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9. Jesuit Schools are committed to Human Excellence

  1. Many of our schools are justifiably known for their excellent academic programs. Some are known for their excellence in preparing students to be skillful in technology, in agriculture, and in other vocations.
  2. Reflecting on the rapid global changes we are experiencing, excellence in any of our schools will require an ongoing dialogue on how we educate: What pedagogies? What curricula?
  3. This challenge was highlighted by Father General Arturo Sosa at JESEDU-Rio:
  4. It is important for our institutions to be spaces for educational investigation, true laboratories in innovation in teaching, from which we can draw new teaching methods or models.
  5. This means that we’ll explore what others do and what we can learn from them, as well as what educational science proposes for a world that’s increasingly technical and shaped by the digital culture our students were born and raised in.
  6. Our institutions need to be aware of the anthropological and cultural change we’re experiencing, and they need to know how to educate and train in a new way for a different future.[65]
  7. All Jesuit schools should be excellent in humanizing their communities. Helping the students and the staff to deepen their empathy and their lasting bonds of friendship.
  8. Jesuit schools should teach about the dignity of women, who are full and equal partners in all endeavors.
  9. The schools must actively combat racism in all of its forms.
  10. The schools must teach and create a climate where all God’s children, regardless of their sexual orientation, are welcome.
  11. Grounded in the principle of cura personalis, the care of the individual, the school must value the dignity and worth of each of its members.
  12. Many Jesuit educators have found it meaningful to reflect on the letter that Father Kolvenbach wrote as an introduction to Ignatian Pedagogy:
  13. “I pray that it will be another important step towards achieving our goal as educators to form men and women of competence, conscience, and compassionate commitment.” [66]
  14. Later the document Jesuit Education aims to Human Excellence (2015) elaborated on that goal, stating:
  15. “These four adjectives express the human excellence that the Society of Jesus wants for the youth who society has entrusted to us.” [67]
  16. Jesuit education should aim to develop women and men of conscience, compassion, commitment and competence.
  17. Conscience, because in addition to knowing themselves, thanks to developing their ability to internalize and cultivate a spiritual life, they have a consistent knowledge and experience of society and its imbalances.
  18. Compassion, because they are able to open their hearts to be in solidarity with and assume the suffering of others.
  19. Commitment, because, being compassionate, they honestly strive toward faith and, through peaceful means, work for social and political transformation of their countries and social structures to achieve justice.
  20. Competence, because they must be:

    1. Capable of creating, understanding and using knowledge and skills to live in his/her own context and transform it;
    2. Able to be part of the changing and diverse world creating a life project for others and with others;
    3. Able to develop the intellectual, academic, emotional, and social skills required for professional and human achievement.
  21. Our traditional emphasis in academic excellence should not be neglected. It allows our schools to fulfill one of its fundamental social roles and allows them to enter in dialogue with the larger society about the meaning of quality education. Yet, in our schools this endeavor must be framed within this context of human excellence.

Exercise 27. For discernment:

  1. How do you assess this challenge?
  2. What are the most significant obstacles?
  3. How can we adapt this challenge for all Jesuit schools so that it reflects the greater good?
  4. In this context, what has your educational apostolate done?
  5. What should your educational apostolate be doing?

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