tasting life twice;
in the moment and in retrospection
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Teaching Part 1
The church is an layman organization. This means we all, at one point or another, get to be teachers. Since most people do not go any further with this than the 3rd grade wish to be a teacher when i grow up! being called to a position to stand in front of classroom and "Impart Knowledge" = a lot of pressure and anxiety... which unfortunately often leads to classes that do not meet their potential.
I've been thinking about this lately, and really it IS a great responsibility to be a teacher but it's also an awesome opportunity! In D&C 50 the Lord commands us to "reason together" so that all "may understand" (vs 10) because it is our job "to teach the truth" (vs 14) and God will make us "strong" when we do so. He will make our reasoning/understanding/teaching HAPPEN. We are promised that when we impart (teach) and receive (learn) the truth "by the Spirit of truth" we will be "edified and rejoice together" (vs 21-22).
Doesn't that just relieve a LOT of pressure?! It's not MY job to edify; the scriptures i.e. the gospel i.e. the truth + the Spirit is what does that. I'm just the facilitator:
verb [ trans. ]
make (an action or process) easy or easier
The responsibility of the teacher then is to make the edification come easier. To introduce the topics and ask the questions with the goal to bring the spirit. We don't have to be powerful teachers in and of ourselves; we can speak "by the power the Holy Ghost" which will carry the message "unto the hearts" of those you listen. (Once it is there they have the choice to receive it or not -- remember it only goes "unto" their hearts they have to decide to take it "into")
When we learn a principle through the spirit, when we are truly edified, it is a personalized understanding of a truth that is for our individual benefit. It is the Lord himself communicating with ME on how I can become closer to and more like Him.
And ultimately what you want is for your students (and yourself) to become like Christ. Let me repeat myself, THE GOAL OF TEACHING IS TO BRING ABOUT WORTHWHILE CHANGE. Of course, no one ever really changes because of what they see or hear -- we change because of what we FEEL.
Elder Henry B. Eyring describes this in a story about his 18-year-old son: John then taught me something about proving. He told us about a seminary teacher. He said: “You know, Dad, he knew something. He knew that you could bear testimony to young people. You could teach that the Atonement is something they need. You could teach them that they need to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to repent, and to be baptized. They need to feel the Holy Ghost. You can do all that, and they will hear you. But they may not believe you. They need to experience it before they will believe they need it.”
Then John described a teacher who had persuaded some students to prove something. The teacher’s challenge was to not go to inappropriate movies and to see whether the students could feel the effect in their lives. According to John’s report, they did. They could feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost returning.
John felt that all the sermons in the world trying to prove there was a Fall would not be nearly so effective as the person trying to do the right thing and then feeling the power of the Holy Ghost in his or her life. There is a difference we can feel between our fallen natures and our being lifted above them by the power of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the effects of the Atonement.
You want your students to see that their challenge is not to prove that the Book of Mormon is true but to prove to God that they—the students—are true. When they do this, they will know the book is true. And when they prove that they will do what the book says, God will tell them more:
“And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them." (3 Ne. 26:9–10).