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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra
Do we prepare children for social life?
We older people often lament the fact that some young people are not interested in participating in social life, do not integrate into any community, "pass over" politics, etc. Is it not because we educators have valued individual and academic life more than social life? For example, in the periodic interviews between parents and teacher-guardians, there is usually a lot of talk about school grades and little or nothing about the children's participation in family and school life and their support for movements that help those most in need. Some parents become obsessed with their children's academic results, while neglecting how they live certain social values: companionship, respect, solidarity, loyalty, etc. As a result, young people become accustomed to an individualistic and unsupportive life that is no less worrying than poor grades.
The natural sociability of the human being is recognized in the inclination he has to relate to his fellows. Aristotle explained that this inclination is due, in part, to the fact that he possesses the gift of language: "the reason why man is more than the bee or any gregarious animal is evident: nature does nothing in vain, and man is the only animal that has words". The quality of language is closely related to the quality of knowledge.
The social life of the human being is realized not in the abstract, but in very concrete spheres: family, friendship, study and work, economic life, political life and transcendent or religious life. These six forms of life are realized through functions and roles. Acting socially implies playing several roles at the same time in each sphere. For example, a child is son, brother and grandson in the family; student and disciple in school; friend in his padilla. Each of these roles requires educational guidance, especially since they progressively increase as a young person approaches adult status.
The different forms of life are not separate lives. The unity proper to the person must be reflected in the unity of his or her life. "In social life it is the same as on the stage of a theater: the same actor can give life to different characters. The person is the substantial actor of man's life in the multiplicity of the characters he plays throughout his life. My characters, those characters that I play, are manifestations of my living, under which the reality of my self is always invariable; I am myself as a subsistent being, that is to say, permanently the same. To be a person is to be an actor of life in its multiple forms and facets, being owner and master of one's own life". (T. Fernández Miranda).
It is convenient to remember the unity of the person and of his or her life because today it is frequent to meet some people who do not recognize themselves as the same being in the different stages and situations of life. They are different personalities that do not communicate with each other. An example: from Monday to Friday they are helpful and generous; on the other hand, from Saturday to Sunday they are selfish (they feel annoyed if they are asked for a favor or a financial aid): "I don't want anyone to complicate my weekend".
What is the best place to cultivate the social side of the person? Undoubtedly, the family, the family community. It is there that the most intense and continuous coexistence takes place. Moreover, the family is a miniature society and a cell of the larger society. If we want to regenerate society, making it more human and livable, the best procedure is to regenerate, one by one, the cells that make up the social fabric, that is, families.
In the family, children should and can be prepared not only for social adaptation, but also for social protagonism. In a materialistic society it is also appropriate to exercise a healthy social maladaptation: when the environment is degraded because of moral permissiveness, it is not appropriate to adapt passively, but to rebel. In the face of the paleolithic culture of death we must promote the culture of life; in the face of the fever of consumerism we must respond with the rebellion of sobriety and temperance; in the face of the escalation of eroticism the best rebellion is chastity.