Principles of Teaching
PURPOSES BEHIND TEACHING
The worth of souls.—The Father's joy in the soul that is saved.—The teacher's responsibility.—Teaching, a sacred calling.—Our Church a teaching Church.
Our three-fold purpose in Teaching:
- a—To guarantee salvation of the individual members of the Church.
- b—To pass on the wonderful heritage handed down by our pioneer forefathers.
- c—To make more easily possible the conversion of the world.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
"And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance;
"And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth.
"Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people;
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto his people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father?
"And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me?" (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 18:10-16.)
"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)
If this is the work and glory of the Lord, how great must be the responsibility of the teachers of Zion, His copartners in the business of saving humankind! Next to parenthood, teaching involves us in the most sacred relationship known to man. The teacher akin to the parent is the steward of human souls—his purpose to bless and to elevate.
The first great question that should concern the Latter-day Saint teacher is, "Why do I teach?" To appreciate fully the real purposes behind teaching is the first great guarantee of success. For teaching is "no mere job"—it is a sacred calling—a trust of the Lord Himself under the divine injunction, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15). For the teacher who has caught a glimpse of his real responsibility there is no indifference, no eleventh-hour preparation, no feeling of unconcern about the welfare of his pupils between lessons—for him there is constant inspiration in the thought, "To me is given the privilege of being the cupbearer between the Master and His children who would drink at His fountain of truth."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been variously designated by those not of us: "The Great Industrial Church," "The Church of Pioneers," "The Church of Wonderful Organization." It might well be called "The Teaching Church." There is scarcely a man or woman in it that has not at some time been asked to respond to the call of teacher. Our people have been a remarkable people because they have been remarkably taught—taught of the Lord and His prophets. Our future can be secure only as it is guaranteed this same good teaching. Every teacher must come to realize that "Mormonism" is at stake when he teaches. "Why do I teach?" goes to the very heart of teaching.
The answer to this question is to be found, in part at least, in the three-fold objectives of our Church. First, the salvation and exaltation of the individual soul. As already pointed out, this is the very "work and glory" of the Father. Man is born into the world a child of divinity—born for the purpose of development and perfection. Life is the great laboratory in which he works out his experiment of eternity. In potentiality, a God—in actuality, a creature of heredity, environment, and teaching. "Why do I teach?" To help someone else realize his divinity—to assist him to become all that he might become—to make of him what he might not be but for my teaching.
Someone has jocularly said: "The child is born into the world half angel, half imp. The imp develops naturally, the angel has to be cultivated." The teacher is the great cultivator of souls. Whether we say the child is half angel and half imp, we know that he is capable of doing both good and evil and that he develops character as he practices virtue and avoids vice. We know, too, that he mentally develops. Born with the capacity to do, he behaves to his own blessing or condemnation. There is no such thing as static life. To the teacher is given the privilege of pointing to the higher life. He is the gardener in the garden of life. His task is to plant and to cultivate the flowers of noble thoughts and deeds rather than to let the human soul grow up to weeds. This purpose becomes all the more significant when we realize that the effects of our teaching are not only to modify a life here of three-score and ten—they are impressions attendant throughout eternity....