Sunday School Inequality

June 17, 2008 | 50 comments
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This week I went to an excellent lecture on inequality. Clayne Pope, retiring economist, pointed out that while income inequality in the U.S. has been pretty close to the same for the last 200 years, leisure-time is now concentrated more heavily among the poor, while education inequality and lifespan inequality have both dropped like a rock. These are great things, wonderful even.

Unfortunately, I fear that improvement in Sunday School comment inequality may well be stagnant. I substitute teach Sunday School every once in a while and sometimes it seems like about 10% of the group makes all the comments. I can ask more questions, but largely the same core group responds. They are great responders and have wonderful insights, but I’d still like to get others involved. I’m sure better teachers don’t have this problem because they have magical teaching techniques of which I am not aware. It is less of a problem in the smaller Elder’s Quorum where I know the participants well enough that they take pity on me. But by and large, most people don’t talk. This is a shame because many of them could share very interesting insights or experiences or questions.

This is an externalities problem. People don’t provide the service as much as they should because the benefits don’t all flow to them, while they bear all the risk of making a stupid comment. Since they discount the benefit to others, they don’t raise their hands and comments are underprovided. Many of them would be willing to comment, but face sharply diminishing returns to that service in the face of other people commenting.

As an aside, the same thing happens in charitable contributions, by the way. People would be willing to give more if the marginal charitable dollar had more impressive results, but between rich people and the government, there is enough money in the system that the value of a marginal dollar is driven down to the point that people donate fairly little (about 3% on average). They free ride.

The market solution for Sunday School is to subsidize comments. The regulatory solution would be to ask people not to comment more than once so as to drive up the perceived marginal return to commenting. In my classes at school when students are giving presentations, I give students credit for commenting (once!) on the other students’ presentations. Maybe I should bring candy to Sunday School…

The same thing is true, by the way, for testimony meetings– the top 10% of testifiers in a year probably rack up well over half of the total time. That’s even more concentrated than U.S. income inequality! But the problem, in this case, is exactly the opposite from the income problem. In income inequality the issue is that the few people have all the resources. In meetings, those who aren’t sharing, but could, are depriving the rest of us of their insights or convictions (while they also deprice themselves). Granted, that’s a good thing in some cases, but I am pretty sure it is still a net loss. Of course, if the 10% are always rushing to the podium, it is pretty easy to not stand up.

This actually isn’t as much of a problem in my current ward as it has been in some past ones. Or maybe I just don’t notice because I’m typically out in the hall with one of my beloved children.

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50 Responses to Sunday School Inequality

  1. John Buffington on June 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I occasionally sub as well.

    I act as an omniscient, benevolent, welfare-maximizing master planner.

    I am privy to know all class members utility functions, and allow responses by the “contributors” only when their increase in utility and the class members increase is marginally higher than if a “non-contributor” commented.

    I ask people to stop answering questions (lovingly, of course) and even pick on those not responding to maximize global class welfare.

    This seems to work.

    Now if we could only get the Bishopric at testimony meeting to “shut people down” and call others from the pulpit to bear their testimonies….

    Maybe this is why you see a lot of lawyer and physician Bishops, but not many economists…..

  2. James on June 17, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    “Maybe I should bring candy to Sunday School…” When I was a senior in High School, our Sunday School teacher was the Bishop’s wife. She would bring a bag of candy to class and each constructive answer or comment was rewarded with a treat. Of course we responded like Pavlov’s puppies and before much time had passed, everyone was actively participating in class and enjoying both the discussion and the rewards.

  3. Blain on June 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t accept the premise that there is necessarily and inherently increased value in more individuals participating in class. I do believe that it is important that people feel free to speak out in class if they have a question or comment that’s important to them, but that outcome is more in the hands of the other class members than it is in the hands of the teacher, and, more than that, it’s in the mind of the individual and whether they believe it to be safe to do so or not. There are different ways of learning and contributing, and I don’t think it’s fair nor helpful to assume that what is going on is anything other than optimal just because it doesn’t match some ideal we think it should be. I’ve personally found the teachers who ignore the people who have things to say because they have contributed “too much” to be harmful to the dynamic of the class because they are seen to be making those decisions based on how much the contributors agree with the teacher.

