- The child, particularly the religious life of the child, is central to the interest and commitment of the researcher…
The researcher observes and studies the vital needs of the child and the manifestations of those vital needs according to the developmental stage of the child.
The researchers live with the child a shared religious experience according to the teachings of the gospel: “Except you become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:3).
The researcher attends to the conditions which are necessary for this life to be experienced and to flourish.
- The research environment creates a community in which children and adults live together a religious experience which facilitates participation in the wider community of the family, the Baha’i community and other social spheres.
The community is a place of prayer, in which work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer.
The community is a place in which the only Teacher is the Word of God; both children and adults place themselves in a listening stance before the Word and seek to penetrate the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
- Within the community the transmission of the Message of Baha’u’llah has a celebrative character.
The researcher is not a teacher, remembering that the only Teacher is The Word of God.
- The themes presented in the research are those to which the children have responded with depth and joy. These themes are taken from the Baha’i Writings, considered a fundamental source for creating and sustaining a spiritual life at every developmental stage and, in particular, for illuminating and nourishing the child in his/her vital religious needs.
- The Word of God is proclaimed in the most objective manner possible, so that the words of the adult do not impede the communication between God who speaks and God’s creature who listens.
6. The researcher does not incorporate themes into the research other than those which emerge from the essentiality and specificity of the vital needs of the children and our work with them.
7. It is suggested that a minimum time block of two hours be employed. This will allow the child/youth the possibility of full engagement with the meditation work – their personal work. During this two hour block a small part is often dedicated to the researcher’s presentation, and the majority of the time is reserved for the personal work of the child.
- Rhythmic life in the research community follows the Baha’i calendar.
9. The research expands upon themes that have been introduced in earlier stages of development. These revisited themes are always adapted to the needs ok the child’s current developmental level.
- A material is placed at the disposal of the children. The children’s personal work with the material aids their meditation on and absorption of the theme presented.
11. The material should be beautiful but at the same time strictly adhere to the theme being presented. In making the material the researcher refrains from adding superficial embellishments which would distract the child from the essentials of the theme being presented. In other words, the material must be simple and essential … in order to allow the richness of the theme’s content to shine through.
- The same guidelines (as in 11) apply to the research environment itself. The research project can be realized in any social or cultural setting.
13. Ultimately deciding which themes and materials meet the vital needs of children at their developmental stages will be the result of a long, collaborative work of observation and experimentation.
14. The children’s personal work with the material allows each child to go deeper into a personal relationship with their Creator as well as allows the researcher to observe the child while working with the material.
- The attitude of the adult has to be marked by humility before the capacities of the child, establishing a right rapport with the child, that is to say, respecting the personality of the child, and waiting for the child to reveal himself/herself.
- The primary commitment of the researcher is working with the children. Similarly, as the research develops, the researchers share their talents and experience with parents and ultimately the general public.
17. The tasks of the researcher include:
- Continually studying the Writings of the Baha’i Faith and the current messages received from the various institutions (including the current Plan and its goals);
- Actively practicing prayer as well as meditation on the Writings of God;
- Preparing and maintaining an orderly environment that fosters concentration, silence and contemplation in both the child and the adult;
- Preparing the materials oneself as much as possible while collaborating with others in areas that are beyond one’s abilities.
- Recording observations as accurately as possible.
- Writing up the observations on a consistent basis
- Consulting with other reseachers concerning research findings, participating in peer reviews of potential publications, etc.
- In sharing the research findings with others, the guiding spirit of the research is the same as that of working with the children and youth: modeling – which promotes attraction; and interest – which promotes inquiry and investigation; and a deeper pondering -which promotes action and change. The Baha’i Writings note:
It behoveth the people of Bahá to render the Lord victorious through the power of their utterance and to admonish the people by their goodly deeds and character, inasmuch as deeds exert greater influence than words.
Baha’u’llah in Words of Paradise
Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organised campaign of teaching—no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character—not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abhá Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Shoghi Effendi in Unfolding Destiny 27-29
The modeling process is the most effective way to attract the interest of the heart – where the pondering of God’s Holy Words occurs.
Modeling to share research findings can include:
- working with children
- giving workshops
- writing publications that are approved by peer review
- always being in the Word with people
- consulting with others, when asked, in a collaborative fashion. This promotes a deeper pondering over the Word of God.
A STRONG CAUTION: Unsolicited criticism of programs, other’s teaching styles etc. is unacceptable. We often experience, with the utmost sincerity, the urgency to share information which the recipient is not ready to hear. Similarly to the children we study, unsolicited evaluations will only create discouragement, hurt, and defensive withdrawal from open channels of communication.
In contrast, evaluative research can serve as a valuable tool when a program or community initiates the consultation. Any program of spiritual education that has components of dedication, devotion, and love, whether or not it is developmentally sound or sufficiently grounded in the Word, must be encouraged. These primary ingredients which attract the heart will always provide the foundation upon which a program can gradually grow and develop. Research analysis can add to the growth of a program when, and only when it is requested by that program. Recommendations should be based on sufficient findings and validated in peer review.
The ONLY time unrequested evaluative comments should be made by a researcher are in the cases of violation of law e.g. drug abuse, personal abuse etc.
- The association of researchers:
is an informal association and is independent of sponsorship (e.g. is private)
follows the ethical guidelines of research established in the area where the research is being done. (See confidentiality guidelines, use of parent permission forms etc.)
operates “in harmony with the teachings of the (Baha’i) Faith and the guidance of the Universal House of Justice.”*;
is considered a “scholarly” * activity and thus may not necessarily contribute directly to the goals of a plan ;*
is “…conscious of (its) role and influence as an integral part of the Baha’i community….”*;
requires full disclosure of funding of the researcher (e.g. community sponsorship etc.)
are independent of each other. No researcher represents another researcher in their work. Consequently, when presenting research a full description of the context of the environemnt should be described (e.g. a community setting, a private setting etc.)
- ABS Bulletin Number 104/September 2008 p. 2
(1) Based on Dr. Sophia Cavalletti’s “32 Points of Reflection”
Note: Words directly used from Dr. Cavalletti’s 32 Points are placed in italic print.
These 32 points can be found in Appendix I titled “The Spirit of the Catechesis: 32 Points of Reflection” in the book The Religious Potential of the Child 6 to 12 Years Old by Sofia Cavalletti.
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