First of all, then, the teacher must know his pupils: what they already know and what they can do; their daily lives at home and in school and on the streets; their studies, the movie shows they see, the games they play, the chores they do.
Only with such knowledge can the teacher know what his pupils are able to understand. Then, knowing these things about his pupils, the teacher must ask about everything he plans to say and do: From what I know of my pupils, what will this mean to thein?
How will it affect them? Here is a noble thought, a beautiful story, an impressive illustration; but will its nobility be felt by Edward Smith? Will he be able to understand it, to catch its true significance?
Will the hero of the story seem a sissy to him? Or will the situation in which the hero finds himself be so utterly unlike anything Edward Smith knows about that he will miss the lesson entirely? Will this exquisite poetry carry its message to the twelve-year-old girl in my class? Or will it fail because she dont like poetry, anyhow? A point that the Sunday-school teacher needs especially to guard is the use of symbolism that the grown person can understand, but that the little child takes quite literally.
One little boy, Kirkpatrick tells us, declared that he didnt want to be Jesuss little lamb because then he would have to eat grass. A little girl was sorely troubled over the river of life in the New Jerusalem of St. Johns vision because she knew of no body of water into which it could flow.
But then she heard of the great gulf fixed between Dives and Lazarus in Abrahams bosom.