I am teaching this week and I was asked to let the youth know what I will be teaching so that they can read it too. Or, at the least, give them some assignment by mutual this week that they can do for Sunday. Now that I'm in the middle of getting ready to teach, I can see some advantages and disadvantages to this and I was hoping some of you would help me think through them.
Advantage: giving an assignment has the potential of having everyone on the same page and focused together before we even get to class. In other words, it creates unity.
Advantage: giving an assignment helps youth learn on their own.
Advantage: giving an assignment makes me as the teacher think through what I want to do much sooner.
Advantage: giving an assignment may make the youth more ready to talk and participate.
I like these potential advantages a lot. But, here are some disadvantages I've thought about as I've begun to prepare:
Disadvantage: giving an assignment means that you lock yourself in a little bit to a "plan" and aren't following the Spirit in the moment (unless you are brave and honest enough to just tell the class that the Spirit isn't leading you that way any more, if that's what happens)
Disadvantage: giving an assignment means that you can't set up a context in the classroom for what they are reading. This of course would be more important in some circumstances than others.
Disadvantage: giving an assignment means that everyone comes to the class with their own ideas of what it means, which could actually create a very un-unified class discussion. I've seen this happen in study groups and book groups. Sometimes when we've already had our ideas, it's harder to engage with someone else's; it's easier to just share our idea and hope everyone likes that one instead. :) When that's happened in my study groups, it takes a good half hour before anyone really starts to engage with each other's ideas.
Disadvantage: giving an assignment means that I spend one or two days deciding what to teach instead of an entire week (or more!)
What other advantages or disadvantages do you see?
My purpose here is not to determine whether or not assignments are always good or always bad. My purpose here is to think about the advantages and disadvantages of giving assignments, so I can be better at listening to the Spirit to know when to use them and when not to.
So, any ideas to help us think through this question?