Principles of Teaching
by Adam S. Bennion
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"Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places." (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 23:6.)

"Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

"Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him;

"Cry unto him when ye are in your fields; yea, over all your flocks;

"Cry unto him in your houses; yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day and evening;

"Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies;

"Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

"Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them:

"Cry over the flocks in your fields, that they may increase.

"But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness;

"Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need; I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith;

"Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth), and is trodden underfoot of men." (Alma 34:18-29.)

* * * * *


1. Why need we illustrate general truths?

2. Discuss the value of having pupils draw up their own maps.

3. Give out of your own experience illustrations of the force of pictures.

4. Point out the value in teaching of appealing to more than one of the senses.

5. Discuss the importance of good stories in teaching.

6. What are the characteristics of a good illustrative story?

7. Take an ordinarily commonplace subject and show how to illustrate it.


Those listed in Chapter XIV.

Also Pictures in Religious Education, by Frederica Beard.




Two illustrations of the value of an aim.—Significance of the aim in religious training.—Inadequacy of eleventh-hour preparation.—The teacher's obligation to see through facts to truths that lie beyond.

What an aim is.—Illustration.—How to determine the aim.—How to express it.

The late Jacob Riis, noted author and lecturer, used to tell a very inspirational story on the force of having something to focus attention upon. According to his story, certain men who lived just outside of Chicago, in its early history, had great difficulty walking to and from work during stormy weather, because of the almost impassably muddy conditions of the sidewalks. After trudging through mud and slush for a long time, they conceived the idea of laying a plank walk through the worst sections. And so they laid two six-inch planks side by side. The scheme helped wonderfully, except on short winter days when the men had to go to work in the darkness of early morning and return in the darkness of evening. It often was so dark that they would step off the planks, and once off they were about as muddy as if there had been no walk at all. Finally someone suggested the idea that if a lantern were hung up at each end of the walk it would then be easy to fix the eye upon the lantern and keep on the walk. The suggestion was acted upon, and thereafter the light of the lantern did hold them to the plank. Jacob Riis argued that the lantern of an ideal held aloft would similarly hold young men in life's path of righteousness.

A similar story is told of a farmer who experienced great difficulty in keeping a particular hen inside the run which he had built outside the hen house. He had put up a wire fence high enough, as he thought, to keep in the most ambitious chicken. In fact, he argued that no hen could fly over it. One hen persisted in getting out regularly, though the farmer could never discover how she did it. Finally he decided to lay for her (she laid for him regularly). To his great surprise, he watched her walk around the run carefully surveying it as she proceeded. At length she caught sight of a beam running along the top of the wire just above the gate. With her eye fixed upon it she made one mighty effort and was over.

The moral of the two stories is self-evident. Both hens and men can "go over" if they have something to aim at. It is so in life generally, and what is true of life generally is particularly true in the matter of teaching. The aim is one of the most significant features in the teaching process.

The teacher who knows where he is going can always get followers.

Important as is the aim in all educational endeavor, it is doubly so in religious training. We teach religiously not merely to build up facts or make for mental power; we teach to mold character. We should see through facts, therefore, to the fundamental truth lying behind and beyond them. Such a truth constitutes an aim in religious instruction.

One of the most regrettable facts connected with some of our teaching is that teachers leave the preparation of their lessons until the few minutes just preceding their recitation hour. They then hurry through a mass of facts, rush into class and mull over these dry husks, unable in the rush even to see the kernel of truth lying within. Little wonder pupils tire of such rations. It is the teacher's obligation to "see through" and discover the gems that really make lessons worth while.

Forty-five minutes once a week is so meagre an allotment of time for the teaching of the greatest principles of life! Surely every one of those minutes should be sacredly guarded for the consideration of vital truths. The aim, coupled with careful organization, is one of the best safeguards possible.

The aim is the great focus for a lesson's thought. It is the center about which all else revolves. It specifies what shall be included and what excluded out of the great mass of available material. A single chapter of scripture may contain truths enough for a dozen lessons, only one of which can be treated in any one recitation. The aim singles out what can be appropriately grouped under one unified discussion.

If we turn, for instance, to the ninth chapter of Matthew, we find at least eight different major incidents, each one deserving a lesson in itself. There is the case of:

The palsy. The charge of blasphemy. The glorifying of God by the multitude. The calling of Matthew. The statement that only the sick need the physician. The case of new cloth and the old garment. The raising of the daughter of Jairus. The healing of the two blind men.

It is perfectly clear that all of these incidents could not be adequately considered in any one lesson. Assuming that the teacher is free to handle this ninth chapter as he pleases, we are forced to the conclusion that knowing his class, as he does, he must choose that incident or that combination of incidents which will mean most in the lives of his pupils. In other words, he centers his attention upon one major central truth—his aim. By so doing he guards against wandering and inadequacy of treatment and makes for the unified presentation of one forceful thought.

It ought to be pointed out here that every teacher must be the judge as to what constitutes for him the best aim. It is quite clear that any one teacher could find in this ninth chapter of Matthew at least four or five worthy aims. Three different teachers could possibly find as many more, each equally worthy of development. All other things being equal, that aim is best which most completely and forcefully covers the chapter or passage in question. To illustrate: Suppose we are asked to teach a lesson on the Prodigal Son. One aim that could be chosen clearly is that of jealousy on the part of the prodigal's brother. A second one might be repentance, as typified in the action of the prodigal. Still a third might be the compassion and forgiveness of the father, as typical of those same qualities in our heavenly Father. Which, to you, is the most forceful and significant? That one to you is your best aim.

The wording of the aim is a matter that gives rise to a good bit of disagreement. There are those who maintain that if the aim announces the subject as a sort of heading that is sufficient. Others contend that the aim should crystallize into axiomatic form the thought of the lesson. Of course, the real force of the aim lies in its serving as the focus of thought. The wording of it is of secondary importance. And yet it is very excellent practice to reduce to formal statement the truth to be presented. It is helpful to adopt the ruling that the aim should express both a cause and a result. Perhaps an illustration would indicate the difference between the aim stated as a mere heading, and stated fully and formally. Take the case of the daughter of Jairus already referred to,

Mere Headings: Daughter of Jairus restored, or The power of faith.

Formal Aim: Implicit faith in God wins His choicest blessings.

Surely the latter is a more significant expression and offers better training to the teacher than the setting down of mere headings.

The ability thus to crystallize out of a great variety of facts a single focusing statement, coupled with the ability then to build about that statement a clearly organized amplification, is the sign of a real teacher. Instead of generalizing further, let us turn to the questions on this lesson where some laboratory exercises are set down calling for actual practice in the selection and justification of a number of aims.

* * * * *


1. What is an aim?

2. Why is it particularly essential to good religious teaching?

3. What are the objections to "eleventh-hour" preparation?

4. To what extent is a teacher handicapped in deciding upon an aim for another teacher to follow?

5. Turn to the following references and determine what possible aims might be developed under each. Is any aim adequate for the whole reference? In each case which do you consider your best aim? Why? How much of the reference would you include in a single lesson?

John, Chapter I; Isaiah, Chapter II; III Nephi, Chapter X; Doctrine & Covenants, Section 87.


Colgrove, The Teacher and the School; Betts, How to Teach Religion; Driggs, The Art of Teaching; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach.




The question of application.—The matter a complex one.—Various conceptions of the term as it affects the intellect, the emotions, or the will.—Application may be immediate or delayed.—How to make the application.—Illustrations.—Making the application and moralizing.—Utah moral codes as objectives behind our teaching.

Application is one of the most important subjects in the whole range of religious education. It is also one concerning which there are greater varieties of opinions than concerning almost any other subject.

What is application?

How is it made?

Is it inherent in the lesson, or is it added as a sort of supplement to the lesson?

When is it best made?

Does it always involve action?

These questions are only typical of the uncertainty that exists relative to this term.

Application really goes to the very heart of all teaching. Colloquially expressed, it raises the question in teaching, "What's the use?" Why should certain subject matter be presented to a class? How are class members better for having considered particular facts? In short, application involves the question, "What is the carry-over value of the lesson?"

It is impossible to dispose adequately of the matter of application in a single statement. It fairly epitomizes the whole process of teaching and therefore is so comprehensive that it calls for analysis. The ultimate purpose behind teaching, of course, as behind all life, is salvation. But salvation is not had in a day. It is not the result of a single act, nor does it grow out of particular thoughts and aspirations. Salvation is achieved as a sum total of all that we think, say, do, and are. Any lesson, therefore, that makes pupils better in thought, word, deed, or being, has had to that extent its application.

