A Play: Saint John Baptist de la Salle


CHARACTERS: Teacher 1, Teacher 2, Student, Friend, John Baptist de la Salle
(A teacher stands with a yardstick in his hand, ready to beat a child. Another teacher holds the child in place. The door bursts open and John Baptist de la Salle comes in with his friend.)
John: Put that down! (The teacher drops the stick. John turns to the student.) Are you all right?
Student: Yes-s, sir. Yes, I guess so.
Teacher 1: That’s right, stick up for that smart-aleck brat.
John: What terrible thing has this child done to deserve such treatment?
Teacher 1: Done? Why, he’s been eating during class.
John: Only that? That’s no reason to beat him. You should keep him busy instead. (to the student) Now, no more food. Go back to your class. (Student leaves.)
Teacher 1: If that’s what you want—children treated with kid gloves—I quit.
John: Not with kid gloves, but like human beings and children of God.
Teacher 2: They need to be beaten into shape and disciplined. You, with your rich, snobbish ways, don’t know how rough and dirty these boys are. They don’t listen to kindness.
Teacher 1: They’re lazy and smelly. They don’t work.
Teacher 2: Find your own teachers. Goodbye.
(Both stomp out, slam door.)
Friend: John, don’t be discouraged. This is a good, generous thing you did to open a school for boys who are poor. You’ve used almost all your personal inheritance for the them. No one educated these boys before. This is a very new and creative idea.
John: Everyone predicted I would be a failure. My schools have failed.
Friend: No, you are not a failure. You need to train teachers to be religious educators. Teach the teachers, John. You’re from a wealthy family and have been sent to fine schools. Those who are poor have never experienced teachers like the ones you had.
John: I’m the laughingstock of France! When I became a priest, I wanted to do something wonderful for God—to teach as he did.
Friend: And you still can. Start a group that will just be teachers. Hire teachers who will teach for love of Jesus. Forget about having teachers instruct in Latin as they do in the wealthy schools.
John: That’s right. And if I had the teachers speak the native language, they could teach the whole class at the same time. We could teach the Christian faith and prayer. We could put Christian principles in all the subjects.
Friend: Good for you, John. You have a dream. Now make it come alive. You’re a priest a lot of teachers would like to meet.

Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio