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The Teacher Had a Question, 1953

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 07, 2013

It’s been a long time since we had a question-and-answer post, mostly because I’ve exhausted the old sources I used to mine. But I’ve now found a few more, some with a whiff of antiquity about them (relatively speaking, of course) –

Question: In times past, Sunday School teachers have been known to distribute verses of scripture printed on cards with ornamentation such as birds, animals and flowers. These cards are often published by other churches and are available at supply stores. Sometimes teachers adopt the additional practices of pasting the cards in a notebook, the property of the child. Do you have any objection to such practices? – Australian Mission

Answer: There is no objection, provided, of course, the Bible pictures are in harmony with teachings of the Restored Gospel. Care should be taken to be sure pictures do not portray such things as angels with wings. Sunday Schools of our Church are encouraged to stress the memorization of scriptures at all age levels. Knowledge of scripture is most helpful to missionaries.

Question: Is there a beginning age limit for children to attend Junior Sunday School? Also, would it be advisable for children and babies to visit in their parents’ class until they reach an age where they could enjoy the lessons and other activities of the Nursery class? – Cache Stake

Answer: There has been no fixed age at which children are to begin attendance in the Nursery class. Children are accepted whenever their parents and Junior Sunday School teachers feel that the tots are old enough to participate. The age is generally approaching three years. to encourage parents of babes-in-arms to attend Sunday School and other meetings, some wards have set up a “crying” room where these babies can be looked after while their parents attend meetings. We commend this plan, which allows parents’ attendance and eliminates disturbing noises of babies during lessons discussions. The room may be equipped with cribs and attended by women called by the bishopric or Sunday School superintendency.

Question: We have a marvelous teacher in one of the classes in our ward. He has a great following. He is always prepared. But he does not follow the outlined course of study. He has developed a course of his own choosing. what should we do?

Answer: In the spirit of kindness, the superintendency should meet with him, explaining that Church leaders would like every class to discuss the lessons outlined by the General Board. this does not mean that these lessons should be followed paragraph by paragraph. Certainly, plenty of room is left for the teacher to enrich these lessons with interesting, faith-building material of his own choosing. The superintendency might explain the difficulties resulting from a non-conforming course. The same course subject may be the prescribed one for the same class the following year. then, too, without a regular course, there is the greater danger of teaching information that is not in harmony with the Restored gospel.

All of these things should be explained in kindness to the teacher. Then the choice might be put to him. It is the policy of the Sunday School of the church to follow the prescribed course. If this is made clear to the teacher with tact and kindness, in most cases, he no doubt will conform. If he still chooses otherwise, of course there is no alternative but to appoint a new teacher, approved by the ward bishopric or branch presidency.

Question: Is it all right to have four members of a ward Sunday School superintendency, with one of the three assistants assigned to preside over the Junior Sunday School? – Highland Stake

Answer: The order of the Church is to have presidencies and superintendencies of three. There are three in the First Presidency, in the stake presidency, in the ward bishopric and in the Sunday School superintendency. No ward or branch should have more or less than three in its Sunday School superintendency. where there is a Junior Sunday School, one member of the superintendency should be assigned each Sunday to preside at the worship service of the Junior Sunday School. These assignments may be rotated among the members of the superintendency, week by week or month by month or for longer periods.

Question: There are three wards in our stake using the same meetinghouse for Sunday School. It is rather difficult to give each ward a full 90 minutes for Sunday School. Should we cut down on the time allowed for class work or eliminate the closing exercises? – Oquirrh Stake

Answer: It would be best to try to readjust the schedule so that each Sunday School has its full quota of 90 minutes. However, if this seems impossible, then it is suggested that the full 45 minutes be allowed for class work, even if the closing exercises are to be eliminated. The first responsibility of the Sunday School is to teach the Restored gospel to the membership of the Church. Therefore, first consideration should be given the Gospel lesson period.

Question: After the closing prayer at Sunday School, is it all right if we have a brief pause for reverential music before the formal dismissal?

Answer: The General Board suggests that Sunday School be closed with a benedictory prayer, following which people arise and leave in an orderly way, to the accompaniment of an organ postlude. No additional music or other special procedure is approved.

Question: Is it all right to use Book of Mormon maps in classroom teaching?

