Principles of Teaching
by Adam S. Bennion
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Principles of Teaching

BY ADAM S. BENNION Superintendent of Church Schools

Designed for Quorum Instructors and Auxiliary Class Teachers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.




Reprint of the original


Copyright, 1921

By Adam S. Bennion

For the General Boards of the Auxiliary Organizations of the Church

PREFACE to the 1952 Edition

Two texts have been written for the teacher training program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since Dr. Adam S. Bennion's Book Principles of Teaching was published, yet in spite of the fact that this book has been out of print several years so many requests for it have poured in that the General Superintendency has decided to satisfy the demand with this new edition.

This book with its classic qualities in many ways fits Shakespeare's description of a beautiful woman when he said, "Age cannot wither her nor custom dim her infinite variety." Anyone who knows Dr. Bennion or has read his writings knows that neither custom nor age has dimmed his infinite variety. Furthermore, a glance at the table of contents of this book will reveal the fact that the problems and principles treated herein are just as real today as they were when the text was written.

This little volume is republished in the hope that it again will become one of the basic texts in the teacher training program and fulfill its mission as an instrument in the hands of sincere people who have the devout wish of learning how to teach the principles of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.

H.A. Dixon, Chairman Teacher Training Committee


Chapter Page

Preface vii I Purposes Behind Teaching 1 II What Is Teaching? 7 III The Joys of Teaching 14 IV Personality 20 V Personality 26 VI Attainment 33 VII Native Tendencies 40 VIII What to Do With Native Tendencies 46 IX Individual Differences 53 X Individual Differences and Teaching 61 XI Attention 68 XII What Makes for Interest 74 XIII A Laboratory Lesson in Interest 80 XIV The More Immediate Problems in Teaching 88 XV Organizing the Lesson 96 XVI Illustrating and Supplementing a Lesson 103 XVII The Aim 111 XVIII Application 116 XIX Methods of the Recitation 126 XX Review and Preview 134 XXI The Question as a Factor in Education 142 XXII The Problem of Discipline 149 XXIII Creating Class Spirit 157 XXIV Conversion—The Real Test of Teaching 164 Bibliography 171


That ever-old question, "How to Teach," becomes ever new when made to read, "How to Teach Better." This volume aims to raise those problems which every teacher sooner or later faces, and it attempts to suggest an approach by way of solution which will insure at least some degree of growth towards efficiency. These chapters originally were prepared for the course offered to teacher-trainers in the Summer School of the Brigham Young University, in 1920. The teachers in that course were an inspiration to the author and are responsible for many of the thoughts expressed in the pages of this book.

The successful teacher ever views his calling as an opportunity—not as an obligation. To associate with young people is a rare privilege; to teach them is an inspiration; to lead them into the glorious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is heavenly joy itself. This little volume hopes to push open the door of opportunity a little wider, that more of that joy may be realized.

"Perchance, in heaven, one day to me Some blessed Saint will come and say, 'All hail, beloved; but for thee My soul to death had fallen a prey'; And oh! what rapture in the thought, One soul to glory to have brought."





The worth of souls.—The Father's joy in the soul that is saved.—The teacher's responsibility.—Teaching, a sacred calling.—Our Church a teaching Church.

Our three-fold purpose in Teaching: a—To guarantee salvation of the individual members of the Church.

b—To pass on the wonderful heritage handed down by our pioneer forefathers.

c—To make more easily possible the conversion of the world.

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

"And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance;

"And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth.

"Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people;

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto his people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father?

"And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me?" (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 18:10-16.)

"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)

If this is the work and glory of the Lord, how great must be the responsibility of the teachers of Zion, His copartners in the business of saving humankind! Next to parenthood, teaching involves us in the most sacred relationship known to man. The teacher akin to the parent is the steward of human souls—his purpose to bless and to elevate.

The first great question that should concern the Latter-day Saint teacher is, "Why do I teach?" To appreciate fully the real purposes behind teaching is the first great guarantee of success. For teaching is "no mere job"—it is a sacred calling—a trust of the Lord Himself under the divine injunction, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15). For the teacher who has caught a glimpse of his real responsibility there is no indifference, no eleventh-hour preparation, no feeling of unconcern about the welfare of his pupils between lessons—for him there is constant inspiration in the thought, "To me is given the privilege of being the cupbearer between the Master and His children who would drink at His fountain of truth."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been variously designated by those not of us: "The Great Industrial Church," "The Church of Pioneers," "The Church of Wonderful Organization." It might well be called "The Teaching Church." There is scarcely a man or woman in it that has not at some time been asked to respond to the call of teacher. Our people have been a remarkable people because they have been remarkably taught—taught of the Lord and His prophets. Our future can be secure only as it is guaranteed this same good teaching. Every teacher must come to realize that "Mormonism" is at stake when he teaches. "Why do I teach?" goes to the very heart of teaching.

The answer to this question is to be found, in part at least, in the three-fold objectives of our Church. First, the salvation and exaltation of the individual soul. As already pointed out, this is the very "work and glory" of the Father. Man is born into the world a child of divinity—born for the purpose of development and perfection. Life is the great laboratory in which he works out his experiment of eternity. In potentiality, a God—in actuality, a creature of heredity, environment, and teaching. "Why do I teach?" To help someone else realize his divinity—to assist him to become all that he might become—to make of him what he might not be but for my teaching.

Someone has jocularly said: "The child is born into the world half angel, half imp. The imp develops naturally, the angel has to be cultivated." The teacher is the great cultivator of souls. Whether we say the child is half angel and half imp, we know that he is capable of doing both good and evil and that he develops character as he practices virtue and avoids vice. We know, too, that he mentally develops. Born with the capacity to do, he behaves to his own blessing or condemnation. There is no such thing as static life. To the teacher is given the privilege of pointing to the higher life. He is the gardener in the garden of life. His task is to plant and to cultivate the flowers of noble thoughts and deeds rather than to let the human soul grow up to weeds. This purpose becomes all the more significant when we realize that the effects of our teaching are not only to modify a life here of three-score and ten—they are impressions attendant throughout eternity. As the poet Goethe has said, "Life is the childhood of our immortality," and the teachings of childhood are what determine the character of maturity. The thought is given additional emphasis in the beautiful little poem, "Planting," by W. Lomax Childress:

Who plants a tree may live To see its leaves unfold, The greenness of its summer garb, Its autumn tinge of gold.

Who plants a flower may live To see its beauty grow, The lily whiten on its stalk, The rambler rose to blow.

Who sows the seed may find The field of harvest fair, The song of reapers ringing clear, When all the sheaves are there.

But time will fell the tree, The rose will fade and die, The harvest time will pass away, As does the song and sigh.

But whoso plants in love, The word of hope and trust, Shall find it still alive with God— It is not made of dust.

It cannot fade nor change, Though worlds may scattered be, For love alone has high repose In immortality.

If the teacher, as he stands before his class, could project his vision into the future—could see his pupils developed into manhood and womanhood, and could see all that he might do or fail to do, he would read a meaning well-nigh beyond comprehension into the question, "Why do I teach?"

A second answer to this query lies in our obligation to pass on the wonderful heritage which we here received from our pioneer forefathers. The story of their sacrifice, devotion, and achievement is unique in the history of the world. Only recently a pioneer of 1852 thrilled a parents' class in one of our wards with the simple narrative of his early experiences. His account of Indian raids, of the experience with Johnston's army, of privations and suffering, of social pastimes—all of these things rang with a spirit of romance. None of his auditors will ever forget the story of his aunt who gave up her seat in her wagon to a sick friend for whom no provision had been made, and trudged across the plains afoot that one more soul might rejoice in Zion. Every pioneer can tell this sort of thrilling story. Could our young people enjoy the companionship of these pioneers there would be little need of alarm concerning their faith. Unfortunately, each year sees fewer of these pioneers left to tell their story. It is to the teacher, both of the fireside and the classroom, that we must look for the perpetuation of the spirit of '47. The ideals and achievements of the pioneers are such an inspiration, such a challenge to the youth of the Church today—that teachers ought to glory in the opportunity to keep alive the memories of the past. Our pioneer heritage ought never to be forfeited to indifference. It is a heritage that could come only out of pioneer life. Such courage to face sacrifice, such devotion to God, such loyalty to government, such consecration to the task of conquering an unpromising and forbidding desert, such determination to secure the advantages of education, such unselfish devotion to the welfare of their fellows—where could we turn for such inspiration to one who would teach?

