Tag Archives: teaching by the spirit

Revisited D&C 42:12-14


I have been revisiting my paper on D&C 42:12-14 because the volume it is in is being considered for publication soon. I had the opportunity to edit through the whole thing. I didn’t realize I had become a better writer since the last time I went through it! That was actually really good to see. I think presenting at MSH last year did a lot for that. I felt confident that the paper I presented was well written and had an academic tone and yet was my own voice. So I think that’s why when I reopened this paper, I wanted to edit through the whole thing. I’m glad I did. I think it’s a much better paper. I wish I had had more time to run over it again and again to make it tighter and have reoccuring phrases that tied things together, etc. But oh well. It’s better than it was, and has the overall voice I wanted. So that’s good!

It was really good to revisit those 3 verses. I really had learned a lot that had set me on a good path for understanding teaching. Recently, in Relief Society, we had a lesson on teaching by the Spirit and it opened up these questions again for me. It was good for me. That was a few months ago, so it was good timing to revisit my paper this past month.

I really like the idea that the Spirit can come and go to help us see which way to go in a lesson. That withdrawing a step but still being nearby is a way of communication. I wish I could think of a good metaphor for that. Any ideas? 🙂

I also struck on a way of talking about conference talks that doesn’t elevate them above scripture themselves. (Granted, if a current prophet declares a commandment or declares a change in how we interpret something, then that’s something else.) I decided to talk about them as fantastic examples of people who have studied scripture and know how to teach the principles of the gospel found in them. That is, often conference talks are a model of how to use scripture to teach. (Not all of them do, but many or most of them do!) In my paper I talk about how D&C 20 was a model of using scripture to teach, so it was natural to talk about conference talks this way. And I think it’s right.

And I have a section of the paper where I apply the whole paper to a situation where someone is training a young women leader. So the writing is more conversational. I’m not sure if it really flies, though, in an academic paper. So I’m a bit anxious to see what happens after it goes through edits. Although, technically it had been through 2 editors a while ago before the project was revisited by the Maxwell Institute for publication, and neither one of those editors made me take it out, so maybe it was ok. I think it’s a bit better now, too , so we’ll see.

Anyway, it was fun. Writing takes a long time! I was always surprised that even if I put on a show for the kids and wrote without too many distractions, I’d still only get through a few paragraphs in an hour. Between being a mom and homeschooling and hoping to get minimal cleaning done and being Relief Society president, I wasn’t sure when and how to squeeze in more time. But I did make it through the entire paper and updated the voice of it, at least! And now hopefully the editors will do the rest.

I had an email yesterday asking for it back so I sent it off, ready-or-not style, without a final read-through, so I’m a bit anxious and curious to get a response. Maybe sometime this week or next I’ll hear back.

Anyway, just blabbing my thoughts this morning.

They’re great verses on teaching, and if nothing else I’m excited about them again now!


Teaching programs are like cleaning programs


I thought of a good metaphor.

When we see teaching program after teaching program, it reminds me of something that happens in our home.

With the old manuals, there was an issue of people thinking that they couldn’t stray from them, and at times this meant that people were not seeking the Spirit when they prepared. So, ta-da!, we have new manuals with more options that you can do, so you have to make some decisions and most likely that means you will pray about what to teach.

This reminds me of the sight of a pile of jackets and shoes on the floor, not put away where they should be. I remind and remind, until finally I decide to come up with a new system. New hooks! Shoe shelf! Everything seems tidy and in its place. And, everyone seems on board with the new program, so things stay much cleaner that unusual for several weeks! Success.

But of course, the new program gets old, and it’s still work to pick up your jackets and shoes and put them away. No matter what program I come up with, it’s still work to clean up. It’s easy to leave them out when we are busy, or preoccupied with the next thing we want to do. So unless someone decides they are going to do that work, or even to figure out how to remind themselves to do it, the jackets and shoes will still be all over the floor.

Teaching programs are much the same, I think. The Spirit is supposed to guide our teaching. We remind and remind and remind, but we worry that it isn’t happening. So, we come up with a new program! It is tidier, it has new ways of organizing our thoughts on teaching. It involves people in new ways. And it works! Excitement! And even prayer. The Spirit, hopefully, is more present in our lessons.