Application of a lesson involves, then, the making sure, on the part of the teacher, that the truths taught carry over into the life of the pupil and modify it for good. Someone has said that the application has been made when a pupil

"Knows more, Feels better, Acts more nobly,"

as a result of the teaching done. There is a prevalent conception that application has been made in a recitation only when pupils go out from a recitation and translate the principle studied into immediate action. There are lessons where such applications can be made and, of course, they are to be commended. Particularly are they valuable in the case of young children. But surely there are other justifiable interpretations to the term application.

We need to remind ourselves that there are three distinct types of subject matter that constitute the body of our teaching material. These are, first of all, those lessons which are almost wholly intellectual. Debates are conducted by the hundreds on subjects that lead not to action but to clearer judgment. Classes study subjects by the month for the purpose of satisfying intellectual hunger. Such questions, for instance, as "Succession in the Presidency," or the "Nature of the Godhead"—questions gone into by thoroughly converted Latter-day Saints, not to bring themselves into the Church, nor to lead themselves into any other kind of action except the satisfying of their own souls as to the truth. In other words, it appears clear that there may be application on a purely intellectual level. Application upon application is made until a person builds up a structure of faith that stands upon the rock in the face of all difficulties.

A second type of lessons appeals to the emotions. They aim to make pupils feel better. They may or may not lead to immediate action. Ideally, of course, every worthy emotion aroused should find, if possible, suitable channels for expression. Pent up emotions may become positively harmful. The younger the pupils the more especially is this true. Practically every educator recognizes this fact and gives expression to it in language similar to the following quotation from Professor S.H. Clark:

"Never awaken an emotion unless, at the same time, you strive to open a channel through which the emotion may pass into the realm of elevated action. If we are studying the ideals of literature, religion, etc., with our class, we have failed in the highest duty of teaching if we have not given them the ideal, if we have not given them, by means of some suggestion, the opportunity for realizing the ideal. If there is an emotion excited in our pupils through a talk on ethics or sociology, it matters not, we fail in our duty, if we do not take an occasion at once to guide that emotion so that it may express itself in elevated action."

And yet there is a question whether this insistence upon action may not be exaggerated. Abraham Lincoln witnessed an auction sale of slaves in his younger days. He did not go out immediately and issue an emancipation proclamation, and yet there are few who can doubt that that auction sale registered an application in an ideal that persisted in the mind of Lincoln through all those years preceding our great civil war.

Many a man has been saved in the hour of temptation, in his later life, by the vividness of the recollection of sacred truths taught at his mother's knee. There may be just a little danger of cheapening the process of application if it is insisted that for every ideal impressed upon the minds of pupils there must be a corresponding immediate response in daily actions of the pupils taught. May not a wonderful impression become the more wonderful as it is hallowed by the pondering of the mind through the maturing years of childhood and young manhood?

Finally there is the lesson which, though it involves both the intellect and the emotions, appeals primarily to the will and calls for action. There can be no question but that this is the type of lesson of greatest significance in religious education. We meet our pupils so infrequently, at best, that at most we can do but a fraction of what we should like to do to modify their lives. Our concern is to change for the better their attitude and conduct, and therefore we must address ourselves to the problems they face in the every-day life which they are to live between recitations. As Betts in his How to Teach Religion so well says:

"In the last analysis the child does not come to us that he may learn this or that set of facts, nor that he may develop such and such a group of feelings, but that through these he may live better. The final test of our teaching, therefore, is just like this: Because of our instruction, does the child live differently here and now, as a child, in all his multiform relations in the home, the school, the church, the community, and in his own personal life? Are the lessons we teach translated continuously into better conduct, finer acts, and stronger character, as shown in the daily run of the learner's experience?

"It is true that the full fruits of our teaching and of the child's learning must wait for time and experience to bring the individual to fuller development. But it is also true that it is impossible for the child to lay up a store of unused knowledge and have it remain against a later time of need in a distant future. The only knowledge that forms a vital part of our equipment is knowledge that is in active service, guiding our thoughts and decisions from day to day. Unused knowledge quickly vanishes away, leaving little more permanent impression on the life than that left on the wave when we plunge our hand into the water and take it out again. In similar way the interests, ideals, and emotions which are aroused, without at the same time affording a natural outlet for expression in deeds and conduct, soon fade away without having fulfilled the purpose for which they exist. The great thing in religious education is to find immediate and natural outlet in expression, a way for the child to use what he learns; to get the child to do those things pointed out by the lessons we teach him."

As the teacher faces this "carry-over" problem he is impressed that he must touch the lives of his pupils not only as individuals but as members of a social group. It becomes his obligation not only to direct them in matters pertaining to their own welfare, physically, intellectually, and morally, but he has a responsibility in helping to establish the standards of society to which individuals naturally subscribe more or less unconsciously.

The strong teacher's influence can be made to affect the ideals of the athletic field, of the amusement hall, of the church, of the business center, and of the home. These agencies offer such a variety of possibilities that every lesson offers easily some avenue of application. By way of illustration let us turn to a few subjects and point out some possibilities in the matter of application. May it be said here, in passing, that the secret of making application lies in not getting lost in the past so that we may walk along with our heads turned back over the shoulder of time pondering merely the things of the past. All too often the teacher hurries over into the Holy Land of some four thousand years ago, leaving a class of twentieth century boys and girls here at home to wonder what all that ancient material has to do with the problems that confront them here and now. Not that we should ignore the past. Successful application lies in reaching back into the past for a solution of today's difficulties. But the solution is our great concern. "We look back that we may the better go forward."

To illustrate:

A lesson on Cain and Abel may find its application in a solution of the problems of the jealousy and selfishness that exist today. This story ought not to be merely a recounting of murder. There is a little Cain—a little Abel—in all of us. Consider the case of the boy who smashed up his brother's new sled as well as his own, because he couldn't keep up in coasting. The nature of the class will determine the particular application. Or consider the story of Samson and Delilah: at first thought, a story with but little to contribute to a solution of today's problems. Yet out of that story application can be made beautifully, through either of these two truths:

He who plays with sin will eventually be conquered by it; or,

Marrying outside one's church is attended by grave dangers.

A lesson on helpfulness was once beautifully and rather dramatically given through the story of a rescue of a train. A lad was out at play on a railroad track when he discovered that a recent storm had washed out part of the road bed. He remembered that the through passenger train was due in a few minutes, and so rushed along the track and by frantically waving his hat succeeded in stopping the train just in time to prevent a terrible catastrophe. A few well-directed questions called for the pupils' own idea of application. They, too, would flag a train if such an occasion should arise. They could help people generally to guard against danger. They even carried the idea over into rendering any kind of service, about the home, at school, and elsewhere, as long as it was helpful.

And so illustrations could be multiplied. The important thing is that, having decided upon a central truth for a lesson, the teacher then conceives avenues whereby the truth may be carried over through action into the lives of pupils. And, of course, he must see that they are directed in setting about the action.

The question often arises, "Isn't there danger of moralizing in making an application?" or "What is the difference between an application and moralizing?" Genuine and natural application ought to be inherent in the material presented. A good story ought to drive home its message without further comment. Moralizing consists of "tacking on" some generalized exhortation relative to conduct. Moralizing is either an unnecessary and unwelcome injunction to be or to do good, or it is an apology for a lesson that in and of itself drives home no message. The school boy's definition of moralizing is helpful and suggestive:

"Moralizing is rubbing goodness in unnecessarily."

In making application of truths presented, teachers naturally face the question as to what constitutes the fundamentals in character development that are to be achieved. As a sort of guide, the two Utah codes of morals, one for children and one for youths, are rich in suggestion, both for pupil and teacher. They are submitted herewith as helpful in setting up the objectives toward which we are working:


I want to grow up to be wise and strong, happy and able to make others happy, to love and to be loved, and to do my part in the world's work.

During my infancy loving hands cared for me, gave me food, clothing and shelter, and protected me from harm. I am grateful for this care, and I want to be worthy of the love and confidence of my mother and father and to do all I can to make them happy.

I will be obedient to my parents and teachers; they are wiser than I and thoughtful of my welfare.

I have already learned that good health is necessary to strength and happiness, and that in order to be well and to grow strong, I must have good, wholesome food, ample exercise and sleep, and abundant pure water and fresh air—nature's free gifts to all.

My whole body I will keep clean and each part of it as sound as good care can make it.

I will have respect for all useful work, both mental and physical. I must learn to be helpful that I may know the joy of service and the dignity of work well done.

I will begin now to earn some of the things I use. I must learn how to spend, and how to be generous.

Waste is the mother of want, and even though the want may not be mine, if I am extravagant I am likely to bring suffering to others. Waste of time is as wrong as waste of things; I will not be an idler.

I will not put unnecessary burdens upon my associates by untidy, careless habits; orderly ways save my own time and things as well as those of others.

I will take thought for the comfort and welfare of our animal friends and will always avoid cruelty.

