Saturday, October 5, 2013

Go Deep: How Teaching Children Requires an Examination of Conscience

"Go deep!"  At this time of year (football season) you might think that's a direct quote from the quarterback at Friday night's homecoming game.  Nope.  It was from a priest at a Morning of Recollection (a short, mini-retreat) this week, and it got me thinking:  to guide children and to correct them in the classroom is a lot like the spiritual work that we--as adults--do on a daily basis.

"Go deep" means to get to the root of a problem.  Does a disruptive child need more structure?  What might be the "key" to engage his imagination?  We first have to ask if we have presented things poorly or not prepared the environment well.  Beyond that, to "go deep" may mean examining why we struggle with our same faults over and over.  Is my impatience with my children caused by a need to control everything?  Or by a failure to see the good in them?

Maria Montessori said that we as teachers need to make a regular examination of our consciences, so that our own faults don't get in the way of our ability to guide children.  That means our classrooms--whether at home or at a school--become schools of virtue for us.

Tonight I read a good reminder, "Unholy Anger:  Disciplining Ourselves Before Disciplining Our Children," by John F. Crosby (I found it on  In it the author takes a quote from St. John Bosco, the man who started the Salesians and the care of juvenile delinquents.  In a letter to priests he wrote:
 "They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely. There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for true fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement."
So let's "Go deep," do a regular examen (a prayerful reflection of our faults), and it'll be a win-win:  we'll grow in holiness and be able to help the children around us.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good reminder for those of us teaching adults, too. Great post!