Podcast: Help! Teaching in Gospel Settings with John Hilton III

John HiltonIn this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales visits with John Hilton III about teaching in church settings.

John has spent a good deal of his adult life working in religious education. He began his teaching career in the seminary and institute program and was hired by the BYU Department of Ancient Scripture after earning a PhD in education. He is also a popular speaker and author of several books for youth.

Hilton helped develop a “know, feel, and do” model for effective religious teaching. President Thomas S. Monson said that “the goal of gospel teaching is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of [learners]. … The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, then do something about living gospel principles.” Hilton’s method aims to accomplish these goals.

To have a successful class, whether it is Gospel Doctrine or Come Follow Me or Seminary, students should learn something new, feel something positive, and should be able to apply what they learn in their lives.

As a professional teacher, Hilton shares insights on what inspires and motivates students to learn and to be invested in the learning experience. He also gives practical suggestions on how to prepare lessons that are impactful.

Most gospel teachers do so on a volunteer basis, don’t have any formal training in education, and often struggle just to make it through a lesson while keeping the class’s attention. According to Hilton, creative teaching techniques can lead to a positive experience for both the student and the teacher.

Listen in as we discuss how mnemonic devices, reviews, creative teaching, group activities, personal interaction, and careful preparation can help us all become effective teachers.

A transcript of this podcast can be found at LDS Perspectives.

1 thought on “Podcast: Help! Teaching in Gospel Settings with John Hilton III

  1. While I have experienced bad teaching, I am primarily blessed to experience highly effective teaching in Church settings.

    One of the challenges we have is that there is a wide range between different students in classes, given various levels of teaching in the home and the continual influx of new converts. So it is good and necessary to touch on the basics in each class, even though many in the class may feel that they already know the basics.

    Another interesting element is when class members contribute and they are teaching that which isn’t actually correct. For example, I remember a Relief Society lesson I was teaching decades ago where the subject of mental health came up. One woman forcefully asserted that there is no such thing as mental illness, that if you present with mental illness it is merely a manifestation of sin that hasn’t been resolved. As a teacher I knew in that moment that to engage her in debate would be ugly, and I trusted that most people who didn’t hold that opinion would realize her statement was false. In a class with a clear differentiation between the experience level of teacher and student, I would have handled that differently. And if that were to happen today, I would handle it differently, because we have General Conference addresses refuting the old folkways denying the reality of mental illness amongst the faithful.

    I am privileged to have my daughters as peers in Relief Society. I love to see their enthusiasm for Visiting Teaching and their embrace of gospel tenets. It is enlightening to hear their frustration with popular culture, and the way they clearly articulate rejection of problematic social trends. Where for the generation before me women and men often had little practical experience with dealing with certain sorts of issues, I did have practical experience with those issues (e.g., knowing people who were attracted by the LGBTQIA lifestyle). My daughters not only have practical experience with those issues, but they are concerns that are reflected in the lives of many of their peers. And so their manner of holding to the gospel while reaching out to their friends is marvelous to watch.

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