- Use scriptures
- Adapt lessons according to need- Create "safe" atmosphere
"The ordinary Church classroom is a powerful setting for steady and continued growth in the gospel," Sister Virginia H. Pearce declared Saturday morning.
First counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister Pearce explained: "Sunday School, priesthood, Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, seminary and institute classes may be held in dedicated buildings, under a tree or in a home. But each class is part of a plan for lifelong gospel learning.
"We can have great expectations for the power of those learning hours. Church classes provide a place where we can repeatedly experience the very things that brought us into the waters of baptism; where we learn doctrine and receive the ratifying witness of its truth; where we come to understand how doctrine is applied in the reality of our daily lives and accept the challenge to change our behavior accordingly."
Continuing, Sister Pearce emphasized: "The fundamental curriculum for all classes in the Church is the scriptures - they contain the unchanging doctrines of the kingdom of God."
In speaking of how understanding doctrine helps change attitudes and behavior, Sister Pearce explained that members have to see the way doctrine is applied. Because the daily life of people varies so much in the 160 different countries where the Church has organized classes, she added, teachers can prayerfully make adaptations, "always taking care that the learning activities chosen truly reflect the doctrine.
"A teacher's goal is greater than just delivering a lecture about truth. It is to invite the Spirit and use techniques which will enhance the possibility that the learner will discover the truth for herself and then be motivated to apply it."
Teaching skills can be learned, Sister Pearce reassured those listening. She encouraged teachers to seek advice from other teachers, members of auxiliary presidencies or ward teacher development coordinators.
"We don't have to struggle alone in this Church," she added. "There is help everywhere. We can prayerfully and courageously seek to learn and practice new techniques.
"The skilled teacher does not want students who leave the class talking about how magnificent and unusual the teacher is. This teacher wants students who leave the class talking about how magnificent the gospel is!
"Learning occurs best in an atmosphere of trust and safety," she continued. "This means that each person's questions and contributions are respected. When we feel safe and included, we can ask questions that will help us to understand the gospel. We can share insights and faith that might help someone else. We can stumble without embarrassment as we try to apply the lessons taught."