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How Is "come Follow Me" Going?


rongo

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Interested in others' experiences/reactions to the new youth curriculum for Sunday School and Young Men's/Young Women's.

 

I taught the 12-13 year-olds through all of 2013, and am set to teach the exact same thing in the same order in 2014. While the youth are in definite need of "back to the basics," I don't think having the same general curriculum year in and year out is the way to address this from a "church on Sunday" standpoint (the single biggest factor is gospel instruction and example in the home, and anything else pales in comparison. This is the biggest reason why our youth are deficient, overall, in so many ways).

 

While I appreciate the attempt to "raise the bar" on the youth and encourage more direct engagement in the lessons, I don't think this is normally what happens. Instead, with the "deregulation" of material (i.e., elimination of a manual and inclusion of simple "outlines"), I think lowest common denominator "quality control" on lessons has dropped (as it also has under "Preach My Gospel" ---- sorry, Blue Dreams and halcenero! ;)  ---- and with the endless chain of 3rd hour adult manuals), which was an acknowledged risk.

 

I rarely use the videos (which are by-and-large fluffy "crack" for the ADHD and electronics-addicted/short attention span generation ----- I showed maybe two last year). We did a lot of basic "use the index/topical guide" to find scriptures to support doctrines, and the kids need *a lot* of practice and guidance on this, because they don't know how to find things. It's different than just "googling." I also spent some time teaching how to teach lessons and having them practice.

 

A month on a general topic was too long, in my experience, no matter how extensive the treatment. Especially on "fifth Sunday" months . . . :)

 

Interested in your thoughts/experiences!

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I don't use videos and while I enjoy the lesson format, I customize it with more background information on the scriptures or topic of the month and supplement the lessons with more historical details. I also try to apply the principles to our modern world (ie Israel and Middle East conflicts). I encourage discussion and have a lot of class participation. I teach the older kids and for the boys I was also their cub and scout leader so we have a long history. I also let them have a little breathing room since the boys and girls like to socialize a bit.

 

That the youth are deficient in gospel knowledge doesn't worry me. They pick up a little in seminary (though 2/3 go and it is early morning), from home, and a lot go to EFY and YC. I am just happy that the majority of my class are pumped for missions, boys and girls! 

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Older kids are definitely easier to teach, that's for sure (I also teach junior high English and science, but have taught high school as well). My deacon/beehive kids are extremely well-behaved (courteous, respectful, etc.) and do what is asked of them.

 

I do really like the freedom to teach ---- that's a good thing.

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I don't want to derail your thread, Rongo, but isn't the Church "danged if it does, and danged if it don't"?  (That's right: you're an English teacher, so pardon my poor grammar! :D;))  The Church gives us a manual, and we clamoring masses say (mortified), "The Restored Gospel in a Can ?  :blink:  Noooooo!"  Then the Church gives us the same outline two years in a row and we say, "Macaroni and cheese ... again?"  It simply seems as though the Church can't win, no matter what it does. :unknw:

Edited by Kenngo1969
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Sometimes these things can be viewed rather myopically.

 

Here is a broader perspective in a very recent Church News article written for us by Russell T. Osguthorpe, the Sunday School general president.

 

In fact, that entire year-end Church News issue (Dec. 29) is worth a look as it examines the theme "Hastening the Work" and gives a retrospective on that endeavor in the Church this past year.

 

Here's a notable excerpt from the Osguthorpe piece:

 

I once had the following conversation with an 18-year-old-young man about the new youth curriculum.

“If you visited a class using Come, Follow Me, how would you tell if they were using it effectively?” I asked.

“Oh,” he replied, “it would be pretty easy. I’ve got one teacher who really gets it, and another one who is just kind of teaching the same old way,” he responded.

“So how do you tell the difference?”

“Well, if the teacher’s really doing it, the teacher would be asking real questions about how the lesson applies to our lives, not just, you know, questions like about dates and places and stuff that everybody already knows the answer to.”

“That’s very insightful,” I responded. “Would you look for anything else?” He thought for a moment and then replied,

“Yes, I would see if the youth were up in front teaching.”

“Are you saying the teacher would just give the whole lesson to the class member to teach?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “class members would just be teaching brief principles and bearing their testimony about what they were teaching. The teacher would still be the teacher.”

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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No derailment, Kenngo. That's a very good point.

 

Moderators: Why in the world was this moved to the Social Hall? This is not the first time that a thread of mine for general discussion (and which there might be differing viewpoints) has inexplicably been moved to the social hall. Can I get a reason, please?

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Maybe because it really should only be discussed by members and is not a debate topic?

