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From the Rector
Last weekend, some eighty members of staff (Principals and staff in leadership positions) from Salesian Schools in Australia and Samoa gathered together in Melbourne to study, understand and apply to our situation the educational vision and method of the Founder of the Salesians, Don Bosco. A professor of Salesian history from the USA and from the Salesian University in Rome (Fr Joe Boenzi) provided some very informative and challenging talks. Then, in ‘workshop’ groups, all participants were engaged in finding practical ways to apply Don Bosco’s vision to the situation in the schools where they work.
It was obvious that our historical, cultural and geographical situation is vastly different from that of Don Bosco. However, his educational method and his approach to dealing with young people has had (and is having) a major impact on the world. Today, Don Bosco’s educational vision is being implemented in more than 130 countries, by more than 30,000 religious men and women, and thousands more lay collaborators. So, one would have to conclude that Don Bosco’s educational approach is based on some perennial principles and values!
It would be impossible to do justice to Don Bosco’s vision in a few paragraphs in this e-Newsletter. But the following values are among those that form the foundation and the framework of all institutions of Don Bosco:
1. A family spirit: As in every family, people are different, but we should respect and value each other, forgive one another and love and support each other.
2. Faith in a God who cares and provides for all. We are all God’s children.
3. Educators (parents, teachers) teach by example first. Therefore, they make themselves PRESENT and take an active interest and part in the lives of the young.
4. Young people must feel they are loved and trusted.
5. Educators (parents and teachers) encourage students to engage in their education; they foster dialogue, and invite children to use reason.
6. Educators set firm and clear rules, boundaries and consequences; and apply them with reason and understanding.
7. The ‘honey’ of loving kindness, patience, forgiveness and giving a second chance will help change behaviour more than threats and punishments.
8. Rewards in the form of encouragement and appreciation are effective means of education.
In conclusion, I invite all readers to challenge themselves to put into practice Don Bosco’s approach in their relationship with others, especially with the young.
Fr Frank Bertagnolli SDB