Teaching Beyond the Obvious

Magazine Issue
Fall 2018
A portrait of a man wearing a suitRead Time: 3 minutes

After studying at Brigham Young University, serving his country, and dedicating much of his life to teaching, David A. Squires continues to “teach beyond the obvious” by using creativity in his teaching approaches.

Squires graduated from BYU’s College of Education in 1958 with a major in history education and later an MEd. He was part of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at BYU, completing his service in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Glasgow, Montana, in 1961.

Squires then returned to Utah, found a teaching position at Lincoln Junior High School in Orem, and began to “develop numerous strategies in teaching beyond the obvious,” including  some methods to improve grammar, writing, and inter-active experiences in the classroom.

One method that Squires engineered helped his students with language arts skills. This approach, called shadow writing, emphasized correct punctuation. Students copied a sentence from a novel, retaining and observing the original punctuation but inserting their own words. Another method, phonetic spelling, moved from simply dictating words for a weekly spelling test to focusing on phonetics while also testing spelling and definitions.

Part of Squire’s teaching included hands-on experiences. As part of the Utah government unit, along with the textbook, he had students compose a list of questions for government officials. Then, during class, the students called the state capital, juvenile court, and Washington, DC, to ask questions of the officials, while the rest of the class listened and took notes.

Squires’ success in improving learning through these strategies and experiences led him to other teaching opportunities. In 1974 the BYU College of Education asked him to join the secondary education faculty as the social science specialist, teaching a class centered on creativity in the classroom.

“Creativity was not a lecture class. It was an experience in exploring one’s own potential and thinking style,” said Squires. One of his students had told Squires, “I am not even an education major, but this is the most important class I have taken at BYU.”

Squires retired after 30 years of teaching, but his influence continues. A former student wrote, “Thank you for being a teacher to the several thousand students I have taught over the years.”

Today Squires spends his time with his wife, Lois, their seven children, and their 34 (and counting) grandchildren. He is a member of the Orem senior citizen council, writes poetry, and records his teaching processes in hopes that other teachers will “teach beyond the obvious” too.