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As Jesuits who are involved in educational apostolate, we reflect upon what a Jesuit school should be concentrating in today’s circumstances. We should priorities the following, for our immediate concern. Our Schools must: Instill in the students a healthy sense of perspective toward technology; Provide intelligent and fair coverage of the struggle between science and religion;
Not forsake the struggle for the common good in a world with an increasing emphasis on self-advancement;
Continue the tradition of instilling leadership skills through its moral teachings and rigorous academics;
Constantly renew the Ignatian credo “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”
There is change everywhere. From slide rules to graphing calculators… from book reports to multi-media presentations… from “do your own work!” to cooperative learning… from open facilities to campus lock downs… from “one curriculum fits all” to a variety of course options… from an industrial age view of education to a 21st century look at teaching and learning. The context of EDUCATION is changing rapidly.
“The edge of the millennium makes a good vantage point for thinking about the future in terms of the past…we are at the dawn of a new renaissance…a renaissance that, like the first one, will have a tremendous impact on …education….”
Technology – Emerging technology breaks open the confinements of traditional time and space options for learning. People can access and exchange information instantaneously. The world is networked and connected. Rapidly changing technology competes for limited educational and financial resources. The pace of knowledge acquisition makes reflection and discernment more challenging.
Globalization – Far away and diverse can impact us as much as close at hand and familiar. Equitable distribution of human and material resources, including knowledge and skills, is everyone’s challenge. The learning community of the school extends beyond a local or national focus to a worldwide perspective. To live and lead in a global village requires empathy, imagination, and wisdom.
Communication – The interconnected world requires strong interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills. Effective communication skills often separate the “successful” from the “unsuccessful.” Bombardment of communications overwhelms and complicates the sifting of relevant information.
Knowledge Explosion - The quantity of knowledge grows at ever increasing rates. Easy access to worldwide information challenges the utility of textbooks. Virtual experiences explode the boundaries of space and time, depth and degree of learning. Expertise is often a matter of knowing where and how, not just what.
Centrality of Teams – Effective organizations are increasingly characterized by networks, teams, and flatter hierarchies. Effective Cooperative learning increasingly characterizes classroom experiences.
Curriculum. As bodies of knowledge grow exponentially, making connections across disciplines and ongoing curriculum development become essential. Growth in knowledge and wisdom requires academic rigor in a curriculum that also promotes the moral, spiritual, physical, emotional and social development of students. In the future the skills of discernment and reflection will be even more vital. Systems thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution and empathy building are key curricular components. Curriculum redesign will call for an emphasis on creativity and imaginative thinking skills.
Human Learning - Growing knowledge about human brain functioning calls for changes in the way we approach teaching and learning. Individuals learn differently. The human brain uses simultaneous, multi-sensory input to build patterns of action. Emotions affect all learning. While the human brain creates new neurons throughout life, neurons do die off when not stimulated by new learning. Learning is enhanced by good health and physical fitness. The Arts provide important catalysts for analogical and metaphorical thinking and problem solving.
Professional Development – In learning organizations, educational leadership is broadly distributed. Effective professional growth is continuous. Programs of staff development are most successful when adapted to adult developmental stages and learning styles. Both personal and spiritual growths are integral dimensions of professional development. Learning communities support professional development with structures, resources and skilful leadership. A motivating factor for teachers’ professional development is improved student learning.