Nor is it enough that we strive to perfect the individual membership of the Church and preserve the social heritage out of the past—we assume to become the teachers of the world. It is our blessing to belong to a Church built upon revelation—a Church established and taught of the Lord. But with that blessing comes the injunction to carry this gospel of the kingdom to every nation and clime. "Mormonism" was not revealed for a few Saints alone who were to establish Zion—it was to be proclaimed to all the world. Every Latter-day Saint is enjoined to teach the truth. Whether called as a missionary, or pursuing his regular calling at home, his privilege and his obligation is to cry repentance and preach the plan of salvation. The better we teach, the sooner we shall make possible the realization of God's purposes in the world. The two thousand young men and women who go out each year to represent us in the ministry should go out well trained, not only that they may represent our Church as an institution which believes that "the glory of God is intelligence," but also that they may win intelligent men and women to the truth. Only he who is well taught may become a good teacher—hence the need of intelligent, devoted service. "Why do I teach?" far from being an idle question, goes to the very heart of the future of the Church.

* * * * *


1. How many of the members of your ward are actively engaged in other than parental teaching?

2. What significance is attached to calling our Church a teaching Church?

3. Discuss the significance of Jesus' being a teacher.

4. Compare the responsibility of teaching with that of parenthood.

5. Enumerate the chief purposes behind teaching.

6. In your opinion, which is the greatest purpose? Why?

7. To what extent does the following statement apply to the welfare of our Church:

"That nation that does not revere its past, plays little part in the present, and soon finds that it has no future."

8. Discuss our obligation under the injunction to teach the gospel to the world.

9. Discuss the need here at home of better teaching.

10. In what sense are we trustees of the heritage left by the pioneers?


Doctrine & Covenants: James, Talks on Psychology and Life's Ideals; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Strayer, A Brief Course in the Teaching Process; Betts, How to Teach Religion; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach; Sharp, Education for Character.




Teaching a complex art.—What teaching is not.—What teaching is.—What it involves.—Presentation of facts.—Organization and evaluation of knowledge.—Interpretation and elaboration of truth.—Inspiration to high ideals.—Encouragement and direction given to expression.—Discovery of pupils' better selves.—Inspiration of example as well as precept.—Application of truths taught in lives of pupils.

The query, "What constitutes teaching?" cannot be answered off-hand. It is so complex an art, so fine an art, as Professor Driggs points out, that it has to be pondered to be understood and appreciated. It is often considered to be mere lesson-hearing and lesson-giving. The difference between mere instructions and teaching is as great as the distinction between eating and digestion.

The following definition of teaching, contributed by a former state superintendent of schools, is rich in suggestion:

"Teaching is the process of training an individual through the formation of habits, the acquisition of knowledge, the inculcation of ideals, and the fixing of permanent interests so that he shall become a clean, intelligent, self-supporting member of society, who has the power to govern himself, can participate in noble enjoyments, and has the desire and the courage to revere God and serve his fellows."

Teaching does not merely consist of an inquisition of questions with appropriate answers thrown in; it surely is not mere reading; nor can it be mistaken for preaching or lecturing. These are all means that may be employed in the process of teaching. And they are important, too. We have been cautioned much, of late years, not to lose ourselves in the process of doling out facts—but that rather we should occupy ourselves teaching boys and girls. That all sounds well—the writer of these lessons has himself proclaimed this doctrine—but we have discovered that you cannot teach boys and girls nothing. They no more can be happy listening to nothing than they can be content doing nothing.

And so we now urge the significance of having a rich supply of subject matter—a substantial content of lesson material. But the doctrine holds that the teacher ought not to lose himself in mere facts—they are merely the medium through which he arrives at, and drives home the truth.

"It is the teacher's task to make changes for the better in the abilities, habits and attitudes of boys and girls. Her efficiency can be evaluated fairly only in terms of her success at this task. In other words, if a teacher is rated at all, she should be rated not only by the clothes she wears, or the method she chooses, but by the results she secures."—Journal of Educational Research, May, 1920.

We have said that teaching is a complex art. It consists of at least these eight fundamentals, each one of which, or any combination of which, may be featured in any one particular lesson:

1. Presentation of facts. 2. Organization and evaluation of knowledge. 3. Interpretation and elaboration of truth. 4. Inspiration to high ideals. 5. Encouragement and direction given to expression. 6. Discovery of pupils' better selves. 7. Inspiration of example as well as precept. 8. Application of truths taught in lives of the pupils.


Facts constitute the background upon which the mind operates. There may be many or few—they may be presented in a lecture of thirty minutes, in the reading of a dozen pages, or they may be called forth out of the mind by a single stimulating question. But we ought not to confuse the issue. If we are to discuss any matter in the hope of reaching a conclusion in truth, we must have material upon which the mind can build that conclusion. We are not concerned in this chapter with method of procedure in getting the facts before a class—the important thought here is that the facts in rich abundance should be supplied. A certain young lady protested recently against going to Sunday School. Her explanation of her attitude is best expressed in her own words: "I get sick and tired of going to a class where I never hear anything new or worth while." Exaggerated, of course, but students are crying for bread, and ought not to be turned away with a stone.


We have hinted that a lesson may not have facts enough to justify the time it takes—there is, on the other hand, danger that the whole time of the class may be consumed in a mere rehearsal of facts as facts. Only recently a significant complaint was voiced by a young man who has gone through training in practically all of our organizations. "I don't seem to know anything at all," he said, "about the history of Israel, as a whole. I can recall certain isolated facts about particular persons or places, but I can't give any intelligent answer at all to such questions as these:

"Who were the Israelites? What were their big movements relative to the Promised Land? What is the history of Israel up to the time of the Savior? What is their history subsequently? Are we of Israel and how?"

The young man was not complaining—he merely regretted his ignorance on points of vital interest. He was in need of further organization of the knowledge he had. He had not been given the big central ideas about which to build the minor ones. Relative importance had not been taught him through that organized review that is so valuable in review. The teacher ought to come back time and again to pause on the big essentials—the peaks of gospel teaching.


It is really surprising how many various notions of an idea will be carried away by the members of a class from a single declaration on the part of a teacher. A phase of a subject may be presented which links up with a particular experience of one of the pupils. To him there is only one interpretation. To another pupil the phase of the subject presented might make no appeal at all, or linked up with a different experience might lead to an entirely different conclusion. Truths need to be elaborated and interpreted from all possible angles—all possible phases should be developed. An interesting discussion recently took place with a young man who had "gone off" on a pet doctrinal theory. His whole conception built itself up about a single passage of scripture. Satisfied with a single notion, he had shut his eyes to all else and "knew that he was right." Properly to be taught, he needed to be trained to suspend his judgment until all the evidence was in.


Men and women like to be carried to the heights. They like to be lifted out of their lower selves into what they may become. It is the teacher's delight to let his class stand tip-toe on the facts of subject matter to peep into the glories of the gospel plan of life and salvation. In 1903 Sanford Bell, of the University of Colorado, reported the results of a survey conducted with 543 men and 488 women to ascertain whether they liked male or female teachers better and just what it was that made them like those teachers who had meant most in their lives. The survey showed that the following influences stood out in the order named:

Moral uplift. Inspiration. Stimulus to intellectual awakening. Spur to scholarship. Help in getting a firm grip on the vital issues of life. Personal kindness. Encouragement in crises.

What a testimonial to the force of inspiration to higher ideals!


Most pupils in class are ordinarily inclined to sit silently by and let someone else do the talking. And yet, everyone enjoys participating in a lesson when once "the ice is broken." It is the teacher's task first of all to create an atmosphere of easy expression and then later to help make that expression adequate and effective. The bishop of one of our wards in southern Utah declared, not long ago, that he traced the beginning of his testimony back to a Primary lesson in which a skillful teacher led him to commit himself very enthusiastically to the notion that the Lord does answer prayers. He said he defended the proposition so vigorously that he set about to make sure from experience that he was right. The details of securing this expression will be more fully worked out in the chapter on Methods of the Recitation.


One of the most fascinating problems in teaching is to come to know the real nature of our pupils—to get below surface appearances to the very boy himself. Most of the work of solving this problem necessarily must be done out of class. Such intimate knowledge is the result of personal contact when no barriers of class recitation interfere. It involves time and effort, of course, but it is really the key to genuine teaching. It makes possible what we have named as factor number eight, which may be disposed of here for present purposes. We read of bygone days largely because in them we hope to find a solution to the problems of Jimmie Livingston today. How can we effect the solution if all that we know of Jimmie is that he is one of our fifteen scouts? We must see him in action, must associate with him as he encounters his problems, if we would help him solve them. Our discovery of our pupils' better selves, and intelligent application, go together hand in hand.


