The teacher-to-student talk ratio is tough to navigate. The manual repeatedly reminds teachers that if they are taking up most of the time they’re doing it wrong. Chapter 6′s “Teaching help” says carefully listening to questions and comments is an “expression of love.” Chapter 9′s “Teaching help” says teachers ought to refrain from being the “star of the show” by putting the pupil “into action.” Chapter 16 says skilled teachers ask themselves “What will my students do in class today” rather than “What shall I do in class today.” And I’m particularly fond of Pres. Packer’s quote, the “Teaching help,” in chapter 2:
“Quite a bit of teaching that is done in the Church is done so rigidly, it’s lecture. We don’t respond to lectures too well in classrooms….teaching can be two-way so that you can ask questions. You can sponsor questions easily in a class.”
One nice time to outsource might be during the middle of a lesson, as the “Teaching help” for chapter 23 suggests:
“When an individual asks a question, consider inviting others to answer it instead of answering it yourself. For example, you could say, ‘That’s an interesting question. What do the rest of you think?’ or ‘Can anyone help with this question?’”
Caution: Everyone knows an overly-open atmosphere might allow that crazy red-bearded guy in the back to start opining on some weird tangent. So why wait until the middle of the lesson to sponsor questions or comments? The manual’s Introduction suggests a way to help students share their own perspective in a less off-the-cuff manner:
“Ask participants to share what they have learned from their personal study of the chapter. It may be helpful to contact a few participants during the week and ask them to come prepared to share what they have learned.”
Here’s the kicker: Personal study during the week allows for a broader use of various sources; poems, quotes, stories, and other things we might hear in General Conference, but which certain manual guardians believe are verboten from entering the hallowed cinderblock-walled Sunday School room.
So here’s the second part of this “Outsourcing” tip: Grab a member or two from the class who you think brings a good voice to the mix and ask if they’ll read through the lesson before next week and pick out an excerpt to talk about, or bring a few questions. Check up with them on Sat. to make sure you’re not treading the same ground and let members of the class lead some of the discussions.
And the manual says, teachers should rely largely on the manuals, but you might suggest a particular class member bring in a quote from an inspirational or thought-provoking source to discuss that is associated with what they read in the lesson chapter, a source which doesn’t even have to be in the manual! If you’re particularly cautious, maybe have them shoot you an email during the week to make sure they aren’t bringing in some crazy political theory or something (just the not-crazy sort!). This is just another way to bring outside voices inside the classroom.