1 Religious and Secular Education Differ

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 8–9


Principle to Emphasize

Religious education is different from secular education in both what is taught—saving principles—and how it is taught—by the Spirit in a way that edifies (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders [1994], 2).

Suggested Training Activities(40 minutes)

Discussion

Ask teachers: What are some of the similarities and differences between religious and secular education? (see handbook, 2). Discuss teachers’ answers.

Definitions

Distribute copies of handout 1. Read the definitions together as a group. Invite teachers to analyze how these definitions help us distinguish the differences between religious and secular education. Ask: In what ways are the saving principles of the gospel “ultimate reality”?

Religious: “Relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity” (Merriam- Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. [1998], 988). Secular: “Of or relating to the worldly or temporal . . . not overtly or specif. religious” (Webster’s Collegiate, 1056). Educate: “To persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way” (Webster’s Collegiate, 367).

Handbook

Invite teachers to read the first paragraph on page 2 of the handbook. Ask: What are the two categories of differences between religious and secular education? (What is taught and how it is taught.) After teachers identify these two categories, invite them to carefully read the paragraph under “What Is Taught” and the first two paragraphs under “How It Is Taught” on that page. Ask:

  1. What should be taught in religious education? (see handbook, 2).

  2. How should it be taught?

  3. How does the Lord describe effective teaching? (see handbook, 2).

  4. What does it mean to edify? (see handbook, 2).

  5. Why do you think it is important to understand the differences between religious and secular education?

  6. What might happen if a CES teacher attempted to provide religious education in a secular manner?

Video

Show presentation 2, “‘Heavenly Things’” (8:46). Ask teachers to look for two aspects of religious education as the Savior teaches Nicodemus of heavenly things—what the Savior taught (the saving principles of the gospel) and how He taught it (by the Spirit in a way that edified).

Ask teachers:

  1. What did you learn about religious education from the Savior’s example?

  2. What examples of “teaching saving principles” did you notice as the Savior taught Nicodemus?

  3. What examples of “teaching by the Spirit in a way that edifies” did you notice?

  4. How can you tell if you have taught “by the Spirit in a way that edifies”?

  5. What difference would it make in your classroom if you were to focus more on teaching the saving principles of the gospel by the Spirit in a way that edifies?

Scripture Activity

Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 together as if it were a statement of fact. Ask teachers: What does this verse seem to mean when read this way? Now read the verse together again as if it were a command. Ask:

  1. How did reading the verse this way change its meaning?

  2. Does this verse advise teachers to dismiss class if they feel the Spirit is not present? Why not?

  3. How can a “prayer of faith” change such a situation?

Quotation

Read and discuss the statement from handout 1 by President Howard W. Hunter, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Teach with the Spirit

I take this verse D&C 42:14] to mean not only that we should not teach without the Spirit, but also that we really cannot teach without it. Learning of spiritual things simply cannot take place without the instructional and confirming presence of the Spirit of the Lord” (Eternal Investments [address to religious educators, 10 Feb. 1989], 3).

Handbook

Invite teachers to read the statement by President David O. McKay in the gray box on page 2 of the handbook. Ask teachers: How can you apply this principle in your teaching?

Writing Exercise

Invite teachers to write how they will focus more on teaching the saving principles of the gospel by the Spirit in a way that edifies.