Tag Archives: new youth curriculum

New Sunday School means, no Scripture classes?

We saw on lds.org that the adults will soon be getting curriculum similar to that of the youth.
I have served in Young Women’s before, during, and after the change and it has been a definite blessing to our youth. The Young Women lessons are consistently better than they were before the change. I think our youth are learning the doctrine much better and their opportunities to teach and talk are helping them think more carefully.
All of that has been a great blessing.
If this is applied to adults, there is only one concern I have. Will we lose the focus on scripture? This one concern is also the only concern I’ve had with the youth curriculum: their Sunday School time is no longer focused on working through scripture together, and I think that has been a great loss for them. I am disappointed that that might also be coming for the adults.
The principles of more participation, more prayer in determining what to teach, of more preparation of the students are all great principles, but is there a way to keep those without losing the focus on the standard works?
Having one hour for scripture and one hour for themed lessons (often focused on the talks of general conference) seems a healthy balance. It can show that scripture and modern revelation are both applicable and support each other. Right now, I worry that some of our youth see Sunday School and their YW lesson as redundant.
I am very curious to see what this new curriculum will look like!


New Adult Curriculum?

Okay, so, I’ve enjoyed the improvement in the YW program. A lot. It’s been great. No question that the average YW class is miles beyond where it was two years ago.

But, there are a few things about the way we talk about it that irk me. A lot. And as I see this new program “roll out” for the adults, I have many concerns.


I’m going to be criticizing the article specifically.

The youth curriculum eradicated lecture-style teaching

Eradicated? Whoa. I don’t know that it is eradicated. And should it be? The older lesson manuals weren’t bad because there were times of lecturing, but because we were presuming that the manuals were scripture. Put a suggested lesson in place of scripture and then lecture that, and you’ve got a problem.

I still lecture. Sometimes. Sometimes not. But we’re so quick to decide that was the problem — not the fact that we need to learn better how to listen to the Spirit.

“The principles are so representative of the way the Savior teaches,” said Brother Tad R. Callister

Ouch – really. Why do we need to look at the stories of Christ and try to imitate what we think He looked like when He taught, instead of going to the Doctrine and Covenants, which actually do tell us how God wants us to teach?

D&C 42? D&C 46? D&C 50 and 52? All of these describe teaching “in the Lord’s way” and none of them talk about whether to lecture or lead discussions. That, my friends, ought to be the “how” that the Spirit directs while you prepare, or in the moment.

So I think this curriculum has made an improvement, but not because of lecture vs. not lecture. I think its improvements come from:

1) Our material is no longer a suggested lesson development, but words of scripture, leaders, & prophets. Those were options before but too many treated manuals as words of scripture, leaders, & prophets. The loyalty shown to the manuals is now being placed in the right places. 🙂 And I think the Spirit is much more likely to come when we start with the scriptures and prophets as our main texts than with object lessons, poems, etc. (or so D&C 42:12 seemed to say way back then!).

2) Too many didn’t know how to lead discussions, so telling them to “not lecture!” has been a great move because it has opened them up to another way of teaching. Besides, lecturing when you aren’t really preparing by the Spirit can be death! Discussions and questions are much more likely to bring the Spirit, because we come to those moments open and ready to learn. I this new development has definitely opened teachers and students to the Spirit. The Spirit can still be a part of lectures, though. I think it is the attitude not the method that has made this way of teaching effective. (See D&C 42:13, too.)

3) Student involvement. I do think this aspect of the new curriculum can’t be overrated. It’s been a great idea to put some responsibility on the youth, and to help them know where to find answers to their questions. Fantastic.

So I want to reemphasize that I do think this has been a great move. But not because manuals, lectures, etc. are in themselves bad. And I don’t think that we’ve magically all of a sudden found out the way that Christ taught so we can imitate it. I still am bothered that we don’t go to the D&C to see how to teach. All those are problems, I think. But all the same, there’s improvement, so I’m not bothered by the program itself. Also, it has certainly opened up a place where those who want to teach by the Spirit can without anyone telling them they should be following a manual’s suggested lesson outline instead. 🙂

Just another point or two from the article:

“Youth curriculum was the first step,” Elder Pieper said. “What we have to do is take youth curriculum to adult curriculum. We have to get all of this connected to teaching and learning in the home so that what happens on Sunday supports what happens during the week, and really this is a man raised up by the Lord” to guide that.

Okay, whoa. First of all, perhaps he was “raised up” for this, but I think we’re getting way too excited about curriculum. It was already going on, and now we’re pushing it on to the next step, as he says. Why did someone need to be raised up specifically for that? Especially when it was already going on? I get the idea that we are excited about the Church and any new program, but this seems a little too much. And I’m afraid that whenever we get over-excited and over-blow things, then opponents of the Church have something to criticize all-too fairly. Anyway, I just think we ought to be much more careful.

Church leaders hope the new programs for church classroom settings improve teaching in members’ homes, both when families gather for weekly home evenings, a church program for gospel teaching and family time, and for spontaneous teaching moments and discussions.

