Methods of Teaching The Urantia Book
A Thesis prepared for the Seventy
March 9th, 1945
After choosing the subject for this thesis, my first job seemed to be definition of terms. Just what are “methods of teaching”? Webster gives several definitions of “teaching”, among them the following: “To show; guide; direct; to make to know how; show how; to direct as an instructor; to guide the studies of, or to conduct through a course of studies; to impart the knowledge of”. These are definitions of teaching, which we all know and accept.
But the definition of “methods” is a little more difficult. Webster defines “method” as: “An orderly procedure or process; regular way or manner of doing anything.” In an educational sense, method is “a systematic plan adopted in presenting instructional material; as, the lecture method; a method of teaching.” “Method is commonly a special or definite system of procedure.”
The next step was to discover what the conventional methods of teaching are, and how they could be used in teaching The Urantia Book. The outside sources consulted seemed to pile confusion on confusion. Each author had his own interpretation of the word “methods”. One author recognized just two methods – subject teaching, that is, arithmetic, geography, history, as separate subjects (the way most of us studied); and progressive teaching, in which the project holds the important place, and the subjects – arithmetic, geography, history, etc. – are acquired as a by-product in the working out of the project. Another author listed methods as inductive, deductive, expository, demonstration, etc. Still another author defined methods as tools, techniques, devices used in teaching, such as maps, models, blackboards, and so on.
With such a range of meaning, from a general “system of procedure” down to the concrete tool, such as a globe, I have felt free to make my own interpretation of “methods”. While my primary interest has been in the actual techniques or tools for putting a point across, I felt that a consideration of the more general aspects of teaching should form the foundation for the discussion of the specialized procedures. The definition, which most nearly fits my purpose here, was found in a book titled “Beginning Teaching” by Joseph Emory Avent. “Method is the procedure by which a goal is reached, a purpose accomplished, or a result achieved. It is how you get the thing done…Devices may be thought of simply as little methods, or as parts of a larger method. A device usually involves the use of concrete materials, or concrete procedures, which may be objects or ideas…A device, then, is any little method to which a teacher resorts as a temporary means of more effective focusing of attention of pupils upon the task to be done.”
KINDS OF TEACHING
There seems to me to be two general ways of teaching – unconscious teaching and conscious teaching. By unconscious teaching, I mean showing someone else how, not by direct imparting of information, but by doing something or living in such a way that the other person observes and learns from your example. Parents are unconscious teachers to their children. Many things, which a child learns, are obtained with no conscious instruction on the part of his elders. The child himself is often unconscious that he is learning something.
On a higher level, there is an analogy in the papers, which concerns the unconscious acquiring of information. In Paper 19 we are told that Trinity Teacher Sons are devoted to conscious enlightenment. But the Inspired Trinity Spirits are believed to be teachers who operate by super-conscious techniques. “There is a vast body of essential spiritual knowledge, truth indispensable to high spiritual attainment, which cannot be consciously received; self-consciousness would effectively jeopardize the certainty of reception.” [p. 220, 4] To a certain degree, it seems that here in our material existence the method of unconscious learning and teaching is valuable, particularly in getting across the truths of The Urantia Book.
Our method of unconsciously teaching the truths of The Urantia Book will be to live them in our daily lives – to show the fruits of the spirit in such a way that people will observe, wonder, and inquire into what we have that they don’t have. Already there have been instances of this very thing happening and there will be many more as we absorb more of the truths of the book and actually try to live them.
