Don and I are half-way done with our second semester of the Pathway program! We are excited about finishing Pathway this year and moving on to BYU-Idaho online classes. Right now though, we are all the way into the book of 3 Nephi in our Book of Mormon religion class. This week we have studied chapters 12-17. One of our assignments this week is called “Putting it All Together”. We have to choose a topic we have studied in the lesson for the week, reflect on what we have learned, and then create something that “puts what you are learning all together”.
Each week one of the students in our class presents a study skill. These skills are meant to help us “achieve the goal of greater understanding” when we read the scriptures. There are nine study skills that we can pick from when it is our turn to present. They are, 1)Substitution, 2)Setting, 3)Principles and Doctrine, 4) List, 5)Clustering, 6)Flag Phrases, 7)Symbolism, 8)Visualize, and 9)Cause and Effect. The study skill that was presented this week was, “Visualize”.
Visualizing while reading isn’t a new concept for me. As an avid reader from the time I was very young, visualizing is somewhat second nature for me as I read. However, visualizing the scriptures is a little more difficult because of the strange language and the symbolism that is often used. But, in our resources for this study skill, we are told that the purpose of using the Visualize skill is that it “can bring new insights and greater understanding to scriptural passages”. Well I can certainly use new insights and greater understanding when I read the scriptures!
So how does "Visualize" work? Our student lead gave us three steps to follow to better understand how to “Visualize”.
First, determine the setting. This means that we have to figure out the time and place of what we are reading. These are important when trying to understand what is happening in the scriptures. If we know that what we are reading took place in Jerusalem 600 years before Christ was born, we can use what we may already know about that time and place to better imagine what might be going on. Then if we can imagine the people who are there and what is happening, we can get better picture in our heads of the scene that we are reading about.
Second, look for the details. This step requires us to pay attention to small things in the scriptures that will provide details about the time, place, and/or people were are reading about. Determine what details are important and will add to our understanding of what we are reading can be difficult. But, as the resource for this skill says, these details can “bring the scriptures to life”.
Third, ask questions to help fill in your mental picture. This step can require more work from us as we try to figure out what the scriptures may not actually be spelling out word for word. This step is, not surprisingly, the hardest for me to do. I tend to gloss over the things I don’t understand and I don’t spend time worrying about it. But, when I do take the time to ask questions about the setting, the people, or the story, it helps immensely when trying to visualize what I’m reading.
Our student lead referred to a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from April Conference 2013 called, “Lord, I Believe” in which, Elder Holland uses the study skill “Visualize” so well. He tells a story from Mark 9. He lays out the setting, fills in the details, and then asks and answers questions about the story. He does this so well that while reading about it, you can see the scenes play out in your mind.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be as good at this study skill as Elder Holland, but I’m so happy to have the tools to be able to try. I hope you will want to try to “Visualize” as you read your scriptures too!