I would like to give you some of the promises of ‘Abdu’l-Baha for the future generations. If we do not educate our children in this proper way, these promises will never be fulfilled. He says ere long you will see that the Baha’is will be the top people in all sciences and technology and knowledge. The Baha’is will become the centre of the greatest discoveries. There will be unlimited inventions.
CHILDREN ARE TREASURE HOUSES OF GOD
God has addressed man in many different terms. One is that man is the mystery of God. Now please pay attention to this definition of Baha’u’llah which is the basis of Baha’i education.
Heredity is unmovable, unchangeable. If it changes, the change will be very, very little. Therefore let’s try to give proper heredity to our children. Those people who spoil their lives in drinking or drugs, or long hours of gambling, and give all these out worn capacities to their generation — of course the children will be retarded. Let’s be absolutely clean in every possible way, soul and body.
ENVIRONMENT HAS A GRAVITY
Environment is extremely difficult to explain. The best definition that I have found is this: As the earth has a centre of gravity, environment also has a centre of gravity. The earth pulls down whatever it can. If there is a screw loose in one of the planes, the gravity will pull it down. Now the environment has the greatest force of gravity.
EDUCATION VS. INSTRUCTION
There is a great difference between instruction and education. Instruction is to transfer knowledge from one person to another. A child becomes filled with information, but is this the ideal of life? Is this the source of pride? No! This is not. This is not what humanity is made for, to just gather knowledge.
It’s exactly like gathering money, gathering anything else. Knowledge is one of the things that we gather, and if we stop with that we have not fulfilled our mission in life as human beings. If you review the educational institutions of the past you will discover that there is no education, only instruction. The teachers and professors transfer their knowledge to the students. There is no education in the proper sense of the word.
PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO GOD
The next topic we will discuss is about the obligation of parents in the education of children. Baha’u’llah says it is the most great commandment of God on the parents to educate their children. Please always remember it is education of the children. If they ignore this commandment they will be responsible to God and their sin will never be forgiven by God. They must answer God.
Now at what time should we start to educate the children, and how? ‘Abdu’l-Baha says their proper education starts from the time that mothers are conceived. They must at different times of the day and night say prayers. He says these words will be like sunshine on the soul of the child.
STORIES I HAD HEARD
I would like to tell some of the stories of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and how He educated children. There is a man in Haifa, he is very old now and almost invalid. He said when he was a child he used to gamble, and a very expensive one too. Instead of playing with marbles, they used to play with coins in the olden days. Who ever hit the coin out of the circle the coin would be his.
NEVER USE FORCE
First of all we explained the definition given in the Writings of Baha’u’llah about the children. They are treasure houses of God granted to the family. In this treasure house there are precious jewels deposited by the Hands of God. The duty of parents, and school, is to explore, find out what are the jewels deposited, find them, polish them, and make the whole world benefit by them. This process is never to be done by force. We can never pull out a flower from the stem. It must be unfolded by itself under careful protection and education.
NEVER, NEVER BEAT THE CHILDREN
He says two things are very bad for children: one is beating the child. Beating! You must never beat the child. Beating means with a sense of revenge or humiliation.