During the ordination of the twelve, Jesus said: “And it will not be so much by the words you speak as by the lives you live that men will know you have been with me and learned of the realities of the kingdom.” [p. 1569,4]
This method of living our beliefs is well illustrated by Jesus’ life. We are told in the papers to look not so much for what he taught as for what he did. [p. 2088, 5] “It is his life, and not his lessons to the twelve or his sermons to the multitudes, that will assist most in revealing the Father’s divine character and loving personality.” [p. 1581, 6]
Jesus’ entire life on this planet was intended to be an inspiration to us so that we can learn from what he did. Before his bestowal on this planet, Immanuel, the Union of Days on Salvington, charged Jesus to do certain things and refrain from doing other things. In this charge, Immanuel said, among other things: “Your earth life in the likeness of mortal flesh shall not be so lived as to constitute an example for the mortals of Urantia in the days of your earthly sojourn nor for any subsequent generation of human beings on Urantia or on any other world. Rather shall your life in the flesh on Urantia be the inspiration for all lives upon all Nebadon worlds throughout all generations in the ages to come.” [p. 1328, 4]
The second general manner of teaching is conscious teaching, and that is the kind with which we are primarily concerned here. Every person in the world is a teacher, even though he does not realize it. Remember the definition of teachings: to show, guide, direct; to show how. There is not a person who has not shown someone else how to do something – tie a knot, set a table, hammer a nail, play a game. Even children of four or five show children of two or three how to pull a cart, build a house with blocks, and put a doll to bed. Our particular job is teaching The Urantia Book, and although at the present time there are only three of us who are teaching more or less formally, each one of you is a teacher in an informal sense. Many of you have said that you can’t teach, and yet I have heard those same older members in the group answer questions and explain some point to a newer member – and what is that but teaching?
We are told in the papers that our entire future career will be devoted to teaching others. “As you journey toward your Paradise goal, constantly acquiring added knowledge and enhanced skill, you are continuously afforded the opportunity to give out to others the wisdom and experience you have already accumulated; al the way in to Havona you enact the role of a pupil-teacher. You will work your way through the ascending levels of this vast experiential university by imparting to those just below you the newfound knowledge of your advancing career. In the universal regime you are not reckoned as having possessed yourself of knowledge and truth until you have demonstrated your ability and your willingness to impart this knowledge and truth to others." [p. 279, 13]
Since we know that we are going to be teachers for untold ages, and since we know that this group has been designated as the “teacher-leaders” for the dissemination of The Urantia Book, it seems logical that we start right now preparing for that career. There is a very comforting statement in the papers that we will have help in this teaching career. There is one group of the Supreme Seraphim who are called Teaching Counselors. They act as “secretaries to all orders of teachers, from the Melchizedeks and the Trinity Teacher Sons down to the morontia mortals who are assigned as helpers of those of their kind who are just behind them in the scale of ascendant life…These ministrations extend on down to the individual worlds. Even the true and consecrated teachers of time are assisted, and often attended, by these counselors of the supreme seraphim.” [p. 428, 8]
One of the most important points to remember in teaching The Urantia Book is to confine our teaching to those who are truly interested in learning, those who are confused and seeking for help, those who are hungry for truth. Jesus brought this point out very clearly in a conversation with Ganid during their trip to the Northern Italian lakes. They had met a thoughtless pagan and Ganid was surprised that Jesus had made no effort to discuss spiritual questions with him. Jesus explained his attitude as follows:
“Ganid, the man was not hungry for truth. He was not dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to ask for help, and the eyes of his mind were not open to receive light for the soul. That man was not ripe for the harvest of salvation; he must be allowed more time for the trials and difficulties of life to prepare him for the reception of wisdom and higher learning. Or, if we could have him live with us, we might by our lives show him the Father in heaven, and thus would be become so attracted by our lives as sons of God that he would be constrained to inquire about our Father. You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for Him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, or he must desire to know God as the result of contact with the lives of those who area acquainted with the divine Father before another human being can act as the means of leading such a fellow mortal to the Father in heaven. If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives, and thus will all God-seeking persons see the Father and ask for our help in finding out more about the God who in this manner finds expression in our lives.” [p. 1466, 2]
In addition to confining ourselves to teaching those who are truly seeking for help, a second very important point to remember is to adapt our teaching to the pupil. His personality type should play a major part in determining the kind of teaching methods to be used. His intellectual capacity also is an important factor. Do not try to put a quart of knowledge into a pint-sized mind. We should consider the backgrounds and potentials of our pupils and present the concepts of the book accordingly. Jesus used this method in teaching is apostles. He “taught these men all they could assimilate. He did not make the mistake of over-teaching them. He did not precipitate confusion by the presentation of truth too far beyond their capacity to understand.” [p. 1535, 6]
The Urantia Book itself is presented to us following this same principle, in my opinion. While it seems to us that some parts of it are far beyond our ability to understand, still we can almost grasp most of it with a little work, and our successors in future years will understand the concepts better. I am convinced that many questions have remained unanswered and many things left unrevealed because they really would be beyond our capacity and would tend only to confuse us.
