In the field of education Arrupe translated his pledge for faith and justice into ‘educating men and women for and with others’, which still directs Ignatian pedagogy today. Father Kolvenbach expanded its meaning, speaking of forming ‘men and women of Competence, Conscience, and Compassionate Commitment’. These so called ‘four C’s’ have inspired the renewal of Jesuit education in the last decades, with the mission of humanization and reconciliation still at its very core.
Thus, Ignatian pedagogy is about providing students not just with an academic background (competence) but also, in addition to knowing themselves, with a consistent knowledge and experience of society and its imbalances (conscience). It is about striving to foster in them the compassion to open their hearts and be in solidarity with the suffering of others; and about fostering the commitment to work, through peaceful means, for social and political transformation of their countries and social structures.
It is only in this light that the Ignatian pedagogical cycle of experience, reflection and action gets its meaning. We could ‘simply’ refer to Ignatian pedagogy as a model, forgetting the model is embedded in a whole (holistic) spiritual and humanistic paradigm. But Ignatian pedagogy is neither ‘just’ this, nor ‘just’ about the way we express our religious identity at special moments in school-life. It is a spirituality very much connected to the content of our curricula, to our approach of teaching in general and to our school culture and community life; a pedagogy at the crossroads of human life.
Characteristically Jesuit schools practice this dynamic according to their context, ‘in creative fidelity to the tradition’. But of course, there are key elements like facilitating time and (safe) spaces for personal ‘interiority’ and sharing of experiences with others, as well as curricular creativity, real-life social projects, inspiring role-models, and structured possibilities for critical reflection. A major aspect is to create an environment that enables students to discover meaningful values and life-perspectives themsélves, starting from their own context. Such holistic education, touching the heart, is life changing. It inspires life-long learning, helping our students to discover our common humanity, to embrace our differences, and to find meaning in their lives through serving others in whatever way addresses their talents and calling. This ‘life-long-learning is one of the characteristics of Jesuit schools, touching (as explained by the latest document ‘Jesuit schools, A Living Tradition in the 21st century’) “ … our major source of hope and animation: finding God in all things. What does this mean? It means experiencing the generative expansive core of wonder, hope, joy, delight, compassion, connection, everywhere, with all, in all. There, we find God.”