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The underlying message of Laudato Si, the recent Encyclical of Pope Francis, is that our issues of social injustices, environmental destruction and spiritual alienation are a result of a dysfunctional mindset, a dualist cosmology, an inadequate anthropology. To heal this distorted mindset and encourage ecological conversion, he asked us to remember our common origins, integral ecology, and our fundamental context.
On behaf of the Provincial of South Asia, Fr. George Pattery SJ, Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ, the JEA Secretary, and Fr. Swebert D Silva SJ, decided conduct a 3 days seminar for educationists. Responding to this call the JEA (organised for the Western Zone) and JHESA (National) joined in collaboration with the Department of Interreligious Studies (DIRS), St Xavier’s College, Mumbai to develop a seminar on 26-28 Nov. 2016. 61 principals and teachers in Jesuit educational institutions and 6 resource persons attended this seminar coordinated by JEA West Zone Coordinator, and PCE of Pune Jesuit province Mario Fernandes, SJ.
Prashant Olalekar, SJ, and his colleagues Dr Orla Hazra, and Ms Candice Menezes developed the seminar based on their experiences applying an integral version of Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) in their courses at St Xaviers since 2014. The integral model of IPP focuses first on our common origins in an emergent evolving universe and places the wisdom of science in conversation with the wisdom of religion, women and indigenous peoples.
Context: Participants were introduced to our common origins, our universe story, through lectures, films, meditation, Ignatian insights and a meditative Cosmic Walk.
Experience: Various interactions of movement, song, meditations, street play, drumming and group discussion were facilitated by Dr Prashant Olalekar, SJ, Ms. Candice Menezes, MA, and Rev Mathew Cobb, PhD. Although the activities appeared as ‘ice breakers’, each activity was chosen to reveal a particular aspect of the personal metanoia. The design of particular group discussions was to highlight the underlying dualistic cosmology operative within our institutions.
Reflection: Experiences were recorded in a daily ‘Examen’ and also processed in group discussion. These reveal personal transformation. - ‘see the Creator and the created in a different light’,- “earlier ‘One Body’ meant humans only, but now the need to include the rest of the living world” – “I cannot ‘be’ but ‘inter be”–“it is my duty and responsibility to care for the Universe”-‘a feeling of integration within self”; -“sense of oneness with God, people and creation”,-“all is sacred”; - “to be a ‘voice for the voiceless”.
Action: Reflecting on pedagogy in the context of an evolutionary universe and its communal aspect, Dr Hazra called for teachers to examine current dualist practices of IPP in classrooms and the need to foster an integral mindset. Dr. Mathew Chandrankunnel, CMI stressed the importance of the wisdom of faith traditions in dialogue with scientific wisdom, Dr Barry Rodrigue offered examples of the interdisciplinary style of pedagogy being embraced by teachers worldwide once they are grounded in an evolutionary universe. He also spoke of the outreach activities his students develop based on their metanoia. A nature walk through the herbal gardens on the DNC campus was offered by the Tarumitra eco-club students serving as an example of integral life practice. Participants were given a pen drive with articles and powerpoints compiled by the speakers in order to support integral teaching on returning home.
Evaluation: The Integral Pedagogical Paradigm unlike courses on ‘environment’ or ecology does not seek to offer more information, but fosters integration and transformation by encouraging awe, wonder and reverence: an Integral Ecology. This seminar used kinesthetic movement to go beyond the cognitive thus making it a holistic learning experience of body, mind and spirit.
The seminar indeed was a transormative dexperience for all the participants. All the Jesuit schools will stress on ecological concerns and give in our schools eco sensitive education based on this new pedagogy.
Sunny Jacob SJ