a few notes from the regional gathering

We had a wonderful regional gathering for teachers of Baha’i children’s classes recently, and I thought I’d jot down a few notes before I forget. Besides teachers from Ottawa, we were joined by several teachers who are serving in smaller towns just outside the city. Also present were our local and regional coordinators for children’s classes. The focus of our discussions was very practical, starting with a very brief review of some recent guidance from the Universal House of Justice to situate us, then jumping in right away to look at what that guidance meant for each of us.

Besides the systematic training of teachers for successive grades, institutes will need to learn about the formation of classes for distinct age groups in villages and neighbourhoods; the provision of teachers for various classes; the retention of students year after year, grade after grade; and the continued progress of children from a wide variety of households and backgrounds–in short, the establishment of an expanding, sustainable system for child education that will keep pace with both the growing concern among parents for their youngsters to develop sound moral structures and the rise in human resources in the community.  The task, while immense, is relatively straightforward, and we urge institutes everywhere to give it the attention which it so clearly deserves, focusing especially on the implementation of the first three grades of the programme and remembering that the quality of the teaching-learning experience depends, to a great extent, on the capabilities of the teacher.

(The Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 12 December 2011)

Among the questions we were asked to consider:

  • What does an “expanding, sustainable system for child education” look like to us?
  • With reference to the quote “…the quality of the teaching-learning experience depends, to a great extent, on the capabilities of the teacher,” what are some of the capabilities we must develop as teachers of children’s classes?
  • How would a focus on “implementation of the first three grades of the programme” look in our neighbourhoods?

Some interesting concepts gleaned from the comments that were shared:

  • Getting to know the people around us is essential. The effectiveness of all the core activities of human society, including children’s classes, depend on our ability to form relationships with our neighbours.
  • Working in your own neighbourhood—the neighbourhood you live in—makes things so much easier and more effective, because you’re there all the time, getting to know people every day.
  • Being involved in our community beforehand can be a huge help in getting a children’s class going. One teacher said that being active offering dance classes at her local community centre helped her to build enough trust among the people in her community that when she advertised a new class for moral and spiritual education for children, interest spread very quickly.
  • Everyone can help support a children’s class. Several teachers told stories about having teams of supporters, including both Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, eagerly working together to support their class in various ways: providing rides, preparing snacks, presenting activities (such as songs, stories, arts and crafts, and so on), coordinating volunteers, co-teaching, and many other ways.
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4 thoughts on “a few notes from the regional gathering

  1. Thanks for the great ideas. One thing it must be emphasized is the importance of safety of children per guidelines from National Spiritual Assemby. Please see the National website for the summary of the guidelines. Here are some of the key factors to remember:

    Criminal background check for all who are with children.
    Have two tuitors present with one of them a female.
    Have activity with both tuitors present in visible surrounding to all tuitors.
    Make sure environment is safely cooled and heated.
    Make sure children’s care takers, parents and guardians are welcomed to attend.
    Have liability insurance for the activity covered by Local Assembly or Refional Council.
    If you have any concerns about children’s safety, consult with any of the responsible community members immediately, do not wait for meetings.

    • Thanks for sharing Fuad! I’m not sure where you’re visiting from, but these guidelines are well-known in Canada too. Everyone who starts working with children in children’s classes here gets a security check and a briefing about these important issues.

  2. I was guided to come here because I was asking about ways to use the Virtue Cards with non-Bahai kids. If you have any ideas please let me know. I have tried several times with adults and children here in Japan in the past, and never found a satisfactory result. Basically the Cards’ need to be dramatized within stories of real life I think. However I couldn’t find the context which clicked with my actor/actress audiences. I love the cards, but I don’t know what to do with them.

    • Hi Joe, welcome!

      We’ve only just bought our own copies of the virtues cards, so I can’t say too much about how effective they are yet. They can be excellent resources for introducing spiritual concepts into everyday discussions, and that goes for children’s classes too. Your idea about dramatizing the virtues with stories of real life is an excellent one; in fact, that’s why the lessons in Ruhi Book 3 always include stories, and dramatic activities in Grades 2 and up. Storytelling and role playing put otherwise abstract virtues into a very tangible context that adults and children alike can more easily understand and learn from.

      If you want to, you could try an experiment with a few willing volunteers: pick one of the cards and read the virtue’s definition and some of the examples. Ask the participants to think of a situation in which that virtue could be used; if nobody speaks up, you can suggest one based one the examples given. Then, ask them to create a story based on that situation, and ask them to break into groups and tell each other the story. Finally, bring them back together and ask them to create a short dramatic skit based on the story; practice it with them, and see how it goes. At the end, get them to reflect on what they learned about that virtue, and have them share any insights they may have had about using that virtue in their lives.

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