The Purpose of Gospel Doctrine Class

July 29, 2004 | 24 comments
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The discussion below under Utah Mormons has rekindled a longstanding question for me: why do we have a Gospel Doctrine class? Elder Harold G. Hillam offered a very interesting history of the Sunday School Program of the Church in the August 1999 Ensign with an article entitled, “Sunday School: Oil for Our Lamps.” The Sunday School program of the Church dates back to the mid-1800s, when the focus was on teaching children the Gospel. Gradually the target age range for Sunday School lessons expanded to the system that we have today.

Elder Hillam quotes several sources on the purpose of Sunday School. Here are two notable statements:

* A letter in a time capsule from the general Sunday School presidency and board of 1899, which included President Joseph F. Smith and Elder Heber J. Grant of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. to the “general Sunday School Authorities of A.D. 1949”:

This Sunday School work has been to us a labor of love and our interest does not merely exist for today, but extends into the future.… We beseech you … that you never forget for an instant the object of the great Sunday School work, [namely]: To teach the children the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to make Latter-day Saints of them.

* Elder Robert L. Simpson, then Sunday School President of the Church, in 1987: “[Its] only function is to teach the scriptures and to improve testimonies throughout the Church. [It has] no other purpose in being, and we take that charge and responsibility very seriously.”

This second quotation is the more interesting to me. If the purpose of Sunday School is “to teach the scriptures and to improve testimonies,” is it succeeding? In my experience, the quality of the teaching in Gospel Doctrine class is wildly uneven, though generally quite low. (Note that I have never had Jim Faulconer as a Gospel Doctrine instructor, much to my detriment.) If the Church were primarily interested in conveying official statements of doctrine, therefore, it would be well advised to produce a series of videos to be shown each week during the Gospel Doctrine class. This would remove all local idiosyncracies, as well as unapproved representations of Church doctrine.

You can probably tell where I am headed with this: I do not think that the principal purpose of Gospel Doctrine class is to convey official statements of doctrine. Rather the principal purpose is to provide a weekly opportunity for local members to discuss the scriptures. The discussion is the critical event. We share our understandings about the Gospel and in doing so, we learn about each other. We become more of a community, and we build our testimonies by hearing the experiences and testimonies of others. This is a little piece of the Zion-building puzzle.

By the way, from time to time, I have heard rumors that the Church was contemplating disbanding the Sunday School program. I don’t know how these rumors get started or whether there is any validity to them. Those who perpetuate them sometimes note that Sacrament Meeting and Priesthood/Relief Society are the only meetings mentioned by name in the temple recommend interview (“Do you earnestly strive … to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings…?”) In any event, I have the sense that Sunday School is the least important of the three Sunday meetings from an institutional standpoint, even if it has the salutary role that I describe above.

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24 Responses to The Purpose of Gospel Doctrine Class

  1. John on July 29, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    There was a pilot program in Japan a few years ago in which church was reduced to only two hours. Does anyone else here remember that or have more detail? I am under the impression that the program is long gone and they are back up to three hours. Anybody know if they accomplished this through shortening all the meetings or if they got rid of Sunday School?

    My issue with Sunday School is that there seems to be a lot of pressure to keep things at the lowest common denominator. Also the relentless march through the scriptures means that things don’t get studied in depth, and there is only one Sunday every four years in which the controversial topics might come up. Even then the manual says to avoid discussing the topics themselves. I would probably prefer a format similar to institute classes, in which several months could be spent on a single book.

    These frustrations probably feed into the discussion of church mormons vs internet mormons…

  2. clark on July 29, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    I agree with the lowest common denomenator problem. Ugh. I really hate that. I’d like 2 hours with perhaps evening classes more like Institute that were optional. After being in nursery for a year I noticed that it is *very* hard on little kids. Especially when church falls near their normal nap time. (i.e. when our ward switched from mornings to afternoons)

  3. Matt Evans on July 29, 2004 at 6:17 pm

    “Rather the principal purpose is to provide a weekly opportunity for local members to discuss the scriptures. The discussion is the critical event. We share our understandings about the Gospel and in doing so, we learn about each other. We become more of a community, and we build our testimonies by hearing the experiences and testimonies of others.”

