BYU-Pathway Worldwide Devotional
"Why We Gather"
I’m standing in one of our Salt Lake gathering locations. It is empty now, but by Thursday night, this room will be full of students from all across the Salt Lake Valley. In a recent visit to the Philippines, I asked a group of students who had traveled the furthest for their weekly gathering. The answer came in the number of vehicles used to get to a Pathway site. Nikki Jalos won the award with three different vehicles: a motorcycle taxi with an attached passenger cab, a Jeepney mini-bus, and a more traditional metro city bus!
So many students make incredible sacrifices to gather. And while we are continually working to open more sites and employ virtual gatherings, the fact remains that gathering requires real investment.
So, why do we gather?
Certainly, it would save a lot of time and effort to just have you work through online courses independently, and not bother with these otherwise demanding requirements to gather.As we developed online courses at BYU-Idaho, President Henry B. Eyring cautioned: “[I]t would be easy to look for ways to help learners learn alone, using the wonders of technology. The same technology could give learners the experience of helping others they love to learn with them.” He also reminded us that “[t]he climbs to the places God would have us go are never for us alone. … Losing sight of that need to climb with others could slow our progress toward dramatically improved teaching and learning.”
One of the miracles of BYU-Pathway is in the gathering. Think about all of the learning opportunities tied to the gatherings. There are structured activities, such as joint problem solving and peer evaluation. Students also have the opportunity to be the “lead student” to facilitate the gathering during their first year of PathwayConnect.
Of course, we also gather online. Some of this happens in virtual gatherings. Last year, I joined a group from Russia who gathered across five different time zones. Gathering also happens in online course work, where students participate in discussion boards, evaluate each other’s work, and complete group projects. Your courses are designed around the Learning Model with opportunities to Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder and Prove. It turns out, the Learning Model doesn’t really work without gathering; it is kind of hard to teach one another if there is no one else in the course!
I would like to suggest three reasons why we gather.
First, when we gather, we deepen our engagement with the Learning Model. For example, when you know you are responsible to teach others, you prepare differently, and your discussions are more substantive. A student from Dallas, Texas, explained to me: “When I was assigned to be the lead student, not only did I prepare differently that night; my preparation was different going forward. I was more empathetic and engaged when others were in that role.” In
It is my prayer that we find these and other blessings as we gather in BYU-Pathway. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.