Teaching, No Greater Call Series: “Horrors of Teaching” Halloween Thread

We all know that sometimes, something horrifying, spooky, creepy or just plain silly suprisedhappens when we are in a classroom. Sometimes it happens as a teacher, sometimes it happens as a student. In honor of Halloween, we give you a collection of teaching horrors from the Exponent backlist…. please add your own in the comments section below!


I was the primary music chorister and for some reason I was telling the kids about the Nauvoo temple and how it was destroyed.

I said, “And then mobs came and destroyed the temple.”

This adorable little blond-haired sunbeam look absolutely crushed and said, “WHY would MOMS want to destroy the temple??”


When I was a Primary chorister, I planned an activity that involved playing a recording of the same song multiple times while playing a game to learn the lyrics.  Unfortunately, that was the day the ancient CD player from the media center broke.  It wouldn’t pause and restart in the same place and the track number display gave out.  After each round, I had to find the song on the CD again by hitting and releasing fast forward exactly 11 times.  I counted out loud and got the whole Primary involved in counting with me, like a Sesame Street episode.  By the end of sharing time, even the Sunbeams were quite proficient at counting to 11, but I doubt anyone mastered the song I was trying to teach.


I taught sunbeams for 4 years. In one of my classes we had a runner. Luckily, I had a co-teacher, so we were generally able to wrangle him in before he got too far. One Sunday, though, as we were switching from Sharing Time to class, he escaped. He took of running down the hall and out the door. I took off after him in my high heels and pencil skirt. It was a good two or three blocks before I caught up with him. The worst part was the whole way, he was yelling back at me, “You’re not my mom!” I thought for sure someone was going to think I was trying kidnap him and call the police. At least I got some good exercise!


My seminary teacher (this was in Utah, so a paid position–you’d think they’d have good training for the paid positions, but apparently not) told us that Santa Claus was the personification of the devil. She cited the chimney soot and the pipe clutched in his teeth, as well as the idea that Santa has taken over Christmas from Christ. And she told us that writing X-mas I stead of Christmas was “literally crossing out Christ.”

Since this was the same teacher who showed us episodes of The Cosby Show instead of teaching us actual lessons (and we know now how inspirational Bill Cosby really was), it was pretty much the past straw for me. I told her it was more likely that the X came from the Greek Chi, and that Santa was a great way to teach children about unconditional love. And I never went back.


My husband and I were asked to cover the class for a guy who was going overseas in person to meet someone he had met through an online dating site. The plan was for him to be gone for 2 weeks. Except he never came back, because he decided to marry the girl. Yay for him! But…. because we were stuck holding the lesson manual, and we were new in the ward, and the class had a less-than-obedient reputation– everyone seemed to ignore the fact that we were still subbing for him after 2 months. We didn’t particularly like the class– more probably because we felt a little “bait and switch” going on. We finally spoke to the bishop. As it turned out that he didn’t know the guy had married and wasn’t coming back, so presumed we were okay to keep being substitutes. We were then rather abruptly fired, and I felt like it was possibly because the bishop felt that we were “withholding” information on the eloping teacher (which was fine- but still felt weird).


Our seminary teacher told us it was wrong to have sex more than once a day even after marriage because procreation.  My friend raised her hand and said “excuse me but if I have to wait until I’m married then we get to put down the blinds and play naked tag all we want”
The same teacher too the position that when Abraham said Sarah was his sister it wasn’t a lie, just “another version of the truth “. From then on we took that as permission to tell “another version of the truth” when it suited us.
This teacher was certain my brother was on the slippery slope to apostasy (and told him so) because…prepare yourselves… He listened to jazz. He played the trumpet and liked to listen to hits of the 1940s. Devil’s music!


My early morning seminary teacher was the same all four years-an older-ish woman who dyed her hair anywhere from a cranberry to a purple shade, and spoke in a very shrieky, shrill voice. She was excellent. My very favorite day in class was during the old testament on the lesson about manna from heaven. She tacked up a gigantic sheet to the ceiling, which somehow none of us noticed, and then partway through the lesson took a giant stick, knocked the sheet down, and cried “Banana manna!” as individually wrapped slices of homemade bread fell from the “sky.” It was incredible. Another day, I think she wore a suit of armor. And another, for King Benjamin, she dressed up, and gave his speech from the stage.


(Not a lesson, but a sacrament meeting talk)- When I was in my very first YSA ward at the fresh age of 18, a girl was asked to speak on the benefits of having a “large” family. I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters, so presumed my family counted as “large.” Though I love all my siblings, I saw how spent my mother was and carried some resentment as the eldest daughter (I was “second-Mom,” and had to give up after school activities at times to watch my younger siblings.) I listened intently to learn her perspective as surely she was thrilled at being from a “large” family.  Mid-way through the lesson, she expressed that “even small families with only 7 or 8 children would could be okay…” Between shock and terror, I can’t remember anything else from her talk.


When my husband and I were newlyweds, we took a Strengthening Marriage class.  On the first day, the couple teaching the class made a speech about how “liberal” comments about “adapting roles” would “detract from the Spirit” so such comments were explicitly forbidden. However, class members were more than welcome to make comments that were even more conservative than the text.  We learned a lot about such things as women’s sacred responsibility to have freshly baked cookies waiting on the table for her husband at all times.