Answer: All maps on Book of Mormon locations in the Western Hemisphere are speculative, even though carefully prepared. for this reason, General Authorities have discouraged their use.

Question: May a child hold up a picture during the passing of the sacrament as an interest and atmosphere device?

Answer: the only pictures to be displayed during the passing of the sacrament are those hung for the entire period of the worship service. The sacramental ordinance is planned without music or picture distraction.

Question: For General Conference Sunday, would it be all right to have a television or radio set in our Sunday School for those attending to enjoy in place of the usual Sabbath School lesson?

Answer: There is no objection at all, although it is suggested that this be not the case for Junior Sunday School classes and perhaps one or two classes immediately above the Junior Sunday School. It is extremely difficult for small children to remain orderly in such situations.

Question: I am a beginning Sunday School teacher and would like the children I teach to respect me. Could you suggest ways to accomplish this?

Answer: Your objective is a worthy one, for in the mind of the learner the personality of the teacher becomes closely associated with what is learned. Especially is this true in the realm of attitudes and appreciations. The following personal characteristics are traits which endear a teacher to her class and win love and respect.

Both in and out of class the Latter-day Saint member who is a Sunday School teacher teaches. this means that behavior always squares with the principles taught. This is not difficult when one believes what she says. A teacher shows this sincerity by careful lesson preparation, her kindness and the poise with which she explains the Gospel. this poise is reflected in the quality of her voice and the careful way she stands and sits. A loud rasping voice or a slouching body position are not characteristics which win admiration.

From the above discussion it can be seen that a fine teacher gives thought to large and small aspects of her personality.

Question: In making plans for Christmas, we are wondering what the General Board’s attitude is regarding having a Santa Claus visit our Junior Sunday School for our special program.

Answer: The General Board recommends that visits of Santa Claus be not included in plans for either the Junior or Senior Sunday School. Often such a feature on the services introduces a carnival spirit that is not in keeping with Sabbath School reverence. There is no objection to having a Santa Claus at a weekday social for Sunday School children.

Question: In our Sunday School teaching, is it all right to use one of the modern translations of the Bible?

Answer: Our Church leaders advise that, at least for the present, we continue to use the King James translation.



6 Comments »

  1. Ardis: I love this last one, it seems as if not much has changed in the decades. Good job as always.

    Question: In our Sunday School teaching, is it all right to use one of the modern translations of the Bible?

    Answer: Our Church leaders advise that, at least for the present, we continue to use the King James translation.

    I wonder if it is still ‘at least for the present’?

    Comment by David M. Morris — October 7, 2013 @ 8:34 am

  2. It’s interesting to see how much things have changed in the past half-century. Imagine a teacher being instructed these days that he could “enrich these lessons with interesting, faith-building material of his own choosing.” And even raising the question of Santa Claus!

    Closing exercises? They had disappeared by the time my consciousness appeared–I guess I started attending senior Sunday School about nine years after these instructions were given, and there were no closing exercises then. We just went straight out to the church yard and started throwing snowballs.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 7, 2013 @ 8:41 am


  3. “The order of the Church is to have presidencies and superintendencies of three. There are three in the First Presidency, in the stake presidency, in the ward bishopric and in the Sunday School superintendency. No ward or branch should have more or less than three in its Sunday School superintendency.”

    Didn’t Brigham Young have just him and Heber C Kimball for a while? And of course there was the four person First Presidencies of my youth [after 1953, I know]. On a practical level, it has been quite a while since I have been in a Ward that had more than just a Sunday School President. Just not enough people to fill all the positions.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — October 7, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  4. It’s easy to see how problematic innovations can begin as innocent, well-meaning ideas.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — October 7, 2013 @ 9:21 am

  5. “I am a beginning Sunday School teacher and would like the children I teach to respect me”

    Heh. My first Church calling ever — at age 16 — was as the teacher for the 10-year-olds in Junior Sunday School (this would have been 1969 or so). The class comprised five girls, who would mostly just sit and giggle when I asked them questions. It was a painful experience, at least for me; I think the girls had a great time. :-) ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — October 7, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  6. Fascinating! Interesting to see some of the perennial issues raised today raised “back then.” lhe more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Comment by David Y. — October 7, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

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