Well, I hope it does too. What I hope doesn’t happen is that we think that the monthly themes have to be what we teach in the home, and also (more especially) if we teach that, then we know we’re teaching by the Spirit and all will be well! I am afraid that all the over-exuberance about this “new” and exciting way of teaching is making us as a people all the more reliant on the Church instead of really making us more independent. It’s great when we talk about Church things at home. That should have been going on already, right? If a new curriculum is going to make it happen, then what was wrong with us before? I don’t know what I’m really getting at just yet, but I think there’s something to wonder about in this move.

They also believe that improved learning and teaching and participation will make members better missionaries.

Very, very true, I think. I think this is an awesome point.

Brother Callister is the popular LDS author of “The Infinite Atonement.” First published 14 years ago, both that title and an illustrated version are on Deseret Book’s best-seller list.

Brother Tad Richards Callister earned an accounting degree at BYU in 1968, a law degree at UCLA in 1971 and a master’s degree in tax law at New York University in 1972. He worked as a tax attorney in a family firm in Southern California until he served as president of the Canada Toronto East Mission from 2005 to 2008.

His family tree includes…

I like how they mention his book, in a way that almost sounds like it’s explaining why he’s good pick for a curriculum changer – he’s written a book popular with LDS readers. But then we hear his schooling, which doesn’t have anything to do with writing or religion. 🙂 I just think it’s funny – why mention it? 🙂 And then we have to include his “important family tree.” 🙂 Doesn’t this communicate that we can’t really be leaders without a proper family tree? 🙂 I assume really they just think people are interested in personal details of someone’s life, and they’re right, people are. 🙂 The way it was ordered just struck me as odd and made me smile.

So anyway, there are my rambling thoughts on the new move, as presented in this article.

I have other thoughts on changing Sunday School from a week-by-week working through of Scripture, to a theme-based discussion. Those are in the next post.

Handout on Zion for Beehives today (YW Youth Curriculum December 2013)

I loved teaching Beehives today! I love talking about foundational concepts with them and seeing them really grasp a simple but powerful sense of those concepts. Today we learned about Zion. We talked about Zion of old, Zion to come, what we can do in our families, or what to do when you find yourself surrounded by people not being good (do you escape? teach? hide out?). Lots of good conversation. Anyway, I thought I’d copy the handout we used here, for my own future reference if nothing else:


Zion: Moses 7:16-18 (the story of Enoch’s city, in the Pearl of Great Price)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”…In our families and in our stakes and districts, let us seek to build up Zion through unity, godliness, and charity, preparing for that great day when Zion, the New Jerusalem, will arise. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

We can make Zion, or we can make Babylon, just as we please. We can make just what we please of this place. The people can make Zion: they can make a heaven within themselves. When people gather here, they should come with a determination to make Zion within themselves, with the resolution that “I will carry myself full of the Spirit of Zion wherever I go; … for I mean that my spirit shall have control over evil:” and do you not see that such a course will make Zion? – Brigham Young

We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

Admit that the Spirit of the Lord should give us understanding, what would it prove to us? It would prove to me, at least, and what I may safely say to this congregation, that Zion is here. Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then are we in Zion, that is Zion. – Brigham Young

Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (October 2013 YW Curriculum)

I wanted to very, very quickly mention our YW lesson yesterday.

The Beehives and I were discussing “Becoming Christlike.” We looked at 3 Nephi 12:48 where Christ asks us to be “perfect.” Since that could mean all sorts of things we looked at all of chapter 12 to get an idea. We started on verse 19, where Christ says we need a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” We spent a while talking about both of those phrases. Then we looked at the stories in the rest of chapter 12. Most of them use the word “heart.” We wrote up three ways in which heart was used: 1) what you care about, 2) hidden, and 3) loving everyone. We were going to read some stories from Chapter 13 but we ran out of time. They are going to read it for next week so we can talk more about it.

I really enjoyed studying scripture with the Beehives! I learned a lot. A broken heart means, or leads to, a purified heart. A perfect heart. A heart with full-purpose. A heart that is honest. A heart that loves everyone, because Christ loves everyone.

It was a nice lesson.

Revelation (May 2013 YW New Curriculum Topic)

What a beautiful scripture to (perhaps) quote to the  YW:

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”

That’s D&C 42:61. It is of course talking to Joseph Smith, but I think every word in there has applied to me personally.

I am thinking of talking about personal revelation for this week’s lesson. I thought about using Two Lines of Communication, but that didn’t feel right yet. Then I thought about Sis. Dibb’s talk on finding holy places, since I think revelation comes in holy places. But that hasn’t settled on me yet either. Right now I’m thinking of other scriptures that talk about having faith that you can receive your own revelation, like 1 Nephi 15 where Nephi asks his brothers why they haven’t thought to ask God.

I also thought about connecting it to the Restoration lessons by talking about how the Gift of the Holy Ghost comes by the priesthood, which is part of the Restoration.

I guess I could also have a lesson on the Priesthood, which is what I would have taught on last week but plans had to change last minute. Hmm. That’s an option.

But, my study wants to go elsewhere this morning, so I’ll have to work on this more tomorrow. Adios!