    I completely agree with this except for the qualifier “local.” The community that we aspire to build, it seems to me, is the community of the saints. Traveling salesmen and missionaries are as much a part of this community as are our next-door neighbors.

  4. Measure on July 29, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    I would agree with John and add my voice as one who has become disgruntled with Sunday School to the point of not attending. (and what do you know, I met my future wife in the foyer)

    I found the mormon blogs primarily because I was searching for deeper discussion about gospel topics.

  5. Rob on July 29, 2004 at 6:32 pm

    As a one-time Gospel Doctrine hater, I have changed my evil ways and now view Gospel Doctrine as a place to invite ward members to critique my own half-baked ideas about the scriptures. I figure if I’m bored, surely someone else is also, and take it upon myself to ask the questions that I wish the teacher had asked. I don’t worry too much anymore about how people will take my comments. These days I’m more worried about remaining silent, being bored, and getting a bad attitude than being maligned for suggesting that Lehi’s verbal abuse of Laman and Lemuel might not have had the consequences that Lehi intended.

    I figure if I have to listen to talk about microchip implants and the sign of the beast, others can listen to me wonder just why we’re surprised that Laman and Lemuel didn’t trust Nephi after they witnessed him killing an incapacitated drunk guy.

    There’s plenty of funky doctrine to light up even the most dismal of Gospel Doctrine lessons.

    And when you get called into the Bishop’s office for offending folks in the class, well, just another good opportunity to practice the second principle of the gospel–and get to know your Bishop better! You won’t be bored. You’ll have a better attitude. And Church will be fun. You might even read the lesson before-hand to figure out the most outlandish thing you could possibly add to the lesson!

    Three cheers for GD class!

  6. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    Matt: “The community that we aspire to build, it seems to me, is the community of the saints. Traveling salesmen and missionaries are as much a part of this community as are our next-door neighbors.”

    In my view, we are building more than one community; indeed, we are building several overlapping communities simultaneously: families, wards, stakes, Church. At least those. And while there may be some element of Church-wide community building in the Gospel Doctrine class (the uniform curriculum springs to mind), I don’t view that as the main purpose of the class. Again, if the goal were Church-wide community building, I think we would be well advised to do the videos. Now, General Conference … that’s Church-wide community building.

  7. TimeWeaver on July 29, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    >>>>>
    In any event, I have the sense that Sunday School is the least important of the three Sunday meetings from an institutional standpoint, even if it has the salutary role that I describe above.
    >>>>>

    I don’t know about other people, but if you are going to replace/drop a meeting, please, PLEASE, make it the Elder’s Boreum.

    I will take a toned-down Sunday School any day of the week over any average hour with the Elders. Talk about boring. At least in Sunday School you are talking about doctrine and have the scriptures open to read. Somehow Elder’s Quorum is the haven for falsified doctrine and esoteric meaningless opinions.

  8. John on July 29, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    TimeWeaver, please tell me that you aren’t in my ward. We’ve been trying to make EQ an interesting place despite the odd manuals. I think it is working since have cut down on the number of hall dwellers. Or maybe the bishop occasionally patroling the hall is the real reason for that…

  9. clark on July 29, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    I think a lot of it depends upon the teachers and the style of teachers. Especially the degree that encourage participation. Otherwise it is just one step up above a boring sacrament talk minus the sacrament.

    Personally I like EQ lessons because they are more topic driven and more open to discussion than Sunday School which is text driven and filled with what to me are little more than “fill in the blank” questions. I’d personally like to see the church perhaps drop the standard works oriented SS lesson plan. I understand completely why Pres. Benson did that and I think it was *very* necessary. But I think a bit of a change is necessary.

    As I said, I think an Institute like class that is a little more robust than SS would be most welcome. It would avoid the problems with study groups as it would still be under the watchful eye of the Bishop so that “fringe folk” don’t let it run amock.

  10. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 7:36 pm

    Rather than switch to “topic-based” classes, such as in priesthood and RS, wouldn’t it be better to help us learn better how to teach the scriptures. My experience is that most LDS don’t have a clue how to teach the scriptures, so they turn classes on them into topic-based classes: “The principle being taught in Alma 32-33 is X.”

