Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A challenge at the forefront of the learning process

What is a learning process, and where is its forefront? I hope to reflect on this question in this blog post.

The language that we use helps in constructing a new social reality. The coming of Baha'u'llah has brought with it a new message for all of humanity. It has also brought fresh capacity for all of humanity to understand that message, and to adopt and implement it. As we learn to adopt and implement elements of this message we transform our lives, and our society in the direction of growth and maturity.

Consider the case of a single cluster. Of course there are great variations among real clusters, but let us take a hypothetical  example. Let us say that the population of this cluster is one or two hundred thousand people. Let us also say that there are Baha'i communities in a few towns in this cluster. Say we have 4 or 5 communities that have Local Spiritual Assemblies. Perhaps the total Baha'i population is about 200 or so. Such a cluster has been engaged in various activities for some time. They have built vibrant Baha'i communities, and erected administrative institutions. They have been observing the Nineteen Day Feasts regularly, holding gatherings to observe Holy Days, and have established local Funds. They have also been teaching, proclaiming the Faith and consolidating their communities. During the past five years they have also established regular study circles, over 100 people have started the study of various courses, and many have engaged in core activities that resulted from the study of the institute materials. Let us also imagine that two years ago institute coordinators have been appointed, an Area Teaching Committee has come into existence, and that they have launched an intensive program of growth. Since then they have been conducting cycles of activity, steadily increasing the participation of the local population in these core activities. Now over half of the participants of these activities are from the wider community, gradually integrating people of all ages from all walks of life. This then would be the current social reality.

Now let us imagine what might be the condition of such a cluster in 5 years time. The Universal House of Justice in its letter of 28 December 2010, paragraph 15, provides us with such a vision. It says that "If, in a cluster, those shouldering responsibility for expansion and consolidation number in the tens, with a few hundred participating in the activities of community life, both figures should rise significantly so that by the end of the Plan, one or two hundred are facilitating the participation of one or two thousand.”

This then takes us back to the question at the top of this post. While there is an evolving framework for action, there are no formulas for going from here to there. Each cluster will have to learn for itself those strategies, methods and approaches that will realize the above goal and vision. And we have 20 cycles to get there.

Those  individuals, whether they be Baha'is or not, who are active in the field of action-reflection and are learning about the process of changing tens into hundreds and hundreds into thousands will find great motivation and great satisfaction in this work. There is nothing more intrinsically motivational than learning about this process, which is at the forefront of the learning process.

The following questions are suggested by the study of this paragraph:

1.     What is the challenge that must be faced by those “in the forefront of the learning process”?

2.     In those clusters where “an intensive programme of growth is established” what should be done now?

3.     What does it mean that the system should “not close in on itself”? Describe cases where this might happen.
4.     What have we learned about receptivity so far?
5.     A “direct presentation of the Faith” should be “carried out at a sufficient level of depth and reinforced by a sound approach to consolidation”. Please share your experience in this regard. Did it bring “enduring results”?
6.     What are the “lessons of the past” about this subject?
7.     What is your vision of “both figures should rise significantly”? Describe what your cluster may look like at April 2016?

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