Duce's Wild: Addressing 'Come, Follow Me' misconceptions

Published: Saturday, June 28 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Wilcox said: “Sunday School is a co-educational experience with boys and girls together. They should have the chance to teach the doctrine that they just learned in Young Men and Young Women and seminary — Sunday School really needs to be an opportunity for them to do and to teach. That’s the difference.”

Brother Osguthorpe added that the themed lessons and activities for the Sunday School portion of “Come, Follow Me” are designed to help young people learn how to teach and learn how to testify. “Testifying is an essential part of teaching,” he said. “This is so central to what we’re hoping for.”

Misconception No. 4Round tables at church are only to be used for banquets and wedding receptions.

As Brother Osguthorpe and Wilcox have traveled across the United States and in several other countries to evaluate the implementation of “Come, Follow Me,” they said they were fascinated to find so many Sunday School teachers using round tables.

“There’s not one thing in the lesson outline that says to put a round table in the room,” Brother Osguthorpe said. “But naturally, they’re pulling out these round tables and giving kids a place to write, a place to prepare and plan and join the discussion.”

With or without a round table, by having the students’ chairs in a circle, the message is sent, “There’s room for you. … Everyone should feel totally involved, included and not sitting on the sidelines.”

Misconception No. 5Evaluating a teacher is the best way to gauge the successful implementation of “Come, Follow Me.”

If a Sunday School presidency or other leaders in the ward, branch or stake want to know if a teacher is utilizing “Come, Follow Me” in the classroom, Brother Osguthorpe said, “If they want to know if the teacher ‘gets it,’ it wouldn’t have much to do with the teacher. I think I would have to look at the learners and see how engaged they are to know if the ‘Come, Follow Me’ approach is being used. … Are the students talking, sharing or expressing themselves? Is the teacher asking questions that go beyond a yes and no or right and wrong answer? … Sunday School is a place where nonmembers should feel comfortable coming and participating. Investigators or visitors are always welcome. Sunday School is a place for everybody.”

Misconception No. 6Gospel knowledge is the most important attribute for a Sunday School teacher.

As he shared powerful examples of classroom experiences, Brother Osguthorpe said that trust is one of the most important things to be established in a classroom. “Teachers must trust students that they have something worth sharing. Students have to trust the teacher that he or she will respond appropriately,” he said.

Wilcox said often benevolence is a key attribute for a teacher of youths. “Kindness, expressing love and acceptance are so important. Another facet is openness. You don’t want to just establish an environment where people feel you’re being kind and nice, but an environment where people can be open and that means sharing personal experiences. If all we’re learning is outside in — what did the general authorities say or what did the scriptures say or what did the lesson say — then it’s never coming from the inside out.”

Wilcox explained that when a teacher encourages students to use “I believe” statements, “then students have a chance to be open, have a chance to share their feelings, their testimonies and their personal experiences and that is doing a lot in creating this atmosphere of trust.”

Brother Osguthorpe added, “Being honest, open, being willing and eager to show approval and praise. This is so key to a great youth classroom.”

To hear more of the dialogue between Russell Osguthorpe, Brad Wilcox and Stacie Duce, tune in to the Mormon Channel on June 30 for a re-broadcast of episode one of their conversation for the audio series, “Teaching, No Greater Call.”

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear regularly on deseretnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

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