Sunday, October 28, 2012

Open Questions, Awkward Answers

Sometimes when teaching children, one method I've seen employed is what I term the, "guess the mind of the teacher" method.  This is where you ask an open ended question, but you have a "correct" answer in mind that you are trying to get the children to guess.  There's not necessarily anything wrong with this method.  However, I've noticed that sometimes an open ended question leads to a myriad of answers that you did not foresee.

For example, today we were in Sharing Time (this is where all of the Primary children of various ages get together to sing songs and have a lesson).  The woman who was giving the lesson put up a bunch of different pictures.
These are two of the pictures she put up.  (The top is Adam and Eve from the Bible, the bottom is Lehi and his family from the Book of Mormon.)
She asked the children what the different pictures had in common.  She was looking for something about prophets.  But, I'm pretty sure the answers she got were not quite what she was looking for:

  • "There are people in them."
  • "They are on the ground."
  • "The people have faces."
  • "The people are nice."

She might not have gotten what she was looking for, but it was far less awkward than a lesson we had a while back.  In this particular lesson, our Bishop had come in to teach the children.  He was teaching about how men get the priesthood and all members are able to receive blessings through the priesthood.  However, his open ended question was perhaps not as well thought out as it should have been.

He asked the children, "What is something that only boys have?  It starts with a P."  There were some kids who raised their hands as fast as they could, because they knew they had the answer to this one.  It turns out, there is a part of the male anatomy that starts with a P.  These children proudly declared it when called upon.

The Bishop did a good job of just moving on, but the awkwardness was palpable.

So, when asking open ended questions to small children, you may want to think about what all the possible answers are.

On second thought, don't.  It's funnier that way.


  1. That's one of the funniest things I've heard in awhile!

  2. So awesome. Sounds like your bishop needed to run that question by his teenage sons first.


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