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Saturday, March 5, 2011

If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail . . .

I like Orson Scott Card, but I read his non-fiction more than I read his fiction. Although, I do enjoy both. His article, "Holding on to the 'others'" hit home because I experienced many of his same challenges growing up. Consider this collection of his quotes:
Gradually, though, I began to feel as if, even in Sunday School and . . .LDS culture was not particularly welcoming to the kind of kid I was.
And then on Sunday I'd sit in class and the teacher would say something that was simply wrong. At that age, I had no concept of being supportive or tactful.
. . .Though it was never my plan, I often left their lessons in tatters.
But to me the gospel mattered, and getting it right was important. I actually thought a teacher should care about making sure only true doctrines were taught in class.
I didn't enjoy Sunday School, and the teachers certainly didn't enjoy me.
I think I just annoyed them. I'm sure I sounded like an arrogant know-it-all. . . . What they never understood was that I wasn't vain or proud — in fact, I was a mess of depression and self-doubt. I merely thought I was right about issues that mattered.
Card goes in a different direction than I'm going in this posting. He argues his case well. He doesn't need me to underscore it. I have my own ax to grind. I think his ideas will help me make my own case on a different subject.


Today, things that are simply wrong are just as likely to be taught in adult Gospel Doctrine as they are in youth classes.


It IS important to get the gospel right especially when eternal life is at stake.


But, IS there any way to correct a teacher tactfully when he/she is just flat out wrong?


I taught at the university level for about 10 years. In the early days of my career I was paranoid about a student correcting me or my being wrong about something.


Sometimes a student knew something I didn't or knew something that I should have known. Was I embarrassed? Yes. Did I feel a bit silly? Yes.


I learned not to fear this.



Students don't expect you to know everything but they expect you to know a lot. I learned it wasn't about me. It was about THEM. They knew something THE TEACHER didn't know. That is a well-deserved ego trip. I simply praised them profusely and moved on. If they knew something I didn't know, they deserved to bask in glory for a while.

Teachers in Church are unlikely to say or do something wrong if they truly prepare their lessons the way they should. In addition, we know that teachers are not called to be teachers because they have superior knowledge. Often they don't. We all know that. It's a calling. (See "called")

I think that is the real issue here, preparation. Poorly prepared lessons do the gospel, and the Church, an injustice. Teachers shouldn't be teaching what is flat out wrong because it is too easy to find out what is right.

Applying gospel doctrine is harder than teaching what that doctrine is. Application is where all the gray area is. This is where agency comes into play.

A prepared teacher will only need correction on rare occasions. Rare occasions are not going to alienate class members or the teacher if that instance proves to be an actual infraction.

We say it enough, "Nobody's Perfect." In Mormondom that means, "Nobody's perfect, at least not yet."

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your point on preparation.
    If anyone ever has a concern that a teacher is consistently teaching bad doctrine, talk to the bishop. He is expressly charged to "protect the doctrine" in his ward. Hopefully he will take that part of his calling seriously and address it - whether it be Gospel Doctrine, EQ, RS, or Sunbeams.

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