Note: This blog entry is the last in a series that looked at learning principles and factors from both a scientific (APA Learner-Centered Principles) and religious (Baha’i) perspective.
Knowledge is like wings for development or a ladder for the ascent of the individual and society. Students should show the results of their learning through their lives, deeds and actions. All should be encouraged to reach the highest levels of achievement according to their capacity, and taught to self assess their progress on a daily basis.
Many educational standards and assessments are not based on truth, love or justice, and therefore, are discriminatory and harmful. As discussed earlier, the standard of truth can be determined through our senses, reason, tradition and intuition. Each of these assessments is prone to error, but used together can serve as a more reliable source of truth. True science and religion considered together also offer a balanced source and standard for assessing truth.
In view of justice and equity, all should be given an education according to their needs and capacities using a universal curriculum and standard. Justice and equity are basic in discussing standards and assessment. True justice depends on altruistic love, fair mindedness and goodwill. Equity is a fundamental virtue and the evaluation of all things depends upon it. The root of wrongdoing is ignorance; therefore, all should receive an education of the highest quality possible.
Most people today tend to be superficial in their thinking, feeling and doing. Part of this is the result of the low standards in our society. Education is a necessity; it is the foundation of human excellence, prosperity, joy and glory. In a loving spirit, we should train students for excellence in whatever worthwhile endeavors they choose. Each person can be excellent at something and everyone can provide some service to the community. We should all strive for excellence and promote learning and knowledge. Excellence should be the standard for whatever we are developing. Excellence will have both a group and an individual meaning and different methods of assessment.
Teachers themselves should exemplify excellence in teaching and high standards in their lives. They should be well educated and refined, well grounded in psychology and pedagogy and dedicated to excellence and education. Education should be systematic and organized to facilitate this learning. Like medical doctors, teachers should first diagnose the problem then prescribe and apply the remedy using the highest scientific and ethical principles. Learners need to make ongoing assessments of and adjustments to their learning, just as they should do with their health and wellbeing.
The human being is the highest value in our world—all other values are secondary. Children must be trained to be excellent in knowing, loving and willing. When society recognizes and abides by these principles, supported by standards that can be assessed relative to truth, unity, and service, we can demonstrate and assess the degree to which our people and civilization have developed.
There is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad. The right things should be taught and encouraged; the wrongs discouraged. However, as we understand them, good and bad are relative terms. Good is the moving toward the developing of truth, love and justice, and bad is what hinders their development. All individuals, schools and teachers should strive for the standard of being the source of good and responsibly assess and be accountable for their progress. This assessment should be honest, compassionate and fair. It should also be systematic and transparent if learning is to progress towards ever-higher standards.
Standards and assessments relate to the discussion on goals earlier. The high and noble principles of truth, love and justice should guide our goals. Some practical ideas related to standards and goals are to set specific targets that are measurable so we know when we have achieved them and can reward ourselves. If a standard or goal is too general, hard or long term, we may lose sight of it or feel it is too difficult to achieve.
It is good to have general and long-term goals, but it is helpful to break them down into several specific short-term accomplishable tasks. Decide what you need to do next to move closer to your higher future level. For example, you may have a broad lifetime goal to be a truthful, loving and fair person. Set a daily goal to be truthful, loving or fair and bring yourself to account each day or whenever you fall short. Be prepared to alter or adjust your standards and goals as you grow and gain a better perspective. Establish standards and goals for success, not failure, as this encourages accomplishment.