Formation of the Will
In order to obtain perfect education, it is of the utmost importance to see that all those conditions which surround the child during the period of his formation, in other words that the combination of circumstances which we call environment, correspond exactly to the end proposed.
The Academy follows the disciplinary method of the great 19th century educatory, St. John Bosco. As opposed to the “repressive” system prevailing in his time, Don Bosco prescribed the “preventive” system based on the three pillars of reason, religion and kindness. Discipline erupting from anger and passion is inconsistent, arbitrary and unfair; it confuses and embitters the child rather than correcting and instructing him. When reason dominates the teacher’s actions, discipline is measured and consistent, fair and constructive. The instructor not only requires right behavior in his students, but demonstrates it in his own life.
Religion is the second element in Don Bosco’s method. By religion we put into practice the truths we know by faith. By religion we cultivate in ourselves humility, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, honesty, purity, etc.—not only for the natural motive of a trouble-free life (as the pagan philosophers taught), but to fulfill the Great Commandments of God in obedience to Christ.
Kindness makes virtue attractive. It is the love of God expressed through us, His human creatures. It inspires the young in our care to follow the three admonitions of Don Bosco to his students: Be cheerful, work hard, and obey the rules. The teacher expresses care for students by rejoicing with them in their prosperity and their strengths, comforting and encouraging them in adversity, and supporting them in their challenges and weaknesses. This requires the teacher’s steady vigilance for the students’ benefit.
This necessary vigilance does not demand that young people be removed from the society in which they must live and save their souls; but that today more than ever they should be forewarned and forearmed as Christians against the seductions and the errors of the world, which, as Holy Writ admonishes us, is all “concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life.” [I John 2, 16]
The formation of the will, or moral education, as envisioned by Saint John Bosco, is ultimately the formation of the conscience. The development of the human conscience demands patient supervision and persevering care through many years. Christ has commanded us to be vigilant. This vigilance for parents and teachers concerns not only themselves, but also extends to the impressionable minds and promising souls of the young entrusted to their care.