I will strive for courage to speak the truth and for strength to be fair in all my work and play, to be true to my word and faithful to my trust. I hate lying and cheating; they are signs of cowardice and greed. I will not seek pleasure or profit at the cost of my self-respect. I will be considerate of the rights and feeling of others as I would have them respect mine.

I will try to control my temper and to be cheerful, kind, and courteous in all my dealings.

I will strive to be pure in thought, speech and action.

My country has provided laws and civil officers to protect me, schools for my instruction, and many other aids to a happy, useful life. I am grateful for these benefits and will show my patriotism by obeying the laws and defending my country against evils, both within and without.

I will keep my eyes and ears open to enjoy the world about me, and my mind alert to understand and appreciate the good things mankind has provided for me—science and art, poetry and music, history and story.

May God, the kind and loving Father, help me all my life to see the right way and to follow it.


I am happy to be a member of that great human society which has accumulated all the treasures of civilization. I have benefited by the united labors of all mankind; for this I owe a debt of gratitude to humanity, a debt I can pay only by serving that humanity to the fullest extent of my ability. Through small services freely given toward the comfort and happiness of my associates, I may grow in power of usefulness and in my turn contribute to the welfare of the generations that are to come.

My body is the instrument of my mind and the foundation of my character. Every organ must be conserved to perform its proper function in the development and perfection of my life. I will, therefore, eat only wholesome food, breathe pure air, take ample exercise and sleep, and keep my body clean and sound. To this end, I will refrain from the use of intoxicating drinks, narcotics and stimulants; these lend only a seeming strength, but in reality they undermine my powers of service and of lasting happiness. By abstaining from these indulgences I can, moreover, help others to abstain, and thereby increase their strength and happiness. By temperate living and plenty of exercise in the open I can preserve my health and the more easily refrain from evil thoughts and evil deeds.

I will not pollute my body or that of another by any form of self-indulgence or perverse yielding to passion. Such indulgence is a desecration of the fountains of life and an insult to the dignity of manhood and womanhood.

Through the formation of sane, health-promoting habits I can avoid having my usefulness diminished and my happiness impaired by the consequences of my own folly.

I will be modest in dress and manner, that I may in no wise encourage sensuality.

I will be thoughtful of the effects of my actions and so restrain myself that no act of mine may mar the life or detract from the happiness of my associates or of my successors.

I will deal honestly, fairly and kindly with my fellows—always mindful that their lives and their happiness are as sacred to them as mine are to me.

I will avoid impatience and ill temper and will endeavor to be courteous always.

I will try to save individuals rather than to condemn them, even though their evil deeds must be condemned and offenders punished.

I will have respect for the time of my fellows as I respect their property.

I will not engage in games of chance, since I do not desire reward at the expense of others.

In all my dealings I will strive for courage to speak the truth; I despise cowardice and lying. I will do what I know to be right, though others may ridicule or scorn me.

I will be personally responsible for all that I do, and, recognizing my limited wisdom, I will ever seek Divine Guidance to lead me in the right way.

I will strive for independence of judgment, but with due regard for the superior wisdom of my elders. I must grant to my fellows the same right of independent judgment that I claim for myself.

Whatever I undertake I will do with my might, and, win or lose, accept the result with good cheer. I would rather be worthy of success than to secure it unworthily.

I will be prompt and orderly in all my affairs, otherwise I become a hindrance to social efficiency. I will avoid waste and extravagance lest I bring needless privation and suffering to others as well as to myself.

It is my privilege to have a part in the world's work—a part I must choose and perform with all diligence. "What can I do best that society needs most?" When I have answered this question I will pursue my vocation intelligently and energetically; first, as a means of service to my fellow-men; and second, as a means of self-support and aid to those that may be dependent upon me.

May the love and appreciation I have for my country never be dishonored by any act of lawlessness or want of loyalty, but may I ever honor, uphold and obey the law and defend my country against unrighteousness, injustice and violence. When it becomes my privilege to vote I will use the right of suffrage as a patriotic means of co-operating with my fellow citizens for the promotion of social justice, peace and progress. Should I be called to public office, I will strive for moral courage to exercise authority in accord with justice and humanity; and, whether in or out of office, I will respond freely to every opportunity for public service.

I am grateful for the beauties of nature and for the great works of art, music, literature and science, it is my privilege to enjoy. These I will seek to understand and appreciate, that I may cultivate broader sympathies and fellowship with mankind, the world, and the Creator of all.

* * * * *


1. How does application go to the very heart of teaching?

2. Discuss the various conceptions of the term.

3. Distinguish between immediate and delayed application.

4. Discuss the possibility of intellectual application.

5. How can applications best be made?

6. When can applications best be made?

7. Distinguish between making an application and moralizing.


Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Betts, How to Teach Religion; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Betts, The Recitation; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach; Thorndike, Principles of Teaching; Colgrove, The Teacher and the School.




The question of method raised.—Danger of an entire disregard of method.—The case of the "born" teacher.—Sound pedagogy largely a matter of common sense.—Danger of being committed to a single method.—The five possible methods: The Story Method; Reading 'Round; The Special Topic; The Lecture; The Discussion.

Two of the most practical questions that a teacher ever has to solve are:

How shall I go about to prepare a lesson?

Having prepared a lesson, how shall I set about to teach it to my class?

The first of these questions has already been discussed in preceding chapters; the second now calls for our consideration.

Is there a one best method? If so, what is it? What steps does it involve? Instead of answering these questions directly, perhaps it will be better to point out the various methods of the recitation, set down their characteristics and relative values, and then formulate a conclusion.

At the outset it may be advisable to sound two notes of warning. One is against an entire disregard of methods. There are those persons who believe that teachers are born, not made, and that therefore a discussion of methods is useless. The born teacher, say these persons, just teaches naturally according to his own personality. To change his method would be to destroy his effectiveness. If he isn't a teacher then the study of methods will not make him one. In either case work done on methods is lost.

Of course, experience refutes both contentions. It is admittedly true that great teachers are born to their work—that some individuals just naturally impress others and stimulate them to high ideals. And yet there is no one so gifted that he cannot improve through a study of the game he is to play. Most great athletes are by nature athletic. And yet every one of them trains to perfect himself. The best athletes America sent to the Olympic games were wonderfully capable men, but they were wonderfully trained men, as well. They had studied the methods of their particular sports. Great singers are born with great vocal potentialities, but the greatest singers become so as the result of thorough training. Methods elevate them to fame. What is true of the other arts ought also to be true of teaching.

As to the class of teachers not born to the calling, it seems perfectly clear that here is the great opportunity for a study of the fundamentals underlying good teaching. Sound pedagogy is just a matter of good, common sense. Any normal person by studying how to do anything ought in the end to come to do that thing better than if he ignored it. I may not know how to operate an automobile. But if I study how to operate one, if I observe those who do know how, and if I practice operating one—surely I shall come to be more efficient as a chauffeur.

But while many will admit that this law of development applies in the mechanical world, they hold that there is something mystic about teaching for which only a pedagogical birthright is a solution. The fallacy of such a contention seems too evident to call for argument. At least the only sensibly hopeful view to take in such a Church as ours, in which so many members must perforce be called to be teachers, is that power in teaching can be developed as it can in any other field of endeavor.

The other bit of warning applies to the kind of teacher who is unalterably committed to a single method, not only as the best method, but the only one worth following. Method depends so essentially on the personality of the teacher, on the nature of the pupils taught, and on the subject matter to be presented, that it is a very dangerous thing to say that, in spite of circumstances, one method is invariably the best method.

Let us, then, turn to the different methods and consider their relative values. Five possibilities immediately suggest themselves:

1. The story method. 2. The "reading 'round" method. 3. The special topic method. 4. The lecture method. 5. The discussion method, built up through questions and answers.

1. The Story Method. The story is the method for childhood. "All the world loves a story." Children certainly are a part of that world. How they thrill in response to the appeal of a good story. Their little souls fairly seem to open to receive it. What an opportunity—what a sacred trust—is the teacher's as he undertakes to satisfy that soul hunger! The subject, the story, has been so fully gone into by Brother Driggs in his book, The Art of Teaching, that we need not attempt to discuss it fully here. Then, too, so many other excellent books have been written on the art of the story that the teacher need only be referred to them. Suffice it here to make two observations in passing. The best stories for purposes of religious instruction should possess four essential characteristics:

Point—Brevity—Message—Adaptation to the experience of pupils.

And, of course, this message should be a truth appropriate to the occasion—a message heightened by the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The second observation has to do with the telling of the story. Naturally it should be well told. But the story hour should not be one of mere telling. The child, in addition to listening to the story, should be given opportunity to express its reaction to the story told—should be directed in discovering the avenue through which it will carry into action the emotion aroused by the story.

