The AMDG to LDS document is an attempt to draw together the various statements about Jesuit education on one sheet of paper. The document displays key ideas from St Ignatius and from The Characteristics of Jesut Education (1986), Ignatian Pedagogy (1993), and the British Province's Jesuit Pupil Profile (2013).
Latin: ad majorem dei gloriam = for the greater glory of God. This phrase is used repeatedly by St Ignatius in the Constitutions and his many letters. AMDG has become the unofficial motto of the Society of Jesus and its institutions including the schools. Pupils in Jesuit schools traditionally write AMDG at the top of each piece of work, dedicating it to the greater glory of God.
is traditionally written by pupils in Jesuit schools at the end of each piece of work. Latin: laus deo semper = praise to God always. This derives from the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, where St Ignatius writes, "We are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord and, by doing so, to save our souls." (Spiritual Exercises n.23)
The Aim of Jesuit Education
St Ignatius sets out, in barely a single sentence, the twofold aim of Jesuit education: "improvement in living and learning" for the greater glory of God and the common good. (Constitutions n.440)
A Vision for Jesuit Schools
This powerful statement of the vision for Jesuit schools comes from the Ignatian Pedagogy document: "Jesuit schools should be places where people are believed in, honoured and cared for; where natural talents and creative abilities are recognized and celebrated; where individual contributions and accomplishments are appreciated; where everyone is treated fairly and justly; where sacrifice on behalf of the economically poor, the socially deprived, and the educationally disadvantaged is commonplace; where each of us finds the challenge, encouragement and support we need to reach our fullest individual potential for excellence; where we help one another and work together with enthusiasm and generosity, attempting to model concretely in word and action the ideals we uphold.” (Ignatian Pedagogy n.37)
Jesuit Identity and Mission
'Jesuit schools are Catholic communities, characterized by their Christian mission and Ignatian identity.' This statement draws on the three elements (proposed by the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus) for reflecting on the characteristic ethos of Jesuit communities and works: identity, mission and community. This statement tries to articulate the Christian, Catholic and Ignatian character of the schools: Christian in mission, Catholic in community, and Ignatian in identity.
The Characteristics of a Jesuit School
It is difficult to summarise the rich and comprehensive document which articulates the distintive nature of Jesuit schools, The Characteristics of Jesuit Education (1986). The five headings chosen here are intended to highlight some of the key features that might be useful for schools in discussing their identity and mission:
- promoting academic excellence and human competence
- 'finding God in all things' through education and formation of the whole person
- nourishing the spirit and forming 'men and women for others'
- 'our way of proceeding' is by going the extra mile for those in need of care and encouragement
Perspectives and Horizons
- standing at the margins, looking to the horizon
Ignatian pedagogy is the distinctively Jesuit method of teaching and learning, dervied from the fundamental methods of the spirituality of St Ignatius. Teaching begins by exploring and articulating pupils' experience, then reflects on those experiences and builds upon them through new teaching and learning, and finally puts new knowledge and skills into action. This model (or Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm) is completed by the teacher's deep understanding of the context of his/her pupils' background and learning styles, and through careful evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching in terms of the aims of Jesuit education (ie. it is as much about the values and attitudes being adopted by a young person as about the knowledge and skills they acquire).
Jesuit Pupil Profile
The Jesuit Pupil Profile is an initiative of the British Jesuit schools. It aims to articulate the kinds of character traits and virtues we wish to see grow and flourish in the pupils in our schools. Some of the 16 virtues relate more particularly to the education ("improvement in learning") strand and others to the formation ("improvement in living") strand of Jesuit education.
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The Characteristics of Jesuit Education
Jesuit Pupil Profile
The Spirit of Jesuit Education