Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

The role of paradox in teaching (especially for youth?)

Posted by joespencer on January 8, 2007

John posted a brief glossary to my blog last week on apologetics, and in a way, his simple laying out of definitions was a nice segue into this blog, which I had already been planning. He defined the word dialectic:

dialectic: from the Greek word for conversation. The practice of examining ideas and beliefs using reason and logic; often accomplished by question and answer. Dialectic includes the logical pattern of thought, the overall pattern being thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Thus, thought proceeds by contradiction (thesis/antithesis) and is then reconciled by a fusion of the contradictory ideas (synthesis). The aim of thought is truth, and truth can only be discovered by showing how any given claim survives challenges from opposing claims.

I think John has wonderfully summed up the meaning of dialectic: it is a teaching process, “often accomplished by question and answer,” and one that tries to follow the contours of “the logical pattern of thought” by building up a “contradiction (thesis/antithesis)” that is subsequently “reconciled by a fusion of the contradictory ideas (synthesis).” I imagine that anyone can read in this summary the title of this blog: paradox roughly equals “contradiction (thesis/antithesis).” So how might this appear in a SS lesson?

First, the teacher allows the students free reign to interpret something in the scriptures in whatever way they see fit (depending on the class, these interpretations can be rather predictable). Second, the teacher presents something in the scriptures that, at least on its surface, absolutely contradicts the interpretation that has been offered, allowing the students as much as possible to recognize the contradiction themselves. Third, the teacher leads the students to solidify the contradiction by strengthening the two interpreted passages/verses/whatever, thereby strengthening the contradiction and leading the students toward a moment of “aporia,” of confusion or even madness (perhaps the best way this can be accomplished is by asking the students to resolve the difficulty and, having studied the passages thoroughly enough to be able to do this, shooting down their responses one by one, allowing their attempts only to strengthen the paradox). Fourth, the teacher introduces something that reconciles the paradox, whether this is a third scripture, a missed detail, a textual insight, a broader context, a philosophical idea, or whatever. Fifth, the teacher goes on to lead the students through a scriptural discussion of this introduced synthesis.

I have found in my own experience that this is a very powerful way to teach. I think it accomplishes several things at once: it challenges simplistic approaches to the scriptures; it forces students to abandon unconscious assumptions; it stresses the importance of taking a broader approach to the scriptures; it presses the class to read the text quite carefully right in the moment; and it tends to maintain the interest and attention of the class.

Now, a warning and a question.

Warning: Teaching this way seems in one way to require a great deal of preparation, since the teacher must know the scriptures in question well enough to generate a strict contradiction as well as a way out of that contradiction. (It does not go over well if one presents the contradiction without providing some way out of it!) But at the same time, I’ve found that teaching this way requires preparation that is a great deal more fun than preparing to teach in other ways: in preparing to teach this way, the teacher begins by reading the text in question quite simply and thereby by generating paradoxes that emerge quite naturally; then the teacher goes on in preparation to spend a great deal of time thinking and studying the text quite carefully in an attempt to reconcile the paradoxes encountered (you might notice that the teacher does not have the answers in advance, that the teacher discovers the difficulties and the reconciliations of the difficulties in the process of studying and preparing).

Question: I myself only developed this method of teaching since I began teaching the youth of the Church (I have been teaching the youth constantly for the past three years or so, in the YM program and in seminary). I have used it in giving talks in sacrament meeting, where I have more control over content than in the classroom, but I’ve not had the opportunity to try this with adults since I began teaching this way (I taught GD for a couple of years before I began teaching the youth, but I hadn’t figured this out yet). What I’m wondering is whether this method is one that works well only with the youth (and it really does work well with youth, astoundingly well). I suppose I imagine that adults, because they have (presumably) studied the scriptures more, are less likely to have quite as many assumptions about the text (unless one is teaching the OT, perhaps) and are far more likely to try to resolve the difficulty dogmatically or even contentiously. But I don’t know whether that is the case. It is interesting, perhaps quite significant, that dialectical teaching made Socrates the hero of the Athenian youth, while the adults of Athens executed him for it. Has anyone tried teaching this way with adults, and does it work? If not, is there any way to accomplish the same several things mentioned above with adults? Any thoughts?

25 Responses to “The role of paradox in teaching (especially for youth?)”

  1. Joe Spencer said

    Can someone tell me how to make the blog only show, say, the first paragraph on the main page rather than everything I write (how do I make the little “more…” link show up)?