2. The "Reading 'Round" Method. The old idea of a class coming together and sitting through a process of reading in turn from the one book in the class as it was passed about is largely a thing of the past. Let us hope that the day when neither teacher nor pupil prepared his lesson is gone forever. Surely "reading 'round" is a poor substitute for preparation. And it clearly is a dull, routine method of procedure. But there was one merit attached to it that is worthy our consideration. It did bring the scriptures into the hands of our pupils. Whatever method we may follow, this contact with the actual word of the Lord is a valuable asset. We cannot advocate resorting to the old notion of "reading 'round" as an apology for a recitation, but we can well point out the merit of seeing to it that pupils see and read the scriptures. If the lesson can be so conducted that reading is indulged in as a supplementary laboratory exercise—a turning through of gems that entice the reader to make further study of the book—then reading can be made a very valuable factor in the teaching process. Then, too, it is educational just to have members of a class turn through the scriptures to know what they are—what books are involved and where they may be found. Ignorance with respect to the scriptures is alarmingly prevalent. The following report taken from the New York Tribune relative to a simple test in Bible literature, given by an Eastern university to 139 students, is significant:

"Out of 139 only 12 reached 75%; 90 received less than 50%; 10 could not name a single book of the Old Testament. Some who did spelled them Salms, Joob, etc. Some named Paul, Babylonians, and Gentiles as Old Testament books."

Surely much might be said in favor of the use of books in our classes.

3. The Special Topic Method. Much can be said both for and against the topic method. At least three objections to its use can be raised:

A. It makes for piece-meal preparation. The lesson is partitioned off into segments, one of which may be prepared by a particular pupil who does not concern himself at all with the rest of the lesson. This method, therefore, encourages fragmentary and incomplete preparation.

B. It makes for a disconnected presentation which makes it quite impossible for pupils to get a unified conception of the whole lesson. This is doubly bad, because of the fact that frequently those who are assigned parts absent themselves from class.

C. It often results in dull, commonplace recitations. All too frequently, especially if topic assignments are the usual method of procedure, those pupils given the various topics to work up content themselves with very meagre preparation. They come to class, therefore, and merely run over so many facts wholly without inspiration and often by constant reference to notes or the text.

Of course, these difficulties can be overcome largely by the judicious use of the topic method. It ought not generally to be followed as the regular order of business, but rather as a supplementary means of enriching the lesson. It ought not to be used so as to excuse all class members from regular preparation of the lesson as a whole. If the teacher will assign the lesson proper to all of the class and then select certain aspects—certain suggested problems—for more intensive research, the reports on special topics can be made to contribute wonderfully to the richness of the class hour. The topic method, then, is primarily a supplemental method, and if wisely used has these advantages:

A. It makes for an enriched lesson. It makes possible expert opinion, and the results of special, careful investigation which the class as a whole would be unable to make.

B. It lends variety to class procedure and guarantees that the teacher will not do all the talking.

C. It fosters individual expression. It trains pupils to formulate an attack, to organize findings, and to stand and deliver a connected and well thought out message.

D. It promotes a habit of investigation—it leads pupils to work out for themselves the problems of the Gospel which they encounter.

4. The Lecture Method. The comment of a student of the Brigham Young University on the lecture method was unique: "The lecture method wouldn't be so bad if a teacher really lectured—he usually just talks. And talking a lot when you haven't much to say is pretty discouraging to a class."

Aimless talking which indulges in the main in vague generalities can never be justified. Preaching presumes a pulpit and has little place in classwork. The teacher who persists in talking most of the time overvalues his own thoughts and minimizes the ideas of others. Much talking stifles initiative and independent thinking. Then, too, it gives no opportunity for developing pupils' power of self-expression and provides no means for the teacher to check the reaction going on in the pupils' minds—assuming that one goes on! It is astonishing what erroneous notions members of a class can get from merely hearing a lesson presented. Given a chance to express their conclusions, they will themselves correct many of their false impressions.

There are occasions, however, when a lecture is extremely valuable. Frequently after several weeks of discussion a class is hungry to hear "the truth about the matter." There is then afforded a splendid opportunity for the teacher to drive home a real message. Then, too, specialists, because of their advanced study on a particular subject, can often present in an hour the results of years of investigation.

Furthermore, in a lecture, the teacher can make an emotional appeal which is practically out of the question in other methods. His enthusiasm and conviction can be made to "carry" his pupils to the contemplation of new truths. Used with discretion, the real lecture is a valuable asset in teaching; indulged in regularly as mere talking or preaching, the method ought certainly to be discouraged.

5. The Discussion Method. This method, built upon questions and their answers, is commendable for its democracy and because of the fact that it stimulates both thought and discussion on the part of most if not all of the pupils. Questions are so vital to good teaching that Chapter XXI will be devoted to their consideration. Suffice it to say here that for all practical purposes it is the basis of the best teaching. Discussions make it possible to reach pupils "Where they are"—make it possible for everyone to contribute of his experience to everyone else.

The one outstanding difficulty with the discussion method lies in the fact that it calls for such skilful direction. It so easily runs off on tangents that the teacher is kept on his mettle holding to the subject in hand.

After all, each method has its advantages and its disadvantages. There are times when any one of them can be profitably used; it is clear that any one of them can be abused—can be made more or less monotonous. Perhaps we can wisely conclude that, "The best method is a variety of methods."

* * * * *


1. Why is it essential that teachers study methods of the recitation?

2. What method do you regularly follow? Why?

3. To what extent is it that a born teacher teaches without method?

4. What is pedagogy?

5. Discuss the relative value of each of the five methods listed in this chapter.

6. Discuss the statement, "The best method is a variety of methods."


Betts, How to Teach Religion; Betts, The Recitation; Earhart, Types of Teaching; Bagley, Classroom Management; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach.




The need of review in our Church teaching.—Review a real help to learning in that it makes for: repetition, proper connection, proper evaluation of truth.

An intelligent review is the result only of thorough preparation on the part of the teacher.—Assignment and preparation.—Ability to make assignments a test of good teaching.

Characteristics of a good assignment: It is definite.—It raises a problem.—It connects with the experience of pupils.—It stimulates to action.

General and specific assignments.—When to make assignments.

Each organization within the Church follows regularly its own course of study. At the beginning of the year it sets out upon a prescribed subject subdivided according to the number of meetings scheduled for the year's work. As a result, no one lesson stands out independent of all others, but rather fits in naturally in a sequence of chapters each of which develops some aspects of one big subject. Because of such a plan the matters of review and preview take on vital significance. Each lesson should be made to link up naturally with what has already been presented and should point out by way of anticipation what is to follow. Many educators maintain that the ability to conduct a good review and to make an effective assignment are two of the surest tests of a good teacher.

The problem of review is really one of the most fundamental processes in education. It is the great key to learning. Anyone who has enjoyed the fun of teaching young children how to read has been impressed with the fact that the child has to be led to see and repeat the simplest words over and over again before they are really mastered. It is really astonishing how many times as simple a word as "ran" has to be repeated before the beginner in reading gets it fully into his consciousness. This very difficulty of teaching mere words or letters has led to the abandonment of the old "A-B-C" drill as the first step in reading, and the substitution for it of an indirect method wherein, through the laws of association, groups of words and sentences are mastered as the symbols which express concrete and objectified ideas. But by way of experiment, one of the most impressive experiences open to teachers is to take a child of four or five that has not been taught to read and attempt to drill into its consciousness a group of half a dozen words as simple as these: cat, fan, hat, get, man, jam. To the teacher who has attempted such an experiment no argument is necessary to prove the significance of review and repetition.

Review, then, first of all, is vitally essential because it makes possible impression through repetition which insures the fixing of ideas. Literally, review means to view again. Psychologically it is to repeat the processes of mind which were called into operation the first time the stimulus in question started a mental reaction. The nervous system of man is so constituted that in the acquirement of knowledge, each time the nerve centers react to the same stimulus, the tendency so to react becomes stronger, under the mere presence of the stimulus, starts up an automatic sort of reaction, and we say that the child knows the meaning of the object constituting the stimulus.

Not only is review thus essential in the beginning of the learning process with children, but it remains a vital factor as long as men and women undertake to learn. Review guarantees recall, and recall re-establishes "nerve connections" to the permanent fixing of impressions. Very little of our knowledge remains ours to a purpose unless it is gone over and over until it is thoroughly established. A truth that is taught in a Mutual lesson on a particular Tuesday night, but which is never referred to again, and therefore never recalled, very likely will soon be gone out of consciousness and usefulness. Those truths and facts which are of greatest functioning value to us are those which we continue to run over in our minds and ponder. The reinforcement of review is what establishes our permanent working stock of truth.

