In teaching a class over many years. I have learned never to ask a question I do
not know the answer to. I begin studying a lesson two weeks before I give it.
I identify one or two main principles to teach based on the Lesson Objective.
Then identify questions which will create thought and direct discussion in the
class lesson. An important part is trying to think of questions the class might
raise. It is embarrassing to me and can disrupt the class if the class
member's question leaves us without an answer or at worse doubting. I
don't mean I have to be a BYU Professor, but I feel it is important not to
have members question or doubt the truthfulness of the gospel. I can always bear
my testimony, but I can't keep doing that all the time. As I have spoken
with youth teachers they find they need to be better prepared. Whether we
study by Theme or by Book/ Chapter makes little difference to me, it depends on
teacher , and student, preparation.
As I understand it, the youth curriculum is subject oriented, using all the
scriptures to enrich and understand the theme. As a practical matter, that
essentially does away with reading the scriptures in rotation as original texts
and employs them merely as proof texts. No more reading the gospel of John, or
Paul's letter to the Corinthians, etc., but baptism and charity.The youth classes I am familiar with have between 5 and 12 students and two
teachers. The gospel doctrine classes I am familiar with have between 30 and 75
or more.None of the church buildings I have been in have enough classrooms nor
do the wards have enough teachers to create the optimum conditions of the youth
curriculum.Isn't there a way to have the best of both worlds,
reading and understanding the scriptures as they were written and discussing how
to apply them to our lives? After you have dealt with all the same scriptures on
baptism in seminary, in Sunday School, in institute, in sac mtg talks, it
becomes repetitive and boring. It's the application in our lives that
Time set aside to discuss online tools?? Count me out. I'm not
anti-technology (I own a Kindle and iPad), but the increased focus on technology
is not the way to achieve the goal of creating a Zion people. It will end in
creating a congregation wherein everybody is only connected to the screen in
front of their face rather than with their brothers and sisters in Christ who
are sitting in the same room. I will pay close attention to the attention given
to "online tools" during church services and, if necessary, I will
retire to my vehicle during sunday school for study, prayer, and meditation in
order to find a connection with God that is often so absent from our meetings.
I'm skeptical about this. I doubt it really will represent any significant
difference over the way things are currently done. As an aside, why did the
Deseret News feel it necessary to recite Brother Callister's ancestry of
church leaders? Are we supposed to think more highly of him because he comes
from 'leadership stock.' If we do think highly of him because of that,
or find ourselves feeling impressed because of it, are we not guilty of
hero/leader worship? I find a strong tone in the church lately that almost
encourages us to be increasingly in awe of the general authorities. It concerns
me, because we should be pointed always to Christ as our example and leader, not
any mortal flesh.
I would like to see an Adult Sunday School Class developed specifically for
becoming better member missionaries. We hear lots of talks/sermons about
becoming better member missionaries but no specific class aimed at showing and
teaching the how to's, do's and don'ts, and maybe doing some role
plays and hands on. The Preach My Gospel Book could be used as a manual. But
there should also be a curriculum developed and lots of hands on, role playing,
home work assignments, and follow on. Many members are clueless on how to an
effective member missionary and have not served missions before.
Shushannah "This is how I have always taught... I expect people to come to
the class prepared, and ask questions leading to discussion, rather than
lecturing... not enough emphasis is given to studying the full lesson materials
beforehand... Class members often complain that I will answer a question with a
question, to encourage them to think it out for themselves... I remind them that
this is how the Saviour taught... I don't like being in a class where whole
passages of scripture or lesson material are read verbatim... I don't think
of myself as a teacher... I think of myself as a discussion co-ordinator... that
way, I learn, too"I was called to be an RS teacher shortly after
marrying and moving 100 miles. My first lesson was prepared, presuming the
sisters had studied it beforehand, as in my previous ward. One of the RS
counselors later told me "That's not how we teach here. Hardly anyone
reads the lesson before class. They were all confused!" So, sadly, I
conformed (new to the ward, not creating waves). This new method sounds
way more effective than just verbatim recitation from the manual.
