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Education, Bahá'í:
Warwick Leaflets

by Warwick Bahá'í Bookshop

1994
"Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."

True Education

"Education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gathering its sustenance, its material comfort and ease...

Human education signifies civilisation and progress: that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries, and elaborate institutions...

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education..."

The Importance of Universal Education

"...inasmuch as ignorance and lack of education are barriers of separation among mankind, all must receive training and instruction...Universal education is a universal law."

"Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent...The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words..."

"The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It is inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward."

"The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind..."

Moral Education

"Every child is potentially the light of the world - and at the same time its darkness..."

"Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved - even though he be ignorant - is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the science and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light."

"The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he would rather have his throat cut than tell a lie, and would think it easier to be slashed by a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny or be carried away by wrath."

"The most essential thing is that the people must be educated in such a way... that they will avoid and shrink from perpetrating crimes, so that the crime itself will appear to them as the greatest chastisement...Therefore no crimes will be committed."

"Schools must first train their children in the principles of religion.. but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry."

One of the basic Bahá'í principles is that individuals should investigate truth for themselves. Bahá'ís bring up their children in the knowledge of all religious beliefs so that at the age of 15 they may make their own decision.

A Common Curriculum

"Education is essential and all standards of training and teaching throughout the world of mankind should be brought into conformity and agreement; a universal curriculum should be established."

"Having one course of education promotes unity among mankind. When all mankind shall receive the same education and the equality of men and women be realized the foundations of warfare will be utterly destroyed."

Bahá'ís believe that there should be a world language and script, chosen or invented, which would be taught in all schools, along with the mother tongue of the region:

"They would, in this way, be acquiring only two languages, one their own native tongue, the other the language in which all the peoples of the world would converse."

The Responsibility of Parents

Parents have the responsibility of educating their children from birth. An unusual feature of Bahá'í beliefs is that, if there has to be a choice, girls should be educated in preference to boys:

"Most important of all is the training of girl children, for these girls will one day be mothers, and the mother is the first teacher of the child."

"Give them (the children) the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind."

Encouragement

"The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained."

"...there is.. a difference in the intrinsic or natal capacity of individuals. Nevertheless although capacities are not the same, every member of the human race is capable of education."

Methods of Education

"Many elementary sciences must be made clear to them in the nursery; they must learn them in play, in amusement. Most ideas must be taught them through speech, not through book-learning. One child must question the other concerning these things and the other must give the answer."

"You must sow the seeds of peace in the plastic minds of the children...Envelop them with the atmosphere of peace..."

"A small child who has been taught to think universally can talk with the learned."

Bahá'í Schools

Wherever Bahá'í communities are established in developing countries, one of the first things to be organised will be a school for the use of both children and adults (not just Bahá'ís). In countries where state schools already exist, Bahá'í children will usually have classes, probably at weekends, where they are taught about all religions and where the spirit of unity is fostered. Bahá'ís try to teach their children to be world citizens so that prejudices of gender, race or nation will not appear.

Bahá'ís continue with their education for the whole of their lives. Adults have the responsibility of reading and meditating on the Bahá'í writings each day, and discussion meetings are often held. Study classes and courses are also available, both on Bahá'í scriptures and the concerns of the age in which we live.

The Future

The purpose of Bahá'í education is primarily to fulfil the spiritual potential of each individual. In conjunction with this, the fulfilment of the intellectual and practical potential will enable the individual to serve his or her fellow-beings and contribute to the general welfare of the world of humanity.

Bahá'ís believe that humanity has a glorious future. As education becomes universal and spiritually based, surprising results will follow. The Bahá'í writings say that:

"The newly-born babe of that Day excels the wisest and most venerable men of this time..."

The text of all these leaflets remains the copyright of Warwick Bahá'í Bookshop. The Bookshop is happy for people to download individual copies for their own purposes. Printed copies can be purchased from the Warwick Bookshop. Individuals or communities wishing to translate or print these leaflets in other countries please contact the Bookshop for permission.
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