Beginnings new recently discussed possible revisions to the Young Women’s manual and what commenters think should be included. Some people suggested updating the lessons to deal with issues that current young women face, such as saturation with electronic media. The prospect of updating these sorely out of date manuals is exciting and much needed. But the problem, I think, is that unless we continue to update these manuals constantly, any new issues and anecdotes will also inevitably become dated. [Note: I noticed after writing this post that commenters on the Beginnings new thread already made the same point! ]
What I’m suggesting is that so long as we rely on using manuals that are rarely updated, we will ensure that at some point the manuals become out of touch with the pulse of current young women. Rather than putting out manuals with the expectation of keeping certain substantive content for a long time, it seems better to adopt a model in which the material will be repeatedly revised. This could be done by a committee. Or, better yet, it could be done by allowing users to participate in the process by revising and commenting on the lessons through an online medium.
If we do prefer a model in which manuals remain constant for a long time, then it seems that it might be better to make the lessons as scant as possible allowing the teacher to adapt and innovate the principles in them to changing times–a model more like the current missionary lessons. The best lessons I have had in Young Women’s were ones were the girls simply discussed issues they were curious about, such as dating, and leaders spoke from personal experience rather than using the dated stories in the manual. Those stories tended to detract from the lesson when the girls perceived them as dated and funny. Moreover, the thinner the lesson, the less chance for stories that advocate gender norms that might reflect a moment in history more than the gospel.
What do you think a manual should look like, if there should be manuals at all?