I’m sitting in GD class and within the first few minutes I get pulled out by a counselor in the bishopric. One of the youth SS teachers hadn’t shown up, and since I’m a counselor in the SS presidency I’m an emergency sub. This was a class of mostly 13 year olds, with a few 14 year olds. I think one was in early morning seminary, but most were eighth graders and not yet in seminary.
I introduced myself to the kids and chatted with them a bit to try to get a feel for what they had been studying and what might be appropriate for a lesson today. Last week was stake conference and two weeks ago is an eternity in terms of a teen remembering what their prior lesson was. But then someone said they had talked about scriptures.
That was close enough. I started by asking them practical questions about what they use for scriptures: paper bound copies or electronic copies on a device. Then I asked them what their scripture reading habits were, and basically they didn’t really read scrips outside of church. And I could tell from the discussion that they knew next to nothing about the scriptures.
So I took my cue from that and gave them a big picture overview of the scriptures. I started by describing our canon, what we call the standard works. I then went through each volume and explained how it was arranged, its contents, its period(s) of history, its languages, and so forth. This was really basic stuff that adults had been in the habit of assuming they already knew, and they clearly did not already know any of it.
I also made sure to toss in there interesting nuggets to keep their attention, such as the reason that some OT books were divided into two (this had to do with the limitations of the technology of the length of scrolls in producing books, as codex technology would not come around until the Christian era).
My impression is that the kids really enjoyed the class. Instead of making them recite prooftexts, instead of giving them some manual namby pamby catechism, I actually taught them substantive knowledge, knowledge which they clearly lacked but which is pretty basic for forming an actual relationship with the scriptures. I didn’t treat them as idiots, but as curious and inquisitive young people with the interest and capacity to learn. I think kids at that age respond well to not being spoken down to.
I was pleased with how it all turned out. Which is probably a good thing, because I’ll probably be getting ample opportunities to sub for that class again in the future.