S. M. Andrea, center, with several young men at the graduation ball.

S. M. Andrea, center, with several young men at the graduation ball.

by Sister M. Andrea Ivanics

Svetits Institute is our 122-year-old school in the Hungarian Province, in Debrecen, Hungary. Before 2012, it was a girls-only school. We now also educate boys at our kindergarten and primary school, as well as at our high school.

As one of the teachers present in 2012, I would like to share some of what I have learned over these years.

In 2012, at the age of 50, I embarked upon the education of a class of boys and girls following the educational principles of Mother Theresa: high standards, motivating teaching methods, personal attention, love, understanding, acceptance, and close contact with parents. I cannot claim that everything went as expected; however, the experience has been one of the most beautiful gifts of my service as a teacher.

What did I learn during the past six years?

  1. Boys and girls are able to create real community, a true model of unity in diversity.

Boys and girls have different approaches to solving problems in their class-community. In an open community where members are ready to thoughtfully listen to each other’s opinions, the different approaches prove to be equally valid and in fact broaden our minds and hearts.

  1. The emotional world of boys is as complicated as that of girls.

I learned that the boys ¬are not less emotional or more indifferent than girls. Grounded in the “macho” image of our society, boys tend to feel obliged to conceal their feelings. Adolescent boys need personal attention and care just as much as their female classmates.

  1. The different capacities and interests of the sexes need different programs.

I learned that I need to organize a co-educational class trip, community program, homeroom or retreat in a way that is different than one for girls only.

  1. Ongoing learning and methodological renewal is an obligation.

Until 2012 I taught only girls; after taking up the co-educational class I was “obliged” to renew my teaching methods. The ways of thinking and asking questions, the interests and learning habits are significantly different between girls and boys.

  1. Humor is a great means of education.

Humour is a great tool to ease the tension; it is also useful to show self-irony and model to an adolescent that we do not need to take ourselves seriously all the time. We can allow ourselves to make mistakes.

“Through our ministry, we and those to whom we are sent are mutually enriched.”  You Are Sent, Constitution 25

Six years ago the Lord called me to educate boys along with girls. I am grateful for this call! I have been enriched.

Photo Credit:  Albert Dremák, Debrecen, Hungary