THE DON BOSCO WAY OF EDUCATION – PREVENTIVE + EXPRESSIVE
* Its innovativeness and relevance today.
Methods of education have undergone tremendous change over the ages. The early systems were REPRESSIVE. They were adult - centered rather than child - centered.
The word education comes from the word educare which means `to bring forth’. Hence, a repressive system, that does not allow the student to `express’ himself or herself, actually misses out on the true purpose of education.
St. John Bosco (1815 - 1888), popularly known as Don Bosco, founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales, in 1859 in Turin. Its members are called the Salesians of Don Bosco. Don Bosco was a pioneer in educating the poor, during the time when education was a privilege only for the rich.
The Don Bosco Method of Education is not a method of teaching a subject; rather it is a method of building a relationship between student and teacher which transforms and energizes the students to develop all their potentialities – Physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social.
The DON BOSCO WAY is a tried and tested system that is followed in all Salesian Institutions in over 120 countries around the world.
WHAT IS THE DON BOSCO METHOD OF EDUCATION FOR SCHOOLS?
The PREVENTIVE SYSTEM that Don Bosco proposed and followed with the children and youth under his care was opposed to the repressive system. He believed that educators should take the lead in conversing, advising and correcting pupils in a kindly way.
He emphasized the importance of activities outside the classroom teaching. Hence outdoor games, music, theatricals and outings are given importance. Therefore, it is an EXPRESSIVE SYSTEM in its essence. It provides avenues for expression of students’ interests and talents as well as a constructive channel of their energies. Thus, Co - curricular and extra - curricular activities form an integral part in schools. These activities also provide opportunities for better teacher - student rapport.
Students are always under the vigilant eye of the teacher and thus any wrong that they do can be corrected in a loving way. Don Bosco did not propagate corporal punishments as he felt that repression may stop a negative behaviour but will not make the offender better. He advised that once the educator wins the love of the pupils then even a reproachful look or the withholding of praise will become effective corrective measures.
THE THREE PILLARS OF THE DON BOSCO METHOD OF EDUCATION.
Many of the educators of his time thought of education, as the art of the classroom which only involved how to teach and how to make students read and write. For Don Bosco, education meant the total salvation of the young, both in this world and the next, both of body and soul.
The three principles which form the main pillars of The DON BOSCO WAY are:-
3. Loving Kindness (Rapport)
Reason is the first tool in the hands of the educator towards child - centered education, understanding and discipline. Since humans are rational beings, every behaviour is governed to a large extent by reason. The light of reason deals with objectivity and truthfulness. This holds especially true in the lives of the young.
As Don Bosco sees it, students do wrong, more often out of thoughtlessness rather than out of malice. Their actions are the outcome of impulsive behaviour which is characteristic of the young. He argues that if a person or friend were to make the erring child aware of the unreasonableness of his or her behaviour then they would surely act differently. Don Bosco wants the educator to take the role of that friendly intervention. In today’s fast - changing and ‘high – tech’ world, the young are always questioning and searching for explanations and answers to questions and doubts they are bombarded with through the internet and mass media. It is the duty of the educators to provide this through reason which signifies good sense and simplicity. If students find their teacher authentic, optimistic and reasonable they will be willing to listen to and obey him or her in the classroom as well as outside. Through persuasiveness and a spirit of dialogue the child’s conscience is formed which will gradually lead to personal responsibility and freedom.
Don Bosco based his system of Education on Religion. True, he was a priest and therefore he lived in a Christian environment. However in the multi - religious context of our schools today what is Religion for Don Bosco? Religion is faith in God, a supernatural being. In his system of education, especially where students of different faiths come together, the common aspect of every religion is what is sought after. Don Bosco believed that God helps the students to become better citizens with right conscience, compassion and justice. It is a fundamental aspect in this educational system. For Don Bosco, education is the matter of the heart and no one knows the heart of a child better that the Creator of the Universe – God. In the heart of a child there is a great longing for joy, the need to know and understand, to love and be loved, to find significance and complete happiness. According to Don Bosco, a well - educated and mature person is one who considers the knowledge of God the most important and hence in the hierarchy, Religion holds the apex position. In Don Bosco Institutions, Value Education and Religious instruction hold utmost value. Assemblies are Value - based and teachers strive to inculcate a core value through every lesson taught in the classroom too. REASON AND RELIGION mutually interpenetrate each other, such that Reason illumines, clarifies, and enlightens what Religion proposes. Religion in its turn provides the motivation, the ultimate meaning, significance and orientation of life governed by Reason. Together, Reason and Religion build an integration of Faith and Life, which is the goal of every sound education.
3. LOVING KINDNESS - RAPPORT
Reason is the rational relationship between thought and action; Religion is the relationship between God and humans; Rapport is the relationship between human beings.
Loving kindness is the cementing factor that binds the teacher to the student. Don Bosco gives us three keys to establishing rapport in any educator student relationship:
a) “Love what the young love that they may love what you love.”
b) “It is not enough to love; they must know that they are loved.”
c) “Familiarity breeds affection. Affection breeds confidence.”
Gone are the days when the teacher had to maintain a distance from his / her students, in a formal education set - up. Today effective teaching and learning can happen only if there is a good rapport between the two.
Education is not mere teaching. While the latter is a one way transmission of knowledge from teacher to pupil, the former is the ability of the educator to draw out the best from the educand. For this the PRESENCE of the teacher is essential. This presence should rise from being merely a physical presence to being:
* an ACTIVE PRESENCE wherein the teacher actively participates in activities of the students;
* an ANIMATING PRESENCE through which students are encouraged to be creative;
* a CHALLENGING PRESENCE by which students are motivated to set goals and achieve them;
* a LIBERATING PRESENCE which enables students to be free from the shackles of ignorance and immorality.
Way back in 1883 Don Bosco advised his followers, “to understand and adapt ourselves to the times in which we live.” The Don Bosco Way has proved its versatility across continents, cultures and contexts, regardless of the differences. This foresighted educator gave to us a guide to ensure all - round development of a child – to truly provide holistic education to our students.
The `educative community’, which comprises the school and the parents, all strive to pool their resources to achieve the common goal of moulding the child into a mature, responsible and self - confident adult who can stand firm in his or her convictions in this extremely fast - changing world.