June 17, 2016

Institute Coordinators: - children’s classes, junior youth groups and study circles

-- Some chronological excerpts from messages of the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre

The concept of cluster institute coordinator
... The coordinator needs to operate at the level of implementation, carrying out day-to-day plans and activities and ensuring that the basic function of the institute is performed- this, with the assistance of the tutors and any staff if necessary. The board oversees the institute process as a whole, largely through the periodic reports of the coordinator and through occasional consultations. It will want to make itself readily accessible to the coordinator, providing the atmosphere in which he or she can share ideas, seek the board 's views on the possibilities and challenges facing the institute, and benefit from its advice. To carry out its role, the board does not need to meet frequently, as does a committee charged with undertaking a set of specific tasks.
(From a letter dated 21 December 2001 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to NSA of Brazil, quoted by the International Teaching Centre, ‘Building Momentum: A Coherent Approach to Growth’, a document prepared by the International Teaching Centre at the instruction of the Universal House of Justice, April 2003)
Cluster institute coordinator & ATC
A critically important aspect which cannot be deferred for long is the significant investment of time required from the cluster agencies, in particular the training institute coordinator and the secretary of the Area Teaching Committee—occasionally referred to as the cluster development facilitator.
(The International Teaching Centre, ‘Impact of Growth on Administration Processes,’ a document prepared by the International Teaching Centre at the instruction of the Universal House of Justice, July 2005)
Britain’s first full-time regional training institute coordinator
In the United Kingdom the National Assembly, responding to the demands of the Plan, reassessed its staffing situation at the national level and managed through streamlining of functions and consolidation of posts to release the necessary funds to substantially increase the financial support for regional institutions. This step, begun in 2002, made it possible to appoint the first full-time regional training institute coordinator, and later to fund a second post, as well as providing the financial support for positions at the cluster level as these become necessary - measures which are making a direct and decisive impact on the impressive development of the process of growth in that country.
(The International Teaching Centre, ‘Impact of Growth on Administration Processes,’ a document prepared by the International Teaching Centre at the instruction of the Universal House of Justice, July 2005)
Institute coordinators at different levels
If the work of the tutor is to reach higher and higher degrees of excellence, it must be remembered that primary responsibility for the development of human resources in a region or country rests with the training institute. While striving to increase the number of its participants, the institute as a structure—from the board, to the coordinators at different levels, to the tutors at the grassroots—must lay equal stress on the effectiveness of the system in its entirety, for, in the final analysis, sustained quantitative gains will be contingent on qualitative progress.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)
Institute coordinator at cluster level
At the level of the cluster, the coordinator must bring both practical experience and dynamism to his or her efforts to accompany those who serve as tutors. He or she should arrange periodic gatherings for them to reflect on their endeavours. Events organized to repeat the study of segments selected from the institute material may occasionally prove helpful, provided they do not inculcate a need for perpetual training. The capabilities of a tutor develop progressively as an individual enters the field of action and assists others in contributing to the aim of the present series of global Plans, through study of the sequence of courses and implementation of their practical component.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)
Institute coordinators for children’s classes, for junior youth groups and for study circles
And as men and women of various ages move along the sequence and complete their study of each course with the help of tutors, others must stand ready to accompany them in acts of service undertaken according to their strengths and interests—particularly the coordinators responsible for children’s classes, for junior youth groups and for study circles, acts of service crucial to the perpetuation of the system itself. To ensure that the proper measure of vitality is pulsating through this system should continue to be the object of intense learning in every country over the course of the next twelve months.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)
The core programme for the spiritual education of children - for teachers and institute coordinators
The Ruhi Institute has already been requested to expedite plans to complete its courses for training children’s class teachers at different levels including the corresponding lessons, starting with youngsters aged 5 or 6 and proceeding to those aged 10 or 11, in order to close the present gap between existing lessons and its textbooks for junior youth, such as Spirit of Faith and the forthcoming Power of the Holy Spirit, which provide a distinctly Bahá’í component to the programme for that age group. As these additional courses and lessons become available, institutes in every country will be able to prepare the teachers and the coordinators required to put in place, grade by grade, the core of a programme for the spiritual education of children, around which secondary elements can be organized. Meanwhile, institutes should do their best to provide teachers with suitable materials, from among others currently in existence, for use in their classes with children of various ages, as necessary.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)
Full-time institute coordinators
Further knowledge is sure to accrue in this area of endeavour, although a pattern of action is already clear. Only the capacity of the Bahá’í community limits the extent of its response to the demand for the programme by schools and civic groups. Within the clusters that today are the focus of an intensive programme of growth, there is a wide array of circumstances, from those with a few sporadic junior youth groups to those maintaining a number sufficient to require the services of a dedicated coordinator, who could receive ongoing support from a site for the dissemination of learning. To ensure that this capacity increases across the entire spectrum of these clusters, we are calling for 32 learning sites, each serving some twenty clusters with full-time coordinators, to be in operation by the end of the current Plan. In all other such clusters, priority should be given to creating the capacity over the coming year to offer the programme, multiplying the number of groups systematically.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)
“A complement of coordinators appointed by the institute… those for study circles, for junior youth groups, and for children’s classes.”
It is important to note that, as a programme of growth is being brought into existence, an emergent community spirit begins to exert its influence on the course of events. Whether activities are scattered across the cluster or concentrated in one village or neighbourhood, a sense of common purpose characterizes the endeavours of the friends. Whatever level of organization served to channel the early manifestations of this spirit, the systematic, coordinated multiplication of core activities necessitates that higher levels soon be attained. Through various measures, greater structure is lent to activity, and initiative, shaped largely by individual volition before, is now given collective expression. A complement of coordinators appointed by the institute moves into place—those for study circles, for junior youth groups, and for children’s classes. Any order of appointment is potentially valid. Nothing less than an acute awareness of circumstances on the ground should make this determination, for what is at stake is not compliance with a set of procedures but the unfoldment of an educational process that has begun to show its potential to bring about the spiritual empowerment of large numbers.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)  
 Assistants to institute coordinators
Though the central elements of the process of growth remain unchanged in the clusters in the vanguard of learning, sheer numbers require organizational schemes to take on a higher degree of complexity. Different innovations have already been introduced, on the basis of both geographic considerations and numerical growth. The division of the cluster into smaller units, the decentralization of the reflection meeting, the assignment of assistants to institute coordinators, the deployment in teams of experienced friends to support others in the field— these are some of the arrangements that have been made thus far.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)  
General atmosphere to cultivate
We have every confidence that, with your able assistance, the International Teaching Centre will follow these developments over the course of the next Plan, helping to consolidate the lessons learned into well-proven methods and instruments. To this end, you and your auxiliaries will need to cultivate an atmosphere that encourages the friends to be methodical but not rigid, creative but not haphazard, decisive but not hasty, careful but not controlling, recognizing that, in the final analysis, it is not technique but unity of thought, consistent action, and dedication to learning which will bring about progress.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)  
The institute process, its organization and resources, and its centrality to “the community's God-given mission” to “bring into reality a new World Order”
In this connection, we are particularly happy to note the degree of effort being exerted in every country to lend an added measure of vitality to the institute process, so critical if increasing numbers are to participate actively in the work required to bring into reality a new World Order. The operation of the institute board; the functioning of coordinators at different levels; the capabilities of friends serving as tutors of study circles, animators of junior youth groups, teachers of children's classes; and the promotion of an environment conducive at once to universal participation and mutual support and assistance-nowhere is the centrality of these to the fulfilment of the community's God-given mission lost on the friends. What has been especially heartening to observe in this respect is the widespread mobilization of resources dedicated to the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme. No less encouraging is the zeal with which institutes have greeted the challenge of preparing teachers for successive grades of Baha'i children's classes as additional materials for this purpose have been made available. It seems timely, then, to offer National Spiritual Assemblies and their training institutes further guidance on the implementation of the main sequence of courses and those that branch off from it.
(The Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 12 December 2011)