    My problem with topic-based classes is that usually they either take up something for which we have no real answers and, so, encourage us to speculate and fight with each other, or they take up something that everyone already knows by heart so that we repeat the same old things. They don’t challenge us to reconsider or rethink our understanding of the Gospel. I think that the scriptures are more likely to do that than is a topic–assuming that we look at the scriptures themselves rather than merely what we think we already know.

  11. clark on July 29, 2004 at 7:45 pm

    Jim, while I understand your concern, it seems to me that it reduces to “most teachers can’t teach.” Ideally the teacher development class helps, and I’ve taught it before. But it seems to be neglected in most wards.

    The reason I find topical classes better is that they tend to focus in more on practical and pragmatic concerns rather then exegesical and theoretical concerns. The concern seems to be “what does this mean” in terms of theoretical knowledge and not “how do I improve my life.”

    Indeed most of my problems with SS relate to the fact that if you actually do regularly read your scriptures you’ll be bored out of your mind. You already have the theoretical knowledge. The topical knowledge tends to take a topic and raise practical questions about implementing it. That’s much harder to do with the way SS is structured. I tried to do it, and even recognizing what I wanted to do, I struggled in making things relevant.

  12. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 7:56 pm

    Clark, my experience with the scriptures is radically different than yours. I read them regularly and have not been bored out of my mind doing so since I learned more about reading them. It also seems to me that it is not very difficult for scripture to be relevant.

    But you’re right. My complaint does amount to “most of our teachers can’t teach.” Unfortunately, most of those who teach the teacher development class can’t teach either, so I don’t think the class is often helpful. I’m not sure what to do about that problem.

  13. Clark Goble on July 29, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    I think you misread me. I don’t get bored when *I* read the scriptures. I can always find new things to look at. However the scriptures in *Sunday School*. Now that is a whole other kettle of fish. As I said, while I think I give good lessons, I really have to work hard to make the practical guides to what people should *do*. i.e. to keep them from just focusing in on the text or abstract matters.

    I think the solution to teacher development is to have good teachers show others how to teach. But as I said, it is unfortunately a very low priority for most Bishops.

  14. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 9:25 pm

    If the purpose of Sunday School is “to teach the scriptures and to improve testimonies,” is it succeeding?

    In the Dallas Fourth Ward– YES!!

    But- I better stop before I talk too much about the “in our ward…” :)

  15. Matt Evans on July 29, 2004 at 9:50 pm

    Gordon,

    The idea that wards are supposed to be exclusive communities doesn’t sit well with me. It seems appropriate to me to have some family activities where outsiders are excluded; the church has several church ordinances and meetings where outsiders are excluded; but saying wards should exclude visiting members, or discourage their full involvement, makes me itch.

    I completely agree that visitors should not grandstand or monopolize the discussion, but that policy applies to everyone. My preference would be to treat all members as equal participants in Sunday School, whether they are recent converts or seasoned leaders; visitors, new move-ins, transplants or ward veterans. I may be especially sensitive to this issue because our ward experiences mild tension between the old timers and the transient students and young families who spend a few years then move along. We (speaking for the young families) occasionally get the feeling that some members think we’re still too new and uncommitted to the ward (we’ll be leaving) to participate in Sunday School.

    Finally, I think the church doesn’t produce videos because the interaction and discussion is valuable. Discussion thrives best in relatively small groups, but I don’t believe this justifies making visitors feel less welcome to participate or share their experiences or insights.

  16. Julie in Austin on July 29, 2004 at 9:58 pm

    I read these comments with great interest, since I currently teach Instutute, Gospel Doctrine, *and* am the Teacher Improvement Coordinator. My thoughts:

    (1) Surprisingly, SS gets about the same depth as Institute. I have 27 1.5 hour classes to do a standard work in Institute (two semesters, 14 classes each except Thanksgiving, total of 2430 minutes) but I have 48 50 minute classes (2400 minutes total) in Sunday School, so not a significant difference. I don’t think topical classes are a good idea. I do think we might experiment with “Yes, this is OT year, but we are going to spend 4 months on Isaiah, and next rotation in four years we’ll do 4 months on Jeremiah, next time Genesis, etc.” And I don’t wish to be rude, but the discussion questions in the teacher’s book are generally insipid and provide a terrible model for what might begin a good discussion. Generally, there are too many fact questions, too many ‘how’ questions, and too many with completely obvious answers.