A third point to remember in imparting new truth is not to destroy old beliefs, which a person sincerely holds unless you can substitute the new truth without detriment to him. Never tear down a building unless you are sure you can build a better, more solid structure. A good illustration of this is Jesus’ handling of the whale story in talking with Gadiah. “Jesus perceived that his young man’s life had been tremendously influenced by this tradition and that its contemplation had impressed upon this youth the folly of trying to run away from duty; he therefore said nothing that would suddenly destroy the foundations of his present motivation for practical living." [p. 1428, 2]
Jesus also emphasized this point in dealing with the Persian “fire-worshipper” who resisted Simon’s method of teaching, but succumbed to Jesus’ method. Upon Simon’s inquiry as to why he had failed, Jesus said: “Simon, Simon, how many times have I instructed you to refrain from all efforts to take something out of the hearts of those who seek salvation? How often have I told you to labor only to put something into those hungry souls? Lead men into the kingdom, and the great and living truths of the kingdom will presently drive out all serious error." [p. 1592, 4]
Just before the crucifixion Jesus admonished his apostles: “Do not forget that you are only commissioned to go forth preaching the good news. You are not to attack the old ways; you are skillfully to put the leaven of new truth in the midst of the old beliefs.” [p. 1932, 1]
Dr. Sadler once prescribed an anesthetic to be used in imparting new truth. It consists of three attitudes on the part of the seeker after truth:
- Interest – based on curiosity.
- Belief in your sincerity – or friendliness.
- Familiarity – That is, familiarity of the listener with the terms and examples you use.
Everyone attempting to teach The Urantia Book would do well to remember that anesthetic before operating. Otherwise the sudden injection of new truth may be exceedingly painful to the listener.
There is another admonition which we would do well to remember: “The teachers of the religion of Jesus should approach other religions with the recognition of the truths which are held in common (many of which come directly or indirectly from Jesus’ message) while they refrain from placing so much emphasis on the differences.” [p. 1670, 6]
There are two methods, which may be followed, in conscious teaching of The Urantia Book. One is individual teaching or tutoring. The other is class teaching. Undoubtedly both methods will be used, but probably the majority of this group will devote themselves to individual teaching, rather than formal class work.
Both methods have a place in the educational system, which is sponsored by the celestial personalities. In the schools of the Planetary Prince about 500,000 years ago on Urantia, the instruction seems to have been by classes, although the papers do not state that individual instruction was excluded. Since the primary purpose of the Edenic schools was socialization, it seems logical that most information should be presented to groups rather than individuals. [p. 835, 5] The exact opposite is true in the schools on a neighboring planet, though it should be remembered that those are purely human schools like our own. On that planet the entire educational system is largely individual. There are no classrooms. Each pupil studies one subject at a time. The chief object of education there is to make every pupil a self-supporting citizen. [p. 812, 7]
In the morontia schools, the Mansion World Teachers engage in individual, group, class, and mass teaching. [p. 551, 1] Both individual and group teaching seems to be carried on all through the superuniverse, with the latter probably predominating. But upon graduation from Uversa, class work is ended. In Havona, all instruction is individual.
Although we all will participate in individual teaching most of the time in the coming years, classes for teaching The Urantia Book will develop more rapidly later. A start has already been made in that direction. There are three classes in operation now. The first is this class of the Doctor’s for training teachers. Though not the first in the Forum in point of time, it is the most important, and the only one recognized officially by the seraphim under whom we work, the angels of progress. The second is Bill’s discussion class which started many years ago and which aims to teach the fundamentals of the book, and give a broad, comprehensive view of the whole. The third is the kindergarten class which I teach and which tries to present only the primary facts of cosmography and the personalities who inhabit the universe – the bare bones of the skeleton on which the rest of the book is based.
With these three classes as a beginning, it is easy to foresee other classes which will evolve as the need becomes apparent, until sometime there will be an entire school devoted to instruction in the teachings of The Urantia Book. The beginning courses of such a school will, I believe, consist of classes such as the one I am teaching. For the starting point for learning the teachings of the book is knowledge of the facts of the universe – the physical geography, the personalities who inhabit it, what they do, how the universe is administered. These are definite facts to be learned, with not much chance for differing interpretations, although the door is seldom closed completely to speculation. Once having learned these facts, the way is open for advanced classes – classes in theory based on known facts, exploratory classes which follow avenues only hinted at in the papers. In these classes, there is an opportunity for individual, differing interpretations. Such teaching requires vision, imagination, ability to build a theoretical structure or concept on a foundation of fact. But always in these classes, the teacher must have a thorough knowledge of the facts of the book.
