Should a teacher always follow the manual?

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“Should a teacher always follow the manual?” Ensign, Aug. 1980, 33

Should a teacher always follow the manual? Can he or she draw from other sources as well?

Grant E. Barton, manager of adult curriculum, Church Curriculum Planning and Development Division The Church-approved and produced lesson manual is a vital part of a teacher’s preparation. Each teacher should read and study the designated lesson. However, he will also find it useful to consult other approved sources, such as the Gospel Principles manual, the new scriptural helps (see October 1979 Ensign), and the general conference addresses, especially those of the living prophet.

A teacher who reads through these approved sources and prays to understand the needs of class members is entitled to inspiration so that he may teach by the Spirit. The Lord has counseled teachers to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85). When teachers are “strong in the knowledge of the truth” and have “given themselves to much prayer, and fasting,” they will teach with the “power and authority of God” (Alma 17:2–3).

A teacher is like a good cook. A cook takes basic foods and, using appropriate tools, prepares, seasons, and garnishes an appealing and nutritious meal; he then serves it with enthusiasm. Similarly, the teacher starts with basic eternal truths and, using the tools which the Lord has provided (the scriptures, Church resources, and prayer), he seasons and garnishes a lesson with an inspirational experience, a chart, a thought-provoking question, or a small-group experience. In short, he serves up an interesting and accurate spiritual feast, always accompanied by his fervent personal witness.

The Church-prepared manual provides the teacher with well-researched, correlated, and approved lessons for teaching the gospel to class members. But the teacher must provide the prayerful study, the testimony, the setting, the enthusiasm, and, often, an adaptation of explanations and illustrations. Through spiritual preparation, a teacher can speak “by the power of the Holy Ghost,” and eternal truths can be carried with renewed import “unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Ne. 33:1).