Not only is review valuable as a matter of recall, but it makes for an enrichment of mental content which is altogether desirable. The real art of review lies in calling up an old truth in a new setting. Upon second perusal it is seen in skilful review from a slightly different angle so that each recall adds a reinforcement that makes for a clinching of thought which makes it permanent. It very often happens that the first time an idea is called to our attention it means but little, because our mental reaction is limited in the particular field of the presentation; the same idea in a new setting more in keeping with our experience may take on an entirely different significance. That teaching is best, therefore, which presents truth from the greatest number of angles possible, thereby guaranteeing the richest kind of associations in the minds of pupils.

Another value that attaches to the review lies in the fact that it makes possible proper connection between new material and old. It is axiomatic in teaching that pupils learn new truths and take on new experiences, in terms of the old. Teaching that unfolds—that develops new ideas that are built upon those already understood—is the kind of teaching attended by best results. In our organizations, meeting as we do only once a week, we must appreciate the fact that in the intervening time, between meetings, hundreds of ideas have crowded into the mind and have displaced those that may have been there as a result of our teaching. By calling to mind those ideas of a week ago, we not only reinforce them, but we start a chain of thought to which it will be very much easier to add the link of today's work than to proceed as if forging an entirely new chain.

No farmer goes out and plants grain on the unplowed field. He plows and harrows that the soil may be prepared not only to receive the seed, but to make generation possible.

A review simply turns over the stubble field of the preceding week's work, making ready for the planting of new seeds that they may generate and develop.

Still a further value in the matter of review lies in the fact that the review makes more easily possible the proper evaluation of the facts taught. In every lesson there are major facts and truths presented and also those minor or subordinate ones that serve to amplify and illustrate. All too frequently a class becomes so involved in the minor details that it may fail to grasp fully the big, underlying truth. By careful review, the teacher can make the essentials stand out in relief. These are the things that need to be pondered. If they are properly grasped, thanks to the laws of association, most of the minor facts will naturally attach themselves, so that truths can be retained in all of their richness of detail.

It is surprising to find how frequently pupils who have spent a year on the Book of Mormon have very little notion of the big, outstanding features of the book. They apparently have run over each week's lesson as so many independent facts, never coming back to single out the essential things in that early American civilization. Surely no class ought to complete the course without clearly comprehending such major items as:

The contribution each of the three colonies made to Book of Mormon civilization.

The general geographical location of each colony.

The outstanding characters in the book.

The coming forth of the book.

Why it is essential.

How our faith depends largely upon it.

The ministry of the Savior on this continent.

Gospel teachings of the Book of Mormon.

What is true of the study of the Book of Mormon is equally true of all other subjects. It is so easy to get lost in a maze of facts, in a course in the principles of the Gospel, and yet if a teacher will hold to such basic considerations as the articles of faith, coming back to them regularly and linking facts presented under the appropriate article, it is equally easy to complete the course with a clearly defined, skeletonized basis for all future study. Two conclusions seem obvious: as teachers we ought to conduct reviews regularly and frequently; we ought to prepare for them as one of the most vital factors in teaching.

Important as is the review, the preview or assignment is equally vital. To quote from Colgrove's The Teacher and the School:

"Importance and Value of Good Lesson Assignment. From the foregoing consideration it is clear that no other part of the teacher's work exceeds in value and importance the proper planning and assignment of the daily lessons. It is supplying the class and the school with a definite plan of work. It is preparing the mind of each individual pupil for the reception of new truths and whetting his intellectual appetite for a feast of good things. It inspires confidence by pointing out to the pupil just how he can use his past lessons and acquisitions to make new conquests. It prevents pupils from misunderstanding the lesson or approaching it with indifference or positive aversion. It enables the pupil to approach the new lesson in a perceiving mood, and helps pupils to form the habit of being successful in their work and of making a daily application of their old knowledge. It prevents the teacher from degenerating into a mere talker, and, where textbooks are used, should be the most vital part of the recitation."

The assignment is the great guarantee of a good recitation. It sets up objectives—it points the way—it starts the thought process that is to produce a discussion worth while at the subsequent meeting of the class.

Much has been said recently against the practice on the part of the teacher of saying, "Take chapter three for next time." There are superintendents of schools who refuse to keep such teachers in their service. To make such an assignment, particularly in classes that meet only once a week, and especially if the assignment is made, as is too usually the case, after the signal for class dismissal has been given, is to promise the pupils a week in advance that their next lesson will be very much of a failure.

A good assignment is characterized by several very definite features. In the first place it is perfectly clear. Given at a time when pupils are following it, it gives specific direction as to the work to be done ahead in preparation. It indicates the direction of intellectual travel, points out sources of material, and indicates what is to be looked for. Reference or textbooks are so pointedly referred to that pupils not only remember their names, they want to turn to them to enjoy their contributions.

In the second place, a good assignment raises a problem which is a challenge to the mental powers of pupils. It should carry a force of anticipation that capitalizes on that great mover to action—curiosity. For instance, if the lesson to be assigned is one on baptism, instead of simply naming certain pages in a text to be read, the skilful teacher may well challenge his class by bringing in a clipping from a periodical or from some other source attempting to prove that sprinkling is the correct method of baptism, or that baptism is not essential to a man's obtaining salvation? How can members of the class meet such an argument? One of their first thoughts will likely be a query as to where available material may be turned to. How easy, then, to give references, etc. Some such problem can be raised relative to every lesson taught, and it is a wonderful force as an intellectual appetizer. It should both prompt to action and point to the path to be followed.

The question is often raised as to whether the assignment should be general or specific. Perhaps the best answer involves both kinds. There ought ordinarily to be a general assignment that affects all of the members of a class. The class is made up of all the individuals in the group—its discussing ought therefore to be so made up. But in addition to this general assignment, specific topics given to particular members add an enrichment to the recitation of very great value. The services of the specialist are always of inestimable value. That class is best wherein each member in turn becomes a specialist in looking up and bringing in vital observations on life.

As to the best time for making assignments, it is rather hard to give a ruling that best fits all cases. Preferably the assignment should grow out of the discussion of the lesson in hand, and therefore logically comes at the end of the recitation rather than at the beginning. There are teachers, however, who, fearing interruption at the end of the hour, map out their work so carefully that they can make the assignment at the outset, merely calling attention to it at the close of the hour. All other things being equal, if the teacher will make himself hold sacred the time necessary at the end of the hour for this all important matter of assignment, it is likely that best results will follow having the assignment of the next lesson grow naturally out of the work of today. The important thing, however, is that at some point in the recitation, the teacher shall take plenty of time to make a carefully planned and challenging announcement of the work ahead.

* * * * *


1. Why is it essential to good teaching that regular reviews be conducted?

2. Why are reviews more necessary in our religious work than in regular school work?

3. What are the chief purposes of a review?

4. By taking a current lesson of one of the auxiliary organizations, illustrate the work done in a good review.

5. Why it is of vital importance that a teacher give special preparation to a review?

6. Show how good class preparation is conditional upon the proper kind of assignment.

7. What are the characteristics of a good assignment?

8. What is the best time for making the assignment?

9. Show how to make a good assignment of a current lesson from one of the organizations.


Betts, The Recitation; Betts, How to Teach Religion; Colvin, The Learning Process; Colgrove, The Teacher and the School; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach.




Taking Stock.—Miss Stevens' study on questioning.—Miss Stevens quoted.—Various types of questions: a. The review question; b. The fact question; c. The leading question; d. The thought or challenging question.—Some questions on questioning.

How many questions do you ask regularly during a recitation?

What proportion of those questions are answered in full and complete statements?

How many of the answers to your questions are a matter merely of memory? How many reveal original, creative thinking?

Such questions as these not only impress us with the force of the question as a means of teaching, but they lead us to examine into our own method of asking them. The whole teaching process so easily and unconsciously develops into a matter of routine that it is good practice occasionally to take stock of ourselves. It is surprising to find how many teachers develop a particular type of question which becomes their sole stock in trade.

Miss Ronniett Stevens, in her thesis, The Question as a Measure of Efficiency in Instruction, has made one of the most enlightening studies yet made on the matter of questioning. Her results are quoted by Weigle, in his Talks to Sunday School Teachers, in a passage of interest, not only because of Miss Stevens' findings, but also because of Mr. Weigle's own conclusions:

"One of the outstanding differences, in present practice, between the public and the Sunday school, is that most public school teachers ask too many questions and most Sunday school teachers do not ask questions enough. For the first half of this statement there is ample evidence in the careful study by Miss Ronniett Stevens on The Question as a Measure of Efficiency in Instruction. Miss Stevens secured complete stenographic reports of twenty high school lessons in English, history, science, Latin, modern languages, and mathematics; she observed one hundred more such lessons chosen at random, with a view to counting and noting the number and nature of the questions asked in each; and she followed each ten classes through an entire day's work for the purpose of studying the aggregate question-stimulus to which each was subjected in the course of the day.

