Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm sitting on my hands for a while

I had a very brief but instructive interaction with my lovely wife yesterday after church. She did not attend our ward; her calling took her to another unit of our stake, and then instead of coming to join me in our Sunday School (as she often does), she went home to be with our daughter who was home with a really icky cold.

So I was telling my wife about our Gospel Doctrine class. I really like our teacher: he’s well-prepared and asks good questions. He draws on his own experience and draws a lot of discussion out of the class. Yesterday he taught about Jacob 5, one of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon. And by favorite, I mean I have a lot of my own ideas about what’s most important in that chapter.

As I described the lesson to my wife, I expressed regret that he hadn’t touched on a couple of points I wish he had. My wife (rightly, I might add, since she was putting the finishing touches on dinner and we were all tired and hungry because we’d been fasting) pretty much told me she didn’t want to hear me complain about the Gospel Doctrine teacher.

I was taken aback. I hadn’t thought I was complaining. And I don’t really think I meant to complain. But complaining is what my wife heard.

I began to think about my behavior in that class (and others). I tend to sit near the front. I read my lessons ahead of time. And I comment frequently. I began to wonder how I sound to other members of the classes I attend. I began to wonder if just because a thought pops into my head I ought to share it with the class.

The title of this post ought to give you a clue as to where I’m coming out on that question.

Don’t get me wrong – as a teacher in a class, I love to have class participation. I even welcome a provocative comment from time to time to engage class members. But I don’t generally appreciate a class member who wants to teach my lesson for me from the third or fourth row.

So I’m going to try an experiment for a while (and next week will be easy since they don’t ask for a lot of audience participation at General Conference – at least not from people sitting in my family room…). I’m going to say less in class. I’m going to ask myself what contribution I’m making to the lesson and to the other members of the class. And I’m going to strive to have that participation be measured and meaningful.

We’ll see how it goes.


  1. Have you been reading my mind? *grin*

    One of the reasons I blog so much is so I don't feel the need to comment so much in classes - although I still comment regularly in classes. Blogging gives me a constructive outlet for my thoughts, and I need that.

  2. I have a book marker in my scriptures with K.Y.M.S. and N.A.Y on it. Keep Your Mouth Shut and Nobody Asked You. This is to remind me that sometimes the inspiration I get during a lesson is just for me and I don't have to share with the whole class. Also to remind me that most students and teacher's don't like "know-it-alls". I love teaching and I love class participation too, but when I'm the student I can't take over. Very hard lesson to learn and practice. Let us know how you do.

  3. Papa and Rozy, thanks for your comments. It hadn't occurred to me that we're all blogging to help in our efforts to calm our in-class comments... :-)

  4. I have the added benefit of having a like-minded friend staying with me... we always have "Gospel Doctrine Part II" after church on Sundays :)

  5. A small postscript:

    My lovely wife and I spoke after she read my blog today. She reassured me that she thinks my comments are good contributions to the class. And I thanked her. I think they often are, too. But I still think I make too many of them.

    I'm really not advocating non-participation (by me or anyone else). But I do want to sustain my instructors. And the rest of the class, too.

  6. And, Becca, Gospel Doctrine Part II sounds to me just like what we're supposed to do: discuss our lessons at home. I think that's one reason the youth and adults now have the same Sunday School lessons. I know my lovely wife and I enjoy sharing notes on the GAS lessons after PH & RS.

  7. I feel this way all the time!...thank goodness for journals and blogs. It's just a way that people like you and me process the gospel.