Familynews.ro is happy to present in exclusivity a speech made by Christine de Marcellus Vollmer from Venezuela at the roundtable “Education and Upbringing: From Prepared Adolescence to Family Youth”, during the International Forum ”Large Family and Future of Humanity” held in Moscow on September 10-11th, 2014.
Mrs. de Marcellus Vollmer is the creator of the Alive to the World educational program for child and youth personal, social and health development. Schools around the world have started introducing such programs to inspire good citizenship and pre-empt antisocial behaviour in matters such as drugs, alcohol, bullying, eating habits and especially in teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Seeing that many educational strategies on this purpose only tried quick-fixes and used a negative tone, often exacerbating the problems they seeked to solve, Mrs. Vollmer began working in 1985 on a new approach.
Her intensive study of child development in all its aspects, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, and her experience as the mother of seven children convinced her that a completely different concept was needed.
The concept of her approach is that the human person is not made of separate functions, but of interconnected aspects: the growth of the body, the impact of the feelings, the depth of the intellect and the longings of the spirit. So she adopted the goal to educate youth for patterns of behaviour that lead to happiness and fulfillment, based on principles which are basically the same for people everywhere, regardless of the country, culture or age in which they happen to live.
Christine Vollmer’s intervention at the Education and Upbringing roundtable of Moskow’s Forum on Large Family: presenting an educational program which made teenagers trade negative for positive leadership
I come to this important Round Table with good news!
We are gathered here to consider the grave problems facing our nations because the age-old system of the transmission of values through the family…father to son and mother to daughter… has been interrupted or neutralized by the anti-values which are transmitted by the many media and which are often made worse by the social engineering of government schools. The pressures on families, the laws imposing anti-life and anti-family ideologies and the destruction of family rights are well expressed by the experts assembled here in Moscow.
We have been asked to bring together ways of “perfecting school education in the desirable direction” for the transmission of family life competencies and for preparing young people to found and preserve families. The question asked is: should this be done in schools, or at home, and in either case, how?
The good news that I bring is that children and young people can be easily formed in family values, virtues, patriotism, social solidarity and spiritual awareness. And this can be done, even in school.
Why “easily”? Because the human person is created in the image of God and, although often led astray by temptation, is inclined to the good. If, in childhood and adolescence, young people are shown clearly the way and understand how to live the logic of virtue, they respond with joy and easily understand how their individuality is enhanced by this.
But “how” can this be done? In South America we have found a way which has been giving excellent results for 10 years. It required what Mr. Moiseev calls “family anthropology” or a study of the development of the human person spiritually (the intelligence and the will), emotionally (the sentiments and social vitality), and of course physically (including brain growth) within the natural family.
It also required writing a story, because as Aristotle observed and Our Lord Jesus practiced, it is through stories and parables that young people learn best. Our story, about Charles and his cousin Alice, their classmates, family and neighbors, is continuous for 13 years, from when they are 6 years old until they finish school, and it covers all the universal situations of human experience: making friends, accepting differences, facing errors and successes, taking decisions, and of course the proper understanding of attraction, infatuation, love and commitment.
Every person dreams of one, true love and a happy family, but fewer and fewer are able to attain these because they so often lack the tools needed for a lasting marriage. These tools are values and virtues and the understanding of oneself and others.
The underlying anthropology of this program directs the pupils in learning to align the three levels of the human person: the spiritual, the emotional and the corporal, or we could say, understanding, accepting and doing. Our program is called Alive to the World in English, and consists of 13 texts, one for each year of school.
It requires one hour per week during the entire school year. Each level has a student text – the story –, 35 chapters, and a teacher’s guide with the pedagogical suggestions for discussion and activities in class.
There are simple materials for the parents so they can understand how their child’s character is developing.
The testimonies of success of this program are quite amazing, from teachers, school directors and from the pupils who often say “this book is the story of my life” and from the parents who find new attitudes in their children.
In some of the most violent slums of Venezuela, schools slated for closure because of violence and desertion have seen the same students become leaders of order and even painting and repairing. Negative leadership has become positive leadership because these teenagers have seen a better way to be themselves.
To restore families by building youth with character and virtue is in itself extremely important, but the benefits go beyond the family. Restoring community, demography and even the economy will result, as young workers and voters are guided by solid principles. Our goal is to change the approach to the formation of children and adolescents.
Experiences in schools of all levels, private, Church, Municipal, and “Bolivarian” slum schools have all been positive.
The program is now being printed in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and England. It is being used in 14 countries of Latin America and exists in Spanish, English, Portuguese and Korean. Hungarian, Rumanian and Polish editions are in development.
We can transform the world, but only through the children – the parents of tomorrow. It is my hope and prayer that this good news and this instrument for restoring the family and communities can be useful also for Russia.
Thank you and God bless you.”
Photo: World Youth Alliance