As for all of us in our school communities, for JECSE too these crisis times are challenging. And right now, whilst in need of each other’s support and of places for sharing how we are all living these times, there is no way of organizing face to face meetings and conferences. Right now, with the urgency of deeper reflection on what is actually happening and how to most wisely respond, we – in the field of education – find no time to stand still, share experiences, think deeply and critically, because shifting to digital education and finding the best short term solutions for the most acute problems take all our time and energy.
We do have our (now precious) digital platforms though, to at least share online how we are doing, and how we are making creative efforts in our schools to (still!) offer quality education and respond in the most humane and compassionate way, honoring our practice of cura personalis as good as we can.
In good collaboration with our global online community Educate Magis, JECSE tried to keep track of how delegates and schools were doing and passed on helpful information. Educate Magis opened a space for teachers, administrators and students to share their experiences, and what teachers have found helpful for online teaching and learning, both in terms of platforms and technology and in terms of pedagogy and resources. Several helpful webinars were organized, for instance on ‘Distance Learning within the framework of the Ignatian Pedagogy’ and ‘Cura Personalis in the Crisis’.
In June JECSE organized its own webinar for the European education delegates on reopening the schools after the summer holidays. Brian Flannery, Irish education delegate, gave us an overview of issues to keep in mind regarding logistics for creating a safe environment. He also spoke about teaching and learning: what have we learned about the digital ‘breach’ and how are we going to overcome it? What about teacher training, tools and resources, good practices?
Antonio Allende SJ, Spanish education delegate, took us along in a reflection on the uncertainties of today’s crisis: how to find spaces to openly share what we are living, and how to accompany our communities and take care of students, staff and families. He also emphasized the importance of our European platform in JECSE, as a place for (at least digital) encounter, providing a sense of community and maintaining a sense of mission, and also as a place for reflection on what direction to take in these inevitable times of change. So, rather than an ‘experts’ advice’, we felt this webinar was an opportunity for exploring and learning together on how to approach this challenging current reality. We will continue these reflections during our coming annual 3-days delegates meeting in November.
Also, JECSE is now involved in a new intersectoral collaboration of the Social and Educational Jesuit Networks, initiated by the GIAN (Global Ignatian Advocacy Network) department for the right to education which strives to monitor how the corona situation is affecting vulnerable children in our different societies around the world and to respond to the needs. Although in most other regions of the world the situation is much more serious, Europe too encounters its problems, mainly around a vulnerable socio-economic group facing a lack of digital devices or internet-access, as well as parental support. Also extra emotional problems and tensions arise in already difficult home situations. Issues like these will continue to receive our attention as time moves on.