Baha’i Education Course Inspires Community Service in Oak Park

Developing the “Gems of Inestimable Value”:
Educating Through the Bahá’í Revelation (2019)
Faculty: Jean Parker, Stephen Powers

In July 2019, Robert Blecher started his first Wilmette Institute course. He did not post much during the course, but as you will see from his comments a few months after the course ended, he is using his new knowledge and skills with confidence and enthusiasm.

“I found the Bahá’í Education course to be incredibly useful, inspiring me to move forward with Bahá’í-inspired work in several directions. Here are a some of the projects and acts of service inspired by the course:

Robert Blecher1. I’ve become much more active in our local community, facilitating the deepening and service of the Bahá’í youth here in Oak Park, IL.

2. With adults in Oak Park, I am now part of a team that creates the materials for and moderates weekly discussions on social issues within society. Last week we discussed the nature and solutions to racism, indeed all forms of prejudice, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

3. At the urging of Jean Parker, I have joined the Association of Bahá’í Studies and plan to attend their next annual meeting to become part of this community of scholars. It was because of this course that I started to research and write on the power of beauty to motivate students. So far I have written two essays, one summarizing the nature and drawbacks of current thinking on student motivation and the other an examination of the power of beauty in the natural work as studied by evolutionary biologists. When I am finished with this project, a total of five essays will come together (hopefully) in a way that can contribute to the formation of a new paradigm of motivation that can be applied in educational settings. I have Ms. Parker to thank for her inspiration and encouragement.

4. I am now putting together a podcast on this subject, called “Beauty and Mr. B,” in response to the prompting of former high school students I taught in the western suburbs of Chicago. Each episode will examine, in one way or another, how to move past the narrow set of realities presented in contemporary societies today so that students can better appreciate the beauty of our own selves and the world around us. My hope is that this series will provide students (and, hopefully, a widening circle of others) with the inspiration and tools to investigate what is true for themselves.

The resources and community that emerged from this course have been a part of my own spiritual development. My sense is that I will continue to rely upon these resources in my efforts to continue moving forward… Thank you!”

The Wilmette Institute thanks Robert Blecher for his extensive feedback, and faculty member Jean Parker for her hard work designing and teaching the course, and for her effective mentoring of students. The course is scheduled to run again starting on July 30, 2020. Register here.

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