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A terminological question?

The topic of this report refers to the various ways in which we talk about our educational style.
The definitions are not everything, but they are important in order to have a common language, an understanding of each other even on the various ways of considering the same fact, on being educators in Murialdo’s name and according to what he has taught us as well as through the history that has conveyed his message and the one of the first Josephites. Each definition has positive aspects and some limits, so here we do not choose a definition compared to the other; rather to point out their links even if this might seem only a syncretism. But if you think about it, it could be a good and fair solution for everyone, or at least, for almost everyone

Alejandro Bazán

If you want to deepen

A terminological question?

(Alejandro Bazán)

When we try to express our educating and training process in the family of Murialdo, we find a variety of terms, complementary to each other and explicit as well, causing nonetheless difficulties, especially among various geographical areas where our charismatic family extends.
Typically, each nation uses a specific vocabulary in reference to it. In Italy and in some parts of Europe the term: “Murialdo’s educational style” is generally used or “Mudialdine educational style”,
in Brazil it is customary called “education of the heart” in other Latin American countries the term often used is: “Pedagogy of love “in other regions either terms are used interchangeably… there are even those who insist that it should be called” Josephan educational style “…
I do not want and it would not be fair, to give a definition about which name to call our educational style, but to offer a small contribution to the understanding of each of these terms and hopefully open a debate that will help our knowledge in greater depth, to take it as a way of educational practice and educational thinking, to enlighten our ” Murialdine pedagogical spirituality ” and improve the quality of our educational service. An aim too great for these few and poor reflections … but, well … at least let us try to contribute with a grain of sand.
A term can never fully describe the reality it refers to , especially when this reality is in relation to life, in its infinite richness. But it can help in focusing our mind on the discovery of this reality, especially when the name indicates one of its key features, its mission or purpose, its origin or way of being … Those who hold to one term or to another, do so because they believe that such term better describes the reality, emphasizing this or that key element … or because they believe that the other terms are insufficient or leave in the shade other important aspects.

Let us now try to explain what each term means:

“Murialdo’s Educational style” – “Murialdine educational style”:

We know that Saint Leonard Murialdo was not a pedagogue, he was an educator.
He did not bother to develop a theory about the educational process, but gave his life to the Christian education of his youths, the poorest ones. He did so with his own style, his way of being, his life experience, which undoubtedly was fully characterized by the experience of the merciful and tender love of the Father revealed in Jesus Christ and by the encounter with the poorest and needy youths.
An educational style that followed the guidelines of the great Christian teachers of his time, where his genius was not so much on creating an original methodology, but on making a harmonious synthesis of any new educational proposals of his time in tune with his inner experience of being educated (transformed / converted) by the love of God.
We can, therefore, say that we can not speak of our way of educating young people, without necessarily talking about “Murialdo’s educational style “, from which our whole praxis and reflection are born. This is an essential starting point .As a limit of this term we could say that by focusing exclusively on the person of Murialdo, leaves in the shade the strong influence of educational renewal of his time, the other educators of the Artigianelli who contributed to the characterization of this educational style; the figure of St. Joseph as the prototype educator, while Murialdo tried to make those characteristics as an educator on his own and encouraged his colleagues to do the same … and risks to describe it as a “closed package” to be transmitted throughout history as such ..

“Education of the heart”:

If instead of looking at the origin of this educational style we refer to its main objectives,
one of the most used terms is “education of the heart.” Murialdo himself, recalling the proposed educational system told us that it was based on an idea of the French Bishop Felix Dupanloup (1802-1878), : “The system is based on the principle of Dupanloup: what is the most precious in society is entrusted to the educator, that is the kids; and what is most precious in the kids is the heart. To look not so much at the external, visible behaviour, the work, the school, but on the inside, the heart, the religion and the education of feelings “(Writings, IV, p. 326).
Probably Murialdo in this way, declined to give a definition about his educational system, but it is clear that he felt rooted in this educational tradition that saw in the heart of young people the deepest nucleus to educate / evangelize. Embedded on Leonardo’s own words, we can certainly call our training proposal: “education of the heart”. With this expression we refer to the education to values, to build the capacity to love, to a comprehensive education
The downside to the convenience of using this term could be noted that, in today’s culture, the term “heart” is closely linked to the single emotional-affective dimension … But when we speak of the heart we see it in its biblical meaning, as the deepest expression of our human consciousness, the place of our liberty and our fundamental life choices, the place of encounter with others, with the world, with God and with myself.

