A couple of weeks ago, the mail man braught me my long awaited copy of the first volume of B.H. Roberts’s Seventies’ Course in Theology. As you can imagine, it has been a heady time around the Oman household. In reading it, I came across what I am sure would be Aaron Brown’s dream calling: class critic.
It turns out that as the Church’s instructional curriculum was formalized around the turn of the twentieth century there was a practice of calling people to serve as “class critics.” Essentially, this person’s role was to listen to the lesson, and when it was done get up and tell the class what he though the teacher had done wrong. Or at least, that seems to have been the way that it frequently worked, because in the preface to his book Roberts felt called upon to tell “those who have been called to criticize the lesson” that they should also take the opprotunity to praise the teacher for those things that he did well and offer suggestions in addition to criticism.
A couple of days later I was reading in The Essential James E. Talmadge while preparing a lesson for Elders’ Quorum. I came across a discussion of class critics in Talmadge’s diary as he was worrying about turning his theological lectures at the LDS University into the Sunday School manual that became The Articles of Faith. He seems to have been fretting over whether or not he had provided the class critics with sufficient instructions. (A side note: Talmadge was a brilliant and facinating guy, but, man!, does he seem to have been anal.)
I, for one, look forward to the complete restoration of all things when called and set apart class critics will once more haunt the teachers of the Church. The real question is what sort of instructions we should give them?