You may have heard some version of the following saying that has become a guiding proverb to many teachers: “If you give a man a fish, he will have food for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will have food for the rest of his life.”
When it comes to seeking answers to doctrinal, historical, or social questions, teaching students to “fish” is becoming increasingly important in our day. What our students gain in their efforts to discover answers for themselves will generally be more personally meaningful and enduring than if we simply explain answers to them. Consider using these resources in the following ways:
- Learn for yourself. As you study these resources, you can be more prepared to respond to doctrinal, historical, and social questions from students as recommended by President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the ‘best books,’ as the Lord directed. … Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half-truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down” (“The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Feb. 26, 2016]).
- Help students learn for themselves. Apply the principles of helping others acquire spiritual knowledge as you guide students through their process of discovery. The following are examples of using these resources in this way:
- Direct your students to the most helpful materials. Instead of simply sending students to these resources generally, you might research ahead of time, looking for specific scriptures, talks, articles, or other information that best address students’ questions or concerns. Then direct them to those specific resources to begin their search.
- You might sit down with a student who has questions and show him or her how to navigate through these resources to find the information most relevant to his or her specific needs.
- Follow through by helping students discuss what they find. You might invite them to discuss what they are finding with you, their parents, and their local church leaders. Help students understand that they can learn much from engaging in their own journey to acquire spiritual knowledge.