Dear Parents and Students,
St. John Bosco, or commonly known as ‘Don Bosco’ developed a distinctive style of educating young people which is known as the Preventive System. The pedagogy that Don Bosco proposed was novel and revolutionary at that time, but we find that most educational institutions now follow this. It is centered on the young person for his/her well-being.
There are two systems which have been in use through all ages in the education of youth, the preventive and the repressive. In the repressive system the laws are made known to the subjects, and afterwards watching to discover the transgressors of these laws, and inflicting, when necessary, the punishment deserved. According to this system, the words and looks of the superior must always be severe and even threatening, and he must avoid all familiarity with his dependents.
While the preventive system consists in making the laws and regulations of an institution known, and then watching carefully so that the pupils may at all times be under the vigilant eye of the superior, who like loving father can converse with them, take the lead in every movement and in a kindly way give advice and correction; in other words, this system prevents the pupils from committing faults.
For Don Bosco system is based entirely on reason and religion, and above all on kindness; therefore it excludes all violent punishment, and tries to do without even the slightest chastisement.
But in terms of education, prevention means ‘taking away those negative experiences which could seriously harm the youth’s growth and to equip the young person with the means to independently encounter what life offers; ‘prevention’ in the sense of creating an ambient in which a young person grows making choices and imbibing values spontaneously because of the models that he sees in his educators and companions.
There is a second meaning attached to the word ‘prevention:
Rather than implying something negative – to stop or hinder something – it incorporates the intention of foreseeing and forestalling anything that would give rise to negative experiences.
The preventive system as practiced by Don Bosco was based on three principles: Reason, Religion and Loving kindness.
“Reason” emphasizes basic human values such as the freedom and dignity of the individual. Reason also involves giving attention to the common sense aspects of human relationships. It involves understanding the young people, entering into a relationship with them, in dialoguing and communicating with them. This mutual understanding and acceptance invites an atmosphere of confidence and communication, which the educator cultivates by being actively present among the students. Another aspect of reason is that it implies “reasonableness.” This applies to relationships with students and the ways of dealing with discipline. Don Bosco rejected physical punishments and anything that might be considered humiliating. He insisted that rules be reasonable and able to be easily understood.
For Don Bosco, punishments should only be the last resort, but even then they must enable students to understand the inappropriateness of their behaviour and leave open opportunities for correction. Don Bosco believed that inappropriate behaviour – and, hence, punishments – could often be avoided by the presence of the educator, a positive relationship with students, meaningful activity, and the use of ordinary human reasonableness.
While reason refers to human activity and human relationships, “Religion”, indicates that all our educational activity is God-centered. One should be convinced of the fact that God who is present in the world sees all our actions. Therefore the reverential fear of God helps us to do our duties sincerely and avoid anything that is evil.
“Loving-kindness” is the most unique element in Don Bosco’s system. Essentially it describes the love-filled relationship between educator and student.
“Loving-kindness” is more an attitude of love that has the good of the other at heart and which works so that the students realize their potential with growing independence. Educators are present in the midst of the young, prepared to offer guidance and correction where and when necessary. It calls for a real availability to the young, a deep empathy with them, the openness to enter into genuine relationship with them, the ability to dialogue with them and the willingness to share their lives. It is an environment of love, where human values are genuinely respected and promoted.
A further aspect of loving-kindness is that it requires a deep knowledge and understanding of young people individually and collectively. It implies being attentive to their ideals, hopes and aspirations, their fears and anxieties.
Dear Friends, this year we are celebrating the bi-centenary of the birth of Don Bosco. Don Bosco lived and died for the young. He left behind us a system of education that respects the dignity of the pupils. I wish that all of us understand the real spirit of the preventive system and put into practice as a tribute to this great educator.
Before I conclude, I would like to express a word of appreciation to Fr Joshua, our principal, who has taken immense trouble to make our institution digital. By introducing, ‘smart school’, we are able to communicate with parents and the public faster and easier. By introducing ‘smart class’, the children are able to learn better.
May God bless you all!