When Emerson declared, "What you are thunders so loudly in my ears that I can't hear what you say," he sounded a mighty note to teachers. Hundreds of boys and girls have been stimulated to better lives by the desire "to be like teacher." "Come, follow me," is the great password to the calling of teacher. The teacher conducts a class on Sunday morning—he really teaches all during the week. When Elbert Hubbard added his new commandment, "Remember the week-days, to keep them holy," he must have had teachers in mind. A student in one of our Church schools was once heard to say, "My teacher teaches me more religion by the way he plays basketball than by the way he teaches theology." It was what Jesus did that made him Savior of the world. He was the greatest teacher because he was the greatest man.

Surely teaching is a complex art!

* * * * *


1. What is teaching?

2. Why is it essential that we get a clear conception of just what teaching is?

3. Discuss the importance of building the recitation upon a good foundation of facts.

4. Why are facts alone not a guarantee of a successful recitation?

5. What is the teacher's obligation in the matter of organizing knowledge?

6. Discuss the significance of teaching as an interpretation of truth.

7. Discuss the teacher's obligation to discover pupils' better selves.

8. What is the relative importance of expression and impression in teaching?


Betts, How to Teach Religion; Gregory, The Seven Laws of Teaching; Thorndike, Principles of Teaching; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach.




The Joys that attend Teaching: Enrichment of the spirit.—Guarantee of the teacher's own growth and development.—Restraining and uplifting influence on the moral character of the teacher.—Satisfaction that attends seeing pupils develop.—Inspirational companionship.—Contentment that attaches to duty done.—Outpouring of the blessings of the Lord.

Chapters one and two emphasized the thought that the purposes behind teaching impose a sacred obligation on the part of those who aspire to teach. But lest the obligation appear burdensome, let us remind ourselves that compensation is one of the great laws of life. "To him who gives shall be given" applies to teaching as to few other things. Verily he who loses his life finds it. The devotion of the real teacher, though it involves labor, anxiety and sacrifice, is repaid ten-fold. Only he who has fully given himself in service to others can appreciate the joy that attends teaching—particularly that teaching enjoined upon us by the Master and which is its own recompense.

It is difficult to enumerate all of the blessings that attend the service of the teacher, but let us consider a few that stand out pre-eminently.

If there were none other than this first one it would justify all that is done in the name of teaching; namely, "the enrichment of spirit." "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." To feel the thrill of that inspiration is a compensation beyond price. The Lord, having commanded us to teach (see Sec. 88:77-81, Doc. & Cov.), has followed the command with the promise of a blessing, one of the richest in all scripture.

"For thus saith the Lord, I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end;

"Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory;

"And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom;

"Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations;

"And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven: and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught;

"For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will; yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man." (Doc. & Cov. 76:5-10.)

This constitutes a promissory note signed by our heavenly Father Himself. A blessing beyond compare—a dividend unfailing—and our only investment—devoted service! Companionship with the Spirit of the Lord! That is what it means, if we serve Him in faith and humility.

"Be thou humble, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 112:10.)

Like all other gifts and attainments, the Spirit of the Lord has to be cultivated. Teaching insures a cultivation as few other things in life can. An enriched spirit, then, is the first great reward of the teacher.

A second satisfaction is the guarantee of one's own growth and development. Teachers invariably declare that they have learned more, especially in the first year of teaching, than in any year at college. A consciousness of the fact that it is hard to teach that which is not well known incites that type of study which makes for growth. A good class is a great "pace-setter." Intellectually it has the pull of achievement. The real teacher always is the greatest student in the class. The "drive" of having a regular task to perform, especially when that task is checked up as it is by students, leads many a person to a development unknown to him who is free to slide. "Blessed is he who has to do things." Responsibility is the great force that builds character. Compare the relative development of the person who spends Tuesday evening at home with the evening paper, or at some other pastime, and of the person who, having accepted fully the call to teach, leads a class of truth-seekers through an hour's discussion of some vital subject. Follow the development through the Tuesday evenings of a lifetime.

How easy to understand that there are varying degrees of glory hereafter.

A third value of teaching lies in the fact that the position of teacher exercises a restraining influence for good on the moral life of the teacher. He is sustained by a consciousness that his conduct is his only evidence to his pupils that his practice is consistent with his theory. His class follows him in emulation or in criticism in all that he does. "Come, follow me," lifts the real teacher over the pitfalls of temptation. He cannot do forbidden work on the Sabbath, he cannot indulge in the use of tobacco, he cannot stoop to folly—his class stands between him and all these things. A teacher recently gave expression to the value of this restraining force when she said, "I urge my girls so vigorously not to go to the movies on Sunday that I find my conscience in rebellion if anyone asks me to go."

Many a man in attempting to convert another to the righteousness of a particular issue has found himself to be his own best convert. He comes to appreciate the fact that the trail he establishes is the path followed by those whom he influences. He hears the voice of the child as recorded in the little poem:


"A father and his tiny son Crossed a rough street one stormy day, 'See papa!' cried the little one, 'I stepped in your steps all the way!'

"Ah, random, childish hands, that deal Quick thrusts no coat of proof could stay! It touched him with the touch of steel— 'I stepped in your steps all the way!'

"If this man shirks his manhood's due And heeds what lying voices say, It is not one who falls, but two, 'I stepped in your steps all the way!'

"But they who thrust off greed and fear, Who love and watch, who toil and pray, How their hearts carol when they say, 'I stepped in your steps all the way!'"

Still another joy that attends teaching is the satisfaction of seeing pupils develop. The sculptor finds real happiness in watching his clay take on the form and expression of his model; the artist glories as his colors grow into life; the parent finds supreme joy in seeing himself "re-grow" in his child; so the teacher delights to see his pupils build their lives on the truths he has taught. The joy is doubly sweet if it is heightened by an expression of appreciation on the part of the pupils. Few experiences can bring the thrill of real happiness that comes to the teacher when a former student, once perhaps a little inclined to mischief or carelessness, takes him by the hand with a "God bless you for helping me find my better self."

An officer of the British army, in recounting those experiences which had come to him in the recent world war, and which he said he never could forget, referred to one which more than compensated him for all the effort he had ever put into his preparation for teaching. Because of his position in the army it became his duty to discipline a group of boys for what in the army is a serious offense. In that group was a boy who had formerly been a pupil under the officer in one of our ward organizations. Chagrin was stamped on the face of the boy as he came forward for reprimand. Regret and remorse were in the heart of the officer. They soon gave way to pride, however, as the boy assured him that worse than any punishment was the humiliation of being brought before his own teacher, and he further assured him that never again would he do a thing that would mar the sacred relations of pupil and teacher.

A further compensation attached to teaching is that of inspirational companionship. It is a blessed privilege to enjoy the sunshine of youth. Every pupil contributes an association with one of God's choice spirits. To live and work with children and adolescents is one of the finest of safeguards against old age. The teacher not only partakes of the joy of his group—they constitute him a link between his generation and theirs. Their newness of life, their optimism, their spontaneity, their joy, they gladly pass on to their teacher.

Moreover, the teacher enjoys the uplifting associations of his fellow teachers. Among those consecrated to a noble service, there is a spirit unknown to him who has not enjoyed such communion. Whether he is conscious of it or not, the teacher responds to the pull of such a group. Scores of teachers have testified that the associations they have enjoyed as members of a local board, stake board, or general board, are among the happiest of their lives.

And finally there is the contentment of mind that comes as a result of a duty well done. The human soul is so constituted that any task well performed brings a feeling of satisfaction, and this is doubly heightened when the duty performed is of the nature of a free will offering. Still more so when it is shared in by others to their blessing. Just as we hope for an eventual crowning under the blessing, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," so we treasure those benedictions along the way that attend the discharge of a sacred obligation.