Periodic occasions for Institute coordinators for study circles, junior youth groups, and children’s classes “to examine together the strength of the educational process as a whole”
In all such clusters, where the demands of large-scale growth are asserting themselves, each stage of the educational process promoted by the training institute must receive added support. The work of the coordinator should be reinforced by assistance from a growing number of experienced individuals, and meetings for the exchange of information and insights become regular and more systematic in approach. So, too, must periodic occasions be created for the three coordinators appointed by the institute -or, where applicable, teams of coordinators concerned with study circles, junior youth groups and children's classes respectively - to examine together the strength of the educational process as a whole. And they, in turn, should meet on a regular basis with the Area Teaching Committee. Further, if an adequate flow of information, guidance and much-needed funds is to reach the cluster, a parallel set of steps will have to be taken by the board of the institute to enhance the functioning of that agency at the regional level. Where such a mature scheme of coordination is brought into place, the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants will be able to provide support across all areas of action with even greater effectiveness.
(The Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 12 December 2011)
Need for additional children’s class educational materials - the role of the cluster children coordinator
In light of the foregoing paragraphs, the question of educational materials specifically as they pertain to children's classes and to junior youth groups has to be considered. With regard to the former, we explained in our Ridvan 2010 message that the lessons prepared by the Ruhi Institute would constitute the core of a programme for the spiritual education of children, around which secondary elements could be organized. Whether or not any additional elements are required to reinforce the educational process for each grade would generally be determined by teachers themselves, on the basis of specific circumstances, not infrequently in consultation with the institute coordinator at the cluster level. It is assumed that, if found to be appropriate, any additional items would be selected from resources readily available. There will seldom be cause to formalize the use of such items, whether directly through their adoption by training institutes or indirectly through their widespread systematic promotion.
(The Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 12 December 2011)