    Not everyone who reads a post on a blog is going to comment on it. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting value from the process, nor does it mean that they aren’t contributing to the conversation in other ways. I used to be bothered by lurkers, but I’ve come to trust their judgment. When they wish to leave the realm of lurkers and contribute, that’s cool too, but I let them decide when they want to do that on their own. They don’t need my encouragement — they’ll find their voice in their own time.

    We are not all the same. This is a good thing. Let us express our differences in our own ways, rather than in trying to silence those who have things to say and forcing those who don’t wish to to contribute anyway. Let the birds fly and the fish swim, rather than forcing them all to live on the ground.

  4. Jonathan Green on June 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    So would rewarding comments with candy be analogous to a targeted tax break? Or would you have to do something like relax some commandment a bit to get a similar effect, like OK’ing decaf or 9.5% tithing for infrequent commenters who meet a certain commenting standard?

  5. Latter-Day Sustainablist on June 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    On a different, but slightly related topic:

    One Fast Sunday while attending a single student ward, I created a histogram to study the length of time taken by the testimony givers (testifiers?). Not surprisingly, I discovered the data more-or-less followed a normal distribution (bell curve). There were a few short testimonies, a few long testimonies, and many in the middle. I would anticipate the curve would be biased towards shorter testimonies in a ward with primary children.

  6. Neal Davis on June 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    It’d be interesting to distribute the data about who comments and doesn’t as well along a spectrum of time in the Church and whether or not they come from a convert background.

  7. Peter LLC on June 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    When I have the floor I have no need of any platitude-wielding commenters–it’s all about opening heads and pouring in knowledge.

  8. Thomas Parkin on June 17, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Peter,

    LOL!!

    ~

  9. Ray on June 17, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Blain, I will stop my normal lurking and comment on this thread.

    I’m rolling along with the comments, mostly nodding in agreement, then spitting all over my screen at #7. Nice, Peter.

    I think I will remain quiet substantively on this one, since I just might be considered among the 10% that Frank feels should shut up and let others talk. Maybe I should speak up more in the Bloggernacle, but I’m not ready to do so yet. I’ll find my voice at some point in the future.

  10. Julie M. Smith on June 17, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Frank, I’d hate to see the terms you use to discuss intimate matters with your wife . . .

    Anyway, I think you can minimize the risks to class members by responding positively to every single comment, no matter how foolish.

  11. JM on June 17, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    /de-lurk

    I seldom comment in Sunday School or Elders Quorum for the same reason that I mostly lurk on the bloggernacle. That reason being that my comments are mostly ignored. I realize the reasons why are probably different in each scenario, but when a Sunday School is rushing through his / her material and allowing comments only out of courtesy, without so much as a nod or a thank-you, it feels like I’ve just wasted my time.

    If the experience simply rewards ‘takers’ and ignores ‘givers’, then personally I’m inclined to just take.

  12. Aaron Brown on June 17, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    “People don’t provide the service as much as they should because the benefits don’t all flow to them, while they bear all the risk of making a stupid comment.”

    There’s no such thing as a stupid comment. There are only stupid commenters.

    AB

  13. Aaron Brown on June 17, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    “People don’t provide the service as much as they should because the benefits don’t all flow to them, while they bear all the risk of making a stupid comment.”

    There’s no such thing as a stupid comment. There are only stupid commenters.

    AB

  14. Seth R. on June 17, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Good comment JM.

  15. Seth R. on June 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Seriously though, he does make a good point that a lot of the lack of participation in classes is simply due to crappy teaching.

    “So… does Jesus just want us to be nice to people we like?”

    [Blank stare, all the while thinking "do you think I'm six years old?"]