 

That's what i thought as well.  I figured they moved it because it had nothing to do with non-members and wasn't something a non-member would be able to comment on or debate.

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If that were the criteria, then how many other General Discussions topics would be immediately banished to the Social Hall? 

 

I would really like to hear the moderators chime in on this. I know this isn't very "Social Hall" of me, but, well, when it's put in the Social Hall . . . :)

 

Sometimes other posters request a move to protect the thread because it isn't a debate topic or will make the poster the topic.  I can't speak for all mods but when a post sets off with talking about personal experiences it might get examined closer.   Set up the topic before personal experiences.

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Hello Rongo...

I fully agree with you when it comes to teaching our young people how to navigate the scriptures using the topical guide... they need to know how to find scriptures by using a few "key words" and looking them up in the Topical Guide... for instance, whenever I'm trying to find a scripture that I can paraphrase with the general wording but want the exact wording.  Particularly when I can't remember just where a scripture is located.

And they need to use all of the standard works, including becoming well-versed in the bible.  After all, if the majority of your students are going on missions, they will be teaching people who are familiar with only the bible, and many times want to use the bible vs BoM etc.  So they need to know how to find references/scriptures in the Bible.

 

GG

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Hello Rongo...

I fully agree with you when it comes to teaching our young people how to navigate the scriptures using the topical guide... they need to know how to find scriptures by using a few "key words" and looking them up in the Topical Guide... for instance, whenever I'm trying to find a scripture that I can paraphrase with the general wording but want the exact wording. Particularly when I can't remember just where a scripture is located.

And they need to use all of the standard works, including becoming well-versed in the bible. After all, if the majority of your students are going on missions, they will be teaching people who are familiar with only the bible, and many times want to use the bible vs BoM etc. So they need to know how to find references/scriptures in the Bible.

GG

Does the new youth curriculum preclude the above?

(I honestly don't know. I'm not intimately acquainted with it.)

It seems to me that with its less regulated approach (outlines as opposed to manuals) there would be sufficient flexibility to do this sort of thing as the teacher saw the need.

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It doesn't preclude it, Scott. That's the good thing about the deregulation inherent in the new curriculum. A teacher can focus on perceived needs of his class.

 

But teachers following the "outlines" offered won't be led in that direction.

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It doesn't preclude it, Scott. That's the good thing about the deregulation inherent in the new curriculum. A teacher can focus on perceived needs of his class.

But teachers following the "outlines" offered won't be led in that direction.

Well, I'm all for everyone, adults as well as youth, receiving ongoing instruction and exercise in using the study aids bundled with the LDS editions of the scriptures. They were introduced in 1979, yet there is still a disturbing lack of facility in their use among many of our people.

But to address your point, doesn't this get back to the dichotomy between the teacher who "gets it" and the one who doesn't? (See my link to the Osguthorpe article.) It seems to me that the youth curriculum requires a certain skill set on the part of the teacher, one that includes being sensitive to such things as whether the students need help in navigating the scriptures.

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Ideally, in a perfect world, yes.

 

In my sister's ward (they were just over last night to play games), her son's teacher emails them a link to a conference talk every week and they are supposed to read and discuss it. That's that teacher's version of "Come Follow Me."

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Interested in others' experiences/reactions to the new youth curriculum for Sunday School and Young Men's/Young Women's.

 

I taught the 12-13 year-olds through all of 2013, and am set to teach the exact same thing in the same order in 2014. While the youth are in definite need of "back to the basics," I don't think having the same general curriculum year in and year out is the way to address this from a "church on Sunday" standpoint (the single biggest factor is gospel instruction and example in the home, and anything else pales in comparison. This is the biggest reason why our youth are deficient, overall, in so many ways).

 

While I appreciate the attempt to "raise the bar" on the youth and encourage more direct engagement in the lessons, I don't think this is normally what happens. Instead, with the "deregulation" of material (i.e., elimination of a manual and inclusion of simple "outlines"), I think lowest common denominator "quality control" on lessons has dropped (as it also has under "Preach My Gospel" ---- sorry, Blue Dreams and halcenero! ;)  ---- and with the endless chain of 3rd hour adult manuals), which was an acknowledged risk.

 

I rarely use the videos (which are by-and-large fluffy "crack" for the ADHD and electronics-addicted/short attention span generation ----- I showed maybe two last year). We did a lot of basic "use the index/topical guide" to find scriptures to support doctrines, and the kids need *a lot* of practice and guidance on this, because they don't know how to find things. It's different than just "googling." I also spent some time teaching how to teach lessons and having them practice.