“Josephan educational style”:

There are no doubts that both Murialdo and the first confreres who shared with him the educational work at the “Artigianelli” boarding school, modelled their educational work among young people on the person of St. Joseph. He, the optimal educator, the righteous man who always did God’s will , worker, trainer of Jesus, who, with his witness of life, teaches us to live for Jesus and with Jesus and Mary, Joseph was always proposed as the exemplary josephan educator. A model that was initially developed in the tradition of the Josephan congregation and today it also spreads throughout the family of Murialdo.
We, as a Murialdine charismatic family, called to be Christian educators of the young, must, as Murialdo teaches us, look at Saint Joseph in order to learn how to live in the service of Jesus who is waiting for us in every young man entrusted to us and to offer our whole life to help him grow and mature to his human fullness in Christ. The positive aspect of this terminology, besides being in line with our tradition, identifies us with Saint Joseph as educators, especially in humility, charity and laboriousness, and discovers Jesus in every kid, as Joseph did.
Possible negative aspects could be the danger of a reified look at the educational dimension of the charism, set in its historical beginnings, and in the feeling, certainly wrong but quite widespread, that such terminology relates more to the style and task of the Josephites than of the whole family of Murialdo.

“ The Pedagogy of love”:

In our family of Murialdo, this term refers to the practice and reflection developed on the educational service we provide, starting from the educational style of Murialdo. Following and deepening his testimony of educator, it is discovered that the engine of all education is love. A love that is primarily reflection and educational application of the infinite love God has for each of us.
A love that changed ( educated ) Murialdo’s life and prompted him to share this experience so that every young person could discover this love, believe in it, be shaped by its strong tenderness and fully develop his potential in Jesus Christ. In this sense, the Pedagogy of love is not just an education with love, or to love, but above all, to extend and update, with our mediation, the releasing / redemptive work of God’s love among us thus making us honest citizens and good Christians , leading to communion with him (ne perdantur – educate for heaven ) . With Fr. Icard, Murialdo’s former spiritual director, we can say: “You can do much good, because you love and are loved” . We can point out as a positive aspect that this terminology indicates the core of the educational style: love. A love that becomes reception, presence, listening and caring,, healing the wounds as well as patiently and gradually accompanying the youngster to that maturity of which he himself is the protagonist. A term that in our environment indicates not only the love that we can provide, but above all, the love of God that educates through us.
As a negative element we could say that perhaps this term highlights just one of the dimensions of our educational style, the relational one, but also highlights other important aspects. Moreover, the nomenclature “Pedagogy of Love” is very open and there are several educational currents, especially Christian ones, that sustain it. In this case, to describe such pedagogy more precisely we should refer to: “Murialdine Pedagogy of Love.”

Conclusion …

I do not think that we should opt for an “official” name in referring to our own way of being in the charism of Murialdo. I think, rather, that all the above terms are valid and provide the richness of the original perspective of approaching our reflection and pedagogical practice, and neither term, by itself covers all aspects of our educational style.
In short, from “the educational style of Murialdo” takes its origin what we now call “pedagogy of love” centered “on the education of the heart”, which considers “St. Joseph as a model for all educators” …
Someone might think that the above sentence is a “syncretism” that is “to please everyone”! Maybe … but, actually, I think that each of the four terms discussed illuminates, enriches and complements the description of this reality.
Personally, I usually choose to speak of “Pedagogy of Love” because I think it is the most comprehensive and complete definition, but I welcome and respect other denominations.
Surely, much more important than achieving a good theoretical definition, is to live it as a way of sharing our spirituality with our youths in the educational and evangelizing service, so that all (the young ones and us !) have life, and life in abundance! !

Alejandro Bazán

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