Regional and subregional institute coordinators
Efforts must be redoubled, then, to strengthen regional institutes—enhancing the functioning of their boards, their regional and subregional arrangements, their cluster coordinators, and their tutors. By learning how to raise up and accompany even a few dedicated and effective tutors in each cluster, institutes can provide for the capacity that is required for the movement of a sizable number of individuals through the sequence of courses each year. The national gathering for regional coordinators in November appears to have contributed significantly to unity of thought toward advancing these aims.
(From a message dated 5 January 2015 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to NSA of USA)

Emergence of initial institute coordinators “as needs demand”
Where the institute is concerned, the flow of participants through its courses creates a growing need for them to be systematically supported as they begin serving as teachers of children, as animators, and as tutors. Opportunities naturally arise for those among the core of believers who have already gained a measure of experience in the educational activities to assist those who are newer to them. An individual’s readiness to help others move forward in their efforts to serve might lead to specific responsibilities being assigned to him or her. In this manner, coordinators of each of the three stages of the educational process gradually emerge as needs demand. Their actions are always motivated by a desire to see capacity develop in others and to foster friendships founded on cooperation and reciprocity.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 29 December 2015 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors) 
Institute coordinators for “particular part of the cluster”
As growth in the cluster advances further, greater demands are being placed on the organizational scheme of the training institute. Additional coordinators are now required, some of whom might focus their efforts on a particular part of the cluster. However, this need not result in another layer of administration. Much can be achieved through collaboration, as coordinators start to work together in teams, sometimes drawing on the help of other capable individuals. The ongoing interactions and exchange of experience within these teams constantly enriches understanding and increases the efficacy of their service. The coordinators are also discovering that their efforts can be much enhanced if the friends serving as teachers of children, as animators, and as tutors who live in close proximity to one another are able to meet in small groups, in the settings where they serve, and assist each other.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 29 December 2015 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)  
National or regional institute coordinators
Training institute boards need to maintain an ongoing consultation with national or regional coordinators, as well as with Auxiliary Board members, about how an activity in a cluster gains strength, how it can be adequately resourced, what approaches prove effective in different settings, and how experience can be shared. We have in mind a systematic and concentrated effort by this collaborative group to gather and apply insights emerging from the grassroots regarding the promotion of children’s classes, junior youth groups, and study circles. Addressing other dimensions of the institute’s work—such as schemes of coordination at the cluster level, enhancing the capacity of coordinators, and the management of statistics and finances—will be essential too. In your work with training institutes, you will no doubt wish to arrange that they draw on the experience of other institutes in the same part of the world.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 29 December 2015 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)