Reading: From Christian Education by Bl. Basil Moreau
The word vigilance is connected with watchfulness and hence signifies alertness. It is a virtue that makes us attentive to our duties. Vigilant teachers forget nothing of what they ought to do and do not become distracted from what they ought to be thinking about, seeing, hearing, or doing. There is nothing more necessary for teachers than this constant watchfulness over themselves and their students.
Teachers need to watch themselves in order to conduct themselves as they should in front of young people, who closely study their teachers’ faults and notice any weaknesses. Do not forget that young people are naturally observant and that they see all and hear all: Teachers are greatly mistaken if they believe that they do not have to be concerned with what students see or hear if the students are occupied with all of the distractions that go with being young.
Teachers need to watch, above all, over the young people placed in their care. Indeed, they are the spiritual parents of these young people. How else will teachers be able to carry out their responsibilities to the families that rely on them to help develop good values in their children? From the moment teachers accept charge of young people for their education they become guardians.This vigilance does involve some annoying, tiring, and disquieting things, especially for those who are new to the profession. Until they have responsibility for their first classes, teachers don’t realize the concerns that often bother those in positions of responsibility and authority. When they are put in charge of a class, they often experience a loss of calm and peace and create anxieties for themselves that are contrary to what should be motivating them. Looking out for students becomes a heavy responsibility and a real problem, since it leads teachers to dislike their work and even question their calling. I caution young teachers not to take this virtue to the extreme.
Teachers must keep their vigilance within reasonable limits and not imitate those who are always in a state of great alarm, often over some childish prank that they are unable to evaluate correctly. Those who are too vigilant are unaware that a great talent of good teachers is often to pretend not to notice what he or she does not want to be obliged to punish. An indulgence prudently managed is worth much more than outbursts and the punishments that follow them. Always avoid this embarrassing vigilance. It is revolting to students and unbearable for teachers. Let your watchfulness and attention be calm, without over-concern, without agitation or trouble, without great constraint or affectation. But also avoid the opposite, which involves carelessness, distraction, unwillingness to act, and tardiness, which are all contrary to this virtue of vigilance. §
MEDITATION — COLLEEN RICHARDS
These words on vigilance hearken back to the Greeks’ idea of the golden mean. Vigilance, as a moral virtue, is a good for us human beings. Lacking this virtue is an evil, but extreme vigilance is an evil as well. Blessed Basil Moreau’s careful naming of various expressions of vigilance and its deficiency acts as a mirror for us, and when we see ourselves in his words, we can be guided back to the golden mean.
Attaining and maintaining the right balance of vigilance is the work of experience. Prayer helps open our eyes to the light experience brings. And words spoken in humility–to a school leader or to our colleagues–can open a treasure chest of wisdom on how to be vigilant in the right ways.
I learned to be a teacher in the faculty room. Hearing veteran teachers tell the stories of their classrooms built a foundation for discerning vigilance. Divulging my stories of classroom blunders gave them room to speak words of comfort and advice. Imitating their strong, balanced vigilance was a steady means to finding that golden mean.
In what ways am I careless, distracted, or unwilling to act? Am I tardy due to problems I could have foreseen? Do my actions, words and manners, composure and dress show my students how they should live? If my students acted as I do, would I be proud of them?
What is my response to the misbehavior of students? Do I act on my duty to help develop good values in the hearts of the young? Do I react explosively, trying to stop them because their behavior reflects badly on me? Do I try to control my students so they are unable to do any wrong, instead of teaching them to esteem and practice self-control?
Dear Lord, the attention and care You are calling me to is for your very children. Give me a willing heart to carefully attend to every one of my duties in their regard. But protect me from my own excess which tears apart the peace which is your gift. It is not in my fallen capacity to maintain the calm and constant vigilance so necessary in this work. Give me your own vigilance; be vigilant in me, for these are your children to be cared for, called to spend eternity with You.
Please also offer one Mass and one Rosary some time this month for the intentions of the members of the Confraternity.