* * * * *


1. Quote some of the promises of the Lord to those who do His will.

2. How is teaching one of the surest guarantees of the blessings of eternal life?

3. What are the immediate joys attached to teaching?

4. Discuss the application to teaching of the truth—"He who loses his life shall find it."

5. What types of companionship are assured him who teaches?

6. As you now recall them, what distinct pleasures stand out in your teaching experience?

7. Discuss Section 76 of the Doctrine & Covenants as one of the most valuable promissory notes ever given to mankind.

8. Discuss the force of a duty done as a guarantee of joy.


Doctrine and Covenants: Slattery, Living Teachers; Sharp, Education for Character; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Betts, How to Teach Religion.




The worth of a great teacher.—Good teachers not necessarily born.—Some boys' observations on teachers.—A high school survey.—Clapp's Essential Characteristics.—Betts' Three Classes of Teachers.—His list of qualities.

"A great teacher is worth more to a state, though he teach by the roadside, than a faculty of mediocrities housed in Gothic piles."—Chicago Tribune, September, 1919.

We may stress the sacred obligation of the teacher; we may discuss in detail mechanical processes involved in lesson preparation; we may analyze child nature in all of its complexity; but after all we come back to the Personality of the Teacher as the great outstanding factor in pedagogical success. That something in the man that grips people!

Very generally this Personal Equation has been looked upon as a certain indefinable possession enjoyed by the favored few. In a certain sense this is true. Personality is largely inherent in the individual and therefore differs as fully as do individuals. But of recent years educators have carried on extensive investigations in this field of personality and have succeeded in reducing to comprehensible terms those qualities which seem to be most responsible for achievements of successful teachers. Observation leads us all to similar deductions and constitutes one of the most interesting experiments open to those concerned with the teaching process.

Why, with the same amount of preparation, does one teacher succeed with a class over which another has no control at all?

Why is it that one class is crowded each week, while another adjourns for lack of membership?

The writer a short time ago, after addressing the members of a ward M.I.A., asked a group of scouts to remain after the meeting, to whom he put the question, "What is it that you like or dislike in teachers?" The group was a thoroughly typical group—real boys, full of life and equally full of frankness. They contributed the following replies:

1. We like a fellow that's full of pep. 2. We like a fellow that doesn't preach all the time. 3. We like a fellow that makes us be good. 4. We like a fellow that tells us new things.

Boylike, they were "strong" for pep—a little word with a big significance. Vigor, enthusiasm, sense of humor, attack, forcefulness—all of these qualities are summed up in these three letters.

And the interesting thing is that while the boys liked to be told new things, they didn't want to be preached at. They evidently had the boy's idea of preaching who characterized it as, "talking a lot when you haven't anything to say."

Still more interesting is the fact that boys like to be made to be good. In spite of their fun and their seeming indifference they really are serious in a desire to subscribe to the laws of order that make progress possible.

A principal of the Granite High School carried on an investigation through a period of four years to ascertain just what it is that students like in teachers. During those years students set down various attributes and qualities, which are summarized below just as they were given:

Desirable Characteristics

Congeniality. Broadmindedness. Wide knowledge. Personality that makes discipline easy. Willingness to entertain questions. Realization that students need help. Sense of humor—ability to take a joke. Optimism—cheerfulness. Sympathy. Originality. Progressiveness. Effective expression. Pleasing appearance—"good looking." Tact. Patience. Sincerity.

Among the characteristics which they did not like in teachers they named the following:

Undesirable Characteristics

Grouchiness. Wandering in method. Indifference to need for help. Too close holding to the text. Distant attitude—aloofness. Partiality. Excitability. Irritability. Pessimism—"in the dumps." Indifferent assignments. Hazy explanations. Failure to cover assignments. Distracting facial expressions. Attitude of "lording it over." Sarcasm. Poor taste in dress. Bluffing—"the tables turned." Discipline for discipline's sake. "Holier than thouness."

Desirable Capabilities

They also reduced to rather memorable phrases a half dozen desirable capabilities:

1. The ability to make students work and want to work. 2. The ability to make definite assignments. 3. The ability to make clear explanations. 4. The ability to be pleasant without being easy. 5. The ability to emphasize essentials. 6. The ability to capitalize on new ideas. 7. The ability to be human.

A number of years ago Clapp conducted a similar survey among one hundred leading school men of America, asking them to list the ten most essential characteristics of a good teacher. From the lists sent in Clapp compiled the ten qualities in the order named most frequently by the one hundred men:

1. Sympathy. 2. Address. 3. Enthusiasm. 4. Sincerity. 5. Personal Appearance. 6. Optimism. 7. Scholarship. 8. Vitality. 9. Fairness. 10. Reserve or dignity.

George Herbert Betts, in his stimulating book, How to Teach Religion, says there are three classes of teachers:

"Two types of teachers are remembered: One to be forgiven after years have softened the antagonisms and resentments; the other to be thought of with honor and gratitude as long as memory lasts. Between these two is a third and a larger group: those who are forgotten, because they failed to stamp a lasting impression on their pupils. This group represents the mediocrity of the profession, not bad enough to be actively forgiven, not good enough to claim a place in gratitude and remembrance."

Mr. Betts then goes on with a very exhaustive list of positive and negative qualities in teachers—a list so valuable that we set it down here for reference.

Positive Qualities Negative Qualities

1. Open-minded, inquiring, broad. Narrow, dogmatic, not hungry for truth.

2. Accurate, thorough, discerning. Indefinite, superficial, lazy.

3. Judicious, balanced, fair. Prejudiced, led by likes and dislikes.

4. Original, independent, Dependent, imitative, subservient. resourceful.

5. Decisive, possessing convictions. Uncertain, wavering, undecided.

6. Cheerful, joyous, optimistic. Gloomy, morose, pessimistic, bitter.

7. Amiable, friendly, agreeable. Repellent, unsociable, disagreeable.

8. Democratic, broadly sympathetic. Snobbish, self-centered, exclusive.

9. Tolerant, sense of humor, Opinionated, dogmatic, intolerant. generous.

10. Kind, courteous, tactful. Cruel, rude, untactful.

11. Tractable, co-operative, Stubborn, not able to work with teachable. others.

12. Loyal, honorable, dependable. Disloyal, uncertain dependability.

13. Executive, forceful, vigorous. Uncertain, weak, not capable.

14. High ideals, worthy, exalted. Low standards, base, contemptible.

15. Modest, self-effacing. Egotistical, vain, autocratic.

16. Courageous, daring, firm. Overcautious, weak, vacillating.

17. Honest, truthful, frank, Low standards of honor and truth. sincere.

18. Patient, calm, equable. Irritable, excitable, moody.

19. Generous, open-hearted, Stingy, selfish, resentful. forgiving.

20. Responsive, congenial. Cold, repulsive, uninviting.

21. Punctual, on schedule, capable. Tardy, usually behindhand, incapable.

22. Methodical, consistent, logical. Haphazard, desultory, inconsistent.

23. Altruistic, given to service. Indifferent, not socially minded.

24. Refined, alive to beauty, Coarse, lacking aesthetic quality. artistic.

25. Self-controlled, decision, Suggestible, easily led, uncertain. purpose.

26. Good physical carriage, dignity. Lack of poise, ill posture, no grace.

27. Taste in attire, cleanliness, Careless in dress, frumpy, no pride. pride.

28. Face smiling, voice pleasant. Somber expression, voice unpleasant.

29. Physical endurance, vigor, Quickly tired, weak, sluggish. strength.

30. Spiritual responsiveness, Spiritually weak, inconstant, strong. uncertain.

31. Prayer life warm, satisfying. Prayer cold, formal, little comfort.

32. Religious certainty, peace, Conflict, strain, uncertainty. quiet.

33. Religious experience expanding. Spiritual life static or losing force.

34. God a near, inspiring reality. God distant, unreal, hard of approach.

35. Power to win others to religion. Influence little or negative.

36. Interest in Bible and religion. Little concern for religion and Bible.

37. Religion makes life fuller and Religion felt as a limitation. richer.

38. Deeply believe great Lacking in foundations for faith. fundamentals.

39. Increasing triumph over sin. Too frequent falling before temptation.

40. Religious future hopeful. Religious growth uncertain.

* * * * *


1. Think of the teachers who stand out most clearly in your memory. Why do they so stand out?

2. Name the qualities that made the Savior the Great Teacher.

3. If you had to choose between a fairly capable but humble teacher, and a very capable but conceited one, which one would be your choice? Why?

4. What is your argument against the idea, "Teachers are born, not made"?

5. Discuss the relative significance of the qualities quoted from Betts.


O'Shea, Every-day Problems in Teaching; Betts, How to Teach Religion; Brumbaugh, The Making of a Teacher; Palmer, The Ideal Teacher; Slattery, Living Teachers; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers.




