What can we do as we face the confusion and the immorality of the policies of political correctness being forced into our schools? How can we best see a remedy for the children? One way is to look to the saints. Those holy men and women who have played a gigantic role in the education of young people and use them as our guide to steer us from the darkness of the present. They are the true teachers of all times.
On January 31 every year the Church celebrates in its liturgy the memorial of St. John Bosco. Don Bosco was born in 1815 close to the town of Castelnuovo, part of the diocese of Turin. His growing-up years were very difficult because of the poverty of his family and the death of his father when he was 2 years old. As a result, when he was ordained to the priesthood he dedicated a great deal of his work to the education of young people, especially street children, juvenile delinquents and disadvantaged youth. To do this, he founded congregations to instruct the young in the way of the arts, learning a skill and the Christian life. St. John Bosco was not afraid to write pamphlets to support and defend the faith.
At a time when corporal punishment and fear of authority were used as teaching methods, John Bosco's revolutionary approach was based on love. Where did John Bosco get this "Love"? In Chapter 25 of St. Matthew which has the all encompassing view of the last judgment of every human being, we find that secret: "Lord, when did we see you hungry... or thirsty... or a stranger?... Amen I say to you as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me." The method is known as the "Salesian Preventive System of Education". Using this approach, Bosco was able to attract numerous boys and adult helpers. He believed education to be a "matter of the heart". Students must not only be loved, but know that they are loved. There are three main components of the Preventive System: reason, religion and kindness with music and games added.
John Bosco was a student of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales whose theology was one of optimism: God's mercy gives every human being a choice and an abundance of grace to obtain eternal salvation. In fact, Bosco had such passion for this spirituality that he dedicated his works to St. Francis once he founded the Salesians of Don Bosco. With Domenica Mazzarello, he also founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls. In 1876, he began an organization of laity called, the Association of Salesian Cooperators; their mission too was to help and instruct the poor. The Salesian Bulletin which was first published in 1875 is still with us today. He was canonized by the Church in 1934 by Pope Pius XI.
John Bosco put charity, prayer and love of Christ at the heart of his vocation. His mission was to instruct, not his own love to students, but the Love of Christ that can only come from God the Father. This is the true remedy of what's needed in education today and thanks to the saints like St. John Bosco they have given us a timeless model of Christian pedagogy to imitate.