As Summer comes to an end, students, parents and teachers return to their well known schedules, rituals and routines. Saying Good Bye to Summer and to many hours to spare may not be exactly appreciated by the youngsters. Yet, as Educators, our task consists precisely of opening their young minds to new horizons, inspiring them to discover a world of endless possibilities. Young hearts are generous by nature; challenging and motivating them it is not only our duty as parents or teachers but perhaps this is one of the most powerful tools to help them progress and thrive.
“But… I’m Bored”
In a world of tablets and cell phones, video games and social media, the attention span of our youth is becoming every day more narrow, ADHD seems to be growing in pandemic proportions, as we hear over and over the everpresent moaning coming from children of all ages: “I’m bored”. Using his typical and sometimes hilarious Spanish wit, St. Josemaria Escriva used to answer: “You are bored? That’s because you keep your senses awake and your soul asleep…” Definitely, awakening the soul, opening it to grow and fly requires a most central aspect of true education: the formation of the heart.
Formation of the heart
The early years, adolescence and youth are times marked by an extraordinary development of sentiments and affections. As educators, parents and teachers have a marvellous opportunity to guide youth towards very important virtues that will make them both strong and generous, as the centre of the heart is called love. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for instance, left powerful teachings that surely will be a marvellous inspirational resource tools in this process. In her own words, she asserts that “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” This is precisely a point that resonates with young minds. Loving God, loving and helping our neighbour out of love of God, controlling anger, transforming mere human sentimentality into other finer and sublime forms of love can be frequent topics to be be dealt with in those innumerable ‘teachable moments’ of the day. Teaching and practising love, kindness, understanding and generosity certainly forms and develops strong and virtuous hearts; hearts that, in time of trial and adversity, will not only be capable to persevere, but rather will thrive and even blossom in fine acts of heroism.
In a world where money, success and many other forms of egoism seem to be the ultimate goal, Mother Teresa points out with good sense and simplicity that : “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.” In other words, the formation of the heart is obviously more important than any other physical and tangible deeds.
Faithful in the small things
Obviously, developing strong hearts rooted on beautiful virtues does not happen overnight. Rather, it is a long building process. Mother Teresa’s luminous words also come to timely refer to this process: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies”, she advises. We cannot expect to click on the icon or press enter, to attain it. There is surely no instant recipe, no quick path, no magic touch to get there. Yet, educator and parents have the beautiful and irreplaceable duty to open and to inspire young eyes to these sublime realities…
Definitely, there cannot be true education without the steady and tireless education of the heart. Or, more precisely, as St John Bosco used to say… Education is a matter of the heart.
By Br. Gustavo