1928: YCW Manual: See, judge, act

The first systematic presentation of the see-judge-act came with the first edition of the Manuel de la JOCF (Manual for the Girls YCW) published in 1928:

The best methods of Jocist Study Circles respond to three needs: learning to see, to judge, to act. In particular, there should be no theoretical presentation, no definitions, no lesson from teacher to students, but rather a familiar conversation by questions and answers in which members can share their thoughts, observations, difficulties and problems of their life without fear of mockery or indiscretion.

The major point is to get the Jocists to speak, to obtain clear and simple answers, to get them to follow an idea, go deeper into it and see all its aspects.

A) Learn to see, to observe.

This goal is best achieved by skilfully directed enquiries. This is not a troublesome, indiscreet, police investigation, nor enquiries out of curiosity; there is a whole survey technique that we need to teach the SC members.

Each month, the Leaders Bulletin provides the material for the SC, the questionnaires, the documents necessary for the study of the subject. It is quite an art to bring an SC to life, especially at the beginning. The leader must very skillfully ask a few very simple questions, sometimes very naive, to which one or the other will answer; from there we will push further; moreover, she needs to be able to count on two or three Jocistes whom she can see before the meeting to prepare the discussion with them.

To conduct the  enquiries, questionnaires are used which serve as a guide, but the manager must in no case slavishly use the questionnaires as given in the Leaders Bulletin.The questions need be sorted according to the locality, the object of the survey, the age and preparation of members; very often they will need to be simplified, supplemented with sub-questions. Sometimes it will be necessary to change the very course of the investigation. And then it will be advisable to vary the method, sometimes to give the members a few written questions, five at most, explaining them and asking for written answers for the next CE. The manager will sometimes take on one or the other special steps for the investigation: request for information from the Town Hall, the station, etc. It will also ask for small monographs on trades and professions of members, following the enquiries in progress.

When a Jocist section is beginning, it is sometimes very difficult to obtain investigative work: young girls do not dare to question their companions to obtain information, to find out about their life, their housing conditions. their family ; they don’t dare go see them at home, look at their home, take an interest in their everyday life. The leader herself must sometimes accompany other Jocists on visits, show the way to go about it and the interest in observing around you.

All the observations that we have been able to bring together around a specific aspect of life (for example the organisation of work removing the young girl from family life, the engagement, etc.), are raised to the SC to give an overview of the situation.

B) Learn to judge.

Beginning from the observed facts and lived, concrete experience, the leader must present Christian doctrine on Work, Family and Life. She must present this teaching and explain to them why these facts and experiences are good or bad and what the repercussions and consequences are. In this way, the leader teaches them practically about the need for social organisation, social morality and the application of Catholic doctrine to all moral, social and economic problems in their lives as young workers.

If the leader of the Study Circle manages to bring this method to life using all the events in the lives of young workers, she will be amazed at the rapid results she will obtain.

The most difficult problems, the highest, not very affordable in a theoretical exposition, arise here on their own and become easily accessible.

In this way, members develop a mentality as well as  a religious, moral and social sense; they identify the various errors involved in many of the ideas that circulate in working-class circles and identify themselves the correct ideas which need to gradually replace these errors.

C) Learn to act.

These enquiries will illustrate real situations while Catholic doctrine will show the ideal to be achieved; the contrast, which needs to be clearly highlighted, should give rise to an ardent desire for the apostolate. The applications of the Gospel, of the law of Charity, will result in an irresistible call to dedication to the transformation of souls.

The JOCF with its organisation and action resources thus forms a close at hand means of committing oneself and taking action to remedy the immense shortcomings observed.

It is a matter of very simply and concretely studying the solutions to be applied to the problems observed while avoiding either pessimism or foolish illusions.

How the JOCF can solve these problems.

This is achieved through the individual action of each Jocist, e.g. her influence, example, words, in fact through her whole life.

It will also be achieved by collective and organised action will also lead to understanding by young workers as well as to an increasingly strong and powerful organisation, which will ensure that the demands sought will triumph for the good of young workers, whose voices will thus be heard by social authorities. And it will also be achieved through the various services organised by the JOCF in collaboration with other Christian workers’ organisations, parishes, the families and schools.


The Study Circle and its methods (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Original French

Le Cercle d’étude et ses méthodes (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)