There will be many specialist classes – that is, classes devoted to just one subject in the book. One intriguing subject is the story of mortal ascent from the evolutionary planet to Paradise. Another is the story of the evolution of a planet from the beginning of a nebula through the period of light and life. The life and teachings of Jesus will undoubtedly be divided into several subjects for class instruction. The energy system of the master universe will attract some students, while prayer and worship will be the primary interest of others. There will be classes in religion, covering many aspects, for example: the evolution of religion, the practical application of religion in everyday life, and comparative religions.
In all these specialist classes, the teachers must be not only very well grounded in The Urantia Book, but also fully conversant with the general knowledge in the same field of study. That is, anyone teaching about the physical energy system of the universe should have a good background of our own physical sciences, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and so on. As I have found to my embarrassment, it is difficult to explain some points in the papers without this background. In a class in religion, the teacher must be thoroughly familiar with not only the great religions of the world but also the minor ones, in order to point out agreements and disagreements, and to answer the questions which will be continually brought up.
TECHNIQUES OF TEACHING
The majority of the techniques, or little methods, of teaching, which will be discussed in the remainder of this paper, can be used either in individual teaching or in class teaching. Although devised primarily for class work, some of them have already been successfully used in private tutoring. Others are only in the future, but I am sure they will all be used sometime, and there are undoubtedly many that I have not thought of.
Some of these methods are used in the schools, which we will pass through on our assent through the universes, but the papers mention others, which are far beyond our present concepts. We are familiar with laboratories, and we now there are laboratories for scientists on Jerusem. Adam and Eve studied in the division of experimental energy as applied to living forms. They were expert anatomists before they came to Urantia. [p. 828, 3] We also know there are planetary life-planning laboratories on the Life Carrier worlds of Salvington. Universe physicists and electrochemists serve there as technical assistants to the Life Carriers. [p. 398, 1] And we are told that the star students on Uversa work with the aid of a multitude of mechanical instruments and physical appliances, [p. 339, 1] so it is safe to assume that there are laboratories on Uversa also. We can understand laboratories.
But in the classes conducted by the Masters of Philosophy on Paradise, we are told of other methods, which are far beyond our present comprehension. “These Paradise philosophers teach by every possible method of instruction, including the higher graph technique of Havona and certain Paradise methods of communicating information. All of these higher techniques of imparting knowledge and conveying ideas are utterly beyond the comprehension capacity of even the most highly developed human mind. One hour’s instruction on Paradise would be the equivalent of ten thousand years of the word-memory methods of Urantia. You cannot grasp such communication techniques, and there is simply nothing in mortal experience with which they may be compared, nothing to which they can be likened.” [p. 303, 2] The Havona graph system is also mentioned in the discussion of the Intelligence Coordinators (a group of Tertiary Supernaphim) with the statement that it enables them to assimilate as much information in one hour of Urantia time as would require a thousand years for our most rapid telegraphic technique to record. [p. 289, 1]
Although Paradise and Havona methods are out of our reach, there are specific techniques, which can be used here and now, and among them are the following:
- Learn by Doing – One of the most important techniques of teaching is to let the pupil learn by doing. This method is being stressed in modern education for it has been discovered that this is one of the best ways for the student to make the information really his own. Several small colleges are operating on the basis of part study, part work, so that their students may apply practically, the theories, which they acquire in class. Boys are not only told how to run a farm or a business. They actually operate the farm or the business. Girls are required to run a home on a fixed budget, to care for children while they’re studying childcare, and so on.
