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.