"The results of her study are surprising. In only eight of the twenty lessons completely reported the teacher asked less than ninety questions in the period of forty-five minutes, the average being sixty-eight. In each of the remaining twelve lessons more than ninety questions were asked in the same period of time, the average being 128. A freshman class in high school, in a day's work of five periods of forty minutes each, not counting gymnasium, was subjected to 516 questions and expected to return 516 answers, which is at the rate of 2:58 questions and 2:58 answers per minute. The lowest number of questions recorded in a day's work for a class was 321, and the average number 395.

"Such rapid-fire questioning, Miss Stevens rightly holds, defeats its own ends. It maintains a nervous tension in the classroom that must in the long run be injurious. More than that, it is a symptom of the fact that the real work of the hour is being done by the teacher, and the pupil's share is reduced simply to brief, punctuation-like answers to the teacher's questions. Such questions appeal to mere memory or to superficial judgment rather than to real thought; they cultivate in the pupil neither independent judgment nor the power of expression; they ignore individual needs and discourage initiative; they make out of the classroom a place to display knowledge, rather than a laboratory in which to acquire it.

"The second half of the proposition, that most Sunday school teachers do not ask questions enough, has not been established by any such investigation as that of Miss Stevens. A similar study, on the basis of complete stenographic reports, of typical Sunday school lessons, would be a most valuable addition to our resources in the field of religious pedagogy. Till such a study is made, one must simply record his conviction that Sunday school teachers, as a general rule, ask too few, rather than too many questions. This conviction is based upon general observation and upon the frequency of such remarks as, 'I just can't get my class to study,' 'There are only two or three who ever answer my questions,' 'My pupils don't know anything about the Bible,' 'As long as I do all the talking, things go all right,' etc." Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers.

The whole matter of questioning can be made to stand out most clearly, perhaps, by listing the various types of question, the purposes which each type serves, and the characteristics of a good question.

First of all there is the Review question. The great purpose of this type of question is to systematize knowledge. Of course, it is valuable as an aid to recollection—it is a challenge to memory—but it is particularly helpful in that it makes the big essential points in a course stand out in relief with minor points properly correlated and subordinated. The review question is a guide to the pupil whereby he may see the relative significance of the work he has covered. One of our great difficulties lies in the fact that our teaching is so largely piece-meal. Today's lesson is hurried through, isolated as it is from all that has gone before and all that may follow. The successful teacher through the review makes each lesson a link in the chain of thought that underlies the whole development of the subject in hand.

The review question is essentially a carefully thought out, searching inquiry. It calls for a turning over, in the mind, of the material of the whole course and therefore should allow ample time for pondering. If it does not stimulate a "weighing process," it likely is merely a fact question—a test of memory. Of course, there is a place at times for this hurried type of question, but it serves the purpose only of "connecting up" and should not be mistaken for the evaluating question of review.

The following questions on the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri are illustrative review questions:

1. To what extent, if any, were the Latter-day Saints themselves responsible for their expulsion from Missouri?

2. To what extent were the persecutions of Missouri political? Religious?

3. How do you account for the fact that the Lord's people have always been a chastened people?

4. Show how the Missouri persecutions have been ultimately a blessing to the Latter-day Saints.

The second type of question is the fact question. It serves to check up on mental alertness and recall. It is often helpful in arresting attention and therefore has a certain disciplinary function. The teacher, of course, must make sure that his pupils are grasping the subject-matter presented, and the fact question serves admirably as a test of knowledge. It is usually a short question calling for a short answer, and therefore may be used in a rapid-fire way that stimulates thought. It is this type of question that is hurled so frequently at classes with the consequences pointed out in the quotation from Miss Stevens.

The same author lists as objections to the continued use of these rapid-fire questions the following bad features. They result in:

1. Nervous tension.

2. The teacher's doing most of the work.

3. Emphasis upon memory and superficial judgment.

4. Little time for the art of expression.

5. Little attention to the needs of particular individuals in a class.

6. The class being made a place for displaying knowledge.

7. Little self-reliant, independent thinking.

As illustrative of the fact question may we set down the following:

Who was Joseph Smith?

What was his father's name?

What was his mother's name?

Where was he born?

How old was he when he received his first vision?

When did he receive the plates?

The challenging question and the leading question are closely enough allied that we may well discuss them together. They are both intended to provoke creative thinking. The leading question aims to capitalize on what is already in the pupil's mind in getting him to go one step further to a conclusion we already have in mind. Instead of telling a class of young children that Joseph Smith prayed to the Lord for help in choosing the church to which he might best belong, we might proceed by saying that the Prophet had asked his father and mother—he had asked his best friends—he had talked with all the ministers he could find—he had read in all of the available books—now who can tell what else he could do? The chief merit of the leading question lies in the fact that it paves the way for the answer. It is particularly helpful in encouraging young and backward pupils. But is easily subject to abuse. So much so that its use is very largely restricted in law courts. It results too frequently in the teacher's thinking for the pupil, and therefore ought to be used with care.

The challenging question is the question that fosters originality of thought, independence of judgment. It simply raises a problem and leaves pupils free to arrive at their own conclusions. It makes for an intelligent faith so much desired in a democratic Church such as ours. It is the one question above all others that guarantees a vital class distinction.

Of course, there is a place for all four of these types of questions. As was said relative to the methods of the recitation, the best method is a variety of methods. So with questions. It is perfectly clear, however, that for general purposes that question which prompts greatest reflection and independent thinking is the best one to indulge most frequently. The following questions out of a lesson on Joseph Smith's First Vision are set down as typical of thought-provoking questions:

1. In view of the fact that when men choose a man for president of a bank they look for a man of maturity and experience, how do you explain that Joseph Smith, a mere boy, with little training or experience, was entrusted with the great responsibility of founding what we claim is the greatest institution of these latter days?

2. How can you convince the world that a just God would declare that none of their churches is right?

3. What vital truths are announced to the world through his first vision?

Let us conclude this chapter with one more quotation from Miss Stevens. When asked to name the three outstanding characteristics of a good question, she set them down as follows:

1. A good question should stimulate reflection.

2. It should be adapted to the experience of the pupil.

3. It should draw forth a well-rounded answer.

* * * * *


Do I call on my pupils to recite in a fixed order, according to alphabet or seating, so that they are warned not to attend till their turn comes?

Do I name the pupil who is to answer before I put the question?

Do I ask direct questions or alternative questions which can be answered without knowledge or thought?

Do I ask chiefly fact questions?

Do I ask leading or suggestive questions?

Do I repeat my questions? Attention.

Do I answer my own questions?

Do I ask confusing, changed questions?

Do I ask foolish questions that no one can answer?

Do my questions make pupils think?

Do my questions follow up the answer and lead to new organization of knowledge?

Do I repeat the pupil's answer?

Do my questions reach all the members of the class?

Do I make the recitation an inquisition, or do I pursue a slow pupil and listen while pupils express themselves freely and naturally?

* * * * *


1. Why is it essential that we prepare questions as we do other material?

2. What are the dangers that attend the asking of a great number of fact questions?

3. Discuss the relative value of the "W's"—what, who, when, where, and why.

4. Discuss each of the questions on questioning in this chapter.

5. Bring in three thought-provoking questions on one of the current lessons in the month's work of one of the auxiliary organizations.


Fitch, The Art of Questioning; Stevens, The Question as a Measure of Efficiency in Instruction; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Horne, Story Telling, Questioning, and Studying; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Driggs, The Art of Teaching.




A popular misconception of discipline.—Discipline inherent in teaching.—Importance of discipline in our religious teaching.—Changed attitude within the past three centuries toward discipline.—What discipline is.

Methods of securing discipline: The method of rewards; The method of "pleasing the teacher"; The method of punishment; The method of social appeal; The method of interest.

The importance of a proper attitude on the part of one who disciplines.—What constitutes such an attitude?

Back in 1916 the writer of these chapters was invited to address a group of teachers on the subject of discipline. This particular lecture came toward the end of a series of lectures given on the various pedagogical truths underlying teaching. One particular teacher, who had listened to all of the lectures, expressed appreciation of the fact that discipline was to be discussed—it apparently was his one concern, as indicated in his remark:

"We have listened to some excellent theories in these lectures. But I have to teach a class of real live boys and girls. How can I keep the little rascals quiet long enough to work the theories out?"

