Don Bosco's Education System
St. John Bosco, affectionately called Don Bosco, was not a theorist but a practical man with a compassionate heart and a zeal to save the youngsters from the all the perils and with a dream to provide them with holistic education. He rejected the repressive system of education and chose the ‘Preventive system of Education’ instead.
After nearly 37 years of using this method throughout the educational institutions he had founded, he wrote a brief Treatise on the Preventive System in 1877 to let the ‘Salesians’ know the educational principles close to his heart.
All educational activities within a Salesian School are carried out according to a basic educational philosophy, which is usually referred to as The Preventive System. The Preventive System is a stream of positive activity flowing throughout the whole school, from the Principal to the youngest students which by its very positiveness excludes disorders and negativity.
The Preventive approach is based on assistance & accompaniment, where the educator is perceived as father, mother, brother, sister, guide and protector. The Expressive approach is based on encouragement and motivation. It is growth enhancing.
The System is based on three pillars: reason, religion and loving-kindness. The Preventive System, makes a friend of the pupil, who looks upon his educator as a benefactor who advises him, wishes to make him good, to save him from trouble, from punishments, and from dishonour.
The Preventive System demands from the teachers a well-planned, suitable, interesting course of studies for the students. How often disciplinary problems among the students are the direct result of hasty, or non-prepared classes? Students should know in advance the year’s general program, the monthly and weekly proposed areas to cover. A teacher who does not conscientiously prepare his classes, fails not only against the Preventive System, but also against justice.
Teachers are assistants, guides and directors, and should be found mingling often with the students. They should join, if possible, in student activities, be present in recreation with them, not as supervisors, but as assistants.
Belongingness, security, and recognition are attained in this system of education by the confidence generated through this interpersonal relationship between pupils and teachers who, in Don Bosco’s words, are like “loving fathers” encouraging and praising at the proper moment.
The needs for attention and recognition are fulfilled by wholesome outlets: sports, music, drama, field trips and a countless number of school activities.
The educator in a Salesian school seeks to minimize the negative effects of the so-called “generation gap” fostering the proper balance between authority and permissiveness, by blending freedom with responsibility, integrating the old and the new. In a word, he fosters true and genuine humanism. To stop at human values and not go beyond was inconceivable for Don Bosco: he placed great emphasis on the second factor of the Salesian Educational System.
The means of saving the young is and ever will be religion, which will dominate the actions of the young and affect permanent change for the good of the individual and that of society. Salesian Education, drawing always from authentic Catholic tradition, places great importance on the frequent use of the Sacraments – the ordinary channels of God’s grace and help.