30. TO BUILD A MAP – II –
At the conclusion of this second series of reflections, we want to share some fundamental points of our reasoning on the Murialdine-Josephan pedagogy, but also highlight some distinctive features of the various fields in which it is expressed: school, social care, oratory, parish, etc. The most important thing, but also the most beautiful one, is to capture in these works the passion and tension expressed in the various interventions, a sign that first of all educators are “mixed” with charism, vocation and self-giving in their educational service for many youngsters and youths. To paraphrase a quote from Pope Francis, we can say: “Let us not be robbed of the joy of being educators in the name of Murialdo!”
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30. TO BUILD A MAP – II –
Some common beliefs
It seems to me that some common and important beliefs are showing up, fundamental, I would say in pedagogical discourse; we must not forget that it is expressed and shown by several authors, each with his own peculiar characteristics related to the writer’s experience and reflection.
I try to highlight a few of them:
a. Education embraces life; personal and community life, whole and universal life, life in its stages and in its dimensions, life in its inner growth and in his relating with others and with the world.
b. The term education indicates a help/service to formation of the human being as a whole, in the development of his forces and his potential; each is called to become fully himself in an authentic way, in the fullness of his human nature, with and for others, and in the fullness of his individuality, unique and unrepeatable.
c. Those living with personal authenticity their human and Christian experience can educate; you don’t become an educator out of the blue; not even study is enough; the educator must live for himself and with others what he is called to transmit; being educators means putting yourself at the service of a subject with freedom and recipient of a project that is to be discovered, achieved and lived.
d. Body, reason, spirit; physical, rational, spiritual: these are the three levels of the human being to be cultivated in their specific and in their relationship, for harmonious, symphonic growth of the person.
e. We should move from phenomenon to foundation; it is not enough to have experiences if you do not mature, thanks to them, a discernment able to take a look as deep as far-sighted, able to understand the present and plan for the future.
f. “He who never meets a person worthy of love can never experience the depths in which love is rooted” (Edith Stein, On the Problem of Empathy). In terms of education: to the extent that education is education of the heart, it will touch the depths of the person, thanks to an educator able to love and to be loved, knowing that what makes education work is a relationship as “friend, brother and father.”
g. The charism of Murialdo finds its natural modernity and newness just because it addresses the hearts of people; beyond the changed circumstances and the educational methods, the message remains: “We educate the most important part of the young man: his heart.”
h. The Murialdine spirituality. rich with the experience of God’s love, first received and then donated, helps educators and youths to grasp in the divine pedagogy (especially in the Bible, but also, as did L. Murialdo, in one’s own personal experience) a source for human pedagogy, whose basic feature is the mercy that shows respect, attention, acceptance, forgiveness…
i. The God-man, father-son relationship becomes a paradigm of the relationship educator-young; the Father-people, Trinitarian Community-human community relationship becomes a paradigm of the educator-community, educating community-educated community relationship.
j. Finally, the organizational solutions are important, but they cannot lack a charismatic soul, otherwise they will only be professional applications of an ideological system, perhaps very subjective and not very open to dialogue.
Some special emphases
1. For the biblical area: the discovery of the God who is looking for me, opens me to unexpected but true dimensions, and in the passage from the self to the “here I am” comes out a dialogue that can provide guidance to my life.
2. For the anthropological-pedagogical area: educating is to help people to see the messages of their own sensibility as a space of openness towards others and towards the world, from the perspective of a decision. Becoming an adult does not mean losing the wonder of the child in front of the new and beautiful, indeed it is grasping it more deeply and making it part of their own experience. We feel the need of a more interactive, not unidirectional education, capable of educating making room for the creative imagination of the boy and the young; if educating is giving trust, the world of deviance, discomfort and marginalization may be a test case for this belief, which expresses the starting point of all educational activity: each person is educable.
3. For the Josephan-Murialdine area: “form to form, form to form”, a dynamic that creates a deep relationship in the relationship between an educator and a boy, because education is a life experience; a common name might be: “Pedagogy of Love” came from the educational style of Murialdo, centred in ‘”education of the heart”, which refers to St. Joseph as a model of every educator; some have clear terms of educating in the style of Murialdo, such as presence, hospitality, personal relationships, sharing paths, community; drawing on the tradition of the first Josephites, we can also indicate that the train starts from listening, knowing that the boy has a soul to save that deserves our respect and our full commitment.
4. For the sharing of good practices area: a creative pedagogy attentive to the signs of the times, able to talk about social innovation, to network, to invent for and with young people new times and spaces. Educating is showing how to live in the reality of ordinary life an experience of being loved that becomes way and open door to know that first of all we are loved by God. In “mission” land education starts from the trust that we can fulfil the Word saying, “I will give you a new heart”… knowing that now is the time to prepare the ground for it to be ready to be sown. In a Josephan institution the young person must feel welcomed, valued, helped get in the way of human and Christian maturity, in which the values that underpin solidarity towards others have a special place. Finally, we speak of an “educative family” attentive to the needs of the young, placed at the centre of the educational community, with a view that educating is generating.
The discourse continues
There is ample room to continue the discussion on educating, even if what has been said and shared is already a lot. On the other hand, the charism is not a phrase or a concept, but a source that nourishes and at the same time should always be better known and investigated. Talking about it from multiple viewpoints, from diverse cultural and environmental situations, is like illumining a common heritage with more lights, which highlight its characteristics and peculiarities.
I consider it important that in addition to the discussion that features some of the “theoretical” terms of the pedagogical Josephan action, there is also the presentation of “good practices,” i.e. pedagogy in action, because it becomes a testimony of an incarnate charism. Maybe we do not talk enough about the limitations of our work, as we are careful to highlight the reasons and principles; on the other hand the boys are the first to know and to highlight our weak points as educators. From here, a careful listening of their observations, their ratings, is always an act of wisdom and prudence in education.
Finally, in the various interventions it seems to me to capture a tension to the best that expresses passion, commitment, involvement: they are the first “signs” of those who make education a lifestyle choice, not just a profession.