Guest Author - Shannon Swanson
Every effective teacher not only asks questions, but knows which questions to ask. Take the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. After her accusers left, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10)
Much can be said as to the purpose of these questions. Here is a woman who has been caught by a number of men in the act of sin and knew it and was about to be killed for it. Now they chose to set her free. Her answer to Jesus, “No man, Lord,” was, in a way, her testament that he had worked a miracle on her behalf, and that he was, indeed, her Lord.
Just look through the New Testament and you’ll find that The Great Teacher made asking questions a habit and method of teaching, probably because, when guided in the right direction, we are our own best teachers. So how can we as teachers come up with the right questions to ask during a lesson?
In our teaching manuals, there are often suggested questions at the end of the lesson, and they are always appropriate and great questions to ask. But many times we are asked to teach out of talks given in at General Conference or some other source, or may want to personalize our lessons more to the specific needs of our audience. For this, I have come up with four no-fail questions that every teacher can ask during a lesson.
1. Does anyone have any experiences they would like to share about this topic?
You may want to precede this question with an experience of your own. It is true that people love hearing stories, but if you can share one first, it will help break the ice and make sure that the topic isn’t too personal to share in the circumstances. Plus, questions like these help everyone get to know everyone else better and it helps personalize the lesson.
2. What does this show/tell us about our relationship to our Savior?
The Gospel is centered around Jesus Christ, so every topic we teach goes back to Him and what He has done for us. This is always a great question to ask because many times we can get caught up in the topic itself and forget about Christ and how He made things possible for us.
3. What is the difference between ____ and ____?
This is a question that will help define exactly what you are teaching about. Take the topic and line it up with something similar. When you talk about the similarities and differences, it helps you gain a better understanding of the topic itself. For example, what is the difference between faith and hope? What is the difference between a bad habit and an addiction? Between prayer and meditation? Inspiration and revelation?
4. Where can we find an example of this from the scriptures?
If you already have some scriptures cited to read in your lesson, this serves as a great lead into those. Plus, this question reminds us to always use our scriptures with every lesson, something that I know I easily forget! It helps us remember to learn and to love reading from the scriptures, so if there are a few examples that people give, maybe you could take one of those and open the scriptures to briefly read about it. Just be sure to point out how it pertains to your topic in the end so that it can be shown in a possible new light.
These four questions can easily be remembered for any lesson, and they are great to use since they help the lesson branch out into four different areas of learning: personal experience, our relationship to Christ, how we define what we are learning about or what the topic is to us and learning to read from the scriptures. Asking these questions (as well as any others that you feel inspired to ask) can help you teach just about any lesson more effectively.