The six major qualities:—a. Sympathy.—b. Sincerity.—c. Optimism.—d. Scholarly attitude.—e. Vitality.—f. Spirituality.

To set about to cultivate separate qualities would be rather a discouraging undertaking. As a matter of fact, many of the characteristics named really overlap, while others are secondary in importance. For practical purposes let us enlarge upon five or six qualities which everyone will agree are fundamental to teaching success.

The class in Teacher Training, at the Brigham Young University, in the summer of 1920, named these six as the most fundamental:

1. Sympathy. 2. Sincerity. 3. Optimism. 4. Scholarly attitude. 5. Vitality. 6. Spirituality.

No attempt was made to set them down in the order of relative importance.


This is a very broad and far-reaching term. It rests upon experience and imagination and involves the ability to live, at least temporarily, someone else's life. Sympathy is fundamentally vicarious. Properly to sympathize with children a man must re-live in memory his own childhood or he must have the power of imagination to see things through their eyes. Many a teacher has condemned pupils for doing what to them was perfectly normal. We too frequently persist in viewing a situation from our own point of view rather than in going around to the other side to look at it as our pupils see it. It is no easy matter thus "to get out of ourselves" and become a boy or girl again, but it is worth the effort.

Along with this ability at vicarious living, sympathy involves an interest in others. Sympathy is a matter of concern in the affairs of others. The rush and stir of modern life fairly seem to force us to focus our attention upon self, but if we would succeed as teachers, we must make ourselves enter into the lives of our pupils out of an interest to see how they conduct their lives, and the reasons for such conduct.

Coupled with this interest in others and the imagination to see through their eyes, sympathy involves a desire to help them. A man may have an interest in people born out of mere curiosity or for selfish purposes, but if he has sympathy for them, he must be moved with a desire to help and to bless them.

And, finally, sympathy involves the actual doing of something by way of service. President Grant liked to refer to a situation wherein a particular person was in distress. Friends of all sorts came along expressing regret and professing sympathy. Finally a fellow stepped forward and said, "I feel to sympathize with this person to the extent of fifty dollars." "That man," said President Grant, "has sympathy in his heart as well as in his purse."


Surely this is a foundation principle in teaching:

"Thou must to thyself be true, If thou the truth would teach; Thy soul must overflow, If thou another soul would reach."

A teacher must really be converted to what he teaches or there is a hollowness to all that he utters. "Children and dogs," it is said, are the great judges of sincerity—they instinctively know a friend. No teacher can continue to stand on false ground before his pupils. The superintendent of one of our Sunday Schools, having selected one of the most talented persons in his ward to teach a Second Intermediate Class was astonished some months later to receive a request from the class for a change of teachers. The class could assign no specific reasons for their objections, except that they didn't get anything out of the class. A year later the superintendent learned that the teacher was living in violation of the regulations of the Church, on a particular principle, and it was perfectly clear why his message didn't ring home.

The sincere teacher not only believes what he teaches—he consecrates his best efforts to the task in hand. He urges no excuse for absence or lack of preparation—"he is there." He lets his class feel that for the time being it is his greatest concern. He meets with boys and girls because he loves to and reaches out to them with an enthusiasm that cannot be questioned.


is the sunshine of the classroom. It is as natural to expect a plant to develop when covered with a blanket as it is to expect a class to be full of activity and responsiveness under an influence of unnatural solemnity. Lincoln is quoted as having declared, "You can catch more flies with a drop of honey than with a gallon of vinegar"—a homely expression, but full of suggestion. A grouch is no magnet.

A little girl when questioned why she liked her Sunday School teacher said, "Oh, she always smiles at me and says, hello." There is contagion in the cheeriness of a smile that cannot be resisted. Children live so naturally in an atmosphere of happiness and fun that teachers of religious instruction may well guard against making their work too formally sober. Frequently teachers feel the seriousness of their undertaking so keenly that they worry or discipline themselves into a state of pedagogical unnaturalness. There is very great force behind the comment of the student who appreciated the teacher who could be human. The experience is told of a teacher who continued to have difficulty with one of her pupils. He so persisted in violating regulations that he was kept in after school regularly, and yet after school hours he was one of the most helpful lads in the school; in fact, he and the teacher seemed almost chummy. Struck by the difference in his attitude, the teacher remarked to him one afternoon, as he went about cleaning the blackboard, "Jimmie, I have just been wondering about you. You're one of my best workers after school—I can't understand how you can be so different during school hours and after."

"Gee, that's funny," put in Jimmie, "I was just thinking the same thing about you."

To be cheerful without being easy is a real art. Liberty is so often converted into license, and a spirit of fun so easily transformed into mischief and disorder. And yet cheerfulness is the great key to the human heart.

An attitude of looking for the good in pupils will lead to a response of friendliness on their part which is the basis of all teaching.


If a teacher would cultivate an appetite for learning among his pupils he must himself hunger for knowledge. Most young people will "take intellectually if sufficiently exposed." A scholarly attitude implies first of all a growing mastery of subject matter. To quote an eminent writer on religious education, "A common bane of Sunday school teaching has been the haziness of the teacher's own ideas concerning the truths of religion."

Fancy the hostess who would invite her guests to a dinner, and upon their arrival indicate to them that she had made only vague plans to receive them. No special place for their wraps, no entertainment for their amusement, and then fancy her asking them to sit down to a warmed-up conglomeration of left-overs.

Of course, it is only in fancy that we can imagine such a service. Yet reports frequently indicate that there are class recitations, intellectual banquets, for which the preparation has been about as meagre as that indicated. Surely he who would feast others upon His word should prepare unceasingly. Let us keep in mind the comment—"We like the fellow who tells us something new."

Along with this mastery of subject matter, a scholarly attitude implies both broadmindedness and openmindedness. Seekers after truth should welcome it from all available sources, and ought not to be handicapped by bias or prejudice. Tolerance and a willingness to entertain questions—a constant effort to view a subject from every possible angle—a poise that attends self-control even under stress of annoyance—these things are all involved in a truly scholarly attack upon any given problem.


One of the qualities most favorably and frequently commented on by students is what they call "pep." A certain vigor of attack that seems to go directly to the point at stake, putting at rest all other business and making discipline unnecessary, is what twentieth century young people seem to like. The element of hero worship prompts them to demand that the leader shall "do things." They like the "push" that takes a man over the top, the drive that wins a ball game, the energy that stamps the business man with success. Vitality is an inherent factor in leadership.


The crowning glory of the successful religious teacher is that spiritual glow which links up heaven and earth.

"And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the power of faith, and if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach." (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 42:14.)

This divine injunction is given us because we have undertaken to teach His Gospel. We would lead others to Him. And this is possible only as we lead by the light of His Holy Spirit. Above our knowledge of facts and our understanding of child nature must be placed our communion with that Spirit which touches the hearts of men.

If a teacher would prepare a young man for a place in a modern business house he must teach him the ways of business,—buying, selling, collecting, managing, etc.,—matters of fact, governed by the laws of barter and trade. If that same teacher would teach the same young man the way of eternal life, he must substitute for the laws of man the word of the Lord, and for the spirit of exchange, the Spirit of Heaven. A pupil can be prepared for the kingdom of God only as he is led to respond to and appreciate His Spirit, and to do His will. While it is true that the best way to prepare for heaven is to live the best possible life here on earth, yet we need the Spirit of the Lord to interpret what constitutes that best possible life.

There is power in the intellect of man; there is glory in that power when it is heightened by the Spirit of the Almighty.

* * * * *


1. What is sympathy?

2. Why is it so essential in teaching?

3. Why is sincerity a foundation principle in all teaching?

4. Discuss the obligation on the part of the teacher to leave his troubles outside the classroom.

5. Discuss the statement—"Cheerfulness is spiritual sunshine."

6. Illustrate the value of cheerfulness.

7. What is the significance of the term, scholarly attitude?

8. Just what constitutes vitality?

9. Show how it is essential to teaching.

10. Why name spirituality as the crowning characteristic of the good teacher?


Those listed in Chapter IV.




The possibility of growth in teaching.—How to develop spirituality: a. By cultivating the spirit of prayer; b. By leading a clean life; c. By obeying the principles of the Gospel; d. By performing one's duty in the Church; e. By reading and pondering the word of the Lord.—How to develop other qualities: a. By taking a personal inventory; b. By coming in contact with the best in life through reading and companionship; c. By forming the habit of systematic study; d. By assuming responsibility.