One day we had a lesson on the Atonement, and a man in our class had to think of the most outlandish sins he could to see if the Atonement applied to them. He just really wanted to think of something so bad that they’d go to Outer Darkness. Here are some of his gems during the lesson (as the teacher, classmates…EVERYONE tried to divert this guy):

“So, if someone killed people in war that he didn’t really need to kill. He just like was good at it and was kind of sneaky and killed people and lied about it. Where would he go?”

“What about Hitler?”

“What does it mean to deny the Holy Ghost?  Like if I wasn’t really hearing him and did something bad. Is that like denying him?”


I had an awesome time explaining to my class of 14-15 year old boys what the “sin of Onan” was  that wasn’t awkward at all.  I remember also teaching them the story of Dinah and reaching the edifying conclusion that it “was morally ambiguous at best”. I actually loved that class. At the wedding reception of one of my former students the groom apologized on behalf of his class but I loved that calling.  I had the dubious distinction of holding it longer than anyone else.


In Sunday School class one day, one of the students kept raising his hand to comment; and all of his comments were cruel jokes about homosexuals. I kept hoping against hope that the teacher would just stop calling on him when he would raise his hand, but she always did.


I was doing an object lesson in Primary about being able to speak in tongues. I had a friend who had a Book of Mormon in French, so asked to borrow it. The plan was to have the 9 year olds read from the French Book of Mormon, then ask them if they understood it and so on. I was so excited! And went into the class- and pulled out the French Book of Mormon. I asked the students to look up a scripture and read it. They all handed the book to one boy, who found the scripture almost immediately. I was surprised, but kept on with the lesson, instructing him to read the verses. He did so perfectly. That is when I learned that this boy spoke French at home, and the lesson was lost—as soon as I tried to back pedal about how “it could be hard for most people….” The students became rambunctious know-it-alls asking ME to quote scriptures in french. Luckily that was already slated to be my last time teaching that class


One of my favorite horrific moments was when I was in RS teaching a lesson on not being offended. About 10 minutes in, a woman who is infamous for stirring the pot raised her hand and said she didn’t understand why people got offended. For example, she said, “one time a friend of mine came to church in a low cut dress. I went up to her and stuck my finger in her cleavage and said,’showing off your boobs, eh?’ and this friend said I’d offended her. How is that MY fault?” At which point two people got up and left the room. Because they were offended.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.


AND YOU, dear readers? Please add to this list of teaching horrors! 



Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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3 Responses

  1. Elle says:

    This is fantastic!

    I was a teacher at the MTC, and once I was doing a role play with my group of Elders. I was demonstrating how to find common ground with a contact and said, “he’s religious; I’m religious! He’s single; I’m single!” And at that point, we all lost it as I realized what I’d just said.

    Our old ward had at least one week a month where there were only male speakers in Sacrament meeting. One fifth Sunday, the whole bishopric spoke. The second counselor started his talk by saying he’d been assigned to speak on a talk that had been given during the women’s session of conference and he had to be humbled because he couldn’t understand how that talk (by a woman, delivered to women) could possibly apply to him, but he later realized it was “actually a pretty good talk.” I’m a bit ashamed to say I walked out after that part to regain some composure, but my husband says the rest of his talk was alright.

    Last week was my first Sunday in our new ward, and in Sunday school we read Ephesians 5:22-33 (wives, submit yourselves to your husbands; husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church), and no one challenged or even apologized for the total icky inequity of those verses. I desperately wanted to raise my hand and say that even though I think Paul’s an okay guy and has some good thoughts, my marriage certainly doesn’t look like that, and I don’t think God wants it to…but I didn’t want to spend all my limited spiritual capital in that first meeting.

    Once in the MTC I’d left my group of Elders (my first district) for the night and went into a small room to make my notes on the computer. As I was leaving, I realized I’d left my coat (a very fitted, olive green number) in the classroom, so I went back to grab it. I walked in to find one of the Elders wearing it and dancing around while another sang “Fat man in a little coat” and the rest of them snapped pictures. I somehow kept a straight face, though I think my lips twitched a little, and silently held out my hand for my coat. Looking back, I wish I’d joined in their laughter, but since it was my first time teaching, I was a little insecure about my “authority.”

  2. DefyGravity says:

    My husband and I were called to teach the 8-10 year olds in Primary. We got the manual and the first lesson we were supposed to teach was David and Bathsheba. I could not think of a good (or even appropriate way) to teach that to kids, so we skipped it.

  3. nrc42 says:

    When I was in Young Women’s, I had a YW President who told us in great detail about the libidos and ease of arousal in teenage boys, then informed us that if a boy ever got an erection around us it was our fault for immodesty. She also said that if we had brothers we had to be extra careful to dress modestly at home for that very reason.

    I had a seminary teacher who told us that calling people of the opposite sex “hot” was as bad as extramarital sex and needed to be confessed to the bishop because of the whole “He that looketh at a woman to lust after her” thing.

    I have a sixteen-year-old brother with a pretty unbelievable seminary teacher. The first day of class she quoted from Proverbs 31, then informed the class that she was so happy to be an example to them of a virtuous woman. She also told my brother in front of the class that he had fallen away from the Iron Rod because he was drinking a diet Mountain Dew. She then asked him why he would even want to drink such a horrible, sinful thing. Thinking quickly, responded, “Because it’s too early for vodka.”

    Last year, I taught the CTR 4s. One of the kids had major behavioral issues. One day, he had blown through his three strikes so he had to sit in the corner during the game. He tried to disrupt the game by burping loudly, but ran out of burps and spent the rest of the class screaming, “BURP!” until the Bishop knocked on the door five minutes before the end of class in bewilderment (my classroom was right by his office). Good times.

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