Teacher Guide

A Moodle Book of documents of interest to teachers.

2. Teaching Principles and Practices

The One World School is more than just a unique set of educational principles and practices. It is more than just a collection of clever ways of teaching or novel ways of learning. The One World School is part of a crusade to revolutionize not only how things are taught but what things are learned in school. Academics are not enough. Knowledge, in and of itself, is not sacrosanct.

The One World School is not based on any political philosophy or religious dogma. It involves the integration of the best of modern science with ancient wisdom from different cultures around the world. It is an eclectic, synergistic, and holistic institution of learning.

The One World School is one of many emerging philosophies, institutions, and movements dedicated to building a sustainable, just, and moral future. It is only by working together that we contribute to the growth of an ever-advancing world civilization.

The One World School Pedagogy

Pedagogy is the art and science of teaching. In the Western, the educational focus is primarily on academic achievement. This approach has proven to be insufficient to meet the needs of young people in the modern world.

Our educational system is built on an industrial scale, for vast throughput, and predictable outputs. It features best practices but those practices are optimized around cost minimization and high graduation rates, not student learning outcomes that reflect character development, community involvement, or global awareness.

Teachers have too much academics to teach and too little time to teach, never mind prepare properly. Students have too much to learn and memorize and too little time to learn and reflect. There is too much emphasis on testing, on the one hand, and pushing students through the education mill, often with a blind eye to learning and skill development. Forget about character development. That’s not part of the purview of the school system, but for the parents, the military, and religious establishments. Should it be that way?

Our school system used to be an incubator for character development. Between academics, sports, civics, and after school clubs students learned to compete and cooperate. Young people learned what it felt like to be part of a larger community. At least that was the idea, the ideal, and certainly not true in many places.

Our current problems stem not from a lack of scholarship, leadership, or funding, although each of these is important. The root cause is the lack of spirituality that makes the western educational approach lamentably lacking and perhaps fatally broken. God and religion are not the issue here, however.

A sense of self-worth, a feeling of being part of a larger whole, having a purpose in life, and expecting justice, equal opportunities, getting and giving respect, love, compassion, and forgiveness, and a realization that there is more to life than academic achievement, temporal status, and material processions are some of the aspects of spirituality that are not addressed by any institution of our vaunted civilization.

These imperishable aspects of a noble character have been relegated to irrelevance by financially strapped school districts and subsumed by the 3R’s and STEM. They are not even mentioned in our state and national educational standards. Keeping things in perspective: the 3R’s, STEM, and national educational standards are of utmost importance but they do not touch the heart of what education should be all about: preparing children for a life well lived, not just a productive member of society and a good consumer.

A New Way to Look at Balanced Education

We have evolved and grown as a civilization to the point that we can offer children the opportunity to grow and develop spiritually and materially. The argument that we need to train more children to be high-tech factory workers and white collar specialists reflects the needs of over-reaching corporate interests and the misguided policies of a deeply divided political elite and do not address the true needs of the individual or society.

Scientific breakthroughs and technological advances are freeing us to strike out in new directions, healthier and more rewarding ways of living, if we find the will and muster the effort needed to cast off old ways of doing things. Robots, drones and other technological marvels are rapidly replacing humans in the production and distribution chain, and similar progress is being made in white collar areas across the board. All of that is great if we invest in ways to live that are more just, equitable, and sustainable.

The pursuit of academic excellence and technical proficiency is praiseworthy but it is insufficient to meet the staggering needs of a world civilization that is beset by multiple intractable problems of its own making. Global warming and climate change, unsustainable economic growth coupled with staggering income inequalities, racial and religious animosities, wars of aggression, and many other dire problems are destroying our civilization and killing this planet. Our educational system contributes to a great extent to the perpetuation of these problems. It can also be a large part of the solution.

Community-Based Education

Education at all levels must be balanced with other aspects of achievement such as personal growth, community identity, and a world-embracing vision. That means extending education into the community, into the neighborhoods through the active participation of the parents and organizations that support a community development. In time, a well-organized co-op system that brings together the school, the parents, and the community will emerge.

The One World School and its partners, such as the Day-Star School in Bellevue, Washington and millions of Baha’is are working in different ways to make this vision a reality. If you would like to work with us, and to offer your wisdom and experience, please contact us. We need to work together to make this the new norm.

Ideally, even the children should be exposed to life in the real world, the world of work, in an organized and safe manner. A set of standards and benchmarks will be established to pace and measure not just academic learning but also the nurturing of virtues, community awareness and involvement. The co-op will be aligned with classroom lessons and progress documented in traditional ways as well as a life-long personal e-Portfolio.

Trained and credentialed mentors from the community will work with teachers to expose students to life in various capacities in the community, focusing on key sectors, emphasizing required knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values. This gives new and broader meaning to communications-across-the-curriculum. It will become learning-across-the-community.

Life-Long Learning

A balanced education also means extending education into adulthood. Education must be a life-long process. It must be enshrined in our way of life. This can also be done for our general education system. We don’t need to compress the entire history of world civilization, all its arts and literature, science and technology into just 12 years of forced learning.

Right now our educational system offers a wonderfully diverse curriculum that is compressed into just 12 years in the life of our children and youth. Students, as smart as they are, have a hard time digesting, finding meaning, and drawing meaningful conclusions from all this material in such a short period of time. It would be much more meaningful to work out a system whereby adults continue as students in certain mandatory subject areas, and as electives in others.

Life-long learning does not replace college or professional training but gives people the time they may need to develop the maturity and life experiences required before tackling many subjects. As such, much of the process would be self-paced and maybe even self-evaluated through a process of adaptive learning.

Extending education into adulthood will free up precious class time for k-12 students to include individual and group training designed to build character, cultivate the development of virtues, instill a sense of community, and expand a vision of global diversity and interdependence.

In the finally analysis, our system lacks a moral foundation, one based on an expanded Golden Rule, one that focuses on the cultivation of virtues, and the development of community mindedness, and a world embracing vision.