The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student

girl-reading-outsideThere 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.

Although she read all the textbooks she was supposed to read in her class and got good grades, she still wasn’t academically fulfilled.  She soon realized that she was ready to learn things taught in higher grades.

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 to the young woman, the principal spoke.  His response was both thrilling and disquieting.  He said:

“I’ve been watching you, and I’ve seen you reading and learning wonderful things that don’t seem to 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.  There will be no quitting school, understood?  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, too.

But I need to warn you of two things:

First, I don’t know of any other kids in our city who are taking this online course.   You’re one of very, very few.  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 in our school: 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.  In fact, not only the kids, but even some of the teachers here in our area may 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, 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 (click the YouTube link below to hear the song, or go to…

As the song was ending, the girl got the message.  She looked outside…

felt the warmth of the sun on her face…

and with a little gleam in her eye…

she smiled a huge smile.

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18 Responses to The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student

  1. Pingback: Mending a Broken Heart | The Gospel According to Scoot

  2. Lorrie Lou says:

    Ditto, and AMEN. Thank you so much Debbie.
    Lorrie Lou


  3. Jennifer says:

    Eric, Thank you for this post. I just recently found this site after reading a few of John’s books. As I read this post I was so overcome that I began to weep uncontrollably. I felt as though it was written just for me. As I read each line, new and greater meaning manifested itself to me and I was completely overcome with the deeper meaning of this parable to me personally. John’s books and Spencer’s account in Visions of Glory have truly been an answer to my prayers in so many ways. Thank you for sharing this parable! It was an answer to my prayers.


  4. Terri J. Pontius says:

    Thank you Eric for your wisdom and insight. I love and appreciate you.


  5. Jason says:

    Eric, what a wonderful parable. I really appreciate you sharing it with us.


  6. Teri says:

    This is perfect! It’s all in the upward reaching, learning, growing, doing, and becoming, while continuously keeping the sun on our faces in joy and love. Limitless. Thank you!


  7. Eric says:

    Becky/Scott: I agree with both of you. Not only is the accumulation greater light and knowledge important, but also, what we do with that light and knowledge in furthering the cause of Zion in our lives, our families and our brothers and sisters. I believe if we are truly “in sync” with God, the combination of knowledge + outreach = a synergy that can leave us feeling just as Lehi did when he partook of the fruit of the Tree of Life.

    Leo: Thanks for those follow-up scriptures!

    Laura: As of today, the Unblog has 1,206 followers on every continent. I’d hazard a guess that there are over a hundred — or hundreds — of Unbloggers who relate to this parable. You are so, so not alone.

    Sally/Britt: I’ve found that God teaches some of his most touching sermons through music. And not all of those songs are hymns.

    All: Thanks for your kind words. Praise be to He who showed me this parable, and the comfort He gave me on a day that I was feeling alone.


  8. Britt says:

    This song came on the radio this past week just after I had been praying for my children and their individual struggles. The Spirit touched me while listening. I felt God’s love for me and for my children. I was also given such a sense of peace. I can’t say that anything was solved in the struggles they are facing, or that I knew exactly what to do, but on the same token everything was solved through the love and peace that I felt. It was just such a great learning experience for me. I often find that I really want things to change or hardships to be taken away from me and loved ones in order for the world to seem right, and yet this experience taught me that God’s love and peace are truly sufficient. The only change that needed to happen was within my heart, through the grace of our Father in Heaven. Needless to say, I loved this post and found it so timely to what I am going through in this life, as always. Thank you.


  9. Laura says:

    The best thing, now I don’t feel quite so alone. It’s lovely to have friends who understand.


  10. Elder & Sister Stroud says:

    Thanks Eric. I understand perfectly.


  11. Becky says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Scott. On my journey, the more I learn, the more I draw closer to my Savior in a personal manner, the MORE I find my heart opens and all I want to do is give and share! And when I give and share, the more I learn… and then I am lead to something else to learn about so that I can give and share even more! And as that continuous cycle continues on, the further I am drawn in the bossom of my personal friend and Savior.


  12. Leo says:

    I really like that parable. Graduate early=calling and election made sure. College credits=DC 130:18-19.

    Alma 12: 10 “…and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.”


  13. Sally says:

    Eric, Thank you for this parable! This hit the nail on the head for me. I feel like this blog is the place where I can find other “advanced learners”. Also, thank you for putting the music on there as well. Even though I don’t like country music, the message is this song was perfect. Thank you for sharing what you have learned.


  14. Carol says:

    I loved this parable, thank you Eric! What a wonderful post following the sweet Sabbath, and the beginning of a fresh week. I love this blog, it is like a book that is alive and the learning continuous. I am very grateful to you all- Carol H.


  15. terryann says:

    I loved the parable. It says it all!


  16. Scott says:

    When my wife and I were set apart as ordinance workers in the Salt Lake Temple, President Fillmore told me specifically that it was important that I focus on “becoming” while I was “learning” and that I not allow my learning to outpace my becoming. I worry about the little girl who so dedicated herself to learning that she rarely felt the sun on her face, that she would become so detached from the other kids that she never learned to love them, to run with them, to dance with them. After all the second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself, which in doing so which fulfill the first commandment. We cannot “learn” so fast, without “becoming” that we become unable to fulfill the two greatest commandments.

    Eric, Spencer – I love your blogs. Thank you for them.


    • Carol says:

      Thank you for sharing that counsel. I felt that as I read Brother Pontius blogs all the way through, as exciting a time as that was. I had the feeling I needed to put to use “in becoming” and serving with the spiritual learning. Though, the more I learn the more desire I have to learn, Knowledge does not change us for the better- only when we are willing to apply it.


    • Liz E. says:

      Eric. Great post! Really inspiriing. I happen to love that song and group…So talented and that lead singer has freakishly amazing vocals! Music is a huge part of my life so I relish in “talent” and am thrilled with what music and truth can do to inspire ones soul!
      Scott. I see your point but I think you are overthinking this. Let go and enjoy brother. 🙂 That being said I need to work on commandment #2 constantly! Such is Life. God Bless. L.


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