- Following Jesus Christ
- Don Bosco, apostle of the Oratory
- Prophetic example of his youth
- Father and Founder
In the years from 1853 to 1862, Valdocco was transformed from a festive Oratory—an open institution—into a complex work: hospice and boarding, college with boarding section, trade workshops, internal classes and publishing centre, amongst the most important sections.
Amongst the more original practices put in place as part of the educational praxis at Valdocco, and maintained in the Salesian tradition that then followed from it, we would have to highlight the “Goodnights”: brief “talks” or “short speeches” after night prayers. Don Bosco addressed the pupils in the presence of their educators (superiors of the house, teachers assistants), in a familiar way using simple and attractive language.
“Don Bosco,” Fr Michael Rua writes in a brief note in 1867 “sad at seeing the great evil that was happening especially amongst young students because of bad literature, planned to set up an association of good classical and modern literature.”
The plan became a reality the following year, when he began publishing the “Library for Italian Youth” or “Library of Italian Classics.”
The ten brief documents that follow—some perhaps less known than the previous ones in Salesian history—are also interesting from the point of view of the maturing and practice of Don Bosco’s educational system. We have a necessarily limited selection here of personal letters to people responsible for public education, or to young people and teachers, and circulars on pedagogical and didactic issues.
In his 1877 booklet on pedagogy, Don Bosco highlights the advantages of the Preventive System and other reasons for which it should be preferred. At the same time he recognises that the “practical application” of the educational approach he is proposing implies “certain difficulties” for educators.
The Preventive System in the education of the young (1877) is one of the most important and widespread documents by the founder of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. It is the first more or less complete account—despite its small size—that Don Bosco had put together on his educational approach. It is with this “small treatise” that his reputation as educator and pedagogue became so intimately linked.
“Even though these were written down later (1881-1882), two presentations which Don Bosco made regarding his educational system are trustworthy. They were conversations that took place in 1854 and 1864. The first was with a Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Urban Rattazzi; the other with an elementary teacher, Francis Bodrato.”
The “document that properly begins the representation of Don Bosco’s real experience as an educator is The Sway of a Good Upbringing. Here we find the Director of the Oratory of St Francis de Sales as catechist, counsellor and confidant of young Peter”, even if he “is in the shade and not fully defined.”
Un passaggio decisivo della ricostruzione storica degli anni a venire potrebbe impegnarsi a rispondere a domande del tipo: come il sistema preventivo ha risposto, d’un lato, ai cambiamenti sopra delineati e, per un altro verso, come si è inculturato nelle realtà non occidentali? Come è stata interpretata la pedagogia boschiana dopo il Concilio, e quali frutti non solo pratici ma anche teorici ha portato? Ovvero come sono stati reinterpretati i princìpi fondanti del sistema? Continue reading “Giorgio Chiosso – Problemi aperti e prospettive del Congresso Internazionale di Storia Salesiana (2014)”