Since the time they launched their first school in 1548, the Jesuits have believed that a high quality education is the best path to meaningful lives of leadership and service. They have understood that the liberal arts, the natural and social sciences, and the performing arts, joined with all the other branches of knowledge, were a powerful means to develop leaders with the potential for influencing and transforming society. Committed from the very beginning to educating the whole person, the Jesuits adapted the best educational models available while developing their own pedagogical methods to become the "schoolmasters of Europe."
Some Characteristics of a Jesuit Education
Jesuit education is a call to human excellence, to the fullest possible development of all human qualities. It is a call to critical thinking and disciplined studies, a call to develop the whole person, head and heart, intellect and feelings.
Jesuit education systematically incorporates methods from a variety of sources which better contribute to the intellectual, social, moral, and religious formation of the whole person. It follows an underlying principle put forth by St. Ignatius of tantum quantum -- that which may work better is adopted and assessed while that which is proven ineffective is discarded.
Jesuit education presents academic subjects from a human perspective, with stress on uncovering and exploring the patterns, relationships, facts, questions, insights, conclusions, problems, solutions, and implications which a particular discipline brings to light about what it means to be human.
Jesuit education strives to give learners ongoing development of their imagination, feelings, conscience and intellect, and to encourage and help them recognize new experiences as opportunities to further growth. Learners see service to others as more self-fulfilling than personal success or prosperity.
Jesuit education moves the learning experience beyond rote knowledge to the development of the more complex learning skills of understanding, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Learners write and speak about subject matter with stylistic excellence – the Jesuit ideal of eloquentia perfecta -- and engage in public debate.
--Adapted from "Education and Ignatian Pedagogy," a presentation given in September 2005 by the Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J, Superior General of the Society of Jesus