Pope Francis: A true educator accompanies, listens and dialogues
Tiziana Campisi - Vatican City
To educate is not "to fill one's head with ideas," because "automatons" are formed, but to walk together with people in a "tension between risk and security." This is what Pope Francis said in an impromptu speech - after handing over his prepared words - to a delegation of the "Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education Project" (GRACE), a new international research project promoted by volunteers with the aim of promoting the values of Catholic education in respect of identity and dialogue. The meeting took place in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall before the general audience.
The right to make mistakes
Pope Francis asked primary, secondary, and university teachers to support students in their educational journey. "You cannot educate," he added, "without walking together with the people you are educating. It is beautiful when you find educators who walk together with boys and girls." The Pope remarked that "to educate is not to say purely rhetorical things; to educate is to make what is said meet reality. Girls and boys have the right to make mistakes, but the educator accompanies them on the path to direct these mistakes so that they are not dangerous." The true educator," continued Pope Francis, "is never frightened by mistakes, no: he accompanies, takes them by the hand, listens, dialogues. He does not get frightened and waits. This is human education: to educate 'is this bringing forward and promoting growth, helping to grow'."
Educating in the tradition that is dynamic
The GRACE delegation, through a spokesperson, opened a dialogue with Pope Francis and explained to the him that the aim of the project is precisely that of educating not only by transmitting knowledge but also by giving space to the spiritual and pastoral sphere and to what the elderly can pass on to the young. The Pope emphasized that "dialogue between young people and the elderly is important [...] because in order to grow, the tree needs a close relationship with its roots." He then recounted: "There is a poet from my land who says a beautiful thing: 'Everything that the tree has in bloom, comes from what it has under the ground'. Without roots, we cannot go forward. Only with roots do we become people'." Pope Francis, therefore, said no to cold and rigid traditionalism, reiterating that true tradition is "taking from the past to go forward. Tradition is not static: it is dynamic, tending to go forward.