But, then, the program gets old. The hype is gone. And we are still left with the same question: Are we, as teachers, willing to do the work to listen to the Spirit? To learn how to remind ourselves to figure out how to recognize the Spirit? Are we going to do that even when we are busy or preoccupied with other things?

The vision of teaching by the Spirit has to be opened to each person individually, I think. A program, and request, a new manual all might help keep things tidier, and may even allow a lot of good to happen, but it isn’t at the heart a conversion to teaching by the Spirit. And while there are ways to imitate good teachers, being a good teacher can only happen by learning to hear and yield to the voice of the Holy Spirit.


“Nor ever before had thought of”


Yesterday at Jonah’s baptism, I was blessed with the chance to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. In the moment, I decided to read these verses from JS-H:

Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father…

 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.

In the moment what I felt like emphasizing for Jonah was that here were two men who already cared about the scriptures and keeping the commandments, and being baptized was a way to tell Heavenly Father they really meant it and to make a covenant (we have talked about how a covenant is like promising to do what you are all ready doing – a stronger promise that you’re really in). Then when they were baptized, they learned more from the scriptures than they had before — things they hadn’t even thought of before. I think the Holy Ghost is that kind of influence in our lives generally. We want to serve and do good, and the Holy Ghost will help us do that in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We want to learn about the gospel and the Holy Ghost will teach us things we hadn’t thought of.

I enjoyed teaching Jonah (he’s so good and happy!) and I also just enjoyed the experience of trying to teach by the Spirit again. This past week Joe and I edited through my old paper on teaching by the Spirit from the D&C 42 project. It was a good paper, and helped me see what I’ve been missing for the past few years! I prepared differently, I prayed differently, and I taught differently. I hadn’t thought to use this scripture in this way until I was standing up in front of Jonah. I loved it.

 


Quick quotation from Joseph Smith on the equal enjoyment of all when we work with the Spirit


From this: http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/discourse-6-april-1837

“From a view of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the gospel, he  remarked that few were qualified even to be priests, and if a priest understood  his duty, his calling and ministry and  preached by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the presidency”


Anyone Can Teach / Anyone Can Cook


I’m noticing lately a similarity between how we talk about teaching and how the movie Ratatoullie talks about cooking. I want, someday soon, to write up a post about teaching reworking some of these quotations (I only had time this morning to gather them, hopefully I can begin to work soon):

Gusteau: [on the TV] You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.

Anton Ego: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

Emile: W-w-wait. You… read?  Remy: Well, not… excessively. Emile: Oh, man. Does dad know? Remy: You could fill a book – a lot of books – with things Dad doesn’t know. And they have. Which is why I read. Which is also our secret.

Gusteau: [on the TV] How can I describe it? Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it. [Remy tastes food accompanied by synesthetic visions of color and musicRemy: Oh, Gusteau was right. Oh, mmm, yeah. Each flavor was totally unique. But, combine one flavor with another, and something new was created!

Gusteau: What do I always say? Anyone can cook! Remy: Well, yeah, anyone *can*, that doesn’t mean that anyone *should*.

Colette: I know the Gusteau style cold. In every dish, Chef Gusteau always has something unexpected. I will show you. I memorize all his recipe. Linguini: [writing in notebook] Always do something unexpected. Colette: No. Follow the recipe. Linguini: But you just said that… Colette: [interrupts] No-no-no-no. It was *his* job to be unexpected. It is *our* job to… ColetteLinguini: [together, as Linguini rewrites the advice] … follow the recipe.

Gusteau: Ah, you are a clever rat. Now, who is that? Remy: Oh, him? He’s nobody. Gusteau: Not nobody, he is part of the kitchen. Remy: He’s a plongeur or something. He washes dishes or takes out the garbage. He doesn’t cook. Gusteau: But, he could. Remy: Uh, no. Gusteau: How do you know? What do I always say? “Anyone can cook!”

Skinner: [seeing a ladle in Linguini’s hand] You are COOKING? How DARE you cook in MY kitchen! Where do get the gall to attempt something so monumentally idiotic? I should have you drawn and quartered! I’ll do it! I think the law is on my side! Larousse, draw and quarter this man! *After* you put him in the duck press to squeeze the fat out of his head!

