Long planned, finally accomplished: 35 educators (along with some online participants) from around Europe gathered in St Ignasi, Barcelona, for a week’s workshop (or more precisely a week’s ‘writeshop’) on the Ignatian Pedagogic Paradigm or, as it is better known, the IPP.
Previously, JECSE organised a pilot program in Ireland (in 2020) followed by a certified online Masterclass (last summer) for teachers and teacher formators interested in a ‘deep dive into the principles of Ignatian pedagogy in the 21st Century’. Two programs helping them to reflect on their own style of teaching and to incorporate these methodologies into their everyday practice. Both were facilitated by Johnny Go SJ (Education Secretary for the Jesuit schools’ network in Asia Pacific, and director of the Ateneo de Manila Institute for the Science & Art of Learning & Teaching) assisted by his close collaborators Rita Atienza (co-author of the ‘Learning by refraction’ workbook) and Geraldine Ching.
The LBR approach aims to purposefully design 21st-Century learning in the Ignatian tradition, shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning. It touches all (cognitive, affective and meaning-making) dimensions. JECSE, hoping to build a real ‘Learning Community’ of European teachers and teachers formators, now invited those interested to a ‘trainers training’, intended to take place in person in Barcelona. Due to the fact that the facilitators could not travel from Manila to Europe because of covid restrictions, the initial program was quickly adapted to a ‘writeshop’ – a reflective-action workshop on aspects of the IPP with special emphasis on setting ‘target insights’ and ‘action goals’.
Johnny Go sj and Rita Atienza, both respected educators from the Philippines and recognised authorities on the IPP, also proved themselves to be very adept at technology and remote training. They were beamed in by ZOOM and in a miraculous feat of technology and pedagogy they managed to run the ‘writeshop’ remotely for the full programme.
The general aim of the programme was to equip educators to be leaders of learning according to Ignatian principles. Specifically, the aims were
– to deepen the understanding that the participants already had of the IPP
– to help them design ‘training programmes’ for their colleagues back home
– to become skilled in giving feedback in a helpful and encouraging manner
– to form a European-wide community of learning among the participants themselves.
Due to the masterful efforts of Fr Johnny and Rita these aims were achieved. On top of that, the interactive writeshop will help the facilitators to further develop their training materials, which will be fully available to all participants (in three languages) in the near future. Since Johnny and his team strongly feel how this approach is actually an ongoing, collaborative work of all practitioners involved (as an accumulative wisdom of practice, including Ignatian principles, current experiences and new educational frameworks) this collaborative writeshop was really a way of ‘walking the talk’.
Very helpful was the excellent environment that was created by our Spanish hosts, Miguel Poza (coordinator for formation in the Spanish Province) and Joaquim Molina (education delegate for the Spanish East Zone) and his team. The programme was wonderfully enhanced by presentations on two major pedagogic projects practised in the Spanish schools’ network, by visits to Manresa – where Ignatius wrote most the Spiritual Exercises – and to the local school (St Ignasi) where we saw these principles and practices being so effectively implemented. Our sincere gratitude goes to you all!
Some comments from various participants:
The Learning by Refraction workshops offered a rich learning environment, collaboration with colleagues but most importantly the time and space to reflect on learning and teaching in our individual contexts and as part of a wider community. The visit to Manresa was key to connecting Ignatian spirituality to our everyday lived experience as reflective practioneers in the classroom. The opportunity to refocus and reconnect with the core characteristics of a Jesuit education will serve us well into the future . Its consistent application in the classroom will continue to shape and mould competent, conscious, compassionate and committed men and women for others. Noelle Russell
The opportunity to meet with teachers from across Europe was very beneficial. I learned that we all have the same constraints, but there are many innovative ways of working within those constraints in different countries which can be applied in my school. Furthermore the focus on the individual student, and the aim of teaching to focus on life-long learning and developing skills that go beyond the classroom into the students’ world was the most valuable aspect of the writeshop for me. The method of how to train teachers in the skills required to achieve this was a challenge that was enthusiastically challenged throughout the writeshop. Adrian O’Neill
The week provided a great opportunity to collaborate with Colleagues and despite our different cultures and school backgrounds, we can be renewed by the Common Mission in Ignatian Education. My own understanding of the IPP is deeper as a result of going through the design process. Our learning is by Reflection, is by Action and our emphasis may change depending on the Context but Ultimately it is truly Learning by Refraction. Grainne Delaney
Article written by Brian Flannery and Ilse Dekker