The Presentation of a Lesson

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 11 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, The Hyles Sunday School Manual)

The teacher has now prepared himself physically, mentally, and spiritually to teach. He has prepared his lesson throughout the entire week. He has arrived early enough to prepare his pupils. We now come to the climax of the week - the teaching of the lesson. This is the purpose of the Sunday school. This is what it is all about. There are several things that he should remember.

1. Leave all quarterlies and helps at home. Remember, the Bible is the textbook! The lesson should be taught from the Bible. As boys and girls grow older, they should have memories of a teacher standing with the Word of God before them at Sunday school. How many times have I attended Sunday schools where the Bible was not even present! The teacher just got up and read what some man said about the lesson. The purpose of the Sunday school is to teach what God said, not what man says. Teach from the Bible!

2. Do not make any pupil read or talk. Many people quit Sunday schools because they are embarrassed to attend. Some do not read well. Some cannot think on their feet. When asked to read a verse, they decided they would rather not return. When asked to pray, they were completely embarrassed and unable to respond. It is certainly advisable for the teacher to contact a pupil before the class session and privately ask him if he would read a verse, offer a prayer, or make a comment. It should be the law of the Medes and Persians for no pupil to be required to read or talk in the Sunday school class.

3. Seek limited participation. Do not ask the pupil to read a verse and tell what he gets out of it. The teacher is not there to find out what the student gets out of it. The pupils are there to find out what the teacher has gotten out of it through long hours of study during the week. The teacher may review by seeking limited participation. Sentences that the pupils can complete in unison and questions that can be answered in one word without embarrassment are certainly in order. Other than this, however, it is wise to use the lecture method in teaching.

4. Be the right age for your pupils. Be sure that you approach them at their age level. Become an expert on knowing the age of your pupils, their likes, their dislikes, etc. This is very vital in teaching the proper lesson. Many good lessons have been wasted because they were presented in terms which were over the heads of their listeners. This is also true concerning sermons. Jesus always met people on their own level. He spoke of the lost coin, a lost boy, a lost sheep, a farmer, a man going forth to sow, a fellow who got robbed, etc. Simple illustrations that are down to earth and appropriate certainly aid in the teaching of a lesson.

5. Stay on the subject. Questions should be answered if they pertain to the lesson, but the lesson should never get away from the teacher. Remember, teacher, you have prepared all week. Be sure you transfer your knowledge to them. It is also wise to remember that teaching is not a display of knowledge, but a transfer of knowledge. Do not get off the subject.

6. Teach until the final bell rings or until it is time to dismiss. It is the unforgivable sin in our Sunday school if someone dismisses their class early. We have so little time; let us use it wisely! The public school have them for five days, seven or eight hours a day. We have them for about an hour on Sunday morning. Let us take advantage of every moment and not waste a bit of it.

7. Make Sunday school seem part of the preaching service. When I taught a child’s Sunday school class, the reason I did not have a closing prayer was that I did not want the pupils to get the idea that there were two services, but rather one. We simple dismissed by saying, “Now we go to the auditorium for the rest of the services.”

8. Use visual aids in the presentation of the lesson. It is accepted by all experts on teaching that pupils retain more of what they see than what they hear. To be sure, it is important that they hear the Word of God taught. It is also important that their eyes are used in the reception of truth. Of course, in the field of visual aids, we immediately think of the chalkboard. Every class should be provided with a chalkboard, eraser, and an ample supply of chalk.

Many Sunday schools find it very helpful to use flannelgraph in their teaching the Bible. This is especially good for small children, but often it is an expensive item. Because of this it is wise for the teacher to learn to make his own flannelgraph materials. This can be done and is very effective.

The teacher should also be on the lookout for appropriate pictures in magazines, newspapers, etc. It would be wise for a teacher to keep an eye open for pictures which can be used in the teaching of the Word of God. I can still recall one of my Sunday school teachers many years ago taking pictures of liquor ads, tearing them up, putting them on the floor, and stomping on them in an effort to increase our hatred for that which is evil.

There are visual aids, however, which are very seldom recognized as such. The proper use of the hands, the face, and the body certainly add to the teaching of the Word of God. Oftentimes I have regained the attention of an audience by saying nothing, but by simply moving the body. Sometimes even a silent facial expression can be a help. The truth is that silence itself is often a wonderful aid in teaching.

9. Review and preview. There is no way to learn without repetition. When a series of lessons are being taught, it is vital that the main points be reviewed each week. At the present time in our Sunday school we are teaching a series of lessons on the Tabernacle. Each week I begin my class by reviewing the main points all the way back to the first lesson.

Then it may help the attendance for the next Sunday if the pupils have a little preview of the next lesson. This often can whet an appetite and be just the thing that tilts the scales toward their coming next week.


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