While we may agree as to what constitutes the desirable characteristics in teachers it is far easier to name them than to attain them. We have already pointed out that teaching is a complex art proficiency in which is the result of a long, painstaking process. But success in teaching as in all other pursuits is possible of achievement. We have heard so frequently that teachers must be born, not made, that many prospective teachers, feeling that they have been denied this pedagogical birthright, give up in despair. Of course, it is naturally easy for some individuals to teach—they do seem born possessed of a teaching personality, but they are not given a monopoly on the profession.

The Lord has too many children to be taught to leave their instruction to a few favored ones. The qualities listed in chapter five may be developed, in varying degrees, of course, by any normal person anxious to serve his fellows. The "will to do" is the great key to success.

To him who would develop spiritually, these five suggestions may be helpful:

First, cultivate the spirit of prayer. The president of one of our stakes made the remark once that he believed only a few of the men and women of his stake really pray. "They go through the form, all right," he said; "they repeat the words—but they do not enter into the spirit of the prayer. If the Lord doesn't draw nearer to them than they do to Him I doubt that their prayers are really of very great force."

The ability to pray is the great test of a spiritual life. "The faith to pray" is a gift to be cultivated through devoted practice. The teacher who would have his pupils draw nearer to him must himself draw near to the Lord. The promise, "Ask, and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find," was given only to those who ask in faith. This constant prayer of faith, then is the first great guarantee of the Spirit.

The second is a clean life. Just as it is impossible for water to make its way through a dirty, clogged pipe, so it is for the Spirit to flow through a channel of unrighteous desires. A visitor was interested a short time ago in Canada in attempting to get a drink out of a pipe that had been installed to carry water from a spring in the side of a mountain to a pool at the side of the road. Due to neglect, moss and filth had been allowed to collect about the bottom of the pipe, until it was nearly choked up. Getting a drink was out of the question. And yet there was plenty of water in the spring above—just as fine water as had ever flowed from that source. It was simply denied passage down to those who would drink. And so with the Spirit. The Lord is still able to bless—all too frequently, we so live that "the passage is clogged." The Word of Wisdom is not only a guarantee of health—it is the key to communication with the Spirit. And what is true of the body applies with even greater force to cleanliness of mind. The teacher might well adopt this prayer:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

The third great guarantee of the Spirit is an unswerving obedience to all principles of the Gospel. To teach belief a man must believe. Firmly grounded in all the cardinal principles the teacher may well inspire a spirit of the Gospel, but not otherwise. Doubt and uncertainty will keep the teacher from the position of counsel and leadership.

The fourth assurance in the matter of developing spirituality is the consistent performance of one's religious obligations. The complaint is often made that teachers in a particular organization will meet their classes regularly, but that done they seem to consider their religious duties discharged. Teaching does not excuse a person from attending the other services required of Latter-day Saints. He is asked to attend Sacrament meetings, Priesthood meetings, Union meetings, special preparation meetings—they are all essential to the full development of the Spirit of the Gospel, which is the spirit of teaching. The teacher may rightly expect to be sustained only as he sustains those who preside over him.

"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. 7:2.)

And finally, if we would enjoy the spirit of our work we must familiarize ourselves with the Word of the Lord. To read it is to associate in thought with Him. His Spirit pervades all that He has said, whether in ancient or modern times. One of our apostles frequently remarked that if he would feel fully in touch with the spirit of his calling he must read regularly from the Doctrine & Covenants. "That book keeps me attuned as no other book can." It is not given to us to associate here with the Master, but through His recorded words we can live over all that He once lived. Thereby we not only come really to know what He would have us do, we partake of a spirit that surpasses understanding.

"Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life."

As for attainment in other matters involved in the teaching process, the teachers who attended the course at the Brigham Young University were agreed that regular practice in the following processes will insure marked growth and development:

1. The taking of a personal inventory at regular intervals. "Am I the kind of teacher I should like to go to?" starts an investigation full of suggestiveness. The qualities listed in chapter four constitute a reference chart for analysis. A teacher can become his own best critic if he sets up the proper ideals by way of a standard. A teacher in one of our Church schools in Idaho carried out an interesting investigation during the year 1919-1920. Anxious that he should not monopolize the time in his recitations, he asked one of his students to tabulate the time of the class period as follows:

Number of questions asked by teacher. Number of questions asked by pupils. Amount of time consumed by teacher. Amount of time consumed by pupils.

He was astonished to discover that of the forty-five minutes given to recitation he was regularly using an average of thirty-two minutes. Similar investigations can be carried on by any interested teacher.

2. Contact with the best in life. It is a fundamental law in life that life is an adaptation to environment. The writer has been interested in observing the force of this law as it affects animal life. Lizards in Emery county are slate-gray in color that they may be less conspicuous on a background of clay and gray sandstone; the same animals in St. George take on a reddish color—an adaptation to their environment of red sandstone.

Nor is the operation of this law merely a physical process. On a trip into Canada recently the writer traveled some distance with a group of bankers in attendance at a convention at Great Falls. On his way home he took a train on which there was a troupe of vaudeville players. The contrast was too marked to escape notice. One group had responded to an environment of sober business negotiations—the other to the gayety of the footlights. And so the teacher who would grow must put himself into an environment that makes the kind of growth he desires natural—inevitable. Through good books he can associate with the choice spirits of all ages. No one denies his acquaintanceship. Great men have given their best thoughts to many of the problems that confront us. We can capitalize on their wisdom by reading their books. We re-enforce ourselves with their strength.

Magazines, too, are full of stimulation. They constitute a kind of intellectual clearing house for the best thought of the world today. Business houses value them so highly in promoting the advancement of their employees that they subscribe regularly. One manager remarked: "No one factor makes for greater growth among my men than reading the achievements of others—leaders in their lines—through the magazines." There is scarcely a phase of life which is not being fully written about in the current issues of the leading magazines.

Then, too, contact with men and women of achievement is a remarkable stimulus to growth.

There are leaders in every community—men and women rich in experience—who will gladly discuss the vital issues of life with those who approach them. There still remain, too, pioneers with their wonderful stories of sacrifice and devotion. To the teacher who will take the pains there is an untold wealth of material in the lives of the men and women about him.

3. Regular habits of systematic study. Thorough intensive effort finds its best reward in the intellectual growth that it insures. In these days of the hurry of business and the whirl of commercialized amusements there is little time left for study except for him who makes himself subscribe to a system of work. Thirty minutes of concentrated effort a day works wonders in the matter of growth. President Grant was a splendid evidence of the force of persistent effort in his writing, his business success, and his rise to the leadership of half a million Latter-day Saints.

4. Assuming the obligations of responsibility. In every organization there are constant calls upon teachers to perform laborious tasks. It is so natural to seek to avoid them—so easy to leave them for somebody else—that we have to cultivate vigorously a habit of accepting the obligations that present themselves. The difficulties of responsibility are often burdensome, but they are an essential guarantee of achievement. "Welcome the task that makes you go beyond your ordinary self, if you would grow!"

* * * * *


1. Discuss our obligation to grow.

2. Point out the difference between praying and merely saying prayers.

3. Discuss the various means which guarantee spiritual growth.

4. Comment on the thought that a personal inventory is as essential to teaching as it is to financial success.

5. What is your daily scheme for systematic study?

6. What plan do you follow in an attempt to know the scriptures?

7. Why is it so important that we assume the responsibilities placed upon us?


Those listed in Chapter IV.




Importance of Child Study to teachers.—Teaching both a social and an individual process.—A Child's characteristics—his birthright.—What the nervous system is.—Types of original responses.—The significance of instinctive action.—Colvin's list of native tendencies.—Sisson's list.—A knowledge of native tendencies essential to proper control of human behavior.

We have now discussed the significance and meaning of teaching, together with the consideration of the characteristics that constitute the personal equation of the teacher. It is now pertinent that we give some attention to the nature of the child to be taught, that we may the more intelligently discuss methods of teaching, or how teacher and pupil get together in an exchange of knowledge.

Teaching is a unique process. It is both social and individual. The teacher meets a class—a collection of pupils in a social unit. In one way he is concerned with them generally—he directs group action. But in addition to this social aspect, the problem involves his giving attention to each individual in the group. He may put a general question, but he gets an individual reply. In short, he must be aware of the fact that his pupils, for purposes of recitation, are all alike; and at the same time he must appreciate the fact that they are peculiarly different. In a later chapter we shall consider these differences; let us here consider the points of similarity.

