Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » They Had Sunday School Questions, 1919 (part 3)

They Had Sunday School Questions, 1919 (part 3)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2013

More questions and answers — links to other parts are at the bottom of this post.

Question: Explain the most effective method of conducting class exercises in the intermediate departments.

Answer: As teachers in the intermediate departments, you should aim to excel. it is you who direct the children when they are most difficult to manage, and when instruction converts them to the Gospel if it ever does. To be easy in discipline, thinking you are governing by love, and to relieve pupils of responsibility by doing the work yourself are common errors in teaching Sunday School classes. Children are not slow in detecting your failure, even if self-excused. The socialized recitation, though an old method with a new name, may be your salvation. it was little used when you went to school. The method then in vogue was autocratic. The socialized recitation is essentially democratic. Every one recites, works and takes part in conducting the class. It gives proper incentive for the correct use of a text book. it demands the best kind of preparation of the teacher, who inconspicuously directs the pupils’ activity. It requires skill to use it, of course. Learn all you can about the socialized recitation.

Question: Explain the most effective method of conducting class exercises in the Theological Department.

Answer: One of the most durable satisfactions of life is to touch intimately, effectually and vitally, and permanently, the life of a boy or girl. A teacher who is alive to his responsibility will, as soon as he enters the classroom, make a few brief remarks which will show that he has a complete mastery of the subject being taught. He will then conduct a series of progressive questions, an analysis of the subject. Next he will make a complete, but brief, summary of the subject matter, pointing out the purpose or the object of the instruction, and in doing this he should seek to inspire faith and humility and promote righteousness in the individual lives of the boys and girls.

Question: Explain the most effective method of conducting class exercises in the Parents’ Department.

Answer: Text. Our text is the Ten Commandments.

EQUIPMENT. To rally our parents in a campaign for the living of the ten decrees requires, firstly, leadership, secondly, leadership, lastly, leadership. Leadership involves faith absolute in God, faith absolute in self and faith absolute in one’s fellow men. A belief that these ten decrees are not only the source and the foundation of all law, but that they constitute the body, spirit and soul of all regulation of human conduct. so much for equipment.

EXECUTION. At the signal for the beginning of the class work this leader should be upon his feet, and with clear eye, and face to face with his hearers he should in brief but sharp cut expression throw upon the screen of each parent’s mind a word picture of the scope, the meaning, the profound significance of the divine command assigned for study.

Once he sets the fires of interest burning, he may then point the way; then get out of the way, and let each parent, in his own words, cast his own coals of thought into the furnace of discussion.

VIGILANCE. But this process can be continued only at the price of utmost vigilance. Tolerate no veering from the point; keep the directing reins taut, take up the slack; send out a life line here and there, by suggestion, by query, by hint, until the processes of discussion are so accelerated as to draw the white heat of interest, the fire of inspiration melting thoughts and feelings into ideals, and running resolve into the harnessed mold of every day action.

Then, and not till then, as class leader, can you ask for a benediction that will pronounce as a success that day’s work.

Question: What is a socialized recitation?

Answer: A socialized recitation is one in which each member of the class contributes towards the class recitation. In the Kindergarten and Primary departments it means that the teacher shall secure and hold the attention of each member, so that each child takes part in the activities of the class. In the intermediate and higher departments it requires that each member shall study in advance the problems assigned, shall listen attentively to the discussion, and shall participate in intelligent questions and answers concerning the principles and aims of the lesson. All of this must be done under the direction of the teacher whose business it is to lead but not to monopolize the time.

Question: How much time should be consumed in the lesson work?

Answer: The time for holding Sunday School used to be from 10:00 a.m. to 12 o’clock, two full hours. Since the hour of beginning the Sunday Schools has been changed to 10:30, many of them still dismiss at 12 o’clock, thus reducing the time to one hour and a half. this has resulted in cutting down the class work till there is scarcely enough time, especially in the upper grades, for the lesson to be completed. The lesson period should be 45 minutes, even if the time for dismissal has to be extended beyond 12 o’clock. this will give the students only 39 hours of religious instruction in the Sunday school work in the year as compared with 900 hours of intellectual instruction in the day school.

