Center for Global Integrated Education
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Common Core for Spiritually Responsible Education

What comes to mind when we hear the word Spiritual?

Is there such a concept as becoming spiritually learned?

And if so what are the criteria for becoming spiritually learned?

What will be the benefits of becoming spiritually learned to the individual?

What will be the benefits to the society?

How would spiritually responsible education change the process and outcome of education?

What aspect of human psyche is most targeted and effected as a result of spiritually responsible education application?

what are some examples of perception, thought, feeling, intention and action of spiritually learned individuals or communities?

The curriculum for the Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program was designed and implemented with all the questions listed above.

The inspiration and hope behind it was guided by the following passage from Abdu’l-Baha in Secret of Divine Civilization.

A sample spiritual empowerment lesson:

Dearest Team            October 18, 2016

Today Eddie and Roxana have asked to present the lesson 6. We talked about it yesterday a bit and they like to take the challenge of stretching themselves out of their comfort zone and develop new muscles and skills. I am delighted. The have lesson 5 and 6 as it is presented in the package in their hands. They would be delivering it accordingly.
This morning after much reflection, I am adding the spiritual and integrated education parts that makes these lessons transformative. This is not for Eddie and Roxana to worry about today since this is not in their hand out.
I will speak briefly about their offer of teaching today to make sure the class supports and appreciate their gift and root for them.
In the meantime I want all of us to read the parts I have added and the focus I am suggesting for the listening skill practices hoping the students walk away with the most gain out of this unit which culminates many of the lessons we have learned thus far. My hope is this revisiting, repetition, reframing, retelling the story of what they are learning helps every one to dig deeper in their storehouse of awareness of their learning and end up making them feel richer in their transformative mediation class.
Love you and see you later.
Keyvan

Lesson Five: Nonverbal Communication Skills & Benefits

  • Improved relationships.
  • Increased understanding of others.
  • Higher awareness of different communication styles; both in spirit and form.
  • Better awareness of self and how we communicate with others; in spirit as well as form.
  • Become a more critical consumer of mass media and how it effects our thoughts, views, feelings and actions towards self and others.
  • Improved ability to resolve conflicts and cultivate unity and harmony.
  • Check positive feelings as a measure of spiritual balance while we interact with the world.
  • Identify a person who stands out to you as a spiritually learned and follow their example.
  • How would you best explain the empowering aspect of the concept of “Fear of God” with an example?
  • Is there such a thing as universal knowledge? Where do we turn to acquire it? How do we recognize it? What do we expect to accomplish by learning it?

The following passage from the Secret of Divine Civilization by Abdu’l-Baha is where we tap into to ground our curriculum in universal spiritual ground.

…there are those famed and accomplished men of learning, possessed of praiseworthy qualities and vast erudition, who lay hold on the strong handle of the fear of God and keep to the ways of salvation. In the mirror of their minds the forms of transcendent realities are reflected, and the lamp of their inner vision derives its light from the sun of universal knowledge.

It is certain that to their discerning taste, the proffered treasures of kings would not compare with a single drop of the waters of knowledge, and mountains of gold and silver could not outweigh the successful solution of a difficult problem.  

To them, the delights that lie outside their work are only toys for children, and the cumbersome load of unnecessary possessions is only good for the ignorant and base.  

Content, like the birds, they give thanks for a handful of seeds, and the song of their wisdom dazzles the minds of the world’s most wise…. …the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems….  

For every thing, however, God has created a sign and symbol, and established standards and tests by which it may be known.

The spiritually learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverance, and a heartfelt fear of God. For an unlit candle, however great in diameter and tall, is no better than a barren palm tree or a pile of dead wood….

An authoritative Tradition states: “As for him who is one of the learned: he must guard himself, defend his faith, oppose his passions and obey the commandments of his Lord. It is then the duty of the people to pattern themselves after him.”

(“The Secret of Divine Civilization”

Nonverbal communication can include the following:
Opening Energizer

Direct students to pair up, and ask student pairs to stand back to back. One person will talk for 30 seconds about what he or she did last weekend while the other person listens. Then the two will change roles. Students can’t look at each other, make physical contact, or ask each other any questions.

  • Processing
  • What did this feel like?
  • Did this way of speaking feel natural or fulfilling? Why or why not?
  • Did you feel like there was something missing in the way you were connecting and communicating? Did this activity make it difficult to fully understand the other person? Could you explain?
  • Is it important to make eye contact and see the other person’s facial and body language as you’re talking to them? Why or why not?

Definition and Content.

  • Facial expressions
  • Posture
  • Eye contact
  • Leaning forward
  • Nodding
  • Open body posture
  • Hand gestures
  • Appropriate encouragers (uh-uh, oh, no, ok, yeah)
  • Showing empathy

Activity 1

Ask for two volunteers to come forward. Explain to them that the class will observe them having a conversation about their plans for the summer. Ask these students to wait outside of the room (or in any place out of hearing range) for a few seconds. While they’re out of hearing range, explain to the rest of the class that they’ll be observing the body language of both volunteers. Ask the volunteers to come back inside. The class forms a large circle around them, and the volunteers proceed with their conversation.

Processing for the class

  • What body language did you see?
  • What was the effect of that language?
  • What kept the other person talking?
  • What shut the other person down?
  • How do you know that the listener was actually listening to the person speaking?
  • Processing for the two volunteers
  • When you were talking, what did the other person do to make you want to talk more?
  • When you were talking, what did the other person do to make you stop talking?
  • Summary Points
    • Many times, nonverbal cues are more important than what is actually being communicated. None verbal cues communicate the spirit of our communication while our words are about the form.
    • Paying close attention and observing the nonverbal cues tells you a great deal about what is really happening. The nonverbal cues teach you about the spiritual effects of your communication on you and the listener. 
The key is keeping our eye on the ball of understanding and desire to create unity.
    • Check in to see if the verbal and nonverbal cues match. If not, ask the speaker to clarify. 
An angry spirit while someone is telling you they love you needs some explanation.

I like to thank Eddie and Roxana for doing a wonderful job in teaching the above lesson. I also like to give credit to Fairfax County Public Schools for their very helpful conflict resolution curriculum. http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ips/ssaw/ConflictResolution/index.htm

A loving spirit is extended to all of our students and administrators at Palomares Academy of Health Sciences for giving us the opportunity to learn what it takes to implement a spiritually responsible curriculum.

Keyvan Geula LMFT

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