This method is not only one of the best in our present Urantia teaching. According to the papers, it is also used extensively in other, better schools than we have on Urantia today. In the schools, which were established, when the Planetary Prince first arrived on Urantia, the plan of teaching was carried out by establishing industrial schools in which the pupils learned by doing, and through which they worked their way by the daily performances of useful tasks. [p. 751, 1] This method was also followed in the schools of Eden. The elder children taught the younger – another form of learning by doing. [p. 835, 1] While Jesus was on earth, there was a school at Bethsaida for the evangelists, taught by the apostles. “This school was conducted on the plan of learning and doing. What they learned during the forenoon they taught to the assembly by the seaside during the afternoon. After supper they informally discussed both the learning of the forenoon and the teaching of the afternoon.” [p. 1657, 6] We are told that, in the advanced ages of an evolutionary world when education is the watchword of these ages, every child is provided an opportunity to learn by doing. [p. 577, 2] The schools on a “neighboring planet” are described as largely consisting of individual instruction designed to make every pupil a self-supporting citizen. Books are used only to secure information that will assist in solving problems arising in school shops. At a very early age, pupils become assistant teachers, instructing those below them. [p. 812, 3] In the discussion of the Celestial Overseers (the inspectors of the Nebadon educational system) there are several paragraphs on the system of education in general which bring out specifically the fact that we learn by doing.
“On the universe headquarters itself are numerous Melchizedek schools, the colleges of the Universe Sons, the seraphic universities, and the schools of the Teacher Sons and the Union of Days. Every possible provision is made to qualify the various personalities of the universe for advancing service and improving function. The entire universe is one vast school.”
“The methods employed in many of the higher schools are beyond the human concept of the art of teaching truth, but this is the keynote of the whole educational system: Character acquired by enlightened experience. The teachers provide the enlightenment; the universe stations and the ascenders’ status afford the opportunity for experience; the wise utilization of these two augments character.”
“Fundamentally, the Nebadon educational system provides for your assignment to a task and then affords you opportunity to receive instruction as to the ideal and divine method of best performing that task. You are given a definite task to perform, and at the same time you are provided with teachers who are qualified to instruct you in the best method of executing your assignment. The divine plan of education provides for the intimate association of work and instruction. We teach you how best to execute the things we command you to do.” [p. 412, 4]
Learning by doing leads directly into the project method of teaching, which is emphasized so strongly in progressive schools. Projects promote the integration of learning. Subject matter is learned more thoroughly and in greater amounts. A project is an activity that involves planning and construction, the search for materials, and the evaluation of proposed solutions.
There is great opportunity for this method of teaching in connection with The Urantia Book. This very assignment on which we are working now is a form of project – of planning and constructing, searching for materials, correlating and presenting it in a unified, coherent form. There are many subjects in The Urantia Book, which need to be learned this way, since they are not presented in compact form with all the information in one or two papers. For example, references are made to prayer and worship from the very early papers through the very last ones. The will of God is discussed in a number of places, and definitions and explanations of error, evil, sin, and iniquity are likewise scattered. The story of mortal ascent is another very good subject for project teaching.
The foregoing suggests just a few of the possibilities for using this technique of teaching – that is, helping the student to learn by doing.
- Radio – It is an accepted fact that radio is now an educational tool to be reckoned with. It has been successfully used for teaching music, history, grammar, foreign languages, and Bible stories, in fact, almost everything that can be taught by the voice alone. There seems to be no reason why it cannot be used in teaching The Urantia Book. Probably of greatest interest are drama possibilities. There are endless stories in the life of Jesus suitable for dramatization – stories of His childhood and youth, His first trip to Jerusalem, the Mediterranean tour, and practically all the events of His later life. There are also possibilities for drama in Part III, for example, the story of Andon and Fonta, the early events of the Planetary Prince’s regime, the sudden appearance of the six colored races, and the story of Adam and Eve.
In addition to the drama possibilities, the radio provides a splendid medium for straight reading of the papers, such as we have here on Sunday, and the discussion and development of interesting points. There will, of course, be sermons on the teachings of the papers. As a matter of fact, there have been Urantian sermons on the air for the last several years, though not labeled with that name, as Charlie Rawson can testify. Radio will probably be of the greatest value in publicizing the book, but it will also have value as an educational tool.
- Movies – This is another modern educational tool, which has proved itself immensely valuable. As a means of teaching The Urantia Book, the picture possibilities seem to lie mostly in Part IV, in the life of Jesus; although perhaps effective and fairly accurate movies could be made of early man and his struggles for existence, and of life in the Garden of Eden. Not much could be done with Parts I and II in the movies, since these concepts are too far removed for reproduction in our physical world.
