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Long awaited, finally launched online on March 1st the European ‘Learning by Refraction’ Masterclass. A 140 teachers and teacher-formators from 14 European countries are participating during March and April in this online Masterclass, all deeply interested in the dynamics of education in general, and in the way Ignatian pedagogy can be a helpful and inspiring guide in our 21-st-century practise. And ….. courageous enough to jump into this very international learning environment.

The three-modules (certified) Masterclass is indeed a deep dive into the principles of Ignatian pedagogy in the 21st Century, helping teachers reflect on their own style of teaching and to incorporate these methodologies into their everyday practice.

It is facilitated by Fr 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 (an name reflecting a visionary approach to education). He will be assisted by his close collaborators Rita Atienza (co-author of the ‘Learning by refraction’ workbook) and Geraldine Ching. They all strongly feel how this approach is actually an ongoing, collaborative work of all practitioners involved: an accumulative wisdom of practice, including Ignatian principles, current experiences and new educational frameworks.

Thus, the Masterclass’ first module aims for purposefully designing 21st-Century learning in the Ignatian tradition, shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning. The second one is focussed on designing for empathy and engagement through awareness of the context, practising the dynamic of reflection and the art of formulating insights. The third module dives into designing for excellence and empowerment, explaining the shifts in ‘learning for action’ and increasing expertise and enthusiasm through meaningful evaluation.

A European pilot around this in-depth and yet practical approach, organized in February 2020 by JECSE and the Irish Province together, was much appreciated. Many participants expressed how the Ignatian Pedagogy had become more concrete and accessible for them. They also mentioned how it helped them to focus their efforts and become more inspiring educators, how it is a good way to develop a deep understanding in their students and how this more reflective approach actually gives them, as teachers, more time and space.

Besides, participants very much liked working and sharing with teachers from other schools and countries, learning about the wider Jesuit network and feeling encouraged and inspired by its size and passion for humanity. They mentioned they had wonderful conversations with other attendees from many backgrounds, they felt welcome and valued whatever their experience in education so far, and they were happy to realize that they all face similar challenges but also all share the rewards of working in such a dynamic school setting.

In JECSE we are deeply grateful for our participants’ engagement from all over Europe, for this opportunity to work with Johnny and his colleagues in this larger international community, to learn with and through each other, and to bring back new insights and enthusiasm into many of our schools all over Europe.

Part of the participants, invited by their education delegates, have also registered for the Train the Trainers Program which is to follow this Masterclass, to help build an ongoing European learning community of experts who can support and inspire each other.

I sincerely hope (and expect) this Masterclass will be of great value, and it will be wonderful to witness how it can make our teachers’ practises and our education network flourish.