    (2) Jim writes, “My complaint does amount to “most of our teachers can’t teach.” Unfortunately, most of those who teach the teacher development class can’t teach either, so I don’t think the class is often helpful. I’m not sure what to do about that problem.”

    I have been a very frustrated teacher improvement person lately because I don’t feel that my efforts make any difference. Why is this?

    (a) Maybe I’m not doing a good job teaching them. If so, I don’t really know how to correct that.

    (b) I think the teacher improvement person is hamstrung. For example, there’s nothing in my job description authorizing me to sit in on another teacher’s class and then give them my feedback. (I do this at the invitation of phood/aux leaders, but it doesn’t happen very often.) And, of course, it is the teachers who least need it who come to the meetings anyway.

    (c) I don’t know if teaching can really be improved in a quarterly one-hour meeting, anyway. Personally, my teaching has been improved by gaining experience, reflecting on good/bad experiences, and gaining subject knowledge.

    Yes, it is terribly frustrating to sit through stultifying lesson after lesson. At the same time, I cringe to think of eliminating SS. How many members would have virtually no contact with the scriptures without it?

    I do think the bishoprics and other leaders send a negative message by (in most cases with which I am familiar) virtually never attending SS. I know everyone is busy, but when the bishopric and RS president is out conducting interviews, touching base, networking, etc., on a regular basis, I think it creates the impression that SS is dispensible and is for those with nothing more important to do.

    This is turning into the great american novel here, but for those of you still reading: I don’t think contentious discussions belong in SS (that’s what blogs are for) and I think that initiating one is the last refuge of a teacher-trying-really-hard-not-to-be-boring.

    Honestly, the easiest solution to all of these problems would be to make Jim’s scripture study book required reading for all Gospel Doctrine teachers.

    I consider the scriptures a fascinating treasure, and it pains me to see them dragged through the mire of boredom on a weekly basis.

  17. John on July 29, 2004 at 10:44 pm

    Julie,

    Back in the day (5 years ago?) when I was in institute we spent over 3 months on John, and 6 months on Revelation. These classes weren’t out of a manual, which might have been part of why they were so good, though I mostly attribute the quality to an extraordinary instructor and inquisitive students.

    Of course we need to remember that the church is growing and spending several weeks on King Benjamin’s sermon might not sit well in a ward full of recent converts in Brazil. Ah, the joys of correlation!

    I agree that the questions in most church manuals are simple recall questions or “Why?” questions that lead to a “Utah Mormon” answer. The teaching trait that I have observed that kills a lesson quickly is to ask questions from the book that are so easy that most of the class would be embarrassed to answer. I cringe each time I hear such a question. I start to have seminary flashbacks. I challenge teachers of Gospel Doctorine, RS, and EQ everywhere to ask hard questions. Ask questions that you don’t know the answer to. Look for apparent paradoxes or contradictions and ask the class to resolve them. In doing so they might discover that the apparent contradiction is can be resolved with a more detailed understanding of the principles involved. This used to be easier with the RS/Priesthood manuals. The BY manual had possible paradoxes in nearly every lesson. If you were willing to include quotes from the previous week’s lesson you could find even more trouble to resolve. Now this has been getting harder as the quotes become more homogeneous.

    How do you motivate the bad teachers to become better? I have no idea. Many if not most members are terrified to teach. Our ward has been experimenting with team teaching as a way of gently teaching technique to new teachers, but that makes the preparation process even harder.

  18. Kevin Barney on July 29, 2004 at 11:32 pm

    Some random thoughts on GD pedagogy (from a three-time GD teacher and current SS Pres.):

    1. I hate what I call “catechism” questions, that are so painfully obvious I feel offended to have to respond to them. And I believe in the golden rule in teaching: I try to teach a lesson that I would find interesting and helpful as a student. A discussion initiated by a series of Jim F. or Julie type questions would be wonderful.

    2. Although I encourage participation, I personally do not believe in putting people on the spot, and I never do so. And I let the class know that I will not call on anyone who does not volunteer. That wouldn’t work in law school, but I’ve known too many people who are petrified of having to speak in public to do otherwise. (I have a friend who used to teach a university student ward GD class using a pretty unmodified form of Socratic method. It was fascinating, but probably not a good model for your average ward SS class. )

    3. Do you teach to the people who have read the lesson or to those who have not? I struggled with this one for years. I wanted to reward those who took the time and made the effort to do the reading. But realistically, hardly anyone does so–not even me, when I’m not teaching! So I finally came up with this idea: take the first five minutes to do a survey of the material and get everyone “up to speed,” and then delve into whatever I really want to cover. I don’t always do that, but sometimes I do.

