The Preventive System: Don Bosco’s Educational Method
The first element is reason: the power to comprehend and understand the young and at the same time the ability to dialogue and communicate with them. This calls for an active and constant presence of the educator with the educand: a pleasant and unrestrained ‘being together’. Efforts are made to provide for the legitimate emotional and psychological needs of the young, who seek ‘to belong’, ‘to be secure’ and ‘to be recognized’. Belongingness, security, and recognition are attained in this system of education by the confidence generated through this interpersonal relationship between pupils and teachers who, in Don Bosco’s words, are like ‘loving fathers’ encouraging and praising at the proper moment. The educator in a Salesian school seeks to foster the proper balance between authority and permissiveness, by blending freedom with responsibility, integrating the old and the new. In a word, he fosters true and genuine humanism.
The means of saving the young is and ever will be religion, which will dominate the actions of the young and effect permanent change for the good of the individual and that of society. Salesian Education, drawing always from authentic Catholic tradition, places great importance on the frequent use of the Sacraments—the ordinary channels of God’s grace and help.
To reason and religion, the Salesian Educator adds loving-kindness to complete the educational triangle. This basic principle is not a weakness, but rather a show of strength and self-control. It seeks to create a persuasive atmosphere, where self-expression is fostered. This kindness or charity generates that expansiveness and confidence so much needed by today’s youth.
The Teacher-Pupil-Family Relationship
The first school is the family and the first teachers are parents. The Salesian Educators understand this important psychological fact and seek to develop in their school a ‘family spirit’, such as would exist in a truly Christian family where all are united in a spirit of love, joy and peace. This can come about when a genuine and concerned relationship exists within the members of a family. It is just such a pattern that the Salesians seek to develop when we speak of a second educational triangle consisting of the teacher, pupil and family. It is only in the proper balance of these two triangles that true education will result.