The approach to curriculum development followed by the Ruhi Institute is not the traditional one of design, field-testing and evaluation, carried out in a linear fashion. The first step in writing any set of materials is taken, rather, when an experience is created at the grassroots in performing some act of service in response to the exigencies of the development of a community. Materials emerge out of this experience and become an expression of it. They are, on the one hand, a record of the learning that occurs in applying the teachings of the Faith in a particular area of service and, on the other, an instrument for the systematization of that learning. The approach has been described in the following terms in the small volume Learning About Growth:
In practice the above approach takes divers forms, depending on the nature of the material in development. Generally, however, some three stages can be identified in the development process, which gives rise to what is considered the final published edition.
At this stage a course or text contains the basic concepts and a set of passages from the Bahá’í writings that, taken together, are believed to achieve the educational objective in question. For some time, this initial outline of ideas is used by small groups of individuals in the field, as part of the efforts to elaborate effective course content.
As action progresses, the material is refined and begins to reflect new experience gained, incorporating ideas that arise out of it. Not infrequently, certain concepts are amended, new passages from the Bahá’í writings added, or a series of simple exercises introduced to facilitate comprehension of a topic or to help develop an important skill or attitude. Through this process, a consolidated course or text emerges which is generally regarded as the “alpha version”.
In time it is determined, generally on the basis of the integrity of the content, to make the course or text more widely available as a pre-publication edition. Through its continued use, it becomes apparent when a section needs to be moved or an exercise or two revised. Several successive versions may appear. Gradually, however, fewer and fewer modifications are required to achieve the intended purpose of the course or text, and the material, at this stage, goes for publication.