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Symposium On Preventive System At Divyadaan

By Bosco Carvalho, sdb
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Mumbai, Jan. 24. The Master's of Philosophy brothers at Divyadaan-Salesian Institute of Philosophy, Nasik, organized a Seminar titled, ''Preventive System of Don Bosco: A Philosophical Enquiry'' on Saturday, January 19, 2013.
The theme of Don Bosco's Preventive System was chosen in line with the preparation for the Bi-centenary celebration of the birth of our Father and Founder Don Bosco. The Rector Major, Rev. Fr. Pascual Chavez has invited us to know more about Don Bosco and his educative method during this year 2013. This was the chief reason for venturing into a philosophical reflection on the topic.

The Symposium began by invoking God's blessings on the gathering as the audience joined in a hymn to the Holy Spirit. The moderator Anto Belevandiran introduced the theme by showing the video clip of the Rector Major addressing the entire Salesian World to get acquainted with the fruits of Don Bosco's Educational System i.e. the lives of Dominic Savio, Francis Bessuco and Michael Magone, and to reinterpret this Preventive System in the present era. He also gave a brief summary of the Preventive System with its three pillars of reason, religion and loving kindness. The speakers of the day were Albert Kumar, Dilip Gnanaprakash and Clement Mathera.

Albert Kumar presented a paper under the title 'Preventive System: Emergence and Influences'. He commenced his talk by stating that the Preventive System was indeed a brainchild of Don Bosco's spontaneous way of relating with children; yet, being part of history, he was influenced by many a person, philosophies and the socio-political events of his times.

The persons that influenced Don Bosco were Jesus and Mary who revealed his mission, his mother Mama Margaret who brought him up in Christian virtues, his confessor Don Cafasso, his first benefactor Don Calosso, St. Francis de Sales, the model of charity and other individuals like Peter Banaudi who shaped his life. Albert then presented the philosopher Anthony Rosmini whose pedagogy included realism, love for God and love for neighbor and showed its parallelism with Don Bosco's educational method.

Despite the fact that he fought against the Jansenists, Don Bosco seemed to incorporate, in line with Rousseau, the art of respecting and giving importance to each child. After contrasting the Preventive system with the Repressive System, Albert concluded by reiterating that Don Bosco's educational method was borne out of his experiences as a response to the context.

The Second talk of the day 'Preventive System: A Holistic Pedagogy' was delivered by Dilip Gnanaprakash. He began by stating that the goal of education was to make good Christians and honest citizens. He affirmed that Don Bosco's pedagogy was based on the needs of the youth: the emotional need for a trusting relationship was met with the kindness of the educator's rapport, the rational need for intellectual enquiry was met by the reasonable dialogues and the spiritual need for personal and social happiness was inspired by the religious guidance of the educator.

The highlighting points of his talk included his emphasis on love and familiarity as the key to all educational endeavors - the young should not only be loved, but that they must know that they are loved. Reason in the Preventive System helped in the formation of good conscience and upright behaviour in young people.  Religion helped to construct a sound and wholesome personality thus leading the way to living a life of Christian sanctity. Dilip ended the talk by presenting 'active presence' as a concrete way of living the three pillars and becoming a sign and bearer of God's love to the young.

Clement Mathera, the third speaker, made a lucid presentation on the relevance of Don Bosco's preventive System. His talk entitled, 'The Challenges and Reinterpretation of Preventive System in Today's Context' presented the present South Asian context of diverse cultures, creeds, classes, etc. and placed the need for reinterpreting  the Preventive System in this present context.

He posed questions regarding the meaning of citizenship, understanding of a good Christian, value of co-education and the place of religion in today's education. he proposed the following suggestions: in religion, there is need to grasp the inter-relatedness between culture and the different faith and thus enable respect for one another; in reason, to critically evaluate the new philosophies that keep emerging; in loving kindness, developing mature relationships with adults and youngsters.

The need of the hour is that the educators must present experiences that are solid and participatory, enabling the young to grow from within by stressing interior freedom and opposing external conditioning. There is a need to conquer the heart of the young in order to draw them serenely toward values, preparing them for the future by adding the acquisition of skills to the formation of the mind.

After the presentation of the talks, there was a discussion on the major themes that were highlighted during the Symposium. A few practical issues of Salesian presence, value system of youngsters, physical and sexual assault, etc. were raised regarding the practice of the Preventive System in schools and other institutions.

The discussion was brought to a fitting conclusion by stating that though we do not have ready made response to the present problems, it is the task of every educator to enter into the lives of the young, share with them the value of religion, reason and kindness, and thus prepare them for the correct living of social and ecclesiastical life.

The Preventive System is an approach to bring out the integral development or holistic growth of each individual child. The Symposium ended with a vote of thanks delivered by Daniel Jaojian Gangmei, after which there were some refreshments served. The audience took home nuggets of the Preventive System of Don Bosco by way of learning the pedagogical tools involved in reaching the heart of the young.
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