If you are someone who participates in gospel lessons, even to the point of making your imperfections apparent, thank you.
You’re fully engaged in the lesson and desirous to contribute. You raise your hand and bravely offer a comment. It soars into the discussion with all the beauty, strength, and brilliance you can give it, but it hardly goes anywhere before it’s shot down—rejected, forgotten.
Or you may have a teacher who shoots pure doctrine through the comment, leaving it airborne—respected and appreciated—but also putting what you may feel is an ugly hole through the incorrect segment.
Such catastrophes may make us want teachers to embrace the philosophy that “the fact that the student was willing to respond [should be] enough to allow any response to stand uncorrected.”
What’s wrong with the approach of just leaving answers alone? Among the reasons Wessel gives are these: (1) teachers have a duty to ensure that we get more than “a crowd-sourced understanding,” (2) wrong answers often illuminate teaching opportunities, and (3) a well-intentioned statement simply doesn’t have the same promise of the Spirit that a clear, true statement does.
This need for gentle, appropriate correction applies to three categories of answers that Wessel specifically addresses: partly correct answers, perfect answers at the wrong moment, and wrong answers with a basis in correct principles.
So should we just remain completely silent and let the teacher give us correct principles? Absolutely not. Wessel says, “A lack of feedback impedes an individual’s ability to make an optimal choice.” Although our answers must sometimes be corrected and our sincere comments may occasionally flutter or come crashing down, we may be helping enable the class discussion to soar.
Read Ryan J Wessel’s article “Responding to Wrong Answers.”
Source: Religious Studies Center
—Austin Tracy, Mormon Insights
feature image courtesy of spacex
Find more insights
Read the section “To the Learner: Your Voice Matters” at the end of the article “Conducting a Well-Tuned Gospel Discussion” by Dustin West.
Discover how to continue on despite imperfections in Tyler Garrett’s Mormon Insights article “Reassurance amid Weakness.”
Learn to appreciate correction by pondering Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten.”