Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Broad Outline for Ruhi 3

Sure, sure. Of course they have a good outline for Books 1 and 2, but what about 3? Well, I'm glad you asked, dear Reader, for that's what I want to look at today. (All right, I know you didn't really ask that, but it's early and I'm tired. I still want to get this out today, and I can't think of a snappy way to begin, so there you go.)

First, before we look at Book 3, take a look at the last theme in Book 2: Universal Education. You see how they naturally lead us straight into this book? This is such a great demonstration of coherency, where everything naturally follows upon what came before.

Given that, it is such a simple and logical step from Book 2 to Book 3. Universal education? Sure, let's look at that in Book 3.

But where to begin? Well, simply put, they begin with the basic principles of education. For most teachers, this would mean things like class curriculum an focusing on course outlines and lesson plans. Not these guys. Their first order of business is the people, the children themselves, as well as the attitude of the teacher. You see, people come first. If you discuss the curriculum first, then you are placing the information above the people, and the people are now irrelevant to what you are teaching.

They begin with praise for the teacher, the encouragement that is needed to undertake such a task. They remind the teacher of the great station to which they are striving to arise, and remind them to "offer praise with each breath" for being given the bounty of being able to offer such a service.

From there, in 3:1:2, they offer a glimpse of the experience of teaching, and how each child will become precious to you in their own unique way. They go on, in 3:1:3 and 4, to help ensure that we have a healthy vision of the children. They are not empty cups to be tediously filled a drop at a time, but rather are like mines rich with priceless gems just waiting for someone to take the time to uncover their great treasures.

For the rest of the unit they go on about various attributes of the teacher / child relationship. Look at their potential, and lovingly help them to develop it. At the same time, remember to develop your own spiritual qualities. You  both need to be aware of the many bounties you receive in your life. There are many such attributes that are being cultivated, and they are just helping us be aware that we should be conscious of what we are doing.

By the time we get to 3:1:13 we are ready for some examples of what might occur in a class, and how we can be prepared to respond.

Once we do this, we move on to unit 2, the actual lessons for grade 1. Of course, they don't actually begin the unit with the lessons. No, they begin with a little bit of a discussion about how the lesson plans are constructed, and why they may be constructed in that manner. They talk about the various components of the lessons, and why each part is important. They also remind us, at the very beginning, 3:2:1, that teaching is beautiful blending of both the sciences and the arts, and will "be gradually learned through study and experience."

Naturally, the first thing they talk about in regards to the curriculum itself is the Writings. Start simple. Explain any words that may be difficult for them. Give examples of the quote in action. It's all like what they did in 1:1 for the adults who were just beginning to look at the Writings.

Once they understand the quote, the next step is to memorize it, 3:2:3. From there, they go on to songs and then storytelling. Right after memorization comes the arts. And this basic level of storytelling follows our simple presentations from Book 2. In Book 2 we explained a simple concept. Now we move on to the more difficult skill of telling an actual story. But these stories are simple, and an easy place to begin. And our audience is the most forgiving audience we will ever encounter, children.

After the story comes the games. The children likely need to move around at this point, and games not only help them burn off some energy, they also help them learn and practice many skills and concepts. The Ruhi books help us understand that games are a natural part of a children's life, and provide many tools that are both useful and necessary for good development.

Finally, the last part of the class is drawing, another art. But this time, the children are the creators, not merely participants as in the singing of a song someone else wrote, or an audience as in the case of the story. Here they get to express their own creativity.

Only after this wonderful explanation of the various components of the lessons do we get the lessons themselves. And what are these lessons? Well, the themes are as follows: unity, purity of heart, justice, love, service, truthfulness, steadfastness, humility, sharing, honesty, generosity, kindness, obedience, the stronghold of God's love, and trust.

From here, I could talk a bit about the order of these lessons, and how they begin with unity, for without unity you won't have a good class experience. But really, by this point, you can probably see the wisdom of this path yourself.

Let's move on.

Unit 3, conducting the children's classes. Here they go into some of the practical aspects behind the classes. They let us know, in 3:3:2, that the order of the lesson plans isn't fixed. You may need to change the order around a bit, depending on your actual class, and that's ok. There is, however, a wisdom in reminding us that the very manner in which we enter the class is important, and worthy of note. Prayers at the beginning, once you are in the space, is always a good idea. From there, discipline and class rules are mentioned, for they should be consciously decided upon and all should be aware of them. The way we all speak to each other is also important. The manner in which we address the children will set the primary example of how the children should interact with each other.

Now, following on the rules, there also need to be rewards and sanctions, for these are the twin pillars of justice. What better place to begin to learn about justice than here in the classroom? They talk a bit about sharing, and give us some exercises that may help us see past behaviour and into possible motivation. This is extremely useful, especially if you are a new teacher. A noisy child is not an indication that they are a bad child, as some in society would have us believe, but may actually be an indication that they are bored. This section, 3:3:11, helps us be more patient and forgiving, as well as offer us possible solutions to difficulties we may face in the classroom.

Finally, there is the register. Being systematic can help in so may ways. You can look at a class register and know at a glance if someone has stopped showing up for some reason. You can quickly see if your class is growing or shrinking. And you can easily see who may need some extra follow-up. This leads us to a section about our work with the families, for a children's class is not just about the children. It is about the family, and, in fact, about the whole community.

The work you do here will impact everyone.

Of course, not everyone in the community will be Baha'i. They will be free to look at the lesson plans, and perhaps even join you in the classroom, if you wish. We have nothing to hide. They will come to see the beauty of the lessons, and of course, they may want to know a bit about our own background. Who are we? What is this "Baha'i" thing? And Who is Baha'u'llah?

Which, naturally, leads us into Book 4.

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