Reading: from Christian Education by Bl. Basic Moreau
Insolent Young People
Teachers may have to deal with certain young people who border on insolence, who know no rule of politeness, and have no discretion or regard for anyone. They have a way of getting worked up over nothing, of being irritated at the slightest correction. When they become upset their faces flare up, their eyes move around like two hot coals, their bodies bristle up, and their whole being is agitated. These students so easily lose control of themselves that even the language of reason and kindness cannot make them recover at those times. Teachers should consider themselves fortunate if that is all they experience from such young people. Many of these students, heated up with anger, burst out with all kinds of insults, threats, and bad language and seem ready to go to any lengths in dealing with a teacher
The best thing for a teacher to do in such a situation is to keep a profound silence, showing by a sad and postured air that the teacher pities the insolent young person and is waiting until the first fire of anger is put out. That is the moment for the teacher to act and to make the student feel the weight of the teacher’s authority. By words of severity and firmness, the teacher should make the student realize the fault, the unworthiness of the conduct, the shame that the student should feel, and the results that the student will then experience. If a teacher can have the student in this way admit to the wrongdoing, the teacher will have gained more respect and authority than was ever lost in the public display. The teacher should then be content with a punishment of short duration, but one that is of the sort to impress the student by its severity. On such occasions, teachers should never fail to hold up for their students the virtue of politeness by praising it and pointing out that they attach great value to it. It is a fine opportunity to give students a lesson in being civil to another person, with confidence that at another time it will be remembered, to the teacher’s advantage. §
Envious Young People
There are some young people, envious by nature, who are unable to see clearly that any fellow student may possess superior talent or merit. They build and hold a feeling of hatred for any fellow student who may appear superior. They speak to such students in a cold way, and the presence of these students annoys them. No matter what the other student does, they are offended; even the thought of another’s success causes deep feelings of hate and distress. They often go further and join to their animosity a spirit of strife. Since they cannot endure those fellow students who cause the jealousy, they seek quarrels with them and find fault with all they say and do. They are unable to see in their fellow students anything but faults and go so far as to distort their best intentions. From disputes they pass to fits of passion and fighting. Was it not jealousy that led Cain to kill his brother and the sons of Jacob to throw Joseph into a cistern in order to expose him to death and then to sell him to foreigners?
The secret of success in dealing with the poor slaves of self-love lies in winning their confidence. This is a difficult task and requires great prudence. These young people are by nature filled with suspicion and are erratic in their judgments. Try to build a positive relationship with them as far as this is possible. Then in all was act with the utmost patience, because this fault penetrates deeply, like a vigorous plant that can be cut or destroyed on the outside but cannot be totally destroyed as long as its roots remain in the ground. Profit by the control you exercise over such students to help them sense on every occasion how much this passion debases them in the eyes of others and how much it offends God, who loves everyone as they were created. Every time they happen to fall into this vice, impose on them as a penance some small prayer in which they ask God’s pardon for their fault and the grace not to fall again. Do not forget also to require of them as punishment to show themselves more gentle and charitable toward those of whom they are jealous and even to give clear signs of repentance by congratulating the others and saying something nice to them. §
MEDITATION — COLLEEN RICHARDS
Blessed Basil Moreau covers a lot of ground here; many a discipline plan has been drawn up to deal with issues such as these, but the Catholic educator is not here to deal with issues, but to help his students learn and grow into the image and likeness of God.
The practical wisdom provided should be discussed between teachers and school leaders. Thinking through scenarios like these is an important part of teacher preparation, and it is important that teachers do this as a team. Consider how this advice is best applied; for example, a young man in his teens will often better receive correction from a respected male teacher. Their conversation can help the student recognize the wrong and learn how to apologize to the classroom teacher. This does not mean that the woman “can’t handle it”; rather, the young man will better learn how to be a man from a man. In general, correct in private, keeping in mind that the other students need some indication that justice has been served.
The most basic preparation is the teacher’s life of prayer. Spending time to be attentive to the presence of God and His eternal wisdom is essential. Man speaks from the excess of his heart, so be intentional about steeping your heart in the love of Christ for every student who acts in ways described above. Then strength and love come together as a beneficial foundation for these students.
When a student behaves in an insolent way, do I respond in anger? Do I make the consistent effort to build positive relationships with students who need it most? What is flowing from the excess of my heart? Is it Christ’s truth and love?
Lord Jesus, many voices tell us how to “deal with” the young. Give us discernment and wisdom, so we may help our students fulfill their call to be the true sons and daughters of God. May we show them the life of the Blessed Trinity: giving in love, receiving in love, being a gift to others.
In every strong correction and consequence, may we bring forth every word and action from your eternal love. May they provide the foundation and structure upon which students can build their character.
Please also offer one Mass and one Rosary some time this month for the intentions of the members of the Confraternity.