GCBC Week 5: Gospel Learning and Teaching

“Gospel Learning and Teaching

David M. McConkie

First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency


Today in church, I leaned over to Matt and said, “I miss teaching.  I’m a much better learner as a teacher than I am as a learner.”  I found it interesting to approach this talk simply in my role as a mother, since I don’t currently have the opportunity to teach a class.  I liked his example about directing questions to the handbook, and doing the same in turning our children to the scriptures.  I’d like to do more of that, and it’s obviously easier to do the more familiar I am with the scriptures myself.

The other point that stood out to me the most, because it’s a point I’ve been reminded of in many ways lately because I must need the reminder, was the challenge to ask the Lord’s help to know and meet the needs of my children.

“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.”

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What did the talk make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.


17 thoughts on “GCBC Week 5: Gospel Learning and Teaching

  1. The attitude of the teacher is so important…I totally agree. And I see this in my kid’s reaction to things a lot lately. My tone of voice alone when discussing something alters their perception. I once had this awesome statistics teacher in college who was so psyched about her course that it made us remedial math, liberal arts kids get really excited about it too. She was a powerful example of this. I try to be that way with my kids…

  2. First, I just want to express thanks for this showing up in my google reader on Monday morning. I’ve been wanting to start participating, and today I just decided to do it. I feel certain it will have been the best choice I could have made.

    I was interested in the idea that you have to immerse yourselves in the scriptures in order to teach them, if only because I recognize that those moments when I receive inspiration as a teacher and scriptures spring to mind are from my own study and participation in the gospel. I may not know exactly where they are (thank you, lds.org!), but I know what they say, which makes it entirely possible for me to find it and, in the process, heed the Spirit’s promptings.

    I also really liked this quote by President Monson: “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.” When I try to do this, I am blessed. As a learner, when the teacher does this, I am blessed. There’s nothing like watching a teacher respond to an unexpected prompting of the Spirit. I watched this happen yesterday, and it was inspirational and powerful. We don’t necessarily think of this as referring to anyone else but ourselves, but it works on multiple levels.

    Though I still believe that it is as much the responsibility of the learner as it is the teacher to reap the rewards of a lesson (that’s a lesson I’ve received from my Institute director), this is so good to remind us how we can be better, more effective, more powerful teachers. When we approach our tasks with the right spirit, we will be blessed.

    Thanks for the opportunity to study and think a little!

  3. I just finished teaching a Primary class that had a couple of challenging children. I used to leave Church on the verge of a major headache and mental meltdown myself until I started really praying to know how to teach these kids. Some weeks were more successful than others, but approaching that class after prayer made it much more manageable.

    • Jan, it seems to me that some of the challenging children are the ones needing the most love/kindness/patience, doesn’t it? I learned to: strive looking at them ‘through the eyes of the Savior’…..that really made a difference in my stress levels. God be with you for the great service you are giving. Teachers don’t often know how they truly are changing lives.

  4. Not only am I contributing this week, but I’m not procrastinating until the last day!

    My favorite part of this talk was the last key point, to act in accordance with the spiritual promptings we receive. What good does it do for us to receive promptings if we do nothing about it? Great thoughts.

    I also want to add that some of my favorite lessons have been when the teacher introduces the topic, shares a personal story about something he/she has learned from that topic, and bears testimony of the truthfulness of it. It seems so much more heartfelt when there is a personal story mixed in, rather than just reading straight from the manual/talk.

  5. This is a great idea. I’m not sure if that is a talk I would have gone back and listened to myself, so I’m glad for the nudge.
    I love that he is teaching us how to be good learners and have good attitudes. I’m also a primary teacher and completely relate to the above commenter. The weeks that I’ve really learned how to apply the lesson to myself and am excited about the new understanding, are the weeks that class is not such a burden, and my attitude is so much better.

  6. During Conference I only heard bits and pieces of this talk so it was nice to go back and read the whole thing. I recently started doing preschool in my home with my son and a few other kids. This was a good refresher of how I can be a better teacher, both when teaching about spiritual and temperal things. I loved the quote that a subject cannot be taught, it has to be caught. You can definitely see this when teaching preschoolers. If they have “caught” it then they are interested and having fun. If they haven’t “caught” it then things usually don’t go as well as I had planned. I also need to be better about loving what I am teaching because this can help them “caught” the subject and importance of the lesson. When I know what I am going to say and do thing go smoothly. If I am jumping around and unorganized then the kids are usually jumping around too 🙂

  7. I teach Gospel Doctrine in our ward to a class which hovers somewhere between 60 and 100 adults, depending upon the flux of the world. While listening to this talk during conference the part that stuck out to me was when Elder McConkie said there is not a class too large to pray for. I need to do that better. I have had many experiences while teaching this class where my personal study has provided the thing I needed to say to respond to a comment or to take the discussion in the right direction. On weeks when my personal study is lacking, my lesson is often lackluster and especially lacking in that spiritual “zing” necessary to make it the Lord’s lesson and not mine. I hate it when I end up teaching “by myself.”

    I was inspired on Sunday to start connecting our FHE lessons more completely to the current Conference talks and since this post was on my Reader, it was a perfect place to start. We talked about the 4 steps of gospel learning (study, apply, seek the Spirit and follow its promptings). Because my family is young, I will not know how much of the lesson actually stuck (these things are not always apparent during a lesson with poking, prodding and wrestling). The ideas went so well with this month’s Primary theme (come unto Christ), since we can’t come unto Him unless we learn about Him and what He expects of us; I can only hope that continually filling their heads with the patterns and formulas with which to go Home will actually help them get there and me too in the process.

