Don Bosco grew up and was educated during a particularly conservative period in Italian history, a period of reaction against many things but also the European Enlightenment. That is why it is all the more surprising that he chose to include 'reason' in his summing up of his educative system in terms of Reason, Religion, Loving Kindness. I am sure there are studies on this point, but I am feeling these days that we need to understand 'reason' in terms of 'dialogue.'
At the conclusion of the recently concluded Salesian Historical Congress, prof. Giorgio Chiosso wonderfully highlighted the fact that the Preventive System is “a pedagogy of personal freedom, one that relies on the force of interpersonal relationships, and that gives due value to the affective component”. This kind of system, he went on to say, is far superior to a pedagogy of authority that presupposes a distance between masters and pupils, and that relies more on impersonal rules than on living relationships. Perhaps this is not all that new; but what struck me very much was the comment that followed, where the professor drew a contrast between the gifted educator and a run-of-the-mill one: where the former is able to translate the great principles of the system in creative ways into everyday life, the latter is constantly tempted to hide his own insecurity by means of a recourse to rules, norms, and behaviour that is more or less standard.