I teach Gospel Doctrine at least once a month in our ward, having several
teachers that teach during the month. I have felt that they needed a change. I
love learning and yet to get everybody to come and participate is so hard. I
leave wondering how I could get more participation. I know that the scriptures
are important and that they need to be taught, but there is so much more in the
scriptures than just a cute story. People will learn to come prepared and to
really learn the gospel and learn how to be a discussion leader instead of
thinking they have to talk for 30 minutes. I have learned to find what I call
the "Golden Question" and let them discuss it. It has worked for meI am looking forward to the new curriculum.
@thinkIthink,I would hope that you have been asking those questions
already. As long as they are questions about doctrine and not about
"folk-doctrine", they should be entertained. If all your Gospel
Doctrine instructor wants is to have the book answer quoted back at them, they
aren't teaching.Further, if you are trying to disrupt the class
and make comparisons between this Authority or that Authority, I think you
might want to bring up some recent Conference talks on your mobile device to
settle that matter. If you are genuinely asking about "hard" doctrine,
don't be surprised if your Sunday School teacher isn't prepared to
take that on. They prepare a lesson for the group, not the one. Perhaps you
could study it out and seek Divine guidance?
Will members be allowed to ask hard questions about doctrine? Or will that be
frowned upon? If participation means just giving the answers class leaders
want to hear, then count me out.
I'm cautiously optimistic.Our buildings are not "wired"
to use multi-media to teach. They just aren't. They aren't set up for
decent video, let alone decent audio. Without some serious re-thinking of our
structural constraints, it's going to be tough to implement. It took 20
years to get internet, there's just no way we get the right amount of
flat-screens or projectors to truly educate in this manner. Ward librarians hold
the equipment pretty tightly.Also, Gospel Doctrine is the last place
we actually devote to learning the scriptures. I would really hate to see that
change as I feel it is a real differentiator for us as a religious sect. We do
our Bible Study in our second hour at Church, we just call it Sunday School. All in all, sort of exited as a Gospel Doctrine teacher to see
what's coming. I love my class, but not many of them truly prepare to the
level they need to in order to have a good gospel discussion.
For some, 3 hours of church and socializing is already emotionally and mentally
exhausting. Introverts are easily over stimulated, our relief is being able to
quietly sit in class listening to the lesson.Calling out people to
give answers is a quick way to drive us quiet ones away from your class. Often I
don't have a story, opinion, or answer to what is being discussed, and I
have to think about what I say before I say it, I can't come up with
something on the spot like others. I enjoy listening to other people's
comments, and feel uplifted when a good discussion has taken place, even when I
haven't participated. When I do have something to say I often don't, I
am simply not comfortable talking in front of a group of people. The church
feels geared towards extroverts and introverts seem to be silently pressured
into thinking they need to change. However, I like myself the way I am and have
no desire to change my personality to fit better into church culture.Sincerely,The quiet one on the back row.
If you do not study and prepare for lessons you will not have the experience and
insights you could have had. Preparation is key for student and teacher, that
way, both are spiritually in tune and edified. As for
'know-it-all's', it is up to the teacher to encourage everyone to
speak. Sometimes as a teacher you just have to ask a question of a specific
person if no one is answering :-) When the Saviour visited the Nephites, he
sent them home to ponder upon his teachings before they returned the next day
for further instruction. We are no different, we need to study and ponder in
readiness for our lessons.
re the know-it-alls: when you acknowledge them to speak don't just say
"Brother Jones", but add "briefly , and then two more in the
back" (even if there really aren't two more raised hands in the back).
Or call personally on one of the couple guys that wouldn't be phased by
being volunteered to comment. Or humorously use stuff like "Oh Brother
Jones has the insight, but the rule today is no two comments in a row allowed.