However, there is a subdivision of movies, which could illustrate many situations not suitable for straight movie production. Animated cartoons – Walt Disney style – would prove an eminently suitable vehicle for portraying the evolution of nebulae, for example. Disney could do great things with the development of solar families and planets. This is the only present known method of showing the physical evolution of a planet and the evolution of life on a planet. By this means, the evolution of plans and animals could be shown simultaneously and the two could be brought together and made real in a way that pages and pages of text can never do.
Other fruitful subjects for animated cartoons are the rise and fall of oceans and landmasses, the movements of glaciers, and the westward drift of North and South America. This style of presentation would also be of great value in showing the evolution of early man, the spread of the six colored races, and the movements of the Andite peoples. To me, this seems one of the most spectacular and effective ways of presenting some of the Urantia teachings, particularly those of Part III.
The rest of the techniques listed are those, which can be used by any of us – “little methods” which can be used in individual teaching or class teaching. Most of them have already been used in our present classes and have been proved practical and very helpful.
- The Parallel Technique – I took the name for this method from one, which is used on the mansion worlds in teaching mota. “The lower planes of morontia mota join directly with the higher levels of human philosophy. On the first mansion world it is the practice to teach the less advanced students by the parallel technique; that is, in one column are presented the more simple concepts of mota meanings, and in the opposite column citation is made of analogous statements of mortal philosophy.” [p. 556, 1]
This method of placing the new teaching alongside the old in order to compare and get the full meaning of the new can be applied to several situations in The Urantia Book. For example, it will be helpful in learning to geological evolution of the planet to place the dates and ages of the periods beside the dates and ages, which our own scientists have postulated and thus be able to correlate the new teaching with the old. This method should also be used in studying the present day religions in relation to the new, so that the points of agreement and disagreement can be easily seen. It will also be of help in studying the evolution of man and comparing the Urantia story with the theories and facts, which our anthropologists have deduced.
This form of teaching new truth by comparison with old familiar things also covers the use of everyday, commonplace examples to illustrate points which may seem new at first reading. For example, in teaching the organization of the superuniverse and its subdivisions, a comparison with the United States and its subdivisions of sections, states, counties, townships, and villages brings out the relationship very clearly. In teaching the administration of the universe it is helpful to anyone in business to use the example of the administration charts of large corporations.
Jesus employed this method of using familiar examples to point up his teaching. He told stories of everyday occurrences – parables – to bring out the moral or emphasize the particular teaching he was trying to inject into his hearers. “Jesus taught not so much from the law, as from life, by parables. And when he employed a parable for illustrating his message, he designed to utilize just one feature of the story for that purpose.” [p. 1672, 4]
This is a method, which can be used from the beginning of the book to the end, and will probably be used more than any other single method named.
- Use of Models – Actual models should be used for illustration whenever possible. Even though they are not 100% representations of the objects illustrated, they do help to give an approximate idea of what the objects are like. We have already made a start on accumulating models for use in teaching The Urantia Book, thanks to Mr. Pritchard. You have all seen the model of the entire cosmos in miniature, which comes apart to show the relationship of pervaded and unpervaded space. We also have a model of the Havona circuits surrounded by the dark islands, and a model of the Isle of Paradise. All these models have proved their value many times in our present classes.
Sometime in the future we may have a miniature model of the Master Universe with the space levels rotating to indicate the clockwise and counter-clockwise movements of the alternate levels. Possibly models can be made showing the stages of the physical evolution of Urantia, and I believe sufficient information is given about the Garden on Eden to enable us to produce a reasonable facsimile.
When actual models are lacking, other objects can be used as substitutes. For instance, a doughnut and two ice-cream cones serve very well to represent pervaded and unpervaded space. With a little imagination, an oval compact or a piece of bread marked off in zones becomes the Isle of Paradise. An apple cut horizontally or vertically can illustrate the cosmos and bring three dimensions to the vertical and horizontal cross-section charts, which we have.
Sometime far in the future there will be large intricate models showing the space levels and the various motions, which are described in the papers, similar to those in the planetarium showing the movements of the planets around the sun.
Since visualization is one of the most effective ways of learning, this method should be used whenever possible.