Colette: [to Linguini] How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the *sound* of the crust. Listen….


Oh yah: It’s daring to trust and be adventurous that opens up the possibility of teaching. I remember that now.


So, today I could teach about Joseph Smith. I could help them get a sense for basic Church History events.

I could teach about Joseph Smith and let them listen to the words of JS-H so they can know those, and hope they have something to say or a question I can answer.

But these don’t seem to be the way to go.

I could also just see what happens of course and perhaps not even teach about Joseph Smith

I could have them watch the video and then ask them questions “What do you think? What do you make of it?” Etc – and try to rely on the Spirit to know what questions to ask??? Maybe that’s the way to think of it? I can’t tell something’s not right. Asking their thoughts – yes. Why do I feel like I need the Spirit to ask the right question? That should feel like a faithful move, but the Spirit is right now telling me that it is not. Perhaps it’s because I don’t trust the girls if I don’t ask the right question. Perhaps it is that feeling that the Spirit is not affirming.

I could think about the Apostasy and Restoration in a general way and see what happens.

I could take the Apostasy theme as a chance to talk about how all of us will go through times where we have forgotten God, or forgotten/never knew a doctrine or something like that and how all of us can “ask of God” when that happens and really can receive our own revelation? (Like I’m doing right now)

We could just talk about prayer.

We could just talk about James 1:5.

We could watch the video AND talk about James 1:5.

We could talk about personal experiences about prayer and revelation. One girl hasn’t felt confident that she has ever felt the Spirit. We’ve talked about it before and others have born testimony to her. But perhaps it will happen again today?

I could have them look things up about revelation. I could have them use True to the Faith about receiving revelation. I can trust them to think about that book and about the scriptures.

I guess I’ve lost that trust somewhere along the line. Maybe it was being distracted by some adults I was concerned about. Maybe it was a hundred other things. But I think that I lost that trust, and that is was has closed me from being adventurous. And to paraphrase Ranciere, it’s “trusting the Spirit is what opens the way to all adventure in the land of knowledge. It is a matter of daring to be adventurous.” And, it’s “trusting your students is what opens the way to all adventure in the land of knowledge. It is a matter of daring to be adventurous.” It’s time to be adventurous again. Time to be daring!

Wish me luck!

———–

Our “thing in common” is the Joseph Smith story, and any of those above ideas might come out as we talk, because they might think about them, or a hundred other possibilities!


How do I teach??


Somehow, I have forgotten how to teach. I used to be really excited about teaching by the Spirit and teaching other people to teach by the Spirit. Somewhere in this calling (a teaching calling!) I have forgotten how to teach.

I can pile up the excuses and reasons, but still, I have forgotten how to teach.

I teach today and I think I’m going to teach about Joseph Smith, and I think I’m just going to make sure they hear the words from JS-H by watching part of a video. I think.

But how do I emancipate? (ie, free them up to learn? give them confidence in their ability to learn?) How do I know what they need? How do I know what God wants me to teach today? How much should I have prepared this week? What should I have done to prepare? What about other things I want to study? Am I too academic with these Beehives? Have I ever done well in this calling? Have I ever given a lesson where the Spirit was there?

Has each of the girls felt the Spirit, at least once?

Is this a new incapacity of mine? Did something shift in my thinking recently?

I think I do remember lots of lessons that went well and I think they were by the Spirit, or the Spirit was there at some points in the lesson.

But not recently. (I think.)

So what am I forgetting? I’m ready to wake up, I think. Ready to repent, to change, to work again. But I don’t know what I’m missing, or where to go.

Is it just a matter of giving into grace myself, again? Trusting God? Remembering I’m not in charge? Is that the initial key?

I have written on teaching so much, I think I’m going to review those posts this morning.

Or, am I wasting time doing that when I should be preparing more? Or is that feeling exactly what’s wrong?

On to reading the posts.

———–

I’m very glad I did! Weird to be taught by my past self. 🙂

http://beginningsnew.blogspot.com/2011/09/teaching-by-spirit-d-4212-14-and-yw.html

and

http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2012/11/27/new-youth-curriculum-trusting-the-texts/