Question: What time should the school re-assemble, and of what should the closing exercises consist?

Answer: Sunday Schools should reassemble after classes have been held, as just stated, 45 minutes in class work. Two hours, if needed, are allowed us for Sunday School work – it is not compulsory to call the classes from their rooms till 12 o’clock, 12:10, or even 12:15 o’clock. this should be done by electric bells operated from some point by some member of the superintendency. the cost of installing such an electric bell system will not be great. it will only be from $25.00 to $50;.l00, depending upon the size of the house and the number of the classrooms. The pupils should promptly respond to the signal when it is given to reassemble, and should march in an orderly manner into the assembly room, and this marching should be done to proper music which is played in march time and, as stated, of an appropriate character. The closing exercises should usually consist of singing by the school and the benediction.

Question: Give the great aim of the Sunday School work.

Answer: John the Evangelist says: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” the aim of the Sunday School is exactly the same as that of the Father in giving His Son, and of the Son in giving His life, that whosoever follows its teachings shall not perish but have everlasting life.

its aim is to guide all our Father’s children, and particularly those who are weak and faltering, in His footsteps amid the snares and pitfalls of life, to impress upon and implant in their hearts faith in the Almighty and in the Redeemer so deep that lives of righteousness will result, to bring into this mortal existence peace, joy and consolation, and to prepare all its members for a glorious exaltation in the celestial presence of their Creator.

At the request of President Grant, I [David O. McKay] will answer the following question, just now handed in:

Question: What is the proper attitude of the person administering the Sacrament? Should both kneel – or only one? Should the hands be raised?

Answer: There is no set rule, except as has been explained tonight. The proper attitude is to kneel. But in regard to raising the hands, one or both, there is no set rule. About bowing the heads, and some other little details, we have nothing to say at this time.

part 1
part 2



  1. I once taught a class of 13 year old boys. After struggling for many months I also suggested execution but the bishop vetoed it.

    Comment by KLC — December 11, 2013 @ 8:25 am

  2. Wow — the writer sure is dramatic in describing the teacher’s duties:

    Once [the teacher] sets the fires of interest burning, he may then point the way; then get out of the way, and let each parent, in his own words, cast his own coals of thought into the furnace of discussion.

    Comment by David Y. — December 11, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  3. Oh wait — the writer is David O. McKay?!

    Comment by David Y. — December 11, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  4. Raising the hands for the sacrament prayer???

    Comment by Grant — December 11, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  5. I have on occasion been willing to return to literal sacrifice, too, KLC.

    David O. McKay was directing the program and did answer the final question, but the other answers were provided by various members of the Sunday School Board — I think we can excuse him from responsibility for the more melodramatic answers, David!

    And Grant, the times they are a-changing — or, rather, did already change, no?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 11, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  6. Re: raising the hands during the sacrament prayers. If you have a copy of Allen and Leonard’s The Story of the Latter-day Saints, check out the photograph on p. 372. (You might need a magnifying glass.)

    Comment by Gary Bergera — December 11, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  7. Gary, if I’m not remembering, that same photo is in Hartley’s “From Men to Boys.” My parents remember the priests raising their arm during the sacrament prayer (like baptism). That on my docket to track down…I imagine it started in late Nauvoo or on the trail west.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 11, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

  8. I’ve seen some groups of Baptists pray that way too, probably based on 2 Chronicles 6:13.
    “For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,”

    Comment by Steve R. — December 11, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

  9. In many Christian churches hands are raised during prayer. The New Testament verse that they point to is 1 Timothy 2:8: I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

    Of course, we don’t have to look beyond the temple for a modern example of prayers offered with uplifted hands.

    Comment by Mark B. — December 12, 2013 @ 6:09 am

  10. fascinating.

    Comment by The Other Clark — December 12, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

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