I admit, as I am not currently a teacher of youth, I have not paid a whole lot of attention to the new curriculum. However, I was on the Church website this morning reading about it, and I felt the Spirit so strongly, I wanted to share my testimony of this teaching method with you.
This is not a new method, but it can be very difficult to get the hang of for those of us who have spent our lives in the classroom model of education. Obviously, the Savior used this teaching method in His time, but there have been examples of it in recent times as well. Neil Flinders called it, "Agency Education." BYUI calls it their, "Learning Model." Baden-Powell called it, "Scouting."
Is that an exageration? I really do not think it is too far from the truth. As I read through the points in the outline here, it struck me how similar they are to the points made in Trails to Testimony. I believe as Scout leaders and other leaders of youth combine what they learn in training and what we can learn from this teaching method, as it is being given to us by Church leaders, they will see how well the two compliment each other, how they share many aspects, as well as how they can enhance each other.
These are some of the thoughts I had as I read through the points summarizing the way the Savior taught, as they relate to Scouting:
"He loved them, prayed for them, and continually served them... He knew who they were and who they could become." It really does make all the difference in the world when you think of each boy individually, what his needs are, what his strengths are. And we should always be focused on helping the boys "become." My favorite thing about the "Capturing the Vision of Scouting" Ensign article last year was the pictures. There were three or four pictures of young men in outdoor experiences having their pictures taken. On the camera each time was a picture of the missionary the boy could become.
"He prepared Himself." Leaders of youth need constant spiritual and temporal preparation to be successful. I noticed throughout the church website an emphasis on leaders nurturing their own habits of daily prayer and scripture study. Remember the most important of the "four T's" is Testimony. How can we expect to be good examples and mentors without a strong foundation in the gospel? The second most important T is Training. Being well prepared includes ongoing training, as well as carefully preparing for each class, lesson or activity.
"He used the scriptures..." Do we find opportunities to use the scriptures in Scouting activities? Why not? Draw on the experiences of Nephi and Moses. Help the boys "liken them" to their own lives. Help them see how the courage of Abinidi, Ammon and Moroni relates to them.
"He shared simple stories, parables and real-life examples... He asked questions that caused them to think and feel deeply." Scout leaders have the opportunity to share real-life experiences with their boys, then use reflections to help the boys learn to glean eternal truths from those experiences. A few good questions after an activity can help the boys learn to feel and think deeply.
"He trusted them, prepared them, and gave them important responsibilities to teach, bless and serve others... He invited them to act in faith and live the truths He taught... In every setting, He was their example and mentor." If those three sentences do not perfectly describe the role of a Scoutmaster, I do not know what would.