C'mon now, who else wants to jump in here"re boring
repeated manual material: first of all, in any given ward, there might be
enough turnover that MANY of the class members have not had the current lesson
presented by any one particular teacher before, so there will always be some
variety. I mix it up by doing Primary-like stuff sometimes, i.e. drawing
numbers for reading, handing out candy randomly, making use of video/dvd, even
just audio of a talk, changing seating arrangement for no reason, etc. I will
occasionally even create a mini crossword puzzle with lesson related words as an
To That's a Good One:How about saying in class, without
pronouncing names, just what you said in your comment. Maybe something like,
"Those of you who know the gospel well ought to give others a chance to ask
questions or give their opinions, rather than the same few brothers or sisters
I was quite interested in the NEW Adult program. I have felt for some time the
methods being used were a bit archaic and needed new type of presentation. I
have 3 concerns 1-getting the aged and poor into the electronic age. 2-choosing
leaders that will NOT interject as gospel their own thoughts 3-drawing in the
timid without putting them on the spot. I know this will eventually be a good
way however, right now I worry about those who do NOT own the technology to
proceed without a textbook/manual in hard copy as they study. How will we as a
church/ward solve this expensive issue?I applaud the Church Leaders for getting
us into he electronic age, as in the long run it will draw more to the classes.
@ That's A Good One - Salt Lake City, UT - "Our ward's Gospel
Doctrine class starts with the teacher asking a question and then getting out of
the way while the three 'I know everything there ever was to know about the
everything' folks in the class jockey with each other for a forum to
display their knowledge........ How do you tell the three self absorbed
'scholars' that once in a while the other 40 students might even have
some valuable, down to earth input that could be of benefit to all?"How do you do this?How about raising your hand in joining in
the conversation?It works for me....I'm one who
does talk a lot in Sunday School class. But I am often surprised that even
after an appropriate amount of time given for others to talk, there is often
silence and the teacher is left hanging. We've all been there and
it's uncomfortable, especially for the teacher. If you want to say
something, speak up!Do it consistently and people will listen to
what you feel impressed to say, too.
@ elvisroidutexas - Herriman, UT - "Forced participation? For this reason
when I went on vacation with my teens we ditched SS."Yes,
sometimes we LDS members have great teachers in Sunday School and sometimes we
don't.When we have great teachers, we are blessed.When we don't have great teachers, by still going to the class, we bless
the teacher.How? By showing that we care enough about them to let
them learn how to teach. And....by doing that, then, they grow and we grow,
too. Bottom line is, when on vacation, or visiting other wards for whatever
reason, we should attend all our meetings. Sometimes in the past I have not, I
admit, but I know I should.
This new format will mean that the teacher will have to do a better job of
reigning in those people(and every class seems to have at least one)who seem to
have a personal experience about every topic under the sun, while the rest of
the class sit quietly seething, wishing that they would just give others a
chance to talk. Other than that, anything is better than the lecture form of
teaching which so many people tune out of after the first five minutes.
My experience has been and is that the more I search the scriptures with the
purpose of helping others understand the restored gospel the Spirit teaches me
how to present a given principle effectively. For example I have a friend that
believes any churches baptism is acceptable. There are more than enough
scriptures to explain that Jesus nor his disciples accepted just any baptism
Acts 19:1-7 about 12 men needed to be re-baptized and then given the H.G. Jesus
went from Galilee to Jordon quite a distance to be baptized of John because of
Johns divine authority and commission. Has that changed ? No James 1:17 and
Hebrew 13:8 The Saviors way is always best,of teaching the new way which is
really God's way is very exciting to me. The Holy Ghost is my dearest,
closest friend, I love how he teaches me.
I am still not quite clear how this is to actually function. As Gospel Doctrine
instructor for 5 years, my approach has always been to help the class understand
and apply the doctrines of the Gospel to their daily lives. I am not a
professional educator, nor am I an expert on the Scriptures. I study,
prayerfully, daily, in order to LEAD the class discussion. I have utilized the
manual, the scriptures and often refer to two other sources - Meridian Magazine
authors and LDS Living author, Ted Gibbons. I feel that these writers are in
harmony with Gospel principles so I feel safe in using them. Our class is
always a discussion, with me functioning as a "facilitator" more than as
a lecturer. Many class members KNOW the scriptures but don't know
"what it has to do with ME." How will the new program compare?
I think changes is good and am looking forward to this change. I only have a
thought that is a little troubling . What about the Senior citizens that
don't use the Computer. I know a lot of us do, however, my husband at 91
years of age wants nothing to do with the computer. amd surely he is not th
eonly Senior Citizen in the Church that does not use the computer. He is the
Sunday School president in our ward so guess he will have to make some changes
also. We have seen many changes inour lives, however, the Gospel is Still True,
it does not change.
