Who Do You Want To Be? A Global School Experience inviting young people to discover a path toward the fullness of life.Participate here

In the summer term of last year in Gonzaga College S.J. Dublin myself and some of my religion classes were inspired by educatemagis.org (in particular, by this video) to take on a new project in our school. This project challenged all members of our school community- students, staff, Jesuits, alumni- to answer the disarmingly simple question: What is the best thing about Jesuit education? Students of every year group were invited during class to reflect for five minutes on their experience of Jesuit education so far. They were then asked to write their answer anonymously on pieces of paper which were then collected and typed up. The eventual collection of responses was a joy to behold: refreshing in its sincerity and illuminating in its variety. As we soon learned, there were no right or wrong answers to this question. In fact, what began as a question developed into a prompt that gave members of our school community the chance to pause and reflect and what appealed most to them from their own unique experience of Jesuit education.

The words of a 3rd year in a stairwell

A few months later our school walls were bedecked with the words of students from 1st to 6th year, of staff members, of Jesuits, and of past pupils of the school. On the design front, each of these constituent members of the Gonzaga community were given their own identifying colour. In Gonzaga, 1st to 3rd years wear a grey pullover for their uniform- so posters bearing their words were designed in grey. 4th and 5th years wear maroon, so maroon backed their words, while green served for the 6th years. Jesuits were given white, teachers purple and past pupils black, in reference to the black tie that is presented to students upon graduation from the school.

The words of a 6th year on the corridor

As the co-ordinating teacher, this initiative reminded me (and I did need reminding) that I should never stop giving students the chance to pleasantly surprise me. Too often I dismiss ideas with the unfair assertion that “the boys would never take to that”, or “that would never work out.” The beauty of this project was that it gave the students a voice to express themselves on a topic in which they have real experience and about which they are genuinely passionate: their own school. To co-ordinate this project was simply to facilitate the expression of this passion. In doing so, I can safely say that this was one of the happy occasions on which I learned far more from my student than they did from me.

The words of a past pupil outside the theatre

Today, one academic year later, these posters have taken on a joyful new life. First years entering the school look at the walls and begin to understand the type of community into which they are being welcomed. For existing students, the posters act as a positive reinforcement of the Jesuit ideals that we should, and do, hold dear in Gonzaga College S.J. Coming as they do from the rank and file of the community, these words of optimism on the walls are an authentically descriptive depiction of life in Gonzaga, rather than a prescriptive one.

Here’s to a distant future when this cheering depiction continues to ring true.

Gonzaga College Library

The front entrance to Gonzaga College S.J.