    “What are some ways we can ‘liken the scriptures unto ourselves?’”

    [Crosses arms thinking "just because you don't know what the heck you're doing up there, doesn't mean I need to ad lib for you. Teach your own crummy lesson."]

    “Does anyone have some experiences with that?”

    ["One of the advantages of being down here, is that I don't have to put in the work to keep the class entertained. I'm not about to give that up, thanks."]

    “What are the four things required in the Fourth Article of Faith”

    ["I really need to clear out that rain gutter sometime this week..."]

  16. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 17, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I’ve been a Gospel Doctrine teacher most of the last 15 years in three different wards. I gave up on trying to provoke meaningful comments per se, and I give those in the class a sense of participation by handing out the scriptures we are going to read together on Post-It (R) Notes so that, usually, I can just cite the scripture and the person with that Post-It goes right into reading. It maximizes scripture reading time and minimizes the fumbling around for volunteers (the same 10% who volunteer comments of course). If I want to ask a question about what the passage means, the reader has set himself up to be on the spot.

    Personally, though I love to add a lot of external insight from NIbley and various FARMS articles, I think the most important thing I can do is have us read together from the scriptures and get a basic understanding of what is actually being said. There are so many scripture passages that have become so repetitively associated with particular interpretations or applications that just getting out of that rut, and having people think about what the scripture actually says, OTHER than the usual derived moral they have heard in other lessons and talks, satisfies me that I am making a contribution. I guess my approach to extracting meaning bears a resemblance to what I learned in law school, asking what appear to be simple questions about who is being referred to and what was the question the author is trying to answer.

    In my high priests group, the usual ratio is reversed. Most of the people in there have been in bishoprics, high councils, etc., and taught classes of all sorts, so all the person responsible for the lesson has to do is introduce a topic and then ask for comments.

  17. Julie M. Smith on June 17, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    JM, thanks for commenting

  18. hp on June 17, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Seth R., LOL. It’s a lot of work to do a solid, thought-provoking lesson and lead people through it.

    JM – this rings true – I would have talked any time to get past the uncomfortable (as I saw it) silence after an awkward question, but for a teacher who appears to care about what I’m saying and weave comments meaningfully into the lesson, it’s more a questions of making myself shut up so other people can talk.

  19. a random John on June 17, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    JM,

    You’re lurking in the right place!

  20. Researcher on June 17, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Hey, Ray, if you comment a little here and a little there, pretty soon you might get used to the process and eventually one of these years you could even get to be the Most Frequent Commenter in the Bloggernacle. You never know!!! :-)

    But seriously…one of the techniques I liked back in the days before I became known as as organ player and actually got to teach, was to assign people ahead of time (like a week previous) to make a short comment on some point in the lesson. This way you can hear from some of that other 90 percent. I don’t think I ever had anyone turn me down.

  21. Jeremiah J. on June 17, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I’ve almost never thought that too few people comment in Sunday School. I rarely comment, not because of shyness or nothing to say, but because it doesn’t seem like the things I say typically enlighten or edify. And I learn from and enjoy Gospel Doctrine just fine. (I just noticed I’m saying basically the same thing as JM above) There is a bit of irony though because there are people in my GD class whom I’ve graded on participation in college courses. I have an explanation all worked out for them if they ever ask about this.

    If it is a problem, it seems like more of a public goods problem than an externalities problem. When making a comment some people feel the shame of making a bad comment (or the effort cost of formulating and making a comment at all) and the pleasure of making a good comment in different degrees. Frequent commenters are usually people who like to make comments and do so effortlessly but don’t worry that their comments might have been bad. Having comments made is a public good, but people typically proviide it if they get some selective net benefit from doing it themselves (otherwise they’d free ride). It doesn’t seem like an externality problem, because no one who isn’t choosing to comment is paying some cost related to commenting. Unless of course we want to say that the problem is bad commenters who love what they do–now would be a real externality problem! But you’re the economist, so clear me up on this point, Frank.

    Now, how do I get my comment subsidy?