  2. Robert C. said

    (Joe #1: In the WordPress.com editing dialog-box, there’s a little icon with a horizontal dashed line cutting a paper in two halves–click that. By clicking the Code tab above the editing dialog box you can see the htlm code that this inserts. You should delete the one I inserted for you if you want to enter one at a different spot.)

  3. Robert C. said

    I generally like to teach by asking very thought-provoking questions b/c I think it whets the appetite of students (per the ancient proverb “when the student is ready the teacher appears,” Buddhist or Taoist I think). Any good story-teller will say the same thing, you have to build suspense to make it interesting. I highly recommend the Teaching, No Greater Call manual (avaiable online here). Chapter 16 (pp. 68ff) is devoted to “Teaching With Questions.”

    Regarding paradoxes per se, I think I’ve had good success with youth and adults when using this approach, but I haven’t focused on it to the extent Joe is suggesting, or with quite the textual emphasis that Joe is suggesting. I have a tendency to ask philosophical/theological questions that are oftentimes a bit removed from a careful reading of the text. Although this often works well, I’ve also gotten into trouble doing this, which I think is fair punishment for treating the scriptural text casually.

    Also, I think in some ways this question-paradox approach might be harder with adults b/c adults are oftentimes more set in their ways, that is, we tend to already have opinions on things and so it’s hard to take a child-like approach of discovery to the scriptures. Nevertheless, I think in general it’s a very good appraoch. I’ve had challenges with this question-focused approach since I have students just out of primary in my class (though the 14-year-olds respond very well to it…). I’ll start a thread later this week relating some of the methods I’ve found success with teaching youth, and I’ll solicit suggestions from others.

  4. My experience (that I remember anyway) is as an adult student and a teacher of adults. I like this method in both cases.

    In general I agree that teachers should be prepared with a solution to the paradox they present, but done right, I think this can work when the teacher doesn’t know the answer. In that case I think the teacher shouldn’t spend so much time building it up–in case it turns out that there aren’t any fruitful ideas for resolving it. The teacher might say “I don’t understand the seeming contradiction between…does anyone have any idea there?”

    Also I don’t think it is better that no one in the class finds a solution (often there is more than one). It is nice if some good resolutions come from the class.

    Finally, my experience is that the resolutions to problems in the scriptures when discussed in classes often come as much or more from life experiences as from a careful reading of the scriptures. These life-lessons are some of my favorite discussions. For example if we discuss the seeming paradox between Matt 5:16 and Matt 6:1-4, it is great to hear someone’s personal experience about someone they knew who did good works in front of others in a way that let the light of the gospel shine through them.

    My comments may have more to do with teaching adults.

  5. John said

    Horrors! I confess that I came up with that definition of dialectic in less than 3 minutes of Web-sleuthing, and I cannot take full credit for my response. Joe, you did more to teach me the meaning of what I wrote than writing it had done.

    (#3) Absolutely no teaching can occur if the student is not ready. A good teacher knows how to lead the student to a place of readiness, sometimes even without revealing that intent to the student. When the crisis of understanding arrives, the teacher is finally recognized for who he or she is: a source of insight, deeper meaning, and resolution.

    I think paradox is more likely to “fail” with adults for a different reason: adults are more comfortable with unresolved paradox. We have come to expect a fair amount of disharmony and chaos in our version of reality, most of which is outside of our control. Because adults are keenly aware of their own shortcomings in comprehending truth, it is acceptable to leave a question only partly answered. The lesson fails because the students, in their complacency, do not engage in the lesson–because they have no interest in its outcome.

    The teacher is not solely responsible for resolving the paradox. The opinions and anecdotes of the group both serve to describe the problem and present solutions to it. The lesson succeeds not because the paradox is resolved, but because everyone who participates gains a greater understanding of themselves and each other.

  6. Rob Osborn said

    You want a good topic of paradox to teach? Spring this on people and they may never think the same again- If we are saved, then we are saved in the kingdom of god which is the Celestial Kingdom (Alma 11:37-41, Helaman 12:23-26, Mosiah 27:25-27), but if we are not saved then we are cast off to the devil. Teach this doctrine in light of section 76 and the three glories! Although this is an open paradox within the church(a doctrine that has obvious contradictions and remains a mystery), it is grossly overlooked. But it does make for good conversation material. Also look up the definition of “damnation” in the bible dictionary, it’s very definition is another open paradox where one can both have salvation and damnation at the same time even though they are opposites! There are many more but I will leave it at that.