The fact that a boy is a boy makes him heir to all of the characteristics that man has developed. These characteristics are his birthright. He responds in a particular way to stimuli because the race before him has so responded. There is no need here of entering into a discussion as to how great a controlling factor heredity may be in a man's life, or how potent environment may be in modifying that life—we are concerned rather with the result—that man is as he is. It is essential that we know his characteristics, particularly as they manifest themselves in youth, so that we may know what to expect in his conduct and so that we may proceed to modify and control that conduct. Just as the first task of the physician is to diagnose his case—to get at the cause of the difficulty before he proceeds to suggest a remedy—so the first consideration of the teacher is a query, "Whom do I teach?"

Man may normally be expected to respond in a particular way to a particular stimulus because men throughout the history of the race have so responded. Certain connections have been established in his nervous system and he acts accordingly—he does what he does because he is man. We cannot here go into a detailed discussion of the physiological processes involved in thinking and other forms of behavior, but perhaps we may well set down a statement or two relative to man's tendencies to act, and their explanations:

"The nervous system is composed of neurones of three types: Those that receive, the afferent; those that effect action, the efferent; and those that connect, the associative. The meeting places of these neurones are the synapses. All neurones have the three characteristics of sensitivity, conductivity, and modifiability. In order for conduct or feeling or intellect to be present, at least two neurones must be active, and in all but a few of the human activities many more are involved. The possibility of conduct or intelligence depends upon the connections at the synapses,—upon the possibility of the current affecting neurones in a certain definite way. The possession of an 'original nature,' then, means the possession, as a matter of inheritance, of certain connections between neurones, the possession of certain synapses which are in functional contact and across which a current may pass merely as a matter of structure. Just why certain synapses should be thus connected is the whole question of heredity. Two factors seem to affect the functional contact of a synapses,—first, proximity of the neurone ends, and second, some sort of permeability which makes a current travel on one rather than another of two neurones equally near together in space. This proximity and permeability are both provided for by the structure and constitution of the nervous system. It should be noted that the connection of neurones is not a one-to-one affair, but the multiplicity of fibrils provided by original nature makes it possible for one afferent to discharge into many neurones, and for one efferent neurone to receive the current from many neurones. Thus the individual when born is equipped with potentialities of character, intellect and conduct, because of the pre-formed connections or tendencies to connections present in his nervous system.

"Types of Original Responses.—These unlearned tendencies which make up the original nature of the human race are usually classified into automatic or physiological actions, reflexes, instincts, and capacities. Automatic actions are such as those controlling the heart-beats, digestive and intestinal movements; the contraction of the pupil of the eye from light, sneezing, swallowing, etc., are reflexes; imitation, fighting, and fear, are instincts, which capacities refer to those more subtle traits by means of which an individual becomes a good linguist, or is tactful, or gains skill in handling tools. However, there is no sharp line of division between these various unlearned tendencies; what one psychologist calls a reflex or a series of reflexes, another will call an instinct. It seems better to consider them as of the same general character but differing from each other in simplicity, definiteness, uniformity of response, variableness among individuals, and modifiability. They range from movements such as the action of the blood vessels to those concerned in hunting and collecting; from the simple, definite, uniform knee-jerk, which is very similar in all people and open to very little modification, to the capacity for scholarship, which is extremely complex, vague as to definition, variable both as to manifestation in one individual and amounts amongst people in general, and is open to almost endless modification. This fund of unlearned tendencies is the capital with which each child starts, the capital which makes education and progress possible, as well as the capital which limits the extent to which progress and development in any line may proceed." The Psychology of Childhood, pp. 21, 22, 23.

Weigle, in his Talks to Sunday School Teachers, begins his second chapter in a rather unique and helpful manner relative to this same question:

"The little human animal, like every other, is born going. He is already wound up. His lungs expand and contract; his heart is pumping away; his stomach is ready to handle food. These organic, vital activities he does not initiate. They begin themselves. The organism possesses them by nature. They are the very conditions of life.

"There are many other activities, not so obviously vital as these, for which nature winds him up quite as thoroughly—yes, and sets him to go off at the proper time for each. He will suck when brought to the breast as unfailingly as his lungs will begin to work upon contact with the air. He will cry from hunger or discomfort, clasp anything that touches his fingers or toes, carry to his mouth whatever he can grasp, in time smile when smiled at, later grow afraid when left alone or in the dark, manifest anger and affection, walk, run, play, question, imitate, collect things, pull things apart, put them together again, take pleasure in being with friends, act shy before strangers, find a chum, belong to a 'gang' or 'bunch,' quarrel, fight, become reconciled, and some day fall in love with one of the opposite sex. These, and many more, are just his natural human ways. He does not of purpose initiate them any more than he initiates breathing or heart-beat. He does these things because he is so born and built. They are his instincts."

As Norsworthy and Whitley point out, we are not especially concerned with the boundary lines between automatic actions, reflexes, and instincts—we are rather concerned with the fact that human beings possess native tendencies to act in particular ways. Some psychologists stress them as instincts; others as capacities, but they have all pretty generally agreed that under certain stimuli there are natural tendencies to react.

These tendencies begin to manifest themselves at birth—they are all potentialities with the birth of the child—and continue to develop in turn, certain ones being more pronounced in the various stages of the child's life. Colvin in his The Learning Process, runs through the complete list of possibilities. According to him man, in a lifetime, is characterized by the following tendencies: Fear, anger, sympathy, affection, play, imitation, curiosity, acquisitiveness, constructiveness, self-assertion (leadership), self-abasement, rivalry, envy, jealousy, pugnacity, clannishness, the hunting and predatory instincts, the migratory instinct, love of adventure and the unknown, superstition, the sex instincts, which express themselves in sex-love, vanity, coquetry, modesty; and, closely allied with these, the love of nature and of solitude, and the aesthetic, the religious, and the moral emotions.

Sisson, in a little book that every teacher ought to know, The Essentials of Character, emphasizes the importance for teaching of ten tendencies: bodily activity, sense-hunger and curiosity, suggestibility, tastes and aesthetic appreciation, self-assertion, love, joy, fear, the growing-up impulse, the love of approbation.

As already indicated, the teacher should give attention to these tendencies that he may the better know how to proceed. If he knows that the one great outstanding impulse of a boy of seven is to do something, he perhaps will be less likely to plan an hour's recitation on the theory that for that hour the boy is to do nothing. If he knows that one of the greatest tendencies of boys from ten to fourteen is to organize "gangs" for social and "political" purposes, he will very likely capitalize on this idea in building up a good strong class spirit.

Knowing that children naturally respond to certain stimuli in very definite ways, the teacher can better set about to furnish the right stimuli—he can be in a better position to direct and control behavior.

* * * * *


1. What significance attaches to the statement, "Children are born 'going'"?

2. Why is it of vital importance that teachers give attention to the native tendencies in children?

3. What constitutes instinctive action? Illustrate.

4. Name the instincts that are essentially individualistic. Those that are essentially social.

5. What native tendencies are of most concern to teachers?

6. Discuss the relative significance of heredity, environment, and training in the development of children.

7. To what extent is a child limited in its development by its nervous system?


Norsworthy and Whitley, The Psychology of Childhood; Weigle, Talks to Sunday School Teachers; Colvin, The Learning Process; Sisson, The Essentials of Character; Stiles, The Nervous System and its Conservation; Thorndike, Principles of Teaching; Harrison, A Study of Child Nature; Kirkpatrick, Fundamentals of Child Study.




Characteristic tendencies of the various stages of child life.—The teacher's attitude toward them.—Follow the grain.

Four methods of procedure: 1. The method of disuse; 2. The method of rewards and punishment; 3. The method of substitution; 4. The method of stimulation and sublimation.