    4. You cannot cover all of the assigned material. It’s impossible, and trying to do so will just drive you crazy. Decide what you want to deal with, even if it is only a single verse, and do that, and don’t feel guilty for not doing more.

    5. I try to make sure that *everyone*, even the grizzled old high priest napping on the back row, learns at least *something* in one of my classes. Which means that I do try to convey actual *information* (what a shock!). And I never follow the manual slavishly, if at all. The person who actually learns something will always be a happy customer.

    6. I’m a big handout fan, and prepare them whenever I can. I also like props and treats. For instance, when I did the Allegory of the Olive Tree, I passed around a bowl of green olives for people to munch on, and explained how I never liked olives until I read Truman Madsen’s essay on Gethsemane in the Ensigh with all of its olive symbolism. And when I did the lesson that included manna in the wilderness, I passed out sugar wafers as my modern facsimle of manna. That sort of stuff really wakes the folks up. (I feel honor bound to do this stuff; my father wrote the chapter entitled “Creativity in the Classroom” in the old edition of Teaching: No Greater Call. They took it out of the new edition, but it is also an Ensign article, from the first year it was called the Ensign. Do a search on LeRoy Barney to find it at lds.org.)

    7. I steal others’ ideas shamelessly. For instance, I occasionally will devote a class to a game of gospel jeopardy, which I was exposed to in one of the first lessons I attended when I started going to law school at the Univ. of Illinois. If I see someone do something that I really like and works for me as a student, eventually it will probably make an appearance in my own repertoire.

    Well I can go on all day with this stuff. I personally think being GD teacher is the best calling in the Church, bar none.

    This stuff is also important for the youth classes. When I was a young man, I thought most of the teaching was patronizing; it taught down to us like we didn’t know or couldn’t grasp things. And it wasn’t just me; all my friends felt that way. And I see the same thing in our youth today; they complain that they’ve heard everything a hundred times before, it’s all incredibly boring, and so forth. And I’m sympathetic to the complaint, because I remember feeling the same way at their age. For this reason, I make it a practice not to teach “down” to the youth. They have a far greater capacity for learning and understanding than we usually give them credit for. And they respond very positively when you give them a little credit for having the capacity to do some real learning.

  19. Julie in Austin on July 29, 2004 at 11:34 pm

    John–You make a good point. We have ‘standard fare’ institute classes (OT, NT, BofM, etc.) and the specialized classes such as you mention. My impression is that you need to be in an area with a strong Institute to get any specialized classes. Here in Austin, with 300+ students, we may get one specialized class per semester. I would be interested to know how many students are able to take these classes.

    It is interesting to me that we expect *everyone* to be willing and able to teach, but not to sing a solo in sacrament meeting or play the organ. This means that we have concluded that teaching, unlike singing or playing, is something that anyone can do with no native talent or specialized training. Is this true? I don’t know. All I know is that I would never sing a solo in public.

  20. John on July 30, 2004 at 12:12 am

    Julie,

    I sang my first solo in public (in front of four wards) a few weeks ago after 30 years of dreading such a thing. It was very liberating. I sang “Book of Mormon Stories” and accompanied myself on the electric guitar. It rocked, or at least it did in my mind, and I believe in my 10-month old’s. My wife was just glad that it was good enough that she wasn’t mortified. Needless to say, this was a multi-ward talent show and not sacrament meeting. In fact, my offers of a sacrament meeting encore have not met with any success…

    I am intrigued by your point that everyone is fair game to be a teacher. Well, nearly everyone… I don’t think it is easier to teach than to sing, though I admit that I think I am a much better teacher than singer. Is it the participatory nature of the lessons? The fact that we are all taught to study the scriptures while no such doctrine exists for learning to play the organ? Is it the missionary program, the nature of which implies that anybody can become an effective teacher of the gospel? You would think that after 18-24 months of teaching you would be ok at it, unless you spent the whole time knocking doors. Is it the idea that we should be teaching our children, and therefore many members should be teachers of a sort already?

