Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Learning and Teaching

I loved Brother McConkie's talk about teaching in General Conference. I thought it was just as applicable to being a Scout leader as teaching Sunday School or Primary. Here are some highlights I thought were especially relevant:

I am not going to talk about the “how” of teaching but rather about the “how” of learning. There can be a significant difference between what a teacher says and what those in the class hear or learn.

Think for a moment of a teacher who really made a difference in your life. What was it about him or her that caused you to remember what was taught, to want to discover the truth for yourself, to exercise your agency and act and not just to be acted upon—in other words, to learn? What was it about this teacher that set him or her apart from the rest?

A successful teacher and author said: “What matters most in learning is attitude. The attitude of the teacher.”

Note that what matters most in learning is not the number of years a teacher has been a member of the Church or how much teaching experience a person has or even the teacher’s knowledge of the gospel or teaching techniques. What matters most is the attitude or spirit by which the teacher teaches.


Successful gospel teachers love the gospel. They are excited about it. And because they love their students, they want them to feel as they feel and to experience what they have experienced. To teach the gospel is to share your love of the gospel.

Brothers and sisters, a teacher’s attitude is not taught; it’s caught.

Your attitude really does make the most difference in how well the boys learn and how well your meetings will go. Both your attitude toward each of the boys and your attitude towards Scouting will make a difference. That means you need to get to know both. Get to know each of the boys and learn to like them (yes, that's easier with some boys than with others). Learn about the program you are over and learn why the Church thinks Scouting is so important. I know when he said knowledge and techniques aren't as important you thought that meant you don't need training, but you do. You really need to know how the program works and what it's supposed to look like if you want to give the boys a good experience. And if you love the boys, you will want to give them the best possible experience.

How, then, do we develop the attitude necessary to be a successful teacher? I would like to discuss four basic principles of gospel teaching....

First, immerse yourself in the scriptures. We cannot love what we do not know...

Soon after I was called to be a stake president, our stake presidency received training from an Area Seventy. During the training, I asked a question to which he responded, “That is a good question. Let’s turn to the Church Handbook of Instructions for the answer.” We then went to the handbook, and there was the answer to my question. A little later in our training, I asked another question. Once again he responded, “Good question. Let’s turn to the handbook.” I did not venture to ask any more questions. I thought it best to read the handbook...

Second, apply in your life the things that you learn...

Third, seek heaven’s help. Appeal unto the Lord for His Spirit with all of the energy of your heart. The scriptures state, “If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach." This means that even if you use all the right teaching techniques and what you are teaching is true, without the Spirit real learning is not going to take place.

When was the last time you knelt in prayer and asked the Lord to help you not just with your lesson but also to help you to know and to meet the needs of each student in your class? No class is so large that we cannot pray for inspiration regarding how to reach each student.

It is natural for teachers to have feelings of inadequacy. You must understand that “age and maturity and intellectual training are not in any way or to any degree necessary to communion with the Lord and His Spirit."

The promises of the Lord are certain. If you earnestly search the scriptures and treasure up in your minds the words of life, if you keep the commandments with all of your heart and pray for each student, you will enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and you will receive revelation.

Fourth, brothers and sisters, it is of utmost importance that we exercise our agency and act, without delay, in accordance with the spiritual promptings we receive.

President Thomas S. Monson taught: “We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed.”

Scout Leaders in the Church are blessed with the number of resources they have. We have the gift of training with the BSA and all of the publications and program helps the organization provides, plus we have a relationship with Heavenly Father. We can go to Him for inspiration on how to best teach and help each boy. If you take full advantage of all these things, you really can't go wrong.

His story about the handbook reminded me especially of Scouting. Most of your questions will be answered by reviewing the handbook that goes with your particular level of Scouting. If you question how a Scouting practice fits with Church policy, check your Church Handbook on Scouting (the "Green Book"). It is small, but it covers all areas of conflict between the two programs (probably because there are actually very few areas of conflict).

Attitude, study and listening to the Spirit will benefit you no matter what you're teaching.

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