As a teacher of teenage boys, where like parents, I am often left feeling frustrated, disappointed or bewildered by some of our boys poor decision making, I need to remind myself about the importance of forgiveness and the chance for redemption. This is a response that helps protect my own mental health and wellbeing, but more importantly, continues to foster an environment or context for our boys to continue to learn, evolve and grow. In an article written by Gerry Georgatos called Forgiveness, redemption ways forward instead of imprisonment and reoffending it explores the concept that nothing is a powerful in changing antisocial, undesirable behavior than when the offender feels forgiveness. It describes the way that forgiveness often validates self-worth, builds bridges and positive futures. It is believed that forgiveness cultivates opportunities for emotional growth, keeps families and society connected, as opposed to the corrosive anger that would otherwise fill that place. The article further attempts to remind us that persistent anger, which often turns to resentment or even hate are the first warning signs to becoming mentally unwell. In the heat of the moment, when our boys let us down, it is often so much easier to turn to anger. At this time of year in particular, when our students are looking towards winding down, their decision making seems to become more impaired. Unfortunately, their behavior tends to be less than what we expect of them and it is in these times that we needs to remember both the importance of consequences, but also the power of forgiveness.
As a catholic school, we are called to try and stand out from the crowd, to lead by example and demonstrate that while others in society turn to anger, hate and despair, we turn to love, redemption and hope. Our goal and mission at a fundamental level is to yes, teach knowledge and facts and academia, but to teach it through education of the heart and to never stop trying to build improve standards around respect and integrity. Again this does not mean failing to implement consequences or to teach our boys that every action has a reaction, but it does seem to focus on how this discipline measure must be coupled with opportunity for reflection, truth and accepting of responsibility, which often comes when ones feels they can stop defending themselves, and accept the forgiveness being offered to them. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in the Brothers Karamazov, published in The Stringer, Independent News on 15 Nov 2015 wrote “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie, comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. In having no respect, he ceases to love’. https://thestringer.com.au/forgiveness-redemption-ways-forward-instead-of-imprisonment-and-reoffending-11217#.X7G2cMgzaUk.
For parents and teachers who have students who disappoint us, remember that consequences are an important part of the process for change, but that it must be coupled with opportunities for forgiveness, change, love and redemption.
Head of Treacy House