  7. Joe Spencer said

    Matthew (#4), you have revealed how much my experience with this method is limited to youth (and I think you recognized this in your comment). In fact, your comment articulated best for me what most of the comments amount to so far: paradox should play a major role in teaching adults as well, though it the spirit of the adult classroom generates a very difficult methodology related to paradox. So let me engage your (Matthew’s) comment piece by piece and see if I can’t work out the difference between paradox for youth and paradox for adults.

    As to having or not having the answer: I find that youth are very uncomfortable with this methodology the first couple of times they sit through it. That is, they are very uncomfortable until the paradox is resolved. The discomfort works to the teacher’s advantage, because the group tends to be so profoundly relieved by the resolution that they learn the resolving truth far more deeply than they otherwise could have. But after youth have been through this process a few times, they are ready to have paradoxes left unresolved, to recognize that there ARE answers, whether or not they know them (and they obviously grow to trust you through the resolution experiences that have already happened). Adults are far more likely to be fine with an unresolved paradox.

    As for whether the answer should come from the class: I think it is always best if the answer comes from the class, but with youth I think that seldomly happens. The youth have been trained to throw out the same six or seven solutions to all gospel difficulties, and these six or seven solutions are unfortunately all wrong, or they are simply shot through with presuppositions that tend to undermine, rather than strengthen, the faith (presuppositions like “every word any apostle has said is scripture,” etc.). Seminary teachers generally, for example, tend to suggest to the kids that they (the kids, I mean) have all the answers necessary already, and I think it is very worth it to help them see that they don’t: there are answers they haven’t even begun to think about yet, and they can come to know these also, if they learn to read and study profoundly. Adults, again, are probably not as likely to respond to difficult issues so narrowly, and they have generally outgrown such terrible presuppositions. They will–usually–think far harder about a carefully worded question. (I’ve found in my YM callings–first as 1st counselor, now as president; hence, first with the teachers quorum, now with the priests–that when this method is used for a couple of months, the kids grow up substantially: I present paradoxes to my priests all the time that they can resolve on their own, though they couldn’t when I first began to work with them.)

    As for resolutions by experience: I think this is a good point, though it seldom will work with youth. They tend not to connect past experience with serious scriptural questions. Adults, on the other hand, have had plenty of experience and are generally mature enough to connect experience with text.

    So all of this suggests to me that the methodology I’ve sketched out above is, ultimately, “especially for youth” (I use the phrase ironically, I hope everyone has noticed). But I really like the points raised by everyone so far: paradox has an important part in teaching adults as well, but it plays itself out differently. Preliminarily, then: with adults, paradoxes might be presented more simply, are not necessarily to built up so strongly, should probably be left open to class discussion, etc. As Robert pointed out, this is very much like the “teaching with questions” section from Teaching, No Greater Call manual. I like it.

    Someday I’ll write a comment that isn’t fourteen pages long.

  8. BrianJ said

    Excellent work here, Joe. I tried this often last year in the Gospel Doctrine (adults) class I taught—though I called it “teaching contradictions” rather than paradox. It works particularly well in the Old Testament, I think, because so many people are unfamiliar with the book.

    I think John, #5, stated my experience in trying this with adults. It was difficult to engage very many people in the class in this kind of exercise—I could almost feel the collective shrugging of shoulders. Nevertheless, I still used this technique because it is very powerful (for those still listening). In fact, I sometimes felt like what you said about Socrates, “…while the adults of Athens executed him for it.”

    Also, the class I teach has 60-80 students in it; most people are reluctant to engage in this kind of discussion and risk the embarassment of being wrong.

    When I taught Gospel Essentials (to adults, but new members) the class was much, much more receptive to this method.

    A challenge I have in using paradox: I sometimes feel like I’m being Mr Smug Smarty Pants throwing out a scripture that totally disagrees with something someone just said. How do I avoid that?

  9. Matthew said

    Joe, thanks for the follow-up comments.
    BrianJ wrote

    A challenge I have in using paradox: I sometimes feel like I’m being Mr Smug Smarty Pants…

    I don’t have any tips here but I also felt like this was a risk. Maybe this has to do with the distinction between teaching youth and teaching adults–the youth expect the teacher to be the smart one with all the answers whereas the adults expect to be treated as equals. Or maybe this has less to do with youth vs adults per se and more to do with the relative relationship between the teacher and the students. As an adult gospel doctrine teacher I was the same age as some but younger than most of the students. They didn’t want a mr smarty pants. If I were an an older member and, to take an extreme example, the stake patriach, they may have been happy to have me play the role of know-it-all.