Our ward's Gospel Doctrine class starts with the teacher asking a question
and then getting out of the way while the three 'I know everything there
ever was to know about the everything' folks in the class jockey with each
other for a forum to display their knowledge, and the rest of the class zones
out on their ipads or smart phones wishing the class would soon end.You can set your watch on this procedure every Sunday.How do you
tell the three self absorbed 'scholars' that once in a while the other
40 students might even have some valuable, down to earth input that could be of
benefit to all?
I see this as really good as long as the teacher keeps this on a spiritual
level. In our ward we are already implementing this. GD teacher uses this as a
"therapy-tell all" approach in his life and asks others to do the same.
I am uncomfortable hearing some of the things members are encouraged to reveal
about their struggles in life. I still want a Gospel-themed discussion. I want
to come away having felt the Spirit and oftentimes don't.
@Shushannah..Agree 100%. Have been using the same style of 'teaching'
for many, many years.I've noticed,too,that the Spirit seems to be
more prevalent in those sessions where there is sincere and serious rhetoric and
interaction from many hearts!
The brethren ought to try something other than the talking-head routine at
general conference. They, by their lectures, defy the "new" efforts
that Church makes to teach us something in Sunday School class.
I'm so excited! As a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my YSA branch, and soon to
be missionary (less than 80 days!), I can't wait for it to be implemented
in all the wards and branches of the church. This is going to be a huge blessing
I would like to know what new information is available. Is new information
available or is it the same old stuff in a different format?
I look forward to the new changes as well. Brother Tad Callister is an amazing
educator, and I am sure the changes will benefit us adults. As adults we too
often fear change. We tend to get comfortable with things the way they are, but
the only constant in life is change. Change is needed for our growth. We must
continue to learn and grow with changes. I am happy about it.
Forced participation? For this reason when I went on vacation with my teens we
This is how I have always taught... I expect people to come to the class
prepared, and ask questions leading to discussion, rather than lecturing... the
SS booklets are quite inadequate, and not enough emphasis is given to studying
the full lesson materials beforehand... Class members often complain that I will
answer a question with a question, to encourage them to think it out for
themselves... I remind them that this is how the Saviour taught, and while I am
not even close to being in His league, I do the best I can with the inspiration
I am given. I don't like being in a class where whole passages of scripture
or lesson material are read verbatim; this is such a waste of precious learning
time, imho. I don't think of myself as a teacher... I think of
myself as a discussion co-ordinator... that way, I learn, too
Every 4 years we've had the same class. I'm excited to see a change
and new material. The new curriculum for the youth is awesome. My wife teaches
the youth in Sunday School and is amazed by the youth. They don't study the
lesoon material even when it's texted to them. However they do join into
the conversation. We learn better when we teach each other. We will have the
opportunity to be active learners.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! But this will only work if we are each willing to do
the work necessary. Lectures about the Gospel do nothing without application. It
is easier to apply something that we actively participate in learning. I agree
with @KCC that it is very difficult to pay attention when the lesson is exactly
the same as it was four years ago. We need to find better ways to apply the
scriptures to our own lives and this change in curriculum is designed to help us
do just that.
Many years ago I was exposed to the Church's curriculum. For the first
several time I went through it, i enjoyed it very much. But, After 50 times, at
least, it is all I can do to stay awake. Nothing new has been added in fifty
years. We wonder why our members don't want to attend! This is GREAT and
I am looking very forward to this. So often on Sunday we sit for theee hours in
church and are lectured. By the last hour class, people are starting to tune
out. The best classes I have been in are taught by prepared teachers who ask the
right questions and get the discussion going. I think members often don't
read manuals or prepare for classes because thry don't have to; the teacher
has done it for them and just lectures.
I am not looking forward to this.
Great idea! But wondering if this will work for adults. Based on the people who
participate in class, only about 20% either read the lesson before class or
studied it in the past and know it enough to participate. Adult classes will
need a different kind of teacher who is not committed to lecture-style and
having the scripture verses read in class. And wondering if I could be that kind
of teacher if called up to do so. The adult may need the young adults to come in
and teach us!