XXI Century Emergency: Pedagogy and Family Education

XXI Century Emergency: Pedagogy and Family Education

Giuseppe Fioravanti. Emergencia del Siglo: Pedagog ía y educación familiar. Ediciones Universidad de Los Andes, Santiago de Chile, 2010.

On the initiative of the Family Institute of the University of Los Andes (Chile), Professors Carmen Vidal and Carolina Martínez translated the well-known Italian essay of Professor Giuseppe Fioravanti, Pedagogy and Family Education, into Spanish. Originally published in 1983, the Spanish translation was recently “discovered” two years later by Familyandmedia. Although it does not specifically deal with the relationship between family and media, we nonetheless consider it interesting for our readers due to the importance of its fundamentals.

The recovery of man’s intrinsic dignity must begin in the nuclear family, and can only be achieved if many roles that have been taken away from the family are given back to it. This applies in a particular way to the family’s educative role.

The book is divided into four chapters, and denounces the semantic manipulation typical of modernity. Such manipulation makes the use of words entirely subjective. Mere opinions clothed with slogans come to replace real ideas that are formed through an actual knowledge of things. In the end, names do not correspond to what a thing really is, but only to passing fads. It is enough to think of the manipulation today—or at least the confusion—before words such as marriage, freedom, family, and love, among many others.

Mainly because of secularism, dialectics, and evolutionism, pedagogy has been reduced to a mere educational method or technique. Its scientific character has been forgotten, followed by all the consequences that this implies.

By doubting the historical reality of Revelation, secularism has undermined a large part of the truth about man and God that once belonged to the common patrimony of humanity. It often seems as though faith is no longer a personal encounter with Christ, but just one more subject to teach in schools. This is the reason why so many Catholics appear to have an inferiority complex when confronting today’s dominant ideologies.

Dialectics, understood in the modern sense, is the greatest obstacle to knowing reality, according to Fioravanti. Throughout the history of thought, the word dialectics has known many meanings. It has finished however, with an imposed association with fighting, conflict, and the “negation of negations.” It often seems like every prominent author in the field of Pedagogy must necessarily oppose those who came before him, and discover a new recipe that differs from those already existing before.

Evolution theory is the foundation of most contemporary pedagogical currents. Despite its internal contradictions--and Darwin’s personal recognition of its insufficiency--the evolutionary vision of man and the world has been adopted as an unquestionable scientific theory. It has had such an impact, that the purpose of education is no longer held to be the contemplation of truth, but the adaptation to a world that is constantly changing. As a consequence, knowing becomes instrumental, while abilities and competence become ends in themselves.

According to Vidal, one of the two professors that translated Fioravanti’s work, the book’s most important contributions are the following points: knowledge of reality and the enhancement of a person’s positive characteristics; the importance of family in the formation of its members, and as the main actor in society’s development; a close examination of the “principals of family education” found in freedom, responsibility, and authority; the content of family education; the human qualities; the social virtues: gratitudo, vindicatio, veritas, affabilitas, liberalitas, pietas, observantia, honor, oboedientia .

It should be emphasized that the author holds the goal of family education to be the growth and full development of the person. This end however, does not only apply to children but extends to parents as well, since family education is based on, and strengthened through, the strength of the marriage bond. No objective and impartial educator could ever deny that the parents' permanent and active presence is fundamental and indispensable for the proper development of a child.

According to Fioravanti, the fundamental human qualities—the virtues—constitute the basis upon which good people are formed, capable of leading their own family, and in as much as they are citizens, the whole of society. For this reason, the only remedy that can oppose the materialist offensive so dominant today is a united family equipped with clear criteria for educating their children. The family's challenge then, consists in educating children in stable dispositions that will allow them to acquire a way of being—a character—which will lead them to fulfillment.

The family is the first and principle educator, because it is the only place where members love each other for who they are, and not how or what they are. For this reason, it is very important to educate children in all three dimensions of the human being: the intellect, so that they have good criteria and know how to distinguish good from evil; the will, because it is not enough to know what is good, it must also be put into practice; the emotions, to discover the joy of higher and more arduous goods. The practical applications found in the last section of this book are essential to concretely understanding the exciting task of education.

Reading this book will undoubtedly enrich the educational criteria of those who still today believe the family to be the educational niche par excellence: that is, the best place to be born, grow, and die as a person.