Monday, January 11, 2010
My friend BiV's blog tipped me off to an article appearing in the Church News that counsels teachers to not rely on outside sources or websites, but to stick to the approved and correlated manuals. Including the quote, "Everything you need — and more — is in your manual."
Since we might be one of those websites the article alludes to, obviously this concerns us greatly. It's an issue that both Jeans and I have wrestled with, sometimes even publicly in this space. Wanting to be obedient, wanting to follow the direction of Salt Lake, but also finding such a huge discrepancy between what the teaching materials offer and what our girls need.
Of the two of us, I have always been the most vocally critical one, but in case I haven't been plain enough, let me say here: I really dislike these manuals. I almost always love the topics chosen, with the occasional eye roll when we have four priesthood lessons in a row and a longing for more lessons addressing Christian virtues, and there are occasionally some truly profound gems to teach, but on the whole they are dated, vaguely sexist, and totally out of touch with our modern girls. These manuals were written pre-Internet for goodness sakes! With extremely few exceptions, I almost always have to teach around something that makes me cringe.
I have also spoken with people who have worked in correlation, and the picture they paint of their work is far different from this vision of inspired from the voice of the Lord dictation. I had one friend tell me of including jokes in the lessons to tease the reviewers, and he had to yank the manuscript back to remove them before they were sent to the First Presidency because no one had caught them yet. I don't mean to deny the moments of inspiration that have occurred in the production of all our manuals, but they are not scripture.
I really don't think the article was written with us at Beginnings New in mind. Over at some other Bloggernacle sites there have been some interesting tales of people correcting historically inaccurate information included in the manuals while they were sitting in Gospel Doctrine. There are a *whole lot* of troublesome things in our past that the Church has historically brushed aside, and the internet really makes that strategy unworkable. And of course there's always the problem of misinformation - just because you read it on the internet, doesn't make it true of course, and there are loads of people with motivation to spin things in an unfavorable light. So maybe there are a lot of GD teachers out there expounding on the sad facts of polygamy instead of the other aspects of Joseph's life.
But nevertheless, we are definitely a website offering lesson helps to supplement the correlated manuals.
What do you guys think about this? Could you bring yourself to teach straight from these manuals? And what would you do with all the rest of your class time?