Essential Features of Wisdom Education in Baha'i Schooling

Author: Tahereh Pourshafie

Pourshafie, Tahereh, 2007 Essential Features of Wisdom Education in Baha'i Schooling, Flinders University, School of Education

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Abstract

This thesis explores wisdom education, in theory and practice, at a Bahá’í-inspired school. As background for this research, the thesis investigates the concept of wisdom, taking into account representative voices from philosophy (Socrates), psychology (Sternberg) and Biblical studies (Proverbs), and undertaking a detailed analysis of wisdom as a central idea in Bahá’í thought and Bahá’í education. The data for the research into Bahá’í education was collected at Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute (NCCI), a Bahá’í-inspired school committed to wisdom education. NCCI, located in Stratford, Canada, provides a solid foundation for education through the twin pillars of ‘achieving academic excellence’ and a ‘clear moral framework’. NCCI asserts that the centre of the educational experience is their commitment to nurturing and inspiring qualities of the spirit, emphasizing that the spiritual life of their students is an important element of their overall development. The data collected was analysed through the strategies and techniques of interpretive ethnography in educational research. The sources for generating the data were: participant observation, interviews and document/curriculum analysis. After critical analysis of the data, it became apparent that wisdom in this school is understood to be more than knowledge and experience. Wisdom is an educational process involving: · An innate capacity within each individual to become wise. · The stimulus of this innate wisdom capacity through exploring fields of both spiritual and material knowledge. · An acquired understanding of these spiritual and material worlds that increases the potential for good in individual and collective lives. · Making informed and beneficial moral and life decisions based on this acquired understanding, which becomes an integral part of the person’s life experience. · Reflection on decisions made and actions taken, which enables the individual to gain a new level of understanding for seeking knowledge and making better decisions. Also, it became apparent that the acquisition of wisdom is more than seeking knowledge from the elders, God and the environment. There was a strong consensus amongst the informants that education is a vital instrument to stimulate the development of the innate wisdom in their students. This was evident by the way the school emphasised the implementation of the 19 Moral Capabilities (Appendix Three) and promoted spiritual awareness, employed the technique of consultation, implemented the concept of mentorship, upheld the principle of Unity in Diversity, and used performing arts through dance and theatre workshops to enhance social, moral and spiritual understandings. The model of wisdom education investigated in the research undertaken in this thesis offers a valuable model for exploring wisdom education in a wide range of contemporary schools in Australia.

Keywords: wisdom,education,Baha'i
Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2007
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Janice Orrell, Norman Habel