23. PEDAGOGY OF LOVE IN ACTION
The experience of Villa Bosch
The relationship between educator and youth is fundamental, as we can notice in the history of pedagogy. To base on love the educational relationship means to encounter the heart of the other, his most profound interiority, what constitutes his personal and relational identity. From this conviction, made his by Murialdo, flow some consequences for a “Murialdine” educator: exemplarity of the educator, welcoming of each youth, human and Christian perspective of educational endeavor, reciprocal listening and attention towards the whole person, acceptance of some basic values , promotion in the youth of convictions and attitudes marked by solidarity towards others.
Gabriel de Rosa
If you want to deepen
23. PEDAGOGY OF LOVE IN ACTION
The experience of Villa Bosch
Gabriel de Rosa)
“The education is
a most difficult and important art
to assist the youth, to foresee,
to prevent and to correct evil,
to promote and make grow good
among youth entrusted to us”
Saint Leonard Murialdo
Pedagogy of love is an educational style that invites the teacher to become a friend, a brother and father of his students and obtain in this way, a pedagogical relationship based on trust, respect and affection. Starting from this relation a teaching vocation is developed participating in the saving project of the student and favoring his salvation. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi affirmed: “In order to change a person we must love him. Our influence reaches only where our love arrives.”
Starting from ancient Greece the figure of the teacher gains important as the agent who favors learning; in this historical period the role of the teacher was characterized by a series of behaviors and values. In the Greek language the word pedagogue has its roots in “pais, paidos = child” and “agogos = who guides”; he who accompanies the child and does this task in all the moments of his life. For the Greeks education was characterized by action, education was for life. In that time it was not possible to conceive a theory without experiment. A teacher, therefore, was also a model, a person, generally an adult, who had lived and had the ability to transmit his experience, a model. He acquired with his student a relation, that is what we nowadays consider with the name of pedagogical empathy, a characteristic that teachers possess, those who have, we may call them, success behaviors. During history many philosophers and pedagogues reflected on the relationship teacher-student. Rousseau, in Emilio, refers to this relationship ”there is a pedagogical contract in the measure that two parties commit themselves to establish and, afterwards, to live an educational relationship, that is a reciprocal commitment of education.” Then Pestalozzi emphasizes the importance of this bond and affirms, among other things, that “the affectionate attitude of teachers is essential to attain discipline and learning.” At the time of saint Leonard Murialdo the ideas of some French clerics, like the bishop Felix Dupanloup or the priest Marcellin Champagnat, gain great prominence among Christian educators; according to them the teacher “ is a father. Certainly he is a second father, whose vocation is not above that of the first father; however, his dedication is, sometimes, more generous, being more free and more unselfish; his inclination is less natural, but it is inspired from above; his capacity, finally, is often greater and more perfect.” Also Maria Montessori designs a pedagogical method based on love for the student. In the XX century Vigotsky, Brunery, Maturana and Gadner, among others, analyze the importance of the bonds and emotions in the educational relationships.
In the pedagogy of love the fundamental element is love. Love is a universal concept, applicable to any relationship, also to that of education and it is a fundamental basis on which is built this educational style.
Jesus invites us to live a new commandment, that we love one another, and puts this sentiment at the center of his message of salvation. It is for this reason that in educational work – the evangelizer must recognize love as the essential means for developing an educational relationship.
Humberto Maturana, in his studies on the biological bases of human knowledge, affirms that, we, human beings, are biologically amiable, that this is a characteristic of our evolution history, and adds that “love is an emotion, is a way to live together, a type of relational behavior in human systems. Love is produced when in our life and in interaction with others, it does not matter who or what is, springs like another legitimate in coexistence with us. Love, (to love) is an emotion that constitutes and preserves social life.”
Therefore we observe that love is inborn in a human being, in his individual dimension as well as in his social dimension and we understand that our commitment as Christian educators is that of building spaces of affection that are like channels of communication through which passes the integral formation of our students. Love is like the indispensable element of educational endeavor. It is the element within which interpersonal relationships will develop and will allow the students personal growth in an adequate environment in forming themselves and begin the journey of preparation towards eternal life.
However, as teachers, how can we put into practice this educational style?
The experience of the concrete practice of this didactical method in our school led us to realize a study on what we call success attitudes of various teachers. These behaviors are characterized in obtaining high academic results with a high level of satisfaction on the part of the students. The results of these researches lead us to affirm that the bond between teacher and student is the fundamental element in the didactical endeavor in transmitting. On the base of this study we have elaborated a series of advices that we desire to share with other teachers, so that, beginning from reflection of their work, they can improve their educational endeavor.
Advices for a Murialdine teacher
*Whatever be your role as teacher, you are a “teacher of life,” and you must be aware of the power that you have with your example in the behavior of your students.
* Accept each of your students as he is, and not as you wish him to be; in fact, only by knowing and accepting his values and his faults, his attitudes and his limitations, you can help him to strengthen and develop the first and correct and decrease the second. Acceptance constitutes the starting point for educative process.
*Your goal as teacher, should not be that of forming only intelligent and hard working youngsters, even less, proud intelligent ones; but esteemed and honest citizens, and sincere and open Christians. We educate, not only minds, but also hearts.
* Offer your students a constant stimulus, encouragement and motivation to go on; thus you will collaborate to the development of self esteem. It is more constructive to reward than to punish.
* Seek to keep a constant attitude of attention and availability in order to hear and help your students to resolve their problems and difficulties, not only in the school sphere, above all in regards to those who are more in need.
*Do not hesitate in the moment of taking decisions and to follow them through with firmness, if these are the fruit of a serene meditation, and correspond to a line of coherent action. In certain occasions, if it is necessary the exercise of authority, exercise it with amiable and rational severity, and a true Christian piety.
*Keep in mind that education has as fundamental objective the integral development of the personality of the student, therefore, it is necessary that teachers and parents, school and family, unite their efforts, in a line of coherence and permanent dialogue.
*The values, in your classroom, are a permanent priority. Seek to make an agreement, with each group of your students, to a minimum number of values, that come from their democratic living together. These could be: respect, tolerance, welcoming, solidarity, and an infinite number of possibilities. It must be a collective commitment to live up to them with respect.
* Simplicity, cordiality, reciprocal respect, good humor and affectionateness are attitudes that will facilitate your personal construction towards the figure of an educator as “friend, brother and father.”
* Recognize the presence of Jesus in your students and insert it in their integral formation in the Murialdine charism.
* Foster in your students a constant humble and jointly liable attitude of true Christian charity towards the persons around them.
Gabriel de Rosa