The role of Education for the future we want

Suelí Periotto

Monday | January 13, 2014 | 4:10 PM | Last update: September 22, 2016, 4:07 PM (Brasilia time)

Vivian R. Ferreira
Suelí Periotto*¹

The educational work of the Legion of Good Will (LBV) prioritizes valuing the individual as a complete Being. It proposes, at the same time, an ecumenical alternative to the pedagogical model that sometimes overemphasizes the reasoning element in detriment to the socio-affective and intuitive content. This work has brought a positive contribution to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of social and economic targets agreed by the Member States of the United Nations to be achieved by 2015, above all in the areas of education, health, the environment, and income.

Educating with Ecumenical Spirituality is the basis of the pedagogical proposal applied to the teaching network and socio-educational programs of the Legion of Good Will. Therefore, the Organization bases itself on the Pedagogy of Affection (directed at children up to the age of 10) and the Ecumenical Citizen Pedagogy (for children from the age of 11 and up), both created by the President of the LBV, José de Paiva Netto. He himself states in his book É Urgente Reeducar!*² [It is Urgent to Reeducate!] that: “To educate is to transform. To re-educate under the auspices of Peace, Love, and Justice, inspired by Goodness, is to sublimate one’s character.”

The pedagogical line adopted by the LBV sees the student as the protagonist in the process of constructing knowledge and it identifies in the teacher the role of mediator in the search for knowledge. Starting from this premise students find the necessary support for individual improvement in the resources placed at their disposal. This strengthens their wish to continue studying and their commitment to the values of the Culture of Peace and sustainable development.

LBV students recognize that the fact of coming from a poor community or being part of a vulnerable family is not a factor that prevents them from becoming full citizens. More than that: they know that in addition to their capacity for personal growth they can themselves become involved as multiplying agents of the ideals of sustainability and act in a significant way on the economic, social, and environmental pillars. Thus, it is not just a question of taking part in the discussion and looking for solutions that has a favorable impact on the place where they live, but this concern extends also to the whole community.

Planetary citizen

In the daily activities of the schools and in the socio-educational programs of the Legion of Good Will, those helped are encouraged to awaken their socio-affective potential, allied to their intellectual formation. In this manner, they will understand better their role as citizens, their rights, and the need for guidance when it comes to complying with their duties.

It is expected that when students conclude their basic education they will have fully assimilated the concept of Ecumenical Citizenship. They will therefore be better prepared for their professional careers as well as for continuing with their studies and then be ready for contributing to the development of a more humane and solidary society. By getting to know the different types of knowledge acquired from the pedagogical content, which is ecumenically reconciled with ethical and moral values, they are better prepared for satisfactory inclusion in social life and in the working world in a creative and effective way. The result is the construction of worthy living conditions for themselves and the continuous expansion of efforts in favor of the sustainability of the planet.

In the learning process of young people special attention is paid to preparing them for a life of entrepreneurship. The Ecumenical Citizen Pedagogy identifies the value of a quality intellectual education and at the same time it seeks to strengthen the sense of citizenship in teenagers, young people, and adults, through the experience of values that are fundamental to the family and society. For students it is an opportunity to have an active voice for participating in the preparation of concepts that are going to be constituted in the practice of this Ecumenical Citizenship.

João Periotto
Students from the LBV’s Educational Institute in São Paulo present their work on the environment.

One of the great targets of this pedagogical proposal has been the creation of conditions that allow students to see themselves as an important part of a social group, endowed with critical sense and unequalled skills and abilities. Strengthening the notion of the complete Being (comprising Spiritual Intelligence as well as cognitive and emotional aspects) is a determining factor of motivation, because it helps students not to resign themselves to precarious living conditions. They start to see their inner capacity for working to bring about change and broaden their horizons on the road to establishing for themselves a new sociocultural reality.

With high self-esteem, people become enthusiastic about embracing activities that benefit, for example, the conservation of the environment and that favor the community where they live. With the possibility of studying and gathering information, a perception of the reality in which students find themselves and the prospects for change that lie within their reach grows in them.

“The human being is the source of never-ending achievement”

The results achieved by the schools of the LBV have been excellent. With more than 60 years of existence the Organization records zero dropout rates in its teaching units and offers a safe and non-aggressive environment for students and teachers alike. An increasing number of the students continue with academic careers after leaving school, with growing perspectives for personal growth.

The Organization believes and invests in the potential of children and young people. Thus, the work of the LBV follows along the path of quality education and socio-assistance care, under the light of Ecumenical Citizenship. Experience shows that this is the path that must be taken, because it guarantees us good results according to the efforts we put in towards its excellence. We are confident that these young people of today and adults of tomorrow can do and will still do much for our planet, beginning with the awareness that it is possible to overcome the challenges.

Therefore, it is necessary to be oriented by an education that includes “a view beyond the intellect”, as Paiva Netto points out. “The human being, especially children, is the source of never-ending achievement. This is the true wealth of civilization. They cannot continue being cruelly exploited and submitted to servitude and contempt. Conditions must be created for them, however minimal they are, to live with dignity, for however long they have lived,” prescribes the educator.

The conditions indicated by the Head of the LBV are within our reach and are a reality in the work undertaken in the Legion of Good Will. However, society is still waiting for effective and immediate actions in the areas of education and citizenship. We need to be firm in our thinking and have Goodwill in our actions. The future generations will thank us and will be able to report many actions and attitudes taken for the well-being of this blue planet, based on the paths opened by all of us. Therefore, let us get down to work!

Suelí Periotto is an educator with a postgraduate degree in School Management and Human Sciences Methodology, and is currently working on her Master’s degree in Education at PUC-SP. She is also a conference speaker and the host of the Educação em Debate [Education on Focus] program of the Super Good Will Radio Network.

 É Urgente Reeducar! [It is Urgent to Re-educate!] — a bestseller by writer Paiva Netto that has already sold more than 230,000 copies in Brazil. It is also available in e-book format (in Portuguese only).