The remark expresses admirably the attitude of very many teachers relative to discipline. They regard teaching as one thing—discipline as quite another. With them discipline involves some sort of magic process or the application of some iron rule authority, which secures order that teaching may then be indulged in. As a matter of fact, discipline is inherent in good teaching. It is not a matter of correction so much as a matter of prevention. The good disciplinarian anticipates disorder—directs the energies of his pupils so that the disorder is made impossible by attention to legitimate interests.

Discipline is one of the most pressing problems in the quorums and organizations of the Church today. On every hand the complaint is registered that proper respect is not shown, either for those in important positions or for our places of worship.

The spirit that accompanies the political rally or basketball game, held in our amusement halls, too frequently is carried into our sacred meetings. The spirit of unconcern is carried into our classrooms until all too often to call the condition one of disorder is a very inadequate description of the procedure.

It is interesting to note the changing attitude generally in the matter of discipline. The harshness of other days is largely replaced by a leniency that borders on "easiness." Our whole attitude toward criminals has been revolutionized, and our human impulses have carried over into the realm of teaching, until now, at least in the opinion of very many critics, we have drifted largely into "soft pedagogy"—a process of trying to please regardless of the consequences.

Earlier treatises on education devoted a good bit of space to the amount and kind of punishment that should be administered in a well-ordered school. Punishment is decidedly out of taste these days. The biography of an old German master discloses the fact that during his teaching career he had administered 911,527 raps with his cane, 20,989 with a ruler, 136,715 with his hand, and that he was responsible for 1,115,800 slaps on the head. The same attitude is reflected in the fact that in England, as late as the year 1800, two hundred twenty-three offenses were punishable by death. The offenses included shooting rabbits, stealing, defacing Westminster Bridge, etc. In our day we hesitate to apply the extreme penalty even to the murderer.

The attitude toward the content of teaching has undergone a change quite in keeping with that attached to method. There was a time when pedagogical philosophy rather hinted, "It doesn't make any difference what you teach a boy, as long as he doesn't like it." The hint these days might more nearly read: "It doesn't make any difference how valuable certain material is for a boy, don't attempt to teach it to him unless it fascinates him." Our effort to interest our pupils has practically resulted in taking the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, out of our organizations. Of course, the doctrine of interest is a very vital one, but there are bounds beyond which we ought not to push it.

It is, therefore, perfectly obvious that there is urgent need of discipline. Any effort at social control demands it. The army succeeds as it does because of its discipline. Wherever a group of individuals undertake action in common, every member must be willing to sink interests of self in welfare of others. As was pointed out in the chapter on Individual Differences, a class is made up of all kinds of individuals. They vary in capacity, in ideals, in training, in attitude, in disposition, and in purpose. Manifestly group progress will be made possible in any such case by a mutual willingness to co-operate—a willingness to attend a discussion even though not particularly interested in it, but because it may be of concern to someone else whose interests I have undertaken to promote. My very presence in the class imposes such a responsibility upon me.

It is essential in a discussion of discipline that we agree as to just what discipline is. It is not mere silence. Silent "quietness" may be agreeable, but it certainly does not make for achievement. Such silence would be of little worth if it could be achieved, and it cannot be achieved with twentieth century human beings. The question of the lad who had been taken to task for his disturbance is always refreshing. The teacher, after a somewhat prolonged scolding, had concluded:

"Now, Tommie, do be quiet."

"What fur?"

The English may not be the choicest, but the sense is wonderfully significant to the teacher who would really understand the problem of discipline.

Discipline is not repression. The D of discipline and the D of don't have been confused all too often. Just as the too frequent use of the brakes on an automobile ruins the lining, so the too frequent "don't" of repression ruins the "goodwill lining" of the boy, and when that lining is gone the "brake squeaks," and in emergencies doesn't hold at all.

Discipline rather consists in that direction of wholesome activity which creates an atmosphere of intellectual endeavor in which every individual of a group can profitably follow his own interests while allowing every other individual to do the same thing free from interference. Discipline makes it possible for all to do the thing to be done to advantage. It may at times require silence, it may involve vigorous action—it always presumes intelligent direction that holds those concerned to the orderly pursuit of an established goal.

Various means have been devised for the securing of discipline. The doctrine of rewards has been and still is being followed extensively. To give an individual something for being good has never appealed to educators as fundamentally sound. It puts a false evaluation upon virtue. It may be that such a policy must be resorted to in emergencies, but followed regularly it is likely to be attended with disastrous results. The boy who has regularly to be bought into doing what he should will likely raise his price until the method of rewards becomes ruinous both to the father and the boy. To "heroize" a boy in class every time he does a meritorious act will very likely spoil him. Encouragement, of course, is helpful, but it ought not to be overindulged. A stick of candy may induce a child to go to bed agreeably each night, but the candy may spoil other things than the bedspread. Moral fibre is built up by developing the habit of doing a thing because it is right—because it ought to be done. There are teachers and preachers who hold the interest of those taught by tickling their ears with material, either funny or nonsensical. There is a question whether it is not a dangerous practice in an effort to win them to what should be an attitude of religious devotion.

Then there is the doctrine that children should be good to please their parents and teachers. This doctrine is akin to that of rewards. It sets up something of a false ideal, though of course it is a splendid thing to teach appreciation of those who help us. Much can be defended which seeks to inculcate in the minds of children reverence for their elders. The chief difficulty lies in the fact that this doctrine may not continue to appeal as fundamentally sound.

A third method for securing discipline is to compel it. This is to resort to the law of things. A certain amount of law should characterize both the home and the classroom. Obedience and order are the first laws of heaven and are essential to good social environment. But the law should be so administered that the obedience exacted rests upon an intelligent understanding of the purpose behind the law. Otherwise there comes a time when mere authority fails to control. It is a good thing to train children to abide by regulations out of a sense of duty. If duty and love can be coupled, the combination makes for permanent law-abiding. Arbitrary authority and blind obedience have produced Germany. Strong leadership coupled with democratic co-operation and loyalty have produced America.

Still another doctrine of discipline rests upon a social appeal. Members of a group agree that in the interest of everyone's welfare each individual will subscribe to certain conditions regardless of their application to him. This principle, fundamental in all democracies, can safely be trusted to secure desired results in groups mature enough to assure sound judgment. The sense of justice in the human soul is a safe guarantee of both liberty and good order. Many of our classes no doubt could be improved noticeably if we could enlist the co-operation of the members to the extent that they would assume to govern themselves.

Finally there is the doctrine of interest as a means of maintaining discipline. This doctrine implies that a teacher should get his class so interested in doing what he wants it to do that it hasn't any inclination to do what it ought not to do. This doctrine is not the pernicious doctrine hinted at earlier in this chapter of cheapening everything into "easiness." Genuine interest may lead not only to effort, but to sacrifice. The boy who plays football does not play because of the ease of the game—he is fascinated by his interest in the struggle. Ample preparation and a complete understanding of pupils will make possible an interest that disciplines without any evidence of discipline. Surely this is the modern doctrine of discipline, though with it should be coupled that wholesome respect for authority that prompts citizens to abide by the law.

No discussion of discipline would be complete which did not mention at least the significance of attitude on the part of one who disciplines. In so many cases when a boy is corrected he complains of the teacher,

"Oh, well, he's got it in for me."

It is always interesting to know whether a parent or teacher disciplines a child because the child needs it, or because the parent or teacher is unnerved and has to give expression to his feelings. The disciplinarian who can correct, when correction is necessary, both in firmness yet in fairness, so that the person who is corrected is made to feel that the correction grows out of a desire to help rather than merely to punish—that disciplinarian will exert an influence for good that is hard to estimate. He is both a friend and a benefactor.

Let us conclude this chapter with that wonderful passage from the Doctrine & Covenants which gives us the word of the Lord on this matter of controlling others:

"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

"Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

"That the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

"That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambitions, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the Priesthood, or the authority of that man.

"Behold! ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks; to persecute the Saints, and to fight against God.

"We have learned, by sad experience, that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

"Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

"By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile;

"Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

"That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death;

"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and the doctrine of the Priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

"The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy sceptre an unchanging sceptre of righteousness and truth, and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever." (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 121:34-46.)

* * * * *


1. What constitutes good discipline?

2. What factors contribute to make discipline a real problem in our Church?

3. Discuss our attitude toward discipline today as compared with the attitude toward it a generation ago.

4. Name the various methods of securing discipline.

5. Discuss their relative values.

6. Why is the teacher's attitude so important a factor in discipline?

7. What qualities are involved in the proper attitude?

8. Discuss preparation in its bearing upon discipline.


Doctrine & Covenants; Bagley, School Discipline; O'Shea, Everyday Problems in Teaching; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Dewey, Interest and Effort in Education.




The "pull" of a good class.—The appeal of an attractive classroom.—Making it "our room."—The teacher and class spirit.—Capitalizing on the leadership of the class.—Stimulating free participation.—Out of class activities.—Some possibilities.