 

A month on a general topic was too long, in my experience, no matter how extensive the treatment. Especially on "fifth Sunday" months . . . :)

 

Interested in your thoughts/experiences!

 

 

I subbed for a few youth SS lessons in 2013, and either I was doing something wrong, or the class was doing something wrong, because I didn't feel much energy for discussion.  Anytime I stopped being the "driving force" for the lesson, it came to a standstill.  So I suspect the "success" of the program varies from class to class and teacher to teacher.

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Ideally, in a perfect world, yes.

In my sister's ward (they were just over last night to play games), her son's teacher emails them a link to a conference talk every week and they are supposed to read and discuss it. That's that teacher's version of "Come Follow Me."

It seems to me that the Church is about the business of prodding and encouraging folks to approach the ideal.

I suppose everyone falls short of the mark to one degree or another, but if there's no standard set, no expectation of excellence, no progress is made at all.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Yes, I'm a last minute preparer and I'm now just looking at the topic for the lesson for tomorrow, hoping, just hoping that they changed it from last year.  I now discover that they didn't change anything!  So I completely agree.  I teach the 14-15 year olds and it's very difficult, especially of how outspoken they are in realizing if they've been taught the same lesson over and over.  (Yes, they really do tell me this and it frustrates me to the point of just letting the other teachers teach them every so often)  So it's hard to think that now we have to teach them the same thing over again when they don't even want it.  Yes, I do try to engage the kids, by games, doing analogies that they can relate to, etc.  But yet, they still have a hard time sitting still listening to the same lessons.  

 

Yes, you can say, "well, take the same lesson and view it from somewhere else to make it different".  But that's much easier said than done when trying to keep all these kids attentions when they know exactly what is going on; it's the same topics as last year.   

 

So I completely agree with you!!!

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As a fellow last minute preparer, let me just be the one to say it is much harder to come up with new ideas in 24 hours than it is in at least 7 days.

You might ask the kids two weeks early what they would like to hear and talk about on the topic, get their ideas the following week and then hopefully be able to incorporate them in the next one.

Edited by calmoriah
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One suggestion is first to review the previous week's lesson.  It takes 5-10 minutes of class time.

Another idea is first to give a short review of the basics -- First vision.  I was surprised how many did not know some of  the basics.

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Im curious about how this is going as well. Im teaching the young men in primary who are about to turn 12. And reading these lessons i feel like I almost feel like I'd be condescending to these youth if I taught the lesson like I would teach a 7 or 8 year old. I have been praying and seeking the spirit but im not sure I have the right approach. Im used to teaching adults not preteens.

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As a fellow last minute preparer, let me just be the one to say it is much harder to come up with new ideas in 24 hours than it is in at least 7 days.

You might ask the kids two weeks early what they would like to hear and talk about on the topic, get their ideas the following week and then hopefully be able to incorporate them in the next one.

 

An article I wrote based on my interview with the Sunday School general presidency appeared last week. It pertains to the adult gospel doctrine course, but some elements of it I think could be applied to  teaching youth classes. And they did address the matter of last-minute preparation. Here is a relevant excerpt:

 

Brother Osguthorpe emphasized a team approach in the study of the Old Testament whereby the teacher invites individual learners in the class to do certain things in the class to help edify everyone, much as a foreman at a construction site directs the work of craftsmen with their various skills in the building of a house.

“We can edify one another,” he said. “We can build each other up, and each one has something different to offer. One might have been a lifelong student of Isaiah. Another might know about the children of Israel. The teacher thinks about how to invite these individual people to make their contributions.”

The teacher directs the discussion by explaining the doctrine and then invites individual class members to build on that doctrine, Brother Osguthorpe explained.

“And, this is why a teacher can’t effectively prepare a lesson during sacrament meeting,” Brother McConkie added. “I say that facetiously, but the reality is that, as a teacher, you have to start a week ahead of time. You read through the material, you read the scriptures, you pray and ponder, and you think about your class.”

“And it might be just one doctrine you focus on in that lesson,” Brother Richardson added.

“You don’t have to teach it all,” Brother McConkie responded, “so you can be a brand-new member of the Church and can still succeed.”

“That is important,” Brother Osguthorpe said. “You don’t have to be a long-time student of the Old Testament to teach it effectively.”

 

When I taught gospel doctrine, I quickly learned that I shortchanged both myself and the members of the class if I waited until the last minute to prepare. On the other hand, I found that if I at least read through the lesson material at least a week ahead of time, I was open to flashes of inspiration and to thoughts, insights and experiences that occurred to me in the course of the week that were applicable to the lesson I was to teach. Had I waited until the day of the lesson or even the night before to begin my preparation, I would have missed all that inspiration.

