Youth and Sunday School lesson curricula are changing for 2013! Long awaited changes to the Young Women manual are (finally) being implemented! The new lesson curriculum, Come Follow Me, will require more thoughtful preparation by teachers, but I think it will result in stronger testimonies in our youth. Teachers will become less like lecturers, and more like guides, helping students gain testimony of gospel truths through discovery. Youth will learn to share their testimonies to others. Consider the following from the new manual:
Each learning outline in Come, Follow Me focuses on questions that youth may have and doctrine that can help them find answers to those questions. Learning outlines are not meant to prescribe what you will say and do as you teach. They are designed to help you learn the doctrine for yourself and prepare to engage the youth in powerful learning experiences. Tailor these experiences to their interests and needs. Consider ways you can inspire them to act for themselves in seeking, finding, and sharing answers to their own gospel questions. (Learning Outlines)
I can't tell you how excited I am about this! Mutual activities will become meaningful events centered around gospel learning instead of simple socialization. An assignment or challenge given on Sunday can be followed up at mutual and again the following Sunday for better follow-through. If you run out of time during a lesson thanks to a great discussion -- no worries. Cover that important point at mutual.
In light of the new changes in Come Follow Me, a redesign of the Young Women section of this site (and others) will be necessary. I think that the focus will/should become lesson on getting that great handout or great quote, and instead on finding teaching techniques that will help youth discover, share, and implement gospel principles. I started a chart a while ago with lesson techniques for a variety of class situations and goals, and I think I may put it into database form. Such a database would be able to be used for many situations, not just in the case of this new curriculum, including Seminary, Sunday School, Youth, Family Home Evening, Relief Society, Priesthood, and other trainings. I'm still thinking of the neccessary architecture to accomplish this goal -- if you have any suggestions, please pass them along in the comments below.
The church has published a guidebook to help teachers and leaders transition to the new lesson format. You should begin familiarizing yourself with the new materials as soon as possible, given the busy holiday season coming.
I don't know what effect this will have on Seminary, but I have wished for years that Seminary was operated under Sunday School, so that the gospel study of youth and adults could be coordinated. Church leaders would be in a support role for families, offering additional information and ideas for teaching and applying gospel messages in their homes. We could divorce Seminary from the school year, and intensive gospel study could take place year round. I don't know what the future is for church gospel study, but I'm excited about these changes, and I can see that when they are effectively and faithfully implemented, great blessings will occur in the lives of our youth.