  10. Robert C. said

    Interesting about Mr. Smug Smarty Pants, I’ve never noticed this problem with this approach (maybe I’m just oblivious?!). I think it’s important to genuinely bring yourself into the same mode of questioning as the rest of the class, so if a student makes a good point I would expressly state the sense in which I agree with the comment, then I would say, “hmm, I wonder how that idea can be reconciled to the passage in…” or something. I’ve had class members get impatient when I play devil’s advocate too much asking too many questions and leaving the class feeling frustrated in that they are leaving the class with more questions than answers, but I think that’s playing Mr. Obnoxious Questioner, not Mr. Smug. My sense is just that a class-specific balance must be struck, and I think being in tune with the needs of the class is very important (and extremely difficult!). In general, I think a question-based approach to teaching is definitely more risky than some other approaches, but worth it on my view.

  11. Joe Spencer said

    Brian, I think you’ve raise a very important difficulty. In fact, I find that there are two related difficulties (difficulties I find in both youth and adults): the teacher becomes Mr. Smug Smarty Pants on the one hand, and the teacher becomes Mr. Ultimate Consecrated Guy that No One Else Is Expected to Think Like without Specialized Training. In the end, I don’t know which of these is worse: personal resentment from proud members of a class concerns me far less than a classwide assumption that the teacher has some incredible talent that the rest of the class could never develop. Unfortunately, I think I’ve found how to avoid the former difficulty far better than I’ve found how to avoid the latter.

    Certainly an important part of the method: wording makes all the difference. Rather than saying “But it says in…,” you say, “Yeah, okay. That’s good. But then, you know this scripture in…?” In other words, if the teacher uses the language of community (we’re all in this together), then these two problems do not come up so often, or at least they tend only to come up where they were likely to come up anyway.

    But far more important is what is called in scholarship the principle of charity (assuming that whoever is speaking/writing is intelligent and careful, therefore taking whatever he/she says/writes in its strongest light). The principle of charity has two sides. On the one hand, the teacher must attend to any and every hint of profundity or insight in any comment made (a teacher must NEVER strawman a student’s comment in order to build up a paradox). On the other hand, the teacher must study and prepare enough in advance to be able to be able to make the strongest case possible (if a teacher’s paradoxes are cancelled by the students’ insights two minutes into every lesson, then the teacher is probably not thinking hard enough in prior study or in the classroom situation). These two sides of charity come together in an apparently paradoxical manner, don’t they? One must be as prepared as possible to force the moment of aporia (or confusion, contradiction, paradox), and yet one must feel as fully as possible the force of the students’ responding words. In the end, “charity” is the perfect word for this: teaching is a loving encounter, an encounter in which one loves enough to say things strongly, and an encounter in which one loves enough to hear things strongly.

    Incidentally, this opens onto a separate but related topic that I think I’ll write up a separate post for in the morning: the meaning/role of community in the teaching situation (a very interesting discussion might also be had about the meaning/role of community in study).

  12. Matthew said

    RE: Rob Osborn’s comment above.

    It would be nice to have a blog devoted specifically to how we should understand Heaven and Hell. Specifically, I am interested in how to make sense of Book of Mormon discussions of them in light of the teachings on this topic in the Doctrine and Covenants. I wonder if it may be that Book of Mormon prophets simply didn’t know these principles.

    Or, maybe even better would be a blog specifically devoted to favorite–or most difficult–paradoxes in the scriptures. Identifying paradoxes or conflicts in the scriptures is critical as a tool in my personal scripture study and I suspect most people’s.

  13. Robert C. said

    Matthew #12: “It would be nice to have a blog devoted specifically to how we should understand Heaven and Hell.”

    The New Cool Thang blog had a post on this a while ago, see this comment of Jacob’s in particular for an argument like you suggest that BOM prophets didn’t know about 3 degrees and such.

  14. I agree, Matthew. I think both ideas should be carried out. I have some initial thoughts on the former (salvation/damnation), so if you want, I can get that blog started sometime. Let me know.

  15. Robert C. said

    Matthew #12: There was a recent post at the New Cool Thang blog on heaven and hell in the BOM, note this comment in particular by Jacob that makes the argument you suggest about BOM people not knowing about the 3 degrees. (Repeat post.)

