In his treatise on education, St. John Bosco says, “There are two systems which have been in use through all ages in the education of youth: the Preventive and the Repressive.” Of these two, the Preventive method was adopted by Don Bosco and now inspires teachers at Gregory the Great Academy. Teachers often use St. Francis de Sales’ words: “You can catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.”
John Bosco was convinced that Reason, Religion, and Kindness, the title of his treatise on education, were the best methods of conquering souls for Christ. We wholeheartedly agree.
Reason calls for the active and friendly presence of teachers with pupils, a pleasant togetherness. We listen to our students, we play ping pong and chess with them, we rejoice and sorrow with them, we work side by side with them. Boys long to belong, to be secure, and to be recognized. We strive to be teachers who are like loving fathers encouraging and praising, rather than finding fault. We fulfill boys’ need for recognition in the wholesome outlets we offer: sports, music, drama, field trips, and countless other interscholastic activities.
The remedy for disordered values is religion, which fosters permanent change for the good. The Religion program at Gregory the Great Academy draws from the rich tradition of our Church, not only in classroom lessons, but most importantly, in the frequent reception of the Sacraments—the ordinary channel of God’s grace and help. Boys learn to serve Christ at both Byzantine and Latin Rites, they pray the Rosary, Lauds, and Compline daily. They sing Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony, not only for their beauty, but because these cultural inheritances foster a deep life of worship. The very atmosphere at Gregory the Great Academy is infused with the love of God and the good things He created. Our spiritual muscles become stronger as we breathe the free air of our Holy Faith.
To Reason and Religion is added kindness. Kindness seeks to create a persuasive atmosphere, where trust and communication are fostered, generating the confidence so much needed by today’s youth. This kindness—another word for charity—guides us to do as we would be done by, to consider a youth’s light mindedness when he misbehaves, and to punish, if that seems necessary, only for the sake of his good.
But when practiced with diligence, the Preventive Method makes punishment rare. When a student realizes that he has disappointed his trusted and friendly teacher, he desires to return to good behavior. Teachers and dorm fathers strive to be like brothers or fathers to the students in their care and treat them with due respect, which is returned in full. As in a family, mistakes can be made on both sides of the student-teacher relationship, but when they occur we are guided by our saintly mentor John Bosco, and both student and teacher meet in the charity of friendship. The Preventive Method of discipline is thus a foundation on which to build character in both student and teacher, reforming both in Christ.