 

As I told the Sunday School presidency during the interview, I was preparing 24/7 in that sense.

 

(Note: I'm embarrassed to notice that the on-line version of my article somehow got messed up and the lead paragraph got dropped. I'll see about getting that fixed. But the essence is still there.)

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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When I teach a lesson, my attitude is NOT to teach a lesson to the students, but to teach myself something about the Gospel.  I have to be excited about the lesson.  My goal is that everyone, including myself, walks out of the room with a new insight into life and the Gospel. 

 

My goal is have them leave the classroom thinking, "I had never thought about that before."  So my preparation during the week is not to write a bunch of stuff down, but to explore what questions that need to be answered.

 

Not the usual, "why is it important.... to pay tithing, do missionary work, repent, etc" (yawn!), but "how, what does it mean to... repent, to forgive someone..."   "How do I know when I have forgiven someone, what exactly does that mean."  Then explore forgiveness in a real, practical sense.  "After I forgive them, am I supposed to trust them, continue to have them as a friend, to have the same trust and relationship that I had before, continue to do business with that person."

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  • 8 months later...

To build on Scott's excellent advice about preparing 24/7, I've received a pending calling to Sunday School ("pending" meaning that I have been called, but not sustained or set apart yet), which will supersede the calling to Sunday School I received a little over two months ago. The latter was quite a surprise to me, given my short tenure in the former.  (Frankly, I will miss the more direct association I've had with the brethren with whom I was called in the former, but I trust that the Lord knows what He's doing. ;))  Both callings have prompted me to delve (perhaps belatedly) into the youth curriculum.  Any time I have heard news on the Board that anyone has been called to a teaching calling, my advice has always been twofold: (1) Love what you teach; and (2) Love whom you teach.  Doing the latter means being sensitive to others' concerns and about what's going on in their lives.

 

While I don't wish to be unduly judgmental of anyone who has contributed to this thread, and although I have just started to follow the prompting I have received, complaints that we've now gotten "the same curriculum" year-to-year do seem, to me, to miss the mark.  When I received the latter calling, the High Councilor who extended it to me directed me to emphasize teaching in the Savior's way.  And the thing that has become crystal clear to me, even though, as I said, I have just started to act on the prompting I have received, is that it's not about the curriculum: it's about the people involved, and about following the Spirit.  The most important thing I can do as a teacher or a leader is to seek to have (and to follow) the Spirit, and to know, whether by direct questioning or by the Spirit, what the members of my class need on any given occasion or in any given interaction.  If I do that, then, theoretically, I could teach, not only the "same" curriculum, but the same chapter or even the same verse of Scripture for an entire year. It's not unlike when we read the "same" chapter or verse of Scripture in family or personal study, and it hits us in a way it never had (or causes us to have an insight we'd never had) before.

 

Found this, which some might also find of interest:  https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/01/questions-the-heart-of-learning-and-teaching?lang=eng

Edited by Kenngo1969
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  I'm finding mixed success as I use the program.  I was recently released as a deacons quorum advisor and called to the high council, so I've been on both sides of this topic, as a a teacher and an observer.  My students in the deacons quorum often responded very well to the Come Follow Me format, and watching them work out answers to questions as we sat together was very exciting.  I was truly impressed with some of the doctrines the young men grasped, such as the Plan of Salvation and the nature of God.  Having said that, if the discussion wasn't on a topic that interested them, it was very hard to keep them on track, so most lessons were either tremendous successes for terrible failures, IMO.

  Aaronic priesthood is now one of my responsibilities on the high council, so I attend the various AP quorums around the stake each week.  I'm finding that the majority of lessons are taught in the old-style format, more a presentation of information than a discussion with the young men.  It's a difficult thing to engage those who don't necessarily want to be engaged, so I see a lot of falling into older, safer patterns.  

  The real highlight to me of the program is watching young men step up and teach lessons, and how their peers respond to it.  I was in a quorum a few weeks ago where the class president was teaching, and doing fairly well, but struggling with how to make his point.  His classmates, one by one, began to help him out with comments and questions that became a lively discussion over the course of a few minutes.  I guess they have more compassion for a friend who is struggling than a teacher, but I loved seeing them work together.  

  I'm finding that context really matters in the CFM lessons.  It has to relate directly in some way to the students, or they check out.  Makes lessons on topics like Being a Better Husband and Father tough sells to 12 and 13 year olds.

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