While I was in Buenos Aires – and I spent two long months there – I found this magazine (see picture) in one of the most well known newspapers in Argentina (Clarin). The name of the magazine is “Con Francisco a mi lado” which translates to “With Francis by my side”.
These magazines were given for free with the Sunday edition of the newspaper and it had as an objective to educate children on the following topics (or “values” as they are called in Argentina): happiness, courage, humbleness, hope, self-esteem, solidarity, effort, diversity, creativity, prudence, friendship, dignity, generosity, family and peace. The bonus? A chance to win a visit to see the Pope in Vatican City.
This collection has the support of Pope Francis and an educational entity called “Scholas Occurrentes” (http://www.scholasoccurrentes.org/about-us/en) founded by Pope Francis himself.
These magazines have the sole purpose to reach every single child in Argentina, help them on their development and give the tools to parents, carers and teachers to answer the differing questions that little ones (and not so little ones!) may have.
The argument the magazine presents is that to be a child in this day and age is not easy and children see the world changing constantly at such a speed that these changes may generate anxiety and insecurity. Not knowing how to face a situation could be disappointing. As children grow up they expect an adult to tell them how to act.
So, Pope Francis comes across in this magazine as a strong adult figure, becoming the wise adult who will give the child a sense of security through a sincere, humane and warm word which certainly will join the words of the parents and carers in the hope of guiding the child through the right path, so to say.
My views are divided. I firmly believe Pope Francis was exactly what the Catholic Church needed – a good shake up from the foundations – and I do believe these magazines are great to help parents to explain what dignity, hope, friendships (amongst other values/topics) are.
But my thought is that these magazines should be aimed to parents/carers directly. And parents/carers should draw a picture about dignity, hope and friendship (and all the other topics/values mentioned in the beginning), and give them to their children. And through those drawings explain to the children what those concepts are.
Is that ever likely to ever happen? Yeah, right…
I can tell you something, my mother never ever told me what “hope” was. I read about “prudence” when I was doing my foundation course and I had to read philosophy as part of the curriculum. “Friendship”? Friendship is my three best friends and a couple more that I had known for more than 15 years and we still get on the phone and talk like if we have had coffee the day before.
My father taught me what “effort” was, making me save my pocket money to buy my first bicycle, for which I am ever so grateful because I learnt once and for all the value of money.
What am I trying to say here? I don’t think for a minute my parents had a book/magazine to tell them what to tell me what those “values” were. They taught me the same way they were taught and I intend to do the same.
In any case, if societies in general (I’m pretty sure there are parents/carers out there who can teach their children values without the help of a magazine) are starting to lose the words or the will to role model these values, I do welcome the magazine.
But target it to the right blank: Parents. And yes, give me any of these values, and I will draw it, any time.