Monday, April 23, 2012

Hand sitting progress...

A while ago I posted about sitting on my hands -- in church classes, that it. I thought I'd let you know know that's going.

I'm relieved that not every idea I have is bad. (One bad one here...)

I have tried to be more measured in my participation in class. I am happy to read, and volunteer to do so. And I'm trying (for now) to limit myself to just one comment. My reasons:

1. To avoid "teaching from the fourth row" -- I want to respect that the instructor has a point of view, a message he or she has prepared, and I want to hear what that is. If I keep interrupting with my great ideas, neither the rest of the class nor I get to hear what the instructor has planned.

2. To avoid monopolizing the conversaton -- more than once I've been in a class where someone comments so much that others kind of shut down and let the instructor and the verbose commenter carry on their dialog. Recently I've realized that sometimes I'm that guy, and I didn't want to be.

3. As much as I like to hear myself talk, I'm trying to limit my pontification to my blog and to my home, where I'm king. (Oh, strike that second part...)

So over the last few weeks, I've been pretty good about it. I substituted for two weeks in my son's Sunday School class, so I got to talk all I wanted there (guided by the lesson manual and the Real Manual (aka, the scriptures), of course).

In priesthood the first week of hand sitting, I responded to a question early on, and the stake president, who was visiting our ward that day, commented on my comment. I was anxious to answer his thoughts, but even as I was putting up my hand, I remembered to sit on it, instead. As it happens, someone else commented on what he said. The conversation did not go in the direction I would have taken it, but the instructor was happy to have several people participating, and that was good.

In Sunday School yesterday, I was a little late to the discussion because I had to follow up with the bishop on another matter. When I joined the class, they were discussing one of my very favorite chapters of all scripture, Mosiah 4. There we learn about our need to serve others, about how our attitude in service is at least as important as our actions, and about how caring for the poor and needy is the way we ensure that we retain our sins' remission that we receive in baptism and in taking the sacrament.

Our teacher had me read verses 21-26. For me, the key is verse 26:

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. (Emphasis mine.)

As our teacher reviewed key verses, he had me read through verse 26, but he did not discuss it. My hand was itching to go up, but I sat on it again. He clearly had somewhere he was heading. After class, he told me that he was going to spend some time on that subject, but because I'd read the verse with the emphasis I marked above, he felt like his point had been made and he moved on.

All in all, so far so good. I am noticing, particularly in my HP group, more participation when I curb my dialog with the instructor. And I'm getting to hear some other points of view besides my own. That can't be a bad thing.


  1. This is great! I need to follow your example, because I tend to monopolize my classes with comments, too.

    It's actually WORSE when I prepare by reading the lesson material beforehand! Yesterday I think I managed to offend the teacher and half the class when I maligned the Crown in a comment (I am American, and I live in England... oops!).

    A work in progress, indeed.

  2. Years ago I started commenting more because it seemed like no one else was and the teacher was waiting for someone to comment so I would hoping that it would encourage others to participate also. But then it started to be almost addicting in the sense that I had too much to comment on and would spontaneously raise my hand to add my two bits. As the commenter above mentioned, if I read the lesson before hand it was even worse.
    Thankfully at some point I had the same thoughts you've mentioned in your post, that I needed to be a hand sitter and limit my comments to one per class. Oh man was that hard at first and still is sometimes, I enjoy a good discussion, but class time is not the time for that. I think it is harder in classes with little participation. If others would participate more then it is easier for me to participate less.

  3. Jenni: "I enjoy a good discussion, but class time is not the time for that."

    I hope we have good discussions in our classes, but I think I understand you mean that the discussions should just be between the commenter and teacher, and I agree with you.

    Thanks to you and Raisin4Cookies for reading and for your comments!

  4. Sorry -- typed too fast in my comment above. I meant to write: I think I understand you to mean that the discussions should not be just between the commenter and teacher."

  5. I have the same problem in HP Group. Maybe that's why we are bloggers?

    Also, best of luck with the "follow up with the bishop on another matter."


  6. I am one of the RS teachers in my ward and my lessons go something like this, "Here is a quote from the manual: ... And now, discuss!" Sometimes I have to give them a minute to warm up, but once they do I find myself losing track of time listening to all the great comments the sisters have to share.

    In order to keep the comments more "on topic" this week I asked the sisters to share quotes and then comment on them, rather than me sharing the quote and asking for comments. It worked out GREAT! The sisters really picked out some great stuff (most of the stuff I would have picked out - but I am sure it was more meaningful to them that THEY got to present it).

    I would not be so brave if we had someone who constantly made off-topic-doctrinally-questionable comments... but most of our sisters stay on topic, so it ends up being a really good gospel discussion. And I don't like to hear myself talk nearly as much as it might seem. I just don't like silence (but I am learning to embrace it as a moment to meditate and ponder - as a teacher I don't need to be talking the whole 40 minutes... yikes)

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