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Those Juniors, Part 10: Reaching Their Hearts

By Eric B. Hare

Last week: If you want the attention of your class, you must be interesting. By being interested both in the subject at hand and in the things your students care about, you will gain and keep your class’s full attention.

Juniors Want New Experiences—They Crave Variety
Did you ever notice the effect that a new suit, a new pair of shoes, or a new kind of food on the table has on boys and girls? Exactly! It rekindles their interest in life. Let us harness the same force in our Sabbath schools and our Missionary Volunteer meetings. A new picture, a new song, a new chair, a new chart, a new way of presenting the same lesson.

“Variety is the spice of life” is not only an interesting old proverb; it is a fundamental truth when you are working for the interest of juniors. Study to add something new to what they already know. A curio from Jericho, a bottle of water from the Jordan, a stamp from Egypt, or a picture from National Geographic magazine of the town in the lesson will give a newness and a freshness to the old, old story.

Vary the review. Dialogue it. Quiz test it. Conduct it like a spelling bee. Put it on the air over an imaginary radio station. Vary it until your listeners tingle with delight as they anticipate the coming Sabbath.

Remember, juniors love to discover new things for themselves. After you give them the premises, let them discover the conclusion. For instance: “All right, Bill says a rainbow is formed by sunlight passing through raindrops. The Bible tells us that the rainbow was not seen until the time of the Flood. Now, what do you conclude?” Most hands will go up in their eagerness to say, “It never rained until the time of the Flood.” And how much more interesting this is than for the teacher to tell it all himself. I shall always remember the thrill I received on discovering that John Mark was the young man who ran away leaving his clothes in the hands of the soldiers the night Jesus was arrested. And, again when I discovered that this discouraged intern preacher is believed by some to have been a pioneer missionary to North Africa.

When it is possible, state a problem or ask a question that presents a new truth or a new lesson to solve. “You notice next week’s lesson is ‘The Armor of God.’ We all admit that we cannot conquer Satan in our own strength, and yet we are told to fight. What is it that we fight? What part of the fighting must we do alone? Will Christ do His part if we don’t do ours? We will find the solution of this problem in next week’s lesson.”

Do you feel the pull of this problem? So do juniors. Then plan your program with new experiences, new truths, new discoveries, and watch the interest of the boys and girls.

Juniors Want Affection
We all want affection; the only difficulty is that juniors do not altogether like it expressed in words. To call a junior boy “dearie” or “darling” will not capture his interest or attention for his Sabbath school teacher. On the contrary, it will drive him away and set up a barrier between you and him. You have heard the expression, “Say it with flowers.” That is the idea. That is the language that juniors understand. A couple of rare stamps or an addition to his collection of anything at all will say, “I love you,” to his heart in a way that he will understand and appreciate, and will beget a response.

I have often said to my wife, “Dearie, would you rather I would say, ‘I love you’ or, ‘I’ll do the dishes for you tonight’?” and you can easily guess her reply. “Ah, now,” she says, “they both mean the same, but I think doing the dishes sounds sweeter tonight.”

So it is that juniors crave affection. Let us study to show it and give it in generous doses, not in words but in deeds.

Juniors Want a Feeling of Security
In these days of broken homes and lowering standards boys and girls want to belong to something worthwhile, something dependable, something secure. In spite of the fact that boys and girls demand their own way, I’ve seen many grow up to blame their parents for not making them mind and obey when they were young. I have superintended many a junior camp. I believe in discipline and order. I find it is not discipline that children loathe; it is unreasonable discipline. Proper discipline builds esprit de corps, and they take home with them a deeper respect for their leaders, their camp, and themselves. So see to it, whatever your responsibility—teacher, counselor, or leader—that you radiate dependability, order, self-control, and thus foster a feeling of security.

Juniors Want Recognition
“Professor John Dewey, America’s most profound philosopher, . . . says the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’”1  William James says, “‘The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.’”2  I need not have quoted these eminent men, for everyone knows this is true, but I do like the way they say it. It matters not where you go, or how old or how young the people are, or whether you call it wanting recognition, a craving to be appreciated, or a desire to be important, everybody is hungry to be needed and to be wanted. All are the same in this respect. Missionary A. C. Vine, of South Nigeria, tells an interesting story of six gnarled, bewhiskered old men in their filthy gowns of authority, complaining that the missionaries had spoiled the town. Yes, in spite of the decrease in infant mortality and the increase of knowledge because of the mission school, the missionaries had spoiled the town. To those old men the town was spoiled because when they beat their drums and painted up for a dance, no one, not even the little children, would come to look at them.3 

Some time ago I attended a Missionary Volunteer meeting in West Hollywood. The young people had an orchestra; and the violins, saxophones, and trombones really did well. At the close of the meeting I shook hands with the musicians, as I usually do, and complimented them on their music. The next morning I was speaking at the White Memorial Chapel and, as my custom is, I visited the Sabbath school divisions to tell mission stories. On entering the junior division I recognized the young man at the door as one of the trombonists at West Hollywood the evening before.

“Oh,” I said in surprise, “you came over here to Sabbath school today!”

“Well, you see, we live here; so, of course, I go to Sabbath school here,” he explained.

“I see, but what makes you go fourteen miles to West Hollywood for M.V. meeting?” I persisted.

“Oh, well,” he replied, swelling noticeably for the occasion, “they need me over there in the orchestra.”

Ah, there is the secret. Some successful leader needed him, and those fourteen miles were sweet and, oh, so short, because he was needed. Leaders, open your eyes to find how much you need your boys and girls. Open your heart and your lips to tell them how much you appreciate them, and watch the results in their interest in you.

(Next week: “Tricks of the Trade.”)

1. Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, pp. 43, 44. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1937.
2. Ibid. (pocket edition), p. 38.
3. Review and Herald, Jan. 24, 1935, art., “You have Spoilt Our Town.”

Copyright © 1973 by Eric B. Hare. Used by permission.

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