  22. Frank McIntyre on June 18, 2008 at 10:45 am

    I’m really too late to start responding to all the comments, but thanks for the many clever ideas (except JM, who’s comment on teachers ignoring comments I am ignoring).

    John, if being an economist will lower my chances of being a Bishop, my choice is looking better all the time…

  23. Bro. Jones on June 18, 2008 at 11:17 am

    #3 said: “I don’t accept the premise that there is necessarily and inherently increased value in more individuals participating in class.”

    Tell that to the Sunday School president who took me aside and yelled at me for “not letting my class talk enough” despite the fact that the Gospel Essentials class could easily go for weeks without anyone asking a single question. Kinda hard to do anything but a lecture format when nobody will say anything.

    (But I agree with you totally: just because the swishy liberal academy has decided that “lectures are bad because they thwart individuality and self-expression” doesn’t mean that it’s true, or that the frequently awful and empty “Q&A” in the Sunday School manual automatically makes for a fulfilling, successful lesson.)

  24. Seth R. on June 18, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I subbed for GD once. Got up there, and pretty much talked straight through the whole thing, with only a few questions or comments here and there. The class seemed visibly relaxed about the ability to sit back and not have to contribute. Several came up afterward and complimented the lesson.

    Since then, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that participation is something that, if it happens, great, but always show up ready to talk non-stop the entire 30 to 45 minutes.

  25. Frank McIntyre on June 18, 2008 at 11:53 am

    “Sunday School — Come for the Inspiration, Stay for the Relaxation”

  26. a random John on June 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

    My teaching method is to say things so outlandish that people can’t help but comment. If you really want to get people talking you need to move the seat of decision making from the conscious to the sub-conscious. So that people who’ve been silent for years will spontaneously shout, “Well that’s just wrong!”

  27. Sean on June 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    My teaching method is to say things so outlandish that people can’t help but comment. If you really want to get people talking you need to move the seat of decision making from the conscious to the sub-conscious. So that people who’ve been silent for years will spontaneously shout, “Well that’s just wrong!”

    a random John, I think that’s funny and a sometimes good method all in one!

    I have used several different methods mentioned in the comments: ask people in advance of the lesson to share comments; be prepared to talk the whole time; pass out scripture references before class. I think it’s tough to get the appropriate balance between talking and asking for comments. All these methods seem to have worked well and not so well at different times. I think preparing and counseling with the Spirit, as Gene R. Cook teaches in his book Teaching by the Spirit, helps us to know which method to use at what time.

  28. Tanya S. on June 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Some of us just really, really (REALLY) don’t like speaking up, and some teachers really need to just accept that and stop pressuring us to speak. This is reason number 4 why I don’t like going to Gospel Doctrine, and why I nearly broke out in song when our YW president decided that GD time was the only time our presidency could actually all get together for a presidency meeting. A legitimate excuse for ditching GD? Alleluia!

    (However, I speak up when the YW teacher teaches false doctrine. I don’t care so much if the adults are getting false doctrine [reason number 6 why I don't like going to GD], but my precious girls? I try to limit the damage to their young, impressionable minds.)

  29. Tanya S. on June 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    ARJ, I believe I would enjoy your class :-)

  30. Rob on June 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Feast Upon the Word is a whole blog pretty much devoted to this topic.

  31. Rob on June 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Ouch, Tanya, YW presidencies (And RS presidencies, and others…you know who you are!) who treat the second hour of Church as their own private meeting time are the bane of SS presidents churchwide and do nothing but add to the feeling that SS is optional rather than a vital part of the three hour block.

    As for not wanting to speak up, I know that some folks have this problem. But that’s what repentance is for! But seriously, kinda hard to share the gospel without speaking up, and no easier place than your friendly neighborhood ward SS class.