    I can tell you that in my ward perceived teaching ability is taken into account when calling teachers, but some wards might not have that luxury. I would guess that many people learn teaching by doing, which is a concept that doesn’t seem to work as well for singing solos or playing the organ. Maybe people are called in the hope that they will develop into better teachers.

    The institute that I went to had considerably fewer than 300 students and only one full-time teacher. There were usually two specialized classes a semester from the full-time teacher and one or two more from the volunteer instructors.

  21. Steve Evans on July 30, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    On a (marginally) related note, I’ve created a new poll at BCC about Gospel doctrine and learning the Gospel. You can participate here.

  22. Yeechang Lee on July 31, 2004 at 1:15 pm

    I personally think being GD teacher is the best calling in the Church, bar none.

    After two years as Sunday School President and two years as Gospel Doctrine instructor, Amen!

  23. ilia on August 1, 2004 at 9:29 am

    I have found that most teachers either in SS or EQ are reading strictly from the manuals and asking the questions that are being prompted by the manuals. This isn’t teaching in my opinion.

    I firmly believe that we need to understand the scriptures and why they were written. As a Church we neglect the history of the Old and New Testament and attempt to make them like BoM stories or relate them to Church History. It is interesting to read the history of the Bible and the context in which it was written.

    I have gone to nonChurch books to create more interest and open up avenues to discuss the reasons why of the Bible.

    Granted this is harder to do with the BoM and Doctrine and Covenants.

    The Priesthood manuals in my opinion are driven now to teach as written. It is very difficult for me to diverge from a Chapter or lesson that is entirely built from quotations that reinforces the theme over and over. I think these manuals have made EQ very dull, whatever happened to handbooks like the 70′s Course in Theology or Answers to Gospel Questions.

    The Church and the instructors need to devote more time to making effective lessons. But my last few years in Church remind me of my days in the Catholic Church and that is people want to come to Church and be finished with it on Sunday. They want to be spoon fed what they need to know, and they don’t want to learn for themselves. This last statement is a generalization.

    I relish my days in Institute in Boulder, CO during the early 80′s I learned and grew more in those few years then anywhere else.

  24. Nick on August 2, 2004 at 12:14 pm

    I got called to teach gospel doctrine in my ward and I think it’s a phenomenal calling. The lowest common denominator issue can be a problem, but it doesn’t have to be, IMHO. The class will step up and deal with what you dish out. I sometimes will using some postmodern litcrit to pull things out of the text and the students totally respond. So in terms of a class being interesting, it does matter how the teacher teaches and what skills and knowledge that person is able to bring to that situation.

    But I also think relationships matter. For example my elders quorum sometimes has boring lessons but I really dig those guys and I just help them out by commenting and adding to the discussion. And if a few of us do that, suddenly the person is teaching a good lesson and you have just contributed to better pedagogy in the Church.

    There is a trap of not assuming responsibility for one’s own gospel learning. I’m sorry but when you’re asked why you didn’t understand the gospel better, it’s going to be mighty lame to have to say “O, I had a crappy SS teacher.” The answer will be, so did 79.4% of people who were blessed with the restored gospel. Why didn’t you go sit on the grass and read your BoM instead of sitting there with all manner of ill will festering in you? Why didn’t you try to understand where this person was coming from, etc?

    I think that manual-bashing is not justified as the curricula are in no wise the problem with teaching in the Church. It’s not the manual’s fault people have unsuccessful classes and no one hangs it around your neck like a millstone. It’s pedagogically valid–leave out the crappy questions (there are more than you can possibly ever use anyway) and you’re good to go. I can’t imagine what teaching would be like in the church w/o decent curricula. Prochain départ: Apostacyville. And hello! We’re volunteers.

    Personally, I like to cover all the material in the chapters and I don’t like it when Church teachers use the “there’s too much to cover, so screw it I’ll talk about my mission” approach. I will stop and discuss interesting points as they come up but I think of part of my role as being a “schema activator” for people’s personal study as opposed to dispensing truth to them. They’re grownups, they know where to go if they want more indepth information. When I was earning my bread by teaching, one of our evaluation indicators was “there is a clearly discernable lesson plan”. I think this approach lends strength to the classroom experience, and it’s a comfortable context for learning.