opposite direction. Because of this, my family did home study seminary for my first two years of high school. My mom was called as a seminary teacher and she taught my brother and I at 5:30 in the morning so we could make it to morning marching band practice on time. On Wednesday nights we went to the communal seminary with the rest of the YW & YM after activities. This was pretty rad.
However, that couldn't last forever. Before my junior year, my stake became part of a pilot program for online seminary. It was...weird. Essentially, you would watch videos and write short essays in response to the question you were asked. I used my lds.org login and on Wednesday nights all of us from the boonies in the entire stake would call in to a teleconference. This was less than ideal, but it worked. I learned stuff and turned out pretty much fine.
This is all to say that I know for sure that the Church has dabbled in online seminary in the past. And it was good because it was flexible - I could do the daily lessons whenever I needed to. Also, as annoying as it was to actually have to pay attention, I definitely learned more than my peers that spent every morning fast asleep on a table. I think that if the Church were to do away with (early morning) seminary, they would probably switch over to an online solution. But I don't think they'd mess with release time seminary, as they already have the buildings, teachers, arrangements with schools, etc.