  32. RT on June 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve taught gospel-doctrine for several years now. I agree with Seth R. to a point–while I do think that you have to be prepared to speak for 30 minutes straight, this obviously has to be the worst case scenario. As explained in detail in the Ensign a few issues back, Sunday School is supposed to be a discussion, guided by the teacher. It doesn’t always turn out that way, but that ought to be the plan going in.

    My problem with asking for comments, though, is that you never know who can or cannot actually give them. I see two different problems:
    (1) some people are shy and don’t want to comment. While I certainly would like them to comment, I don’t think it’s productive to make people feel uncomfortable by putting them on the spot. In other words, while I’d prefer that everyone come and participate, I’d still prefer them coming and not participating over not comming at all.

    (2) Some people actually can’t comment due to church discipline. As a SS teacher, I’m obviously not privy to the list of who can or cannot participate, so my policy is to never ask a specific person for a comment (or prayer, for that matter). I had a friend in a singles ward who made some mistakes and was under discipline for a time. During that time, he remained active, and on a couple of occasions teachers in classes asked him to give prayers or comments. My friend said one of the worst parts of the whole experience was constantly having to ask out of it in the middle of a class.

  33. Blain on June 18, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    22 — I’d be glad to. I’ve been an SSP, and every other ward-level SS calling other than teacher. I spent years avoiding GD (I refer to it as “the black hole” because it’s so hard to get anything out of it), until I was specifically invited to come back to it by my bishop with the charge that it would be good for me and good for the class. The GD instructor and I have had our disagreements in the past (like when he released me as EQ instructor when he became EQP because he didn’t like what I had to say), but it’s gone quite well. I don’t go every week, but, when I do, it’s been good. This past Sunday he even called on me without me raising my hand because he was sure I had something to say (I did).

    25 — That’s along the lines of where I was at as EQ instructor. i saw my job as getting people to think about things in a way they hadn’t thought about them before, because the thinking would be more informative than whatever information we had to say. It had something to do with the aforementioned release, I think. But that process, along with my continued participation in lessons since then, has helped produce a relatively relaxed environment in which people feel free to challenge long-stated assumptions about whatever topic we’re talking about.

    30 — SSP’s need to face the realities that SS doesn’t serve the needs of every member. I played hall-cop when I was SSP as well, but, if I had it to do again, I’d try talking to the people in the hall to see what I could do to make SS more relevant and useful to them. Sometimes I will attend the hall class a time or two a month, and I’ve had some very powerful fellowshipping and ministering result from that choice. The Church is here for the members, not vice versa. We are here to serve each other, not to domineer each other. Free agency should be enforced with that in mind.

  34. RT on June 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I also agree with Rob. I really don’t understand why so many otherwise-active members of the church have no problem skipping Sunday School to attend to other callings.

    Am I justified in deciding that I’ll start skipping Elders’ Quorum to work on next week’s lesson? Or Sacrament Meeting to work on this week’s lesson? If not, why is Sunday School any different? I really don’t get this phenomenon.

    I’m continually amazed when I look around the ward and see good, active members who I haven’t seen in Sunday School for the past five years. Given the participation problems a lot of the commenters are pointing out–well, one obvious solution to this would be having all of the members of the ward simply show up, thereby increasing the number of people available to add to a discussion.

  35. Tanya S. on June 18, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Re: 30 and 33. I agree that during SS isn’t the ideal time for a presidency meeting, and in an ideal world, we would meet some other time. But sometimes circumstances just make it impossible. In our case, we tried meeting other times, but it was impossible to actually get a matching schedule. I happen to believe that missing SS is a better option than having the YW program in disarray because we leaders can’t ever get together to plan and discuss issues. Like I said, I agree it isn’t ideal, but it was the best of our options.

  36. CS Eric on June 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Several years ago when I was the GD teacher, it seemed that all the priesthood planning was being done during SS and that I was the only male in the room. It was so obvious that quite often I welcomed the class to the first hour of Relief Society.

    I always spent more preparation time in developing questions than in any other area. If you ask the right questions, people will give more than a canned response.