- Use of Maps, Charts, Diagrams, and Illustrations – This is another method of making teaching more effective by means of visualization. Someone has said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Maps, charts, diagrams, and pictures can impress facts on the mind far more vividly than pages of text. Whenever it is possible to illustrate a point by a drawing, it should be done.
There are many opportunities in The Urantia Book to use this graphic method of teaching. The drawing, which we now have showing pervaded and unpervaded space is of utmost value. From the comments, which have been made about it, it is evident that it has greatly clarified the concept of the relationship of pervaded and unpervaded space. Maps can be made of the Master Universe, the Grand Universe, Havona, Paradise, the architectural spheres and their satellites and sub satellites. Some of these have already been used, and others will be available in the future. In Part III maps can be made of the different stages of the physical evolution of Urantia and of the spread of the colored races and the Andite peoples over the earth’s surface. In Part IV we will use maps of Palestine and the Roman Empire to trace Jesus’ travels and the beginnings of the Christian religion.
Charts and diagrams are helpful in showing relationships between parts. They can indicate lines of origin, lines of sovereignty, and lines of administration better than any other means. We are already using such charts in our classes – the administration charts of the superuniverse and the genealogy charts, the family trees, showing origin of the personalities listed in the Uversa Personality Register. We also have a chart of the space levels of the Grand Universe and the Master Universe.
Charts and diagrams will also be useful in studying the evolution of man on Urantia. One, for example, could start with the appearance of animal life and trace the changes down to Andon and Fonta, the first true humans. Another could begin with Andon and Fonta and carry through the Andonites, the development of the six colored races, the Nodites, the injection of Adamic blood, the Andites, and the present human races. Still another chart could show the evolution of the religions of the world.
Sometimes a picture will dramatize a point when other methods will not fill the need for graphic presentation. And such pictures should by no means always be serious ones. Often, a humorous picture will do a better job than a literal, factual representation. It has been said, “When laughter is involved in the learning process, students will retain the same material about 50% better." Anyone who saw it will never forget Bill’s drawing of the baby wit the clothesline looped above his head to illustrate the mind circuit and what happens to it when the human passes out of physical existence. Another graphic illustration was of the firehouse with three stories and a fire-pole running from top to bottom to indicate that God was on all three levels, Supreme, Ultimate, and Absolute. On the outside, a man on a ladder was laboriously climbing to attain the first and second levels, the Supreme and Ultimate, and hanging by his toes from the roof trying to peer into the third level, the Absolute. Another good illustration, though not in the humorous vein, is the picture of a tree with a solid trunk, indicating one-fold deity, then three branches, indicating three-fold deity, and higher up, seven branches, indicating seven-fold deity, yet emphasizing that it is al one tree and all one deity.
The use of this method requires paper and pencil for individual teaching, but in classroom work a blackboard is essential. A teacher who has a little training in drawing or cartooning has a great advantage in blackboard teaching. And the teacher who can make the drawing and explain the points while doing it, has an advantage, for there is activity involved which will hold the attention of the class. Drawing is much more interesting than a drawing already on the board.
The blackboard is also useful for maps, charts diagrams, lists, and so on, and is an almost indispensable part of a classroom.
- Lists and Tables – Another tool to be used in teaching The Urantia Book consists of lists and tables. These are the parts, which are uninteresting to most people, the dry-as-dust, cold, hard statistics, which are dull but necessary as a foundation. The Uversa Personality Register is a good example of this device. It is simply a list showing personalities and their classification. Another table we are using is one, which I call the basic table. It is similar to the tables of measurement, which we all learned in school, and just as basic. It starts out: 1,000 planets equal 1 system, 100 systems equal 1 constellation, etc. And there are other tables showing how many planets in the Grand Universe, how many minor sectors, and so on.
Later on, there will be still other tables to help in the study of this book. The history of our mother nebula, Andronover, of our solar system, and our planet will be put into tables. Dates and events are easier to fix in the mind in tabular form than buried in a mass of words. Some of these tables and lists will be necessary only for quick reference purposes, but others are truly basic and must be firmly fixed in the mind in order to grasp completely the other concepts in the book. And this brings us directly to the next tool to be discussed – memory.