Having listed the native tendencies generally, we might well now consider them as they manifest themselves at the various stages of an individual's development. As already indicated, they constitute his birthright as a human being, though most of them are present in the early years of his life only in potentiality. Psychologists of recent years have made extensive observations as to what instincts are most prominent at given periods. Teachers are referred particularly to the volumes of Kirkpatrick, Harrison, and Norsworthy and Whitley. In this latter book, pages 286, 287, and 298-302, will be found an interesting tabulation of characteristics at the age of five and at eleven. For the years of adolescence Professor Beeley, in his course at the Brigham Young Summer School, in the Psychology of Adolescence, worked out very fully the characteristics unique in this period, though many of them, of course, are present at other stages:


1. Maturing of the sex instincts. 2. Rapid limb growth. 3. Over-awkwardness. 4. Visceral organs develop rapidly (heart, liver, lungs, genital organs.) 5. Change in physical proportions; features take on definite characteristics. 6. Brain structure has matured. 7. Self-awareness. 8. Personal pride and desire for social approval. 9. Egotism. 10. Unstable, "hair-trigger," conflicting emotions. 11. Altruism, sincere interest in the well-being of others. 12. Religious and moral awakening. 13. New attitude. 14. Aesthetic awakening. 15. Puzzle to everybody. 16. Desire to abandon conventionalities, struggle for self-assertion. 17. Career motive. 18. Period of "palling" and mating; clique and "gang" spirit. 19. Positiveness,—affirmation, denial. 20. Inordinate desire for excessive amusement. 21. Evidence of hereditary influences. 22. "Hero worship," castle building. 23. "Wanderlust." 24. Hyper-suggestibility. 25. Ideals; ambitions. 27. Yearning for adult responsibility.

Having listed these tendencies we still face the question, "What shall we do with them? What is their significance in teaching?"

It is perfectly clear, in the first place, that we ought not to ignore them. None of them is wholly useless, and few of them can safely be developed just as they first manifest themselves. They call for training and direction.

"Some instincts are to be cherished almost as they are; some rooted out by withholding stimuli, or by making their exercise result in pain or discomfort, or by substituting desirable habits in their place; most of the instincts should be modified and redirected."—(Thorndike.)

Our concern as teachers ought to be that in our work with boys and girls, men and women, we are aware of these natural tendencies that we may work with them rather than contrary to them—that we may "follow the grain" of human nature.

Since these tendencies are the result of responses to stimuli they may be modified by attention either to the stimuli or to the reaction that attends the stimulation. Four methods call for our consideration:

1. The method of disuse. 2. The method of rewards and punishments. 3. The method of substitution. 4. The method of stimulation and sublimation.

No one of these methods can be said always to be best. The nature of the person in question, his previous experience and training, together with the circumstances attending a given situation, all are factors which determine how we should proceed. The vital point is, that both as parents and teachers we should guard against falling into the rut of applying the same treatment to all cases regardless of their nature.


This method is largely negative. It aims to safeguard an individual against ills by withholding stimuli. The mother aims to keep scissors out of reach and sight of the baby that it may not be lured into danger. Some parents, upon discerning that the pugnacious instinct is manifesting itself vigorously in their boy, isolate him from other boys—keep him by himself through a period of a year or more that the tendency may not be accentuated. Other parents, observing their daughter's inclination to be frivolous, or seeing the instinct of sex begin to manifest itself in her interest in young men, send her away to a girl's school—a sort of intellectual nunnery.

Frequently teachers follow this method in the conduct of their classes. The tendency to self-assertion and verbal combat, natural to youth, is smothered by an unwillingness on the part of the teacher to indulge questions and debate or by a marked inclination to do all the talking.

It is clear that this method of disuse has its place in the training of children, though grave dangers attend its too frequent indulgence. Children and others of immature judgment need the protection of withheld stimuli. But clearly this is not a method to be recommended for general application. The boy who is never allowed to quarrel or fight may very possibly grow up to be a man afraid to meet the battles of life; the girl, if her natural emotions are checked, may lose those very qualities that make for the highest type of womanhood and motherhood. Fortunately, in these days, it is pretty nearly impossible to bring boys and girls up in "glass houses." Doubly fortunate, for they are made happy in their bringing up and are fitted for a world not particularly devoted to the fondling of humankind.


This method is clearly illustrated in the training of "trick" animals. These creatures through innumerable repetitions are made to do phenomenal "stunts." In the training for every successful "try" they are rewarded with a cube of sugar, a piece of candy, or some other pleasure-producing article; for every miss they are punished—made to suffer pain or discomfort. This same sort of procedure carries over into human affairs. Witness the hickory stick and the ruler, or count the nickels and caresses. Ridicule before the class, and praise for commendable behavior or performance, are typical of this same method. If it is followed, and it clearly has a place in the training of children, care should be exercised to see that in the child's mind in any case there is clear connection between what he has done and the treatment that he receives. With some parents it fairly seems as if their one remedy for all offenses is a tingling in the epidermis—it is equally clear that with some teachers their one weapon is sarcasm. All too frequently these measures grow out of unsettled nerves or stirred up passions, on the part of the parent or teacher, and have really but little connection—remote at best—with the offense in question. There may be an abuse in the matter of rewards, too, of course, but as a rule few classes suffer from too much appreciation. The real art of discipline lies in making the reward or the punishment naturally grow out of the conduct indulged in.


Because of the fact that some stimuli inevitably lead to discomfort and disaster—that some conduct is bad—there is need of a method of substitution. The child's mind needs to be led from the contemplation of an undesirable course of action to something quite different. Frequently a child cannot be satisfied with a mere denial, and circumstances may not be favorable to punishment—yet the correction must be made. Substitution is the avenue of escape. A striking illustration in point occurred recently in a cafe in Montana. A trio of foreigners, father, mother, and two-year-old son, came in and sat down at one of the tables. Soon after the parents began to eat, the child caught sight of a little silver pitcher for which he began to beg. Whining and crying, mixed in with the begging, created a good bit of disturbance. The only attempted solution on the part of the parents was a series of: "Don't do that!" "No! no!" "Keep quiet, Marti!" a continued focusing of the child's attention on what he ought not to do, and an added note to the disturbance. Then an American across the aisle having surveyed the situation took out of his pocket a folder full of brightly colored views. The charm worked beautifully—the meal went on free from disturbance—and the child was happy.

This method involves a good bit of resourcefulness, calling at times for what seems an impossible amount of ingenuity. As someone has said, "It is beating the other fellow to it." It merits the consideration of those who have to handle boys and girls who are regularly up to "stunts."


This method is rather closely akin to that of substitution, with the exception that it capitalizes on tendencies already in operation and raises them to a higher level. Stimulation, of course, merely means the bringing of children into contact with desirable stimuli on every possible occasion; in fact, it involves the making of favorable occasions.

Sublimation involves building upon native tendencies to an elevated realization. Educationally this method is most full of promise. It is seen in kindergarten methods when a child is led from mere meaningless playing with toys to constructive manipulation of blocks, tools, etc. It is seen admirably in football where the pugnacious tendency of boys is capitalized on to build manliness in struggle and to develop a spirit of fair play. It is seen in the fostering of a girl's fondness for dolls, so that it may crystallize into the devotion of motherhood. It is seen when a boys' man leads a "gang" of boys into an association for social betterment. It is seen when a teacher works upon the instinct to collect and hoard, elevating it into a desire for the acquisition of knowledge and the finer things of life.

Whatever our method, let us give due consideration to the natural inclinations and aptitudes of boys and girls—let us help them to achieve fully their own potentialities.

* * * * *


1. Point out the essential differences between boys and girls at the age of six and seven and those of sixteen and seventeen.

2. Discuss the significance of the following phrase: "The grain in human nature."

3. How can the hunting instinct be appealed to in religious stimulation?

4. Of what significance is the "gang spirit" to teachers of adolescents?

5. How can rivalry be made an asset in teaching?

6. How can the fighting instinct in children best be directed?

7. Why is biography so valuable in material for teaching?

8. Why is it so essential that we put responsibility upon boys and girls? How should this fact affect teaching?

9. What are the dangers that attend an attempt to keep children quiet for any length of time?


Those listed in Chapter VII.




Fundamental significance of individual differences.—Typical illustration.—The truth illustrated physically; in range of voice, in speed, in mental capabilities.—The same truth applied spiritually.—Some cases in point.

Everybody is like everybody else in this—that everybody is different from everybody else. Having discussed how all men enjoy a common heritage by way of native endowments, let us now turn to a consideration of how men differ.

Two of the terms most frequently met in recent educational publications are statistical methods and individual differences. There is nothing particularly new in this latter term—it merely represents a new emphasis being given to the old idea that no two of us are alike. Every parent is aware of the very marked differences in his children. Even twins differ in disposition and mental capabilities. In fact, one of the difficulties that attaches to parenthood is just this problem of making provision in one household for such various personalities.

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