Global Harmony: Students Embracing Diversity for World Peace and Unity
The Paramount Role of Education in Shaping the Human and Society
Education as a Catalyst for Individual Potential and Societal Excellence
Jul 18, 2023
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‘Abdu’l-Bahá portrayed education as an indispensable foundation of all human excellence. He fervently advocated for the establishment of well-organized schools and a comprehensive approach to instruction in the various branches of knowledge. He supported the promotion of arts, the discovery of new wonders, the expansion of trade, and the development of industry.
Furthermore, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the education of children was of paramount importance, as he held that success and prosperity fundamentally hinged on devotion to God. He championed a vigorous commitment to education, promising that it would result in divine confirmations that would astonish those involved.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged individuals to endeavour both materially and spiritually, highlighting the dual dimensions of human development. He saw children as mirrors reflecting the secrets of the universe, pressing for their education in early years to be comprehensive and varied, laying the groundwork for their future fame in knowledge, science, and the arts.
"The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favor of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory."
"Establish schools that are well organized, and promote the fundamentals of instruction in the various branches of knowledge through teachers who are pure and sanctified, distinguished for their high standards of conduct and general excellence, and strong in faith—scholars and educators with a thorough knowledge of sciences and arts…. Included must be promotion of the arts, the discovery of new wonders, the expansion of trade, and the development of industry. The methods of civilization and the beautification of the country must also be encouraged…."
"One of the most important of undertakings is the education of children, for success and prosperity depend upon service to and worship of God, the Holy, the All-Glorified. Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children, and promotion of the various sciences, crafts and arts. Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished."
"Exert every effort to acquire the various branches of knowledge and true understanding. Strain every nerve to achieve both material and spiritual accomplishments. Encourage the children from their earliest years to master every kind of learning, and make them eager to become skilled in every art—the aim being that through the favouring grace of God, the heart of each one may become even as a mirror disclosing the secrets of the universe, penetrating the innermost reality of all things; and that each may earn world-wide fame in all branches of knowledge, science and the arts. Certainly, certainly, neglect not the education of the children. Rear them to be possessed of spiritual qualities, and be assured of the gifts and favours of the Lord."
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from various Tablets
Shoghi Effendi's writings placed significant emphasis on early education, particularly in the arts of reading and writing. Additionally, he underscored the relevance of personal interests, aptitude, and abilities in acquiring advanced sciences, beneficial arts, various languages, and other essential crafts.
Upon exploring Shoghi Effendi's perspectives, we can appreciate the profound impact of harmony, love, and purity of motive in all undertakings. When these principles are embraced, they manifest as light and progress, while their absence can lead to stagnation and darkness.
These perspectives underline the critical role of spiritual aspects in educational efforts, such as soul training, child instruction, and service to society, inclusive of poverty relief and assistance to the weak. Shoghi Effendi advocated for universal kindness, the propagation of divine virtues, and the promotion of divine word.
Seen through the lens of Shoghi Effendi, education becomes a holistic endeavour, where the cultivation of spiritual qualities and intellectual capabilities augment each other, thus enhancing an individual's overall well-being and societal contributions.
"Every child, without exception, must from his earliest years make a thorough study of the art of reading and writing, and according to his own tastes and inclinations and the degree of his capacity and powers, devote extreme diligence to the acquisition of advanced sciences and beneficial arts, various languages, and existing professions and crafts."
— Shoghi Effendi
"In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness…. Discussions must all be confined to spiritual matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples, the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Holy Word."
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cited by Shoghi Effendi
As suggested by the Universal House of Justice, education, with its numerous theories and methodologies, is a vast and complex field. They remind us that no educational theory is devoid of assumptions about human beings and society, underscoring the delicate equilibrium necessary in fostering children's awareness of their potentialities without excessively glorifying selfhood. This viewpoint implies that while the instilling of confidence is pivotal, an unwarranted emphasis on ego could produce detrimental effects.
Moreover, the Universal House of Justice highlights the importance of not confining the educational experience to mere play and entertainment. Instead, they advocate for the capacity of children to engage in abstract discussions suited to their age, thereby underscoring the crucial role of serious, thoughtful engagement in shaping young minds.
In conclusion, the transformative role of education in the individual and society, as expounded by these enlightened perspectives, is undeniably vital. It reaches beyond academic skills, cultivating spiritual qualities, fostering exploration, and promoting balanced development. Viewed through this prism, education is not simply a tool for personal success but a conduit for societal progression and a path to earn divine grace and favour.
"Education is a vast field, and educational theories abound. Surely many have considerable merit, but it should be remembered that none is free of assumptions about the nature of the human being and society. An educational process should, for example, create in a child awareness of his or her potentialities, but the glorification of self has to be scrupulously avoided. So often in the name of building confidence the ego is bolstered. Similarly, play has its place in the education of the young. Children and junior youth, however, have proven time and again their capacity to engage in discussions on abstract subjects, undertaken at a level appropriate to their age, and derive great joy from the serious pursuit of understanding. An educational process that dilutes content in a mesmerizing sea of entertainment does them no service."
— The Universal House of Justice
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