Teaching Releases Inherent Capacities A Bahá’í Perspective

We will be celebrating another World Teachers’ Day on October 5, thus, it is timely, to contemplate on features that make teaching profession a greater success. 

To be a teacher is a great privilege. As the Bahá’í Writings state: “Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is education and training of children…”

Those who undertake the education and training of young minds must see themselves as rendering a most valuable service to their community and to society as a whole. Their task is to see each student as an individual full of potential and talent of great value and helping each one of them to discover this potential and to develop it.

The Bahá’í Writings confirm that we are all created in the image of God – which implies that all of us, including our children, have the potential to reflect the attributes of God such as kindness, love and justice.  However, these and many other capacities have to be developed through education.

Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, states:  “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom”.  Accordingly, the aim of education should be the discovery and perfection of God-given potential, talents and capacities of our children and to enable them to serve the best interests of humanity. 

As children learn, through a balanced education, to serve the best interests of their family, their community and humanity, then education contributes not only to individual growth, but also towards transformation in society and it becomes an instrument for the creation of peaceful, just and harmonious communities.

Teachers must become transmitters of morality

Teachers, in addition to imparting academic knowledge and skills, must become role models and the transmitters of morality and builders of character.  Currently a great concern is that the moral authority of teachers as respected members of the community is eroding. 

Our children – the teachers of future – must acquire a balanced set of capacities that are academic, spiritual and vocational.  Teachers must emphasize on the acquisition of virtue as the foundation for actions that lead to individual and collective spiritual and material well-being.

According to the Bahá’í Writings: “… schools for academic studies must at the same time be training centres in behaviour and conduct, and they must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character. … A physician of evil character, and who betrayeth his trust, can bring on death, and become the source of numerous infirmities and diseases”.

An important contributor to building a new world order is to guide our children in universal values, including an ethic of service to the common good.  Educating our children in the principle of service to humanity will arouse and maintain motivation and when this is coupled with the acquisition of practical skills and technology, it will open many possibilities for development and advancement in our societies and for building a better world.   

“The minimum requirements of education” according to a statement of the Bahá’í International Community  “are the basic knowledge, qualities, skills, attitudes, and capacities that enable individuals to become conscious subjects of their own growth, and active, responsible participants in a systematic process of building a new world order”.

Teachers must nurture love for humanity

Teachers must nurture love for all people and instil tolerance of differences.  Our children should grow up with an acute sense of justice, and empathy for others. They can be trained to respect, appreciate and understand diverse ideas and to settle their differences peacefully. Acquiring such qualities will also bring about harmonious and productive families and communities.  

Education, our teachers provide, should help to instil in every child the awareness of the oneness of humanity.  It should prepare him or her to live in peace in an atmosphere of understanding, dialogue and respect for others. 

Teachers must give up all prejudices – be it national, racial, religious, gender based, or occupational – and treat all children as equals. 

Teachers need to have a full understanding of the role that a child’s self-esteem plays in determining school success and should create a climate of encouragement in the classroom. 

Education, as envisioned in the Bahá’í Writings, should make the child a collaborator both in his own growth and in the development of his community.  While teachers are normally well equipped to teach, there is always a great deal to learn during the process of carrying out their important responsibilities. 

Teachers deserve a high esteem and must enjoy the support of the community and the respect which results from their sacrificial services to society.

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OPINION: Flora Teckie