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(US – MA, 7 February 2010)

Here some cogent learnings shared by the Boston, MA cluster Area Teaching Committe on effective means for establishing children’s classes in a community.

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Dear Friends,
 

Please find attached below some learning about children’s classes from the cluster reflection gathering…

 

What we’ve learned

  • Many classes are facing burnout from having only one teacher. In addition to new classes we need support for the existing ones
  • We may need to visit people who have gone through Book 3 previously and are not active and try to engage them in our classes that are already set up
  • Having prospective teachers at established sites helps them to learn how to conduct a class and also lends more support to the existing class
  • It may help existing classes to also look in the neighborhoods for prospective co-teachers (providing opportunity to teach as well)
  • Try as much as possible to interact with parents to build vision…. this may take multiple visits so do not be discouraged
  • Potential ways to start a class:
    • Start small in  a neighborhood and allow the kids to bring their friends
    • Try to conduct classes in an open space because kids will be curious/interested in finding out
    • Initiate with Baha’i children. If you can capture their interest then they will be more apt to reach out to their friends/neighbors and bring seekers
  • When starting new classes a lot of emphasis has to be put in finding teachers that don’t have to travel far to get to site (reduces burnout)
  • Understanding how to have control over kids also reduces burnout

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Quotations – children’s classes

Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


Classes for the spiritual education of children and junior youth serve to strengthen the roots of the Faith in the local population… Whatever the nature of the cluster, it is imperative to pay close attention to children and junior youth everywhere. Concern for the moral and spiritual education of young people is asserting itself forcefully on the consciousness of humanity, and no attempt at community building can afford to ignore it.

– The Universal House Justice, 27 December 2005


Confidence is patiently built as the friends engage in progressively more complex and demanding acts of service.

– The Universal House Justice, 27 December 2005

 

Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo

[It is] important…that every soul feel welcome to join the community in contributing to the betterment of society, commencing a path of service to humanity on which, at the outset or further along, formal enrolment can occur.

The significance of this development should not be underestimated. In every cluster, once a consistent pattern of action is in place, attention needs to be given to extending it more broadly through a network of co-workers and acquaintances, while energies are, at the same time, focused on smaller pockets of the population, each of which should become a centre of intense activity….

Those who serve in these settings, both local inhabitants and visiting teachers, would rightly view their work in terms of community building…  [It is] a process that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development. The activities that drive this process, and in which newly found friends are invited to engage—meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all… —may well need to be maintained with assistance from outside the local population for a time. It is to be expected, however, that the multiplication of these core activities would soon be sustained by human resources indigenous to the neighbourhood or village itself—by men and women eager to improve material and spiritual conditions in their surroundings. A rhythm of community life should gradually emerge, then, commensurate with the capacity of an expanding nucleus of individuals committed to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new World Order. …

[…]

In every cluster with an intensive programme of growth in operation, efforts need to be made to systematize further the provision of spiritual education to increasing numbers of children, from families of many backgrounds—a requisite of the community-building process gathering momentum in neighbourhoods and villages.

– The Universal House Justice, Ridván message 2010

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(The Ridván message of the Universal House of Justice is available here. Photo reprinted with permission of the Bahá’í World Centre. View it here)

The activities that drive this process, and in which newly found friends are invited to engage—meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all… —may well need to be maintained with assistance from outside the local population for a time. It is to be expected, however, that the multiplication of these core activities would soon be sustained by human resources indigenous to the neighbourhood or village itself—by men and women eager to improve material and spiritual conditions in their surroundings. A rhythm of community life should gradually emerge, then, commensurate with the capacity of an expanding nucleus of individuals committed to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new World Order.

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