There is a "pull" to certain classes—a pull that has all the force of a magnet. Pupils not only go to such a class willingly, but anticipate with pleasure the approach of the recitation hour. When duty is coupled with pleasure, there is a force for righteousness that is beyond measure. Of the various factors that contribute to the creation of a class spirit, the following are offered as being among the most helpful.

1. An Attractive Classroom. While it is true that most of the organizations in the Church do not have surplus funds for beautifying their buildings, and while it is equally true that many a good lesson has been conducted on the dirt floors of long cabins, it is equally true that rooms can be beautified, and that pleasant surroundings can be made a potent force in holding to our organizations the men and women and boys and girls of the Church. Of course, elaborate, expensive decorations ought to be discouraged. Simplicity always is more consistent with the spirit of worship than is extravagance. But contrast the difference in effect on children of a bare, untidy, makeshift room as against a cozy room decorated with a few beautiful pictures or draperies and made homelike with comfortable seats and tidy arrangement.

Nor is any great expense involved. The writer recalls visiting a kindergarten class in one of the schools in Salt Lake County. The ward authorities had not been asked for a dollar to fit up the room, and yet it had one of the "homiest" atmospheres imaginable. The teacher of the class, in addition to having an interest in the class, had an artistic temperament. She had collected through a number of years the most beautiful pictures that had appeared in the magazines. These in their home-made frames transformed the walls of her room into a veritable art gallery—wherever the eye of the visitor rested, it was greeted by a picture that, through its beauty, drove home an appreciation of the finer things of life. The children, too, had been stimulated to a pride in their room. They had brought in the available old rags from their homes and, as the result of a Sunday School entertainment which they had put on with the co-operation of the other departments of the school, they had had the rags woven into one of those cheerful, old-fashioned home-made carpets. It was perfectly clear that the children took delight in going to this "their room" each Sunday morning. Their pride prompted them to take care of what they regarded as their room, and made for a spirit of quiet and good order hard to surpass.

During the course in teacher-training at Provo, last summer, one of the members of the class courteously took the pains to see that a bouquet of flowers adorned the teacher's desk each day that the class met. It is impossible to estimate the effect of those flowers. Their beauty, coupled with the thoughtfulness that brought them in, made for a "fragrance of spirit" that exerted a remarkable influence.

Once the idea becomes established, pupils will take delight in making their classroom a place in which they will love to meet.

2. The Teacher. We have already discussed at length the personality of the teacher and its force in teaching. We need only emphasize the fact here that the magnetism of the teacher, either through what he is or what he gives, is the one great factor that makes for class spirit. The class inevitably reflects the attitude of the man who directs it. He must radiate enthusiasm before it can be caught by his pupils. His inspiration in making them feel that their class is "the one class" of an organization is only too gladly responded to by those whom he teaches. If he impresses the class with the fact that he joins with them because he loves so to do rather than because he has a duty to perform—if he makes suggestions in the interest of a better class—if he starts out by doing something himself by way of a contribution to the class and its spirit—he can be reasonably sure that his class will come more than half-way to join in his plans.

Not only his attitude is a vital factor—his preparation must be of the same enthusiastic type. A pupil of a very successful teacher in Salt Lake City recently made the remark, "I wouldn't think of missing Brother ——'s class. He gives me food for a week." Pressed as to the explanation of this enthusiasm, he added, "Brother —— is unique. He always attacks a subject in such a new and thorough way. He goes below the surface and really teaches us the Gospel." It is not strange, of course, that such advertising on the part of class members has built up an enrollment of some seventy-five pupils. Let us, then, remind ourselves that boys like a teacher

"Who has pep," "Who tells us something new," "Who doesn't preach at us."

3. Capitalizing on the Leadership of the Class. Just as in every band of horses there is a leader, so there is in every group of boys and girls. And as with the leaders, so with the followers. "Get the leaders," says a veteran horseman, "and you have all the rest." It is frequently the case that a teacher does not know intimately all of his pupils. Perhaps in many cases that teacher can know well a few of the outstanding leaders. He can well accompany them on hikes, can take them to a theatre, a ball game, or for a ride. If he wins them they become his lieutenants—they make his class. A word from him and these "under officers" lead the whole class to the desired reaction. "Take your leading pupils into your confidence and they will establish you in the confidence of all the rest." The experience is related of a teacher sent into southern Utah to take charge of a class of boys who had "dismissed" three teachers already, within the first half year of school. When the newcomer arrived, the air was full of rumblings as to what was to become of number four. He was variously cautioned to make an early departure, to go into school "armed" to "expect anything." But this particular teacher appreciated the fact that he was best armed when backed by the confidence and good will of his class. It was an easy matter to have pointed out for him "the meanest boy of the lot." This boy he sought out and found playing a game of horseshoe. Invited to take a place in the game, he entered the circle of the "outlaws" by winning decisively from their champion—"the meanest boy." To this boy, the new teacher was a "real fellow." Whatever he said, went! The word was circulated overnight among the boys of the town. The teacher already was master of the situation. "The meanest boy," instead of being the chief outlaw, now took pride in being chief lieutenant. Winning the leader won the group, and teacher number four not only stayed the year out, but was petitioned to come back a second year. As a matter of fact, he says, he taught school in that town for seven years.

4. Putting a Premium on Participation. One of the most interesting classes the writer has ever visited was a theological class in the Granite Stake. The teacher was committed to the policy of taking as little as possible of the class period himself, but he was also committed to the policy of getting his pupils to do the most possible. For the particular day in question he had assigned a discussion of baptism. One member of the class had been asked to discuss sprinkling as the correct method, another had been assigned immersion. The two young men brought in their findings as if they had been trained for a debate. Within the forty minutes devoted to the recitation baptism had been gone into as thoroughly as the writer has ever seen it gone into during the course of a single lesson, and the members of the class had been delightfully entertained and enlightened. When the bell rang announcing the close of the recitation, the class petitioned to have the discussion continued the following Sunday. It was perfectly clear how the teacher had built up his enrollment.

It is fundamental in human nature to love social combat. The clash of mind versus mind makes a wonderful appeal. Witness a political convention or an open forum debate! Let it be known that a vital subject is to be discussed by men who are really prepared and other men bestir themselves to be in attendance. Surely no subjects are full of more vital significance than questions of life and life eternal. If a teacher will take the pains to select attention-compelling headings and then stimulate representative members of his class really to work out something of a contribution, he need have no fear of the success of his class. Such procedure not only guarantees a good class—it promotes faith on the part of those participating as few other things can. Too frequently we content ourselves with the routine of commonplace "talk." There is no enthusiasm in mere routine as there is none in listless listening to generalities. Our effort should be to make our classes intellectual social centers with everybody participating.

5. Promoting Class Activities Out of Hours. The Seventies who harvested the grain for the widow of one of their members did a splendid bit of service, not only for her but for their own quorum. A common objective in service made for a common bond in fellowship.

The Primary class that was stimulated to take a basket of flowers to one of its sick members was helped not only in the making of someone happy, but in building up a class spirit that guaranteed success.

There are so many possibilities open to the teacher who really cares. Just the other evening the teacher of a class of Bee Hive girls called them together for a little social entertainment that they might talk over plans for the approaching season. What a capital attitude? Not to wait till the season opened, but to take the pains to look up the available, prospective class members and make ready for an enthusiastic campaign. Of course, such a teacher will succeed.

Class socials of all sorts, baseball teams, authors' clubs, bits of ward service, visits to institutions of interest—scores of worthy opportunities present themselves always to the teacher who is anxious to build up a genuine class spirit. And that spirit is the one great guarantee of real joy in teaching—it makes a class one which its members will always hold in memory.

* * * * *


1. Why is it essential that a teacher build up a class spirit?

2. Give three practical suggestions on the subject of beautifying classrooms.

3. Discuss the importance of the attitude of a teacher in promoting class spirit.

4. Point out possible methods for enlisting the co-operation of class leaders.

5. What do you consider your best method of stimulating members to participate in class discussions?

6. What kind of class activities contribute most to the life of your class?

7. Discuss the advisability of promoting class athletic teams.


Colgrove, The Teacher and the School; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Dewey, Interest and Effort in Education; O'Shea, Everyday Problems in Teaching; Norsworthy and Whitley, Psychology of Childhood.




Character, a great power in conversion.—Our concern the converted teacher and also the converted pupil.—The converted teacher believes what he teaches.—The converted teacher practices what he teaches.—The force of "Come, follow me."—What makes for conversion.—The teacher's obligation to kindle the spiritual fire.—His obligation to feature testimony-bearing.—His obligation to take his pupils where they will feel the spirit of testimony.

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