Teaching and Facilitating in the UBIS

The Urantia Book is a revelation of living truth. UBIS graphicUnlike human education, which makes information and knowledge accessible to the thinking mind, in the encounter with The Urantia Book teachings, The Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS) has to provide students with the opportunity to realize truth in their own experience. As mota 16 declares: “You cannot perceive truth until you feelingly experience it…” That begs several questions: How do we provide for that experience in the online UBIS classroom comprised of students who are not physically present to one another? What role (if any) does the soul play in both the experience of truth and in its consequent perception? As we read and study together the words which embody the fifth epochal revelation, can the Teacher-Facilitator and students together create an enhanced awareness of the possibility of, and the necessity for, the personal experience of truth which will lead to its subsequent perception?

The Teacher-Facilitators have the dual responsibility identified in their functional name. The Teacher aspect comes into play early on in the design of the course. Each Teacher-Facilitator must, with the guidance of the Curriculum Committee and the Course Review Committee, develop a design which will be of interest to the students, encourage depth of study in response to carefully worded questions, and open the invisible doorway to the experience of new truth.

The Facilitator role is key to implementing the course over ten weeks as the process moves during four periods from reading the text, responding to questions, and sharing insights in interactive group discussion.

There are related dynamics which are important to consider in this process. One of these is the natural human tendency, which we have all likely experienced, to project our existing level of understanding onto newly revealed truth. This can have the unfortunate effect of obscuring or diluting the new illumination offered by the revelation. For example, the reality of a finite God, the Supreme, is not comprehensible through a projection of existing human understanding because such truth has never been revealed to the human mind until now. The Teacher-Facilitator must remain vigilant to model a non-interpretive approach in facilitating his or her course, choosing instead to encourage the students to explore for themselves the new truths revealed and to build their comprehension together as they share the fruits of their exploration with their fellow students.

Based loosely on an actual class experience, here is an example of how a discussion week might begin. One student post offered that the Supreme was like a symphony orchestra made up of all time-space will creatures, each playing a unique instrument. Another student noted that the musicians play their music wherever in grand universe space and whenever in grand universe time they choose. A third student noted that somehow the Supreme was able to blend this unique music into a unified reality symphony that bathed the universes in finite harmony all the way to Paradise. And these were just the first shared insights—of nearly 150 posts in all—in a week filled with student observations, questions, and interactions on the UBIS website.

(Excerpted from the UBIS Newsletter. For the full article, visit ubis.urantia.org. In 2014, over 540 students from 27 different countries took a course from UBIS.)