On Why the Closing of Maxwell School May Be Evidence of a Step Forward: Baha'i Children and Youth Are being Prepared for Excellence Everywhere
Northeast States Baha'i youth at NEBYfest, "on FIRE," uploaded on February 23, 2006 by BlakeRead on flickr,
licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
My daughter-in-law Megan is a graduate of the Maxwell International School, a Baha'i boarding school offering a high school education on Vancouver Island in Canada. She loved her experience there. She is pursuing a teaching career in large part because of the inspiration she received at Maxwell.
Last night over a wonderful meal she had prepared at the end of a day members of the family spent hiking in the Olympic National Forest, we discussed the announced closing of Maxwell after 20 year of operation. The Baha'is of the Pacific Northwest feel a close connection to Maxwell, but so do Baha'is all over the world. The thought of its closure tugs at the heart of so many.
Maxwell has been operating under the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, which made the decision to close, after considerable consultation, I'm sure. I have no idea as the specifics of that consultation, of course, but I told Megan that I thought Maxwell's closing may be viewed as evidence of a profound step forward that has been taken by the global Baha'i community.
Maxwell is a boarding school. Parents wanting a certain kind of experience for their children, one that would ensure a devotion to the Cause, in addition to academic excellence, have sent their children to Maxwell. Maxwell has supported the enhancement of Baha'i identity in an extraordinary way.
Ten, 15, or 20 years ago one could not be as assured of the development of a strong Baha'i identity in the children of Baha'is as one can be today as a result of the Institute Process. There were not the supports in place locally, regionally, nationally, or globally, to support the development of Baha'i identity and the pursuit of academic excellence that there are now with the Institute emphasis on the holding of children's classes as one of the core activities of Baha'i life. The option of sending children away to attend a boarding school to is simply not as attractive as it was two decades ago. Happily, all over the world, Baha'is are now taking seriously the importance of children's education.
It starts with children's classes for the very young. It continues with exciting and substantial activities for junior youth. Baha'i identity continues to grow through vigorous youth activities at the high school and college level. Baha'i identity comes to fruition in the Baha'i Year of Service that so many Baha'i young adults now engage in.
Service is what being a Baha'i is all about. Baha'is who have been inculcated in Baha'i values and trained in the practices of Baha'i life from their earliest years are, of course, best prepared for lives of service. With proper Baha'i education, Baha'i youth are protected from unnecessary suffering and innoculated from the dangers of marginality. Baha'i youth are being fully prepared for a life of excellence.