Lucky to know the website of educatemagis.org
From this website, one can find Jesuit schools’ information, Jesuit educational documents, global citizenship, and most things related to Jesuit education. Although I am not using the website very often, it is the most useful website to acquire answers and information for any questions I may have related to Jesuit education.
I graduated from St. Aloysius Technical School in Taiwan in 1973, I had a chance to go back to my alma mater working as school principal 40 years later. This working experience is a wonderful present sent to me by God in my whole life. St. Aloysius Technical School had not had a Jesuit principal for more than 20 years. I am the 5th principal, and although I am not a Catholic, however I can imagine what an atmosphere would be in a Jesuit school because I was studying in this school when I was a teenager, therefore I can feel the difference between the present and the past. But I could not tell what happened and what was missing until I had the chance to participate in the workshops and conferences of WISL (Workshop on Ignatian School Leadership 20140310-0314) in the Philippines.
During the workshop in WISL, I had for the first time come to know the www.educatemagis.org website (abbreviation in EDUCATE MAGIS) by Fr. Jhonny Go, who is the Secretary for Asia Pacific, and Fr. Stephen Chow, who is now Provincial of the Chinese Province. Without introducing this wonderful website I could not figure out what happened to my school and what characteristics of Jesuit education my school had been missing.
Finding answers to what we need to do as a Jesuit school
In order to find out the answer to why my alma mater was missing Jesuit school characteristics, Ignatian spirituality, and the school core values before I participated in the workshop I mentioned above, I tried to ask one of the school board committee member, Fr. Paul Sun, who is a Jesuit in the Chinese Province, “what are the core values of a Jesuit school?” He gave me an unexpected answer: “The best answer is to find them by yourself”. Actually I had no idea about Jesuit education at all and it was very difficult to find an article or information in the book cabinet in my office.
Although I learned much about Jesuit education on the 5 day workshop (WISL), it only showed us very brief concepts and a bit of history about Jesuit Education due to the time limits of the workshop’s schedule. I needed to find more details by myself. Fortunately I could get my answers from the website of EDUCATE MAGIS later after I went back to Taiwan.
From this website I found some Jesuit educational resources, such as: histories about Jesuit education, the schools interactive map, the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, the Reflection (Examen), the 4Cs, the UAPs and so on in the front pages or subpages. They are mostly well organized and provide more details in explanation, especially the “Bring Global Citizenship to your School and Students” I found in the front page of the website.
Finally I found that the core issue why my school is missing some characteristics of Jesuit schools is the concept that parents in Taiwan are concerned too much with academic performance, which excuses administrators and teachers for not insisting on keeping the Jesuit school vision and educational goal, men and women for and with others, and then gradually missing the other characteristics. Since I found the website EDUCATE MAGIS, I have spent time to convince all teachers to help students doing some activities related to Jesuit values, and to infuse some ideas into courses.
Ideas for courses and activities we have done in school
After I learned more about the Ignatian Spirituality and Jesuit Education through the EDUCATE MAGIS website, I realised the first thing we needed to plan was how to make teachers and students keep doing reflection in their mind. We had long discussions with teachers and we designed a course named “Calm and Reflection” (內省思靜). Until now we have had more than 200 instructional activities planned by our local teachers. We have been implementing this course for 5 years and until now and we have assigned this course as a requirement.
The second thing is the interactive map which let our teachers and students know that we have 827 companion schools in the world, and more than 857 thousand students who are all our friends. We checked the interactive map to find some schools that might be more suitable for learning and teaching collaboration. Besides the schools of the Chinese province, 5 international Jesuit schools have signed MoU with us;,they are: Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu, Philippines, (20150201), St. Peter Canisius College, Indonesia (20180205), St. Michael Vocational School (20180206), ATMI Polytechnic College (20180206), St. Louis University High, Missouri USA (20191024). We have also visited some international Jesuit schools in recent years, and all the information has come from the interactive map through the EDUCATE MAGIS website.
After I learned from an article on the 4Cs (Conscience, Competence, Compassion, Commitment), we thought what this would be the difference between Jesuit and non-Jesuit schools, so we made a sign of the 4Cs, translated it into Chinese and put it on the wall of one building in campus, telling teachers and students what are they and why we need to know the contents of 4Cs. We also made a check list to know what contents we had infused into the subjects or students activities until now.
The latest activities we have done were: 450th jubilee of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Red Chair Project, Venezuela finance support project. We got some information by Fr. Provincial, Asia Pacific Secretary, and checked all possibilities articles and reports through the EDUCATE MAGIS website.
The jubilee of Aloysius Ganzaga was arranged in my school on 21st June 2018, and we were very proud to have the Vice President of Taiwan, Dr C.J., Chen participate with us on school campus and deliver a speech.
For the Red Chair project, we had a team of life education and guidance office; the teachers introduced this project to all students during students morning gathering (we have 3 student gatherings a week), explaining the meaning of this project, and telling students more details during the Ethic course in every classroom. It was one of the most wonderful activities we have ever had, we already posted an article on the website by teacher Xing Rong Tsai on 27th May 2019. Teacher Tsai also posted a related article of “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” on 25th April 2019.
Three junior and 5 senior students had a chance to be invited by the International Education Conference for Primary and High Schools in Taipei on 17th Oct 2019. The students shared the experience and feedback of the Red Chair Project, Walk a Mile in my Shoes and the Venezuela financial support project to reviewer Dr. Lawrence A. Machi, professor of University Of La Veren.
St. Aloysius Technical School is coming back to having its Jesuit School atmosphere / Ignatian Ethos
Thank God for sending us EDUCATE MAGIS. While I compare my alma mater 7 years ago and at present, it is much closer to being a Jesuit school now. Not only does the campus look Catholic, but the atmosphere fully shows the Jesuit school character among student projects and teaching activities. Without teachers and staff working hard and collaborating together, with students and parents’ encouragement, we could not have St. Aloysius Technical School coming back to the Jesuit embrace.
I always encourage our teachers to use EDUCATE MAGIS during administrative meetings, teacher gatherings and students gathering, asking them to find some good ideas which are worthy and possible for implementation in school. The only difficulty would be the language. Even if we use the synchronous translation by GOOGLE software into Chinese, there are still some misunderstandings. We have now about 6 teachers registered as member of EDUCATE MAGIS, and I hope we will have more later.