- Memory – This is a method which was used to a very large extent in acquiring learning up to the last thirty or forty years. It has fallen into disrepute under the modern or progressive method of teaching, partly because other activities take a much larger share of the time. But the best teachers acknowledge that there is still necessity for straight memorizing and some time is provided for it in the modern curriculum.
The alphabet, for example, is a series of letters without pattern or logic, and the only way to learn the alphabet is simply to memorize it, repeating it over and over until it becomes so fixed that it is automatic. Numbers are another fundamental that must be memorized. There is pattern and logic in the handling of numbers, but the multiplication tables, for example, should be memorized. The process of multiplication can be figured out, but if the tables have been drilled until they become automatic, and 7 x 8 means 56 without even thinking about it, much time is saved for the more complicated procedures that do require reasoning. Angelo Patri stated this principle very well in one of his columns in the Daily News. “No teacher can teach tables. She presents them step-by-step and the child learns them, memorizes them as he learned and memorized his name. I would not bother explaining why two and two make four because I do not know why they do. They make four. Learn that and go ahead. Thorough learning of the fundamentals of arithmetic, grammar, and spelling is essential to the learning of those subjects, which are basic in school education. No matter how scientific the teaching, the learning must be thorough.”
Claude C. Drawford, in his book “How to Teach”, also covers the subject of memorizing. He points out that there are two extremes, too much and not enough, and that we should strive fore a happy medium, always questioning the selection of material to be memorized on the basis of utility. “Significance of information is further increased by presenting facts in relationships instead of in isolation from each other.” In regard to routine lists, tables, etc., to be memorized, he says: “Either these items are not essential or else they are potentially interesting. Granting the value of learning a list of items, the next task is to put meaning into them…In addition to meaning, the material must have interest…A further suggestion for this type of learning is that of grouping and combining into larger patterns and configurations…The Gestalt idea of learning in patterns and configurations is important in this present connection.”
Some memory work is necessary in learning the fundamentals of The Urantia Book. There are certain tables, which should be memorized, such as the table showing the units and sub-units, which make up superuniverse government. The Uversa Personality Register, which covers the principal personalities mentioned in the book, with their classifications and origins, is vital. The names of the units and their headquarters are another set of facts which are really fundamental and the only way to learn them is to memorize them, exactly as states and their capitals have to be memorized in geography.
Some results may be acquired simply through repetition. Others are more permanent if memorized through an understanding of their relationships. This latter method has been used in great detail in teaching the Grand Universe administration chart. It has also been used in presenting the Personality Register. A brief description of each group of personalities brings out the reason for their presence in their major classification group and points out the relationship to the others of the group. With this background, the matter of memorizing the groups becomes easier and the result tends to last longer. Since most of us are inclined to forget quite easily things, which we think we’ve memorized thoroughly, it becomes necessary to continue the drills over a fairly long period of time, with longer intervals between them.
Memorizing is hard and dull work for most people, so it is fortunate that there is not a great deal of it to be done in connection with The Urantia Book. But the very small part of it that is necessary should be done thoroughly as a foundation for the other concepts.
The methods discussed in the foregoing are some of those, which will be used in teaching The Urantia Book. There are others, which will be put into practice also, for example, the conversational method of questions and answers, which Jesus used so extensively in His private teaching. There is a statement in the papers as follows: “Though Jesus’ public teaching largely consisted in parables and short discourses, He invariably taught His apostles by means of questions and answers. He would always pause to answer sincere questions during His later public discourses.” [p. 1546, 1] In another paper we find the following: “Jesus’ usual technique of social contact was to draw people out and into talking with Him by asking them questions. The interview would usually begin by His asking them questions and end by their asking Him questions. He was equally adept in teaching by either asking or answering questions. As a rule, to those He taught the most, He said the least.” [p. 1460, 6]
But, the important thing to remember is that the method to be used should be one best adapted to the point in question and best suited to the comprehension capacity of the listener. The latter point in particular should be kept in mind – that is, the attitude and receptiveness of the student. Simple, direct methods should be employed for beginners and those who are not capable of grasping the larger concepts, and more advanced complicated techniques where the need and desires of the student are apparent. Any method or combination of methods is good which induces the student to learn and comprehend the teaching. But remember always, methods of teaching are only a means to an end – the comprehension and adoption of the facts and truths of The Urantia Book throughout the whole world.