  37. Rob on June 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    The January Ensign had a great article on preparing and teaching with questions. As ward SSP, I’ve been passing out a handout to all the ward leaders based on this talk, and feel like teaching is improving in our ward as people try to think about teaching as a time to have a discussion that invites the Spirit and leads to Christ based on asking and answering questions.

  38. RT on June 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Tanya:

    I get what you’re saying, but I’m sorry–unless you’re living in some far outpost of the church where you’re all hours apart, I just don’t buy it. There’s always time somewhere in the week or somewhere else on sunday. It’s likely going to be inconvenient…but what else is new in the church?

    Besides, how is that any different a problem than the rest of us face? I really don’t have time to home teach–I’m working two jobs and have a young family to watch out for–but I try to find the time anyways. If I can’t, am I justified skipping EQ and meeting with my home teaching family in the hall during that hour?

    Thing is, while I have no doubt it’s easier to have your meeting in the second hour, you have to know that sunday school suffers as a result. And that’s not just a problem for the teacher who found the time during their week to spend several hours working on a lesson, only to have half the ward find other things to do–it’s also a problem for that class member who did show up to class, perhaps needing some spiritual sustenance or insight, but who then doesn’t get the benefit of the spirit and insight of those ward members who aren’t there. This is a particular problem when it comes to the missing auxiliary leaders because a lot of those people are the very types who WOULD have a lot of good things to share. It matters–in a real way–that they’re not there.

    Not to get preachy or anything, but I just don’t get why people think this is ok. I’ve yet to hear the temple recommend “do you go to your meetings” question asked with a qualifier (ie “do you go to the meetings you have time for?” or “do you go to your non-sunday school meetings”). Obviously there are emergencies, and obviously things do come up sometimes…but making a decision to do this regularly?

  39. Tanya S. on June 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    RT, I’m afraid I still see no problem in meeting when needed, and in our case, the middle is the best option. (FYI, our bishop supports us meeting during that hour.)

  40. East Coast on June 18, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Well, Rob, the handout was great but when faced with otherwise friendly and talkative people who seem to clam up when faced with perfectly reasonable questions in Gospel Doctrine and only Sister Jones is speaking up (bless her), the run-of-the-mill substitute teacher is going to start babbling in front of the class. Basic human nature.

    I did appreciate the super helpful Sunday School presidency counselor who made sure I had everything I needed.

    [And it wasn't that bad; we heard some wonderful stories related to Alma 5: someone's experience escaping the captivity of debt, for example, was quite a thoughtful comment.]

  41. Jim Donaldson on June 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    This is somewhat brutal, but I tend to have what might be called a free market attitude about sunday school classes and sacrament meeting talks. If the lessons are interesting, the questions thoughtful and the comments intelligent, people will be there. Many class members ask this question of themselves as soon as sacrament meeting is over: how can I get the greatest benefit from this next hour? The answer might be a presidency meeting, scripture study, sleeping in the back seat of the car (it happens), or in class. I’m not sure I have a duty to spend the hour in class simply because it is there. I don’t recall sunday school class attendance (unlike sacrament meeting and priesthood, if I remember correctly) as being a commandment. We haven’t had a bishop attend sunday school class since the Kimball administration. I’ve skipped a few classes lately because I found the way the teacher approached the material so aggravating that it killed whatever spiritual feelings I’d achieved in sacrament meeting. I think that crowded hallways are more a reflection of a dull or annoying class than a challenge to get everybody motivated to do something they don’t want to do. I always balk at the argument that one should go because others may benefit. That seems, again, like trying to motivate people to do something they don’t want to do. That should totally be a last resort, reserved for things like home teaching. The solution is to make the class better and the problem solves itself. It is nearly always easier to make bad things good than to get people to support bad things.

    How does this work in sacrament meeting? I think you can tell generally how interested the congregation is in the talk by the noise level, particularly the babies. When the parents really want to hear what’s next, those babies are quiet; when the parents are less interested… the noise level rises. I apply this when giving my own talks: when the noise starts to increase, I know I need to move on or take a different approach because what I’m saying isn’t landing.