  16. brianj said

    Reviewing the comments: I expressed my concerns about becoming “Mr Smug Smarty Pants”; then Robert added “Mr Obnoxious Questioner” and Joe came in with “Mr Ultimate Consecrated…Special Training.” (And that one made me laugh out loud!) I’m thinking about a post where people could identify their personal “evil teacher within”—partly so we could discuss how to avoid becoming him, but mostly so I can read more of these funny titles.

    More seriously, what Joe wrote, #11, was particularly helpful to me: “we’re all in this together.” If I can remember that attitude, then I’m certain I can slay the Smug Smarty Pants within. Thanks!

  17. Debra Riddel said

    I’ll weigh in on the Mrs. Smug Smarty pants thing. (grin) I taught Institute for three years, EM Seminary for six, and am in my third year as GD teacher. I find teaching adults to be the most challenging. The kids expect the teacher to have greater depth of knowledge. They presume that she/he is a fount of knowledge, whereas the adults are more likely to think of class as a “water cooler” experience, where everyone has an opinion, but there is no acknowledged authority.
    The adults have also had more life expereinces, and are more likely to have read the various gospel commentaries. I have one class member, a man bout years my senior (I am 52) who loves to play “stump the teacher.” He asks the teacher a Pharisitical question, usually out on a very tangental limb of the discussion, and when the teacher dosen’t have an answer at the ready, he magnaninously offers one of his own, based on the many commentaries he’s studied. He is positively professorial! It’s obvious to me that he wants the class emembers to recognize that he is the sharpest pencil in the box. I watched him do it for years when I was a member of the class, so I was prepared when he sprung one of his queries on me. I simply said “I don’t have all of the answers. I don’t even know all of the questions. I am willing to research your quastion this week and present my findings at the beignning of next week’s lesson.” After a few weeks of this, he stopped throwing out left field questions. By acknowledging that I was not “Mrs. Smug Smarty Pants,” and humbly offering to “look it up”, I let him (and the class)know that I wasn’t more knowledgeable than he was, so he could relax and enjoy the class without the need to assert his intellectual parity, or even superiority.
    I still prefer the Socratic method of instuction,despite the possible land mines for the teacher. It keeps me on my toes, and invites class participation and some very lively discusion. I have found that adults are less disturbed by scriptural paradoxes, and are more likely to offer resolutions. This is most likely just a matter of maturity and the life lessons inherent in living longer.
    A side note–I cracked up at the comment about it being okay to be Mr. Smarty Pants about the OT, because I’ve found that to be true! I am amazed at the collective LDS ignorance of this book of scripture.

  18. Robert C. said

    Debra #17: Great comments/insights. Your anecdote about Mr. Stump the Teacher raises several interesting and questions for me. As a teacher, I really appreciate it when other students ask good questions (without an ulterior motive). I know that for me as a student in a class, I’m often tempted to tune out when I feel like the teacher is asking questions that he already knows how he’s going to answer, but when a genuine question is asked, I perk up and feel immediately challenged and my mind starts racing trying to come up with a way I would answer that question. This, I think, touches on several issues Joe raised on his other post about classroom and community, in particular, the event of the classroom learning experience. I think for the spirit to be in a classroom, the teachers and students must be open to new insight (revelation) and be sincerely asking one another questions about the text and about themselves in relation to the text.

    I think this addresses another concern someone else recently raised somewhere (perhaps not even on this blog) about the responsibility of being a student. Although Mr. Stump the Teacher shows us a less effective way of asking questions and making comments, I think that there are many right ways one student in a class can make an immeasurable difference. Whenever I am a student and start feeling critical of a class, I try to remind myself of this, wondering what I am doing to contribute to help the teacher and to contribute to the learning environment of the classroom. Sometimes I feel I’ve been successful at helping a class by making certain comments, sometimes by asking certain questions, and sometimes by keeping my mouth shut, either not giving an answer or not asking a question!

    Finally, I think there may be a tendency sometimes (at least for me) to go overboard on the teacher’s part in trying to ask good thought-provoking questions and ignore one of the best possible questions: “are there any questions”? The wrong way to ask this, of course, is in a condescending manner as though you, the teacher, are ready to give the answer to any question that might arise. But, asked in a sincere way, “are there any questions anyone would like to discuss,” I think can really be a good way to let the spirit of the classroom come out.

    Sorry, one more thought: I think one of the biggest challenges to this questoin-based, Socratic teaching approach is the ability that one or two students have to detract from the class. How to deal with such “problem students” is probably worth doing an entire post about….

