Salesian Perspectives

Cultivating Love Rather Than Fear

  • Don Bosco’s approach epitomises the efficacy of love over fear as the means of educating the young.  In promoting the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth and development of young people, Don Bosco advocated the necessity that educators should “study to make yourself loved”.  Developing appropriate positive relationships with the young, cultivating a mutual love are at the heart of the educative process which aims at forming young people as good Christians and honest citizens.
  • Don Bosco’s practical application of the model of the Good Shepherd included an attitude of loving-kindness towards the young.  He believed in that the practice of his system of education is wholly based on the words of St Paul who says that “love is patient and kind … Love bears all things … hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 4, 7).


  • Being with and available to students, both physically and emotionally.  Participating in their activities and cultivating appropriate positive relationships.  Seeking out the difficult, indifferent or neglected students, ensuring that all feel welcome and appreciated.  Cultivating a positive environment by means of your active presence amongst students.

 Preventive Attitude

  • Cultivating a positive environment that fosters growth, maturity and personal responsibility and enables students to give constructive expression to their innate goodness and talents.  Ensuring that negative experiences and opportunities for inappropriate behaviour are few by means of the active and pro-active “presence” of the educator.

Sharing the Lives of the Young

  • Taking an active interesting the lives of the students, getting to know students on a personal level, knowing their world, youth culture and the interests and issues in their lives.  Having an understanding of the factors that influence young people and their world.  Seeking out the good things in youth culture and utilising them for the positive development of the students.  Learning to love the positive things that young people love so that they will learn to love the things that you value.

Engaging Young People

  • Meeting the young where they are, making the effort to take the initiative to ensure constructive encounters with students, making the first move to engage students rather than waiting for them to approach you, being proactive in matters concerning the welfare of the young and their development.

Believing in the Innate Goodness of Young People

  • Young people bring energy and enthusiasm to College community.  There are many negative images of young people in society and the media revels in propagating these.  The vast majority of young people are, however, good, honest and capable.  Believing in young people, the depth of their goodness, and the breadth of their talents enable the educator to engage the young with optimism and confidence.  Believing in young people and in their capacity to love and be loved liberates young people from the negative images that abound, assists in providing the young with a sense of meaning and purpose, and enables young people to give positive and constructive expression to their innate goodness and talents.

Young People as Active Participants

  • Young people should not simply be objects of care and attention or the passive recipients of opportunities.  Rather, they should be active participants in life of the community, protagonists in the building of a positive culture.  They share responsibility for the life of the College and need to be given appropriate opportunities to give expression to the active and leading role they are encouraged to undertake.

Being Encouraging

  • Don Bosco was famous for his “word in the ear” – brief encounters with young people in which he would say a few pertinent words to the student about something that he knew was relevant to him or her.  A personal word or acknowledgement can make the world of difference to students.
  • Some young people rarely receive recognition, acknowledgement or encouragement.  By recognising them, acknowledging effort, improvement and contribution is a way of affirming their worth as persons and encourage their participation in the life of the community.


 Correction and Punishments

  • It is sometimes necessary to correct students because their behaviour is unsafe, disrespectful or unacceptable.  Except in very rare circumstances (including the necessity to ensure safety) it is better to correct privately rather than publicly.  Public correction is often humiliating, and likely to breed resentment and contempt that can seriously damage the relationship between student and educator.
  • “To strike a [student] in any way, to make him [or her] kneel in a painful position, to pull his [or her] ears, and other similar punishments must be absolutely avoided, because the law forbids them, and because they greatly irritate the [students] and degrade the educator.” (St John Bosco: 1877)
  • Correction should not normally be done in moments of anger.  It is likely that the young person will remember the educator’s anger rather than the inappropriateness of his or her own actions.  It is normally better to wait until the anger has subsided and then to focus upon the student’s actions rather than him or her as such.  Providing opportunities for the student to reflect upon his or her own behaviour and how he or she might have acted more appropriately also assists the student in taking responsibility for his or her behaviour and provides the opportunity for learning and growth.

Praying for the Young

  • Sharing the lives of the young as an educator is to undertake a sacred work – we are commissioned to be signs and bearers of the love of God.  We need the grace of God in our lives to have the love, patience and the generosity required to undertake this work.  Our goal is that our young people will be able to experience the joy and hope that comes from knowing, loving and serving God.  Commending them to God and praying for God’s blessing upon them is an act of love and kindness that bears great fruit.