What is Ignatian Pedagogy? by Vicki Rosen

This past summer librarian Vicki Rosen took a research leave to discover What is Ignatian Pedagogy? She shares some insights with us below.

What is Ignatian Pedagogy? by Vicki Rosen
We all know that USF is a Jesuit university. Officially known as the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits are an Order of the Catholic church. We might also know that the Order was founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century and that the Jesuits are known for excelling in education. In fact there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the US, along with numerous secondary schools.

What distinguishes these schools from other institutions of learning? Jesuit education embodies five key teaching elements. These are described best by Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. in his 1993 document”Ignatian Pedagogy: a Practical Approach”:

• Context: What is a learner’s environment, background, community, and potential?
• Experience: What is the best way to engage the learner as a whole person in the teaching and learning process?
• Reflection: How may a learner become more reflective so she/he more deeply understands what has been learned?
• Action: How can a learner move beyond knowledge to action?
• Evaluation: How can the teacher help the learner by assessing her/his growth in mind, heart, and spirit?

The focus on the education of the whole person is also referred to as “Cura Personalis.” The USF Jesuit Foundation explains this as “seeking to integrate all aspects of individuality: the intellectual, moral, spiritual, affective, aesthetic, physical, and social. This approach to education is holistic and calls on the learner to reflect on his or her experience in the context of the larger community.”

As a librarian, I’ve wondered how I can incorporate these principles into my work with students and faculty as they search for information. Currently, research into the affective aspects of information seeking and the neuroscience of learning are also offering new insights. During a Professional Research Leave and, with the help of a Jesuit Foundation grant, I took time this past summer to read widely, talk with my Jesuit and librarian colleagues, and reflect on my experiences. As I continue to assimilate this information, I hope to “move beyond knowledge to action.” For now, the actions are yet to be discerned. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m gaining a deeper understanding not just of  pedagogical models, but also of myself along the way.

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