    Rule 5: No babies ever cry when the sacrament speaker is talking about polygamy.

  42. Rob on June 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Hey East Coast, I had a kid doing a talk and sharing time in Primary on Sunday, so sorry I wasn’t there to be more supportive during your lesson. And I know you are far from run-of-the-mill. Thanks for stepping up to lead the class this week!

  43. SC Taysom on June 18, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Jim’s Rule 5 sounds like the basis for a great brain-teasing riddle “[How many] babies cry when the sacrament speaker is talking about polygamy? None, because sacrament speakers never talk about polygamy.”

  44. Jim Donaldson on June 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    >… because sacrament speakers never talk about polygamy (#42).

    Sorry, SC, that your ward is so dull.

  45. SC Taysom on June 18, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Me too!

  46. John Buffington on June 19, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Jim

    NO, NO, NO!!!

    Markets do not work!!!

    To maximize societal welfare, you need benevelent, wise, social planners (like, um, er, ah, …..me …..for example)

    I’m only here to serve

    Yours in Economics,

    John

    For the record, I would PAY (in addition to the usual 10% + time) to hear a speaker give a sacrament meeting talk on polygamy.

  47. Ray on June 19, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    John, how much – and can you get to the Cincinnati area to see it? *grin*

  48. Karen on June 19, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Teaching early morning Seminary I learned a lesson that has translated to all other teaching, including SS and especially FHE. Seth gets it. If you read all the supplemental reading preparing for Seminary takes several hours each day. Fortunately, I didn’t work outside the home then and could study (and take a nap) during school hours. I found if was was well prepared to speak for 90 minutes for my 50 min lesson the Spirit would guide me in emphasizing certain parts and also in whether or not and how much to encourage participation. If I was diligent on the days I could study the Lord carried me through the times when family or other obligations kept me from preparing as well. Many, if not most, mornings kids slept, did homework, flirted, or seemed off in la la land. Often I despaired or getting through to them at all. I am now pleasantly surprised how often these same “kids,” post missions, college, and marriage reference sometihing they learned in Seminary when I was seeking the Spirit but thought I was failing to get through. It is true that when we speak by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carries it unto the hearts of the children of men..

  49. Karen on June 19, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    In Sioux Falls SD in late 80s while SS was studying D&C a fine gospel doctrine teacher taught quite a lesson on polygamy. She passed out copies of talks from the Journal of Discourses and Eugene England’s essay. It was quite a discussion and she handled it very well.

  50. Marianne on June 20, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I teach Primary, thank goodness. I couldn’t stand the painfull lessons in SS and the same 10% of people (men in our ward, all those smart women in RS are apparently stricken with muteness during those magic 45 minutes) who would always have something to contribute, particularly one brother who liked to interject a little devil’s advocacy every week in the guise of helping the teacher along (he just got called to Primary and I’m going to LOVE to see that put into action during Sharing Time).

    But, in my experience teaching college classes, you have to have good questions prepped to start with, and then you have to be willing to exercise the power of the pause. Many people might be sitting there getting up the courage to say something, and you just have to leave the space–and many of us want to be passive learners, but it’s our responsibility to come to lessons prepared to learn and be engaged, so as the teacher you have a responsibility to leave them the room to say something. Just stand there and smile expectantly. This doesn’t work so well when you have someone in the crowd with horror vacui, however.

    And my dad, the PERFECT GD teacher does the pre-prep, mid-week calls asking those who don’t often contribute to take a few minutes and talk about [related subject of the week]. He’s had some really great moments and I NEVER skip his class when I go home to visit. He’s a fantastic discussion leader–he gives a bit of background, we read a few scriptures, and we talk about some big questions.

    Now, this week in my Primary class I’m contemplating errecting a Rameumptum. Over the top? I mean, what 9-yr-old doesn’t want to stand on the table and tell their whole class that they’re better than everyone else?

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