  19. brianj said

    Debra, #17: Your comparison of Sunday School to a water cooler is apt. I’ve tried—mostly successfully—to “drain the water” out of my classroom. I’ll post sometime soon about how, and hopefully others will add their experiences/suggestions on how to break this bad habit.

    I’m curious about your experience with Mr Stump the Teacher. I think the first challenge that I have when faced with such a student is that I really want to be the smartest in the room. Once I can control my pride—recognize that it is not what I am there for—I can see if I have a legitimate concern. For example, I have a student who has memorized the Book of Mormon, most of the D&C, and substantial portions of the Bible and General Conference addresses. Thankfully, he has NEVER been Pharisaical, but his immense knowledge was a challenge to my supremacy in the classroom. Another student is very well read in philosophy, and I don’t know Plato from Nietzsche. I chose to use both of them as resources rather than opponents and the entire class has benefited. So my question: when your student became able to “relax and enjoy the class,” was he an active or silent participator?

    Robert: I’m looking forward to your post on problem students—am I right in assuming you’re doing one. As for the problems with asking insincere questions, that falls into a post I am planning; I look forward to your insight.

  20. John said

    I would love to see specific examples of seeming paradoxes in the scriptures, and how the teacher chooses to resolve the paradox in his teaching.

    Take, for example, the workings of grace in 1 Cor 15:10. Paul teaches that the grace of God has made him into who he is, but then admits that he has labored diligently to prevent the gift from being bestowed in vain. The bestowal of grace both radically alters us and encourages us to change. Was the change wrought by Paul who worked diligently, or was it the result of grace? It was both.

    Henry Blackaby says it this way: “Our character is developed fully by the power and grace of God which works in us. Yet, it is also a conscious decision we make to bring our mind, heart, and actions into line with God’s will.”

    Here’s another example from M*, a discussion of the punishment (read: despair) experienced due of the sins of another.

  21. brianj said

    Debra, I just want to make it clear that in #19 I’m not criticizing or judging your handling of the situation. I’m afraid that my comment could be read that way.

  22. Matt W. said

    I am planning on using the liar’s paradox next week in my lesson.

    ie- Is the statement “I am lying” true or false?

  23. Examples of paradox might be helpful. I almost wrote one out in the original post, but I decided not to do so in the long run. I would simply mention one from my lesson today, except that: I didn’t use any paradoxes in today’s lesson (I had all the Aaronic prieshtood gathered together, so we did a very straightforward, non-paradoxical lesson on the keys of the ministering of angels). Let me think back through some lessons and see if I can’t post a series of paradoxes I’ve used (hopefully on various levels).

    Robert, I’m expecting a thread on the role of the student in the classroom now. If you do one from the student’s perspective, perhaps I’ll post a parallel one on the role of the student from the teacher’s perspective, and we can make some cross-thread discussion. I’d like to think harder about the role of the student.

    Thanks everyone, for your continued engagement on this question.

  24. Robert C. said

    BrianJ #19: I’m curious to hear more about your (and Debra’s) thoughts on the Water Cooler Classroom. On the one hand it seems like a good thing to get everyone sharing their thoughts about a particular scripture or scriptural idea (I usual prefer this term to doctrine b/c I think it conveys an emphasis on reading the scriptures carefully instead of trying to pawn off such work on Church leaders or others). To me, the difference is one of quality, not necessarily anything more fundamental or radical. I’d love to be a fly on the wall near the water coolers in heaven, hearing patriarchs and matriarchs, prophets and prophetesses discussing the scriptures. A comparison that comes to mind is the way Jim F. taught an upper level philosophy course (with a small number of students) that I attended: he would frequently just open up the class for discussion about the readings. I thought this was very effective (esp. on the days that I had done the reading carefully and thoughtfuly!). So why wouldn’t/doesn’t that approach work in Sunday school? Perhaps b/c there are too many students in SS classes? Perhaps b/c the students aren’t well-prepared or motivated enough? Perhaps b/c the teacher is not as prepared as Jim F. is to lead a philosophy discussion? I think these are questions worth pondering….

    (I’ll try to either post something on dealing w/ problem students, or more on the role of the student in the classroom later this week, but no promises, a lot on my plate this week, and I’m really anxious to make more sense of Alma 32 and/or D&C 93 and will probably be working mostly on the wiki this week….)

  25. Akpan Susan said

    pls send me a full written teaching on youth and it purpose, youth and God

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