  8. This talk was an unexpected tugging at my heart, mostly in form of missing the teaching days. I taught for 2 years and my last year teaching full time, I was in a bad mood half the time (and I partially blame it on the age group… 6th grade). I know this was in reference to teaching in church, but it very well could apply to teaching professionally as well.

    I loved the quote: “What matters most in learning is attitude. The attitude of the teacher.” This, obviously, made me think of maybe how my last set of kids perceived me. And then I thought of how different my first year and my second year were, in my attitude from each year. I had a better relationship with my 4th graders because I had a better attitude about my job. And then I felt bad bc I cheated my 6th graders that second year. Repent, and be better I suppose.

    So when I thought about this, I thought about how this applies to parenthood because parenting *is* teaching. The most effective way to teach is to have a good attitude, even when it hurts. I hope I remember all this when it comes time for me to fulfill that job.

    And as a random side note, I loved this quote: “Studying the scriptures trains us to hear the Lord’s voice.” Being around non-members, I hear all sorts of different versions of the Bible quoted, most of them in modern every day language. Every time I hear the scriptures modified/modernized, it makes me more grateful for my KJV Bible. I do feel like scriptural language helps us recognize God’s voice in our lives.

    All in all a good talk. It hurt, but it hurt good 🙂

  9. I really enjoyed Elder McConkie’s talk. There were many one-liners that I wrote when taking notes.

    “What matters most in learning is attitude. The attitude of the teacher.”

    “A teacher’s attitude is not taught; it’s caught.”

    “Immerse yourself in the scriptures. We cannot love what we do not know.”

    “As we earnestly search and ponder the word of the Lord, we will have His Spirit with us. We will become acquainted with His voice.”

    and others. His talk can be applied not only as a gospel teacher at church but as a gospel teacher at home as a parent where we have many more teaching moments and much greater influence.

    With my oldest becoming teenagers we have been putting an emphasis on learning how to recognize the Spirit so we are not deceived and then acting on those promptings immediately. I appreciate Elder McConkie’s words on that subject towards the end of his talk.

  10. I watched all of Conference but for some reason I just do not remember this talk. Perhaps my son was making a fuss during this one. But I loved reading it! I was excited about this “Conference Book Club” when I first discovered it, but this is my first time posting. I hope to be around more often. 🙂

    At first I was thinking of this talk in terms of my calling as a Relief Society instructor in our last ward, but as I continued reading I realized that it doesn’t apply to me in that context anymore, but it will ALWAYS apply to me in my role as a mother. A question that he asks struck me especially: “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?” Or, in my words, ‘… to know and meet the needs of each person in your family?” This is something that I don’t do nearly often enough, and I’m grateful for the reminder and prompting. I really feel like this simple act alone will change my attitude and interactions with my husband, son, my parents, and my in-laws. I also really appreciate the reminder to immerse myself in the scriptures, so that I might know the gospel and be ABLE to teach it to my children. I want to be able tot each them by example, and not by simply telling them what they ought to be doing.

    I loved the part when he talked about how he realized that he just needed to read the Handbook, and that we in turn should turn to the scriptures for answers to our questions about life. His comment that it is not in accordance with the economy of Heaven for the Lord to answer each one of our petitions individually that he has already answered collectively is common sense, but for some reason made a lightbulb go off in my head. It makes me want to “feast upon the words of Christ” and find answers to some of the questions that I’ve long felt were being unanswered. Perhaps I just haven’t been seeking my answers through the right channels. 🙂

    I loved this talk! I feel so inspired to apply its teachings in my life. Thank you so much for this wonderful “book club!”

  11. I remember when I first heard this talk in Conference because I had just recently been called as Gospel Doctrine Teacher. I appreciated so much what he said about praying for our class. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in “just teaching the lesson” and not really seeking the Spirit to help me know how best to meet the needs of those in the class.

    I know that the Lord has helped me to love those who are in the class and to really listen to their comments and learn from them as well.

    I love studying the scriptures. The scripture in D & C 11:20 is a favorite–it is so clear as to what we need to be doing–“behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind, and strength.”

  12. This is a timely message for me. My husband and I teach the Valiant 9 class in our ward and it has had quite the reputation in Primary. I didn’t come in until a few months after my husband started, and he really has embraced this calling.

    We give our kids homework, a small section of the lesson that they have to answer questions about. The reading assignments are based on what each kid can handle. This has really helped our class learn more and be more attentive.

    I really appreciate the 4 suggestions for teachers and hope to be better about following the promptings I have received about our class. I also liked the stories he provided about teachers of our latterday prophets and how they helped them learn about the gospel.

  13. I love that this talk applies to different aspects in my own life; as a teacher in the Young Women, and as a young mother. I have always loved general conference, but as I have become a mother I have come to depend and rely on the counsel that is given during conference. The four steps that he gave were nothing new, but a great reminder of the things that I should be doing as a teacher and mother.

    • Some of the part of the talk that jumped at me was the same as others.

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

      2. “As we earnestly search and ponder the word of the Lord, we will have His Spirit with us. We will become acquainted with His voice.”

      3. “Studying the scriptures trains us to hear the Lord’s voice

      4. “Without the Spirit REAL learning is not going to take place.”

      5. “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.”

      All require action on our part. It doesn’t just happen. 🙂

  14. As I read this talk yesterday, I thought of how I teach my kids. I should be their best teacher. I have much room for improvement. I like how he said that the first step is to immerse ourselves in the scriptures. After that we apply the things we learn and that is how we will best teach. I’m not sure how to go about immersing myself in the scriptures, but I will do my best. Any ideas?

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