Jesuit Pupil Profile
Learned & Wise

Pupils in a Jesuit school are growing to be learned, finding God in all things; and wise in the ways they use their learning for the common good.

Jesuit schools help their pupils grow by the breadth and depth of the curriculum; by excellence of teaching, and the creation of opportunities to become more learned and wise.

Understanding the Virtues: Learned & Wise

The first Jesuit educators saw education as a way of becoming more human.  Their curriculum and teaching method was a Christian version of renaissance humanism, which set out to find God in all things.  They believed that by studying the writings of the classical authors you became both a learned and a good person and, importantly, a good citizen.  They pioneered science in their schools and universities, seeking to share with their students their own research into how the universe, the earth, life and human beings worked. 

Classical and contemporary languages were important too, as they were key to understanding different cultures and sharing the best from each.  The aim of Jesuit education was the learned and eloquent person, the ‘Renaissance Man’, able to make a difference in society for the common good.  Still today, in Jesuit education ‘knowledge is joined to virtue.’ (Characteristics of Jesuit Education 51)

Jesuit schools continue the tradition of excellence in learning – making sure that each pupil is engaged, stretched and inspired to excel by outstanding teaching and by offering the broadest possible curriculum, supplemented by a wide range of extra-curricular activities.   Academic excellence in a Jesuit school is understood ‘within the larger context of human excellence.’ (CJE 113)  Jesuit education develops ‘the qualities of mind and heart that will enable pupils to work with others for the good of all in the service of the Kingdom of God.’  (CJE 110)

The traditional method of Jesuit teaching, rooted in Ignatius’ own experience, begins by being attentive to the experience a pupil already has of whatever is to be learned. Reflection then builds on that experience, extending and deepening it by what is taught and learned.  Out of this learning comes action. Education in the Jesuit tradition always has a purpose which is about the common good – doing something here and now which, little by little, transforms the world.

However, for knowledge and learning to be put to best effect, it is necessary also to be wise.  Wisdom is the gift of knowing when and how to apply one’s learning; it is the ability ‘to evaluate relative goods and competing values.’ (CJE 55); it is to be able to discern what is important and what is not. 

In the ancient world, those who sought wisdom from the Oracle at Delphi were met with an inscription above the door: ‘Know yourself’ (Gk. γνῶθι σεαυτόν, gnothi seauton).  Wisdom is founded in the idea of knowing yourself well – your weaknesses, prejudices and blindspots as well as your strengths, talents, and enthusiasms. 

Jesuit schools constantly encourage pupils to know themselves better.  This self-knowledge includes the intellectual, the emotional and social, the aesthetic and creative, the spiritual and physical.  By ‘the fullest possible development of each person’s individual capacities’ our pupils become learned and wise so they can ‘use those developed gifts for others.’ (CJE 109)


The boy Jesus teaches in the Temple
Luke 2:39-52 (JB)

Mary and Joseph went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God's favour was with him. Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day's journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere. Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, 'My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.' 'Why were you looking for me?' he replied 'Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father's affairs?' But they did not understand what he meant. He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

The boy Jesus in the Temple (1m 17s)
Jesus in the Temple art/craft activity for primary age children

Signs of the Times & True Wisdom
Matthew 16:1-3 (NRSV)

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesusthey asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

The Wisdom of Solomon
1 Kings 3:16-28 (GNB)

One day two women presented themselves before King Solomon. One of them said, “Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a baby boy at home while she was there. Two days after my child was born, she also gave birth to a baby boy. Only the two of us were there in the house—no one else was present. Then one night she accidentally rolled over on her baby and smothered it. She got up during the night, took my son from my side while I was asleep, and carried him to her bed; then she put the dead child in my bed. The next morning, when I woke up and was going to nurse my baby, I saw that it was dead. I looked at it more closely and saw that it was not my child.” But the other woman said, “No! The living child is mine, and the dead one is yours!” The first woman answered back, “No! The dead child is yours, and the living one is mine!” And so they argued before the king. Then King Solomon said, “Each of you claims that the living child is hers and that the dead child belongs to the other one.” He sent for a sword, and when it was brought, he said, “Cut the living child in two and give each woman half of it.” The real mother, her heart full of love for her son, said to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, don't kill the child! Give it to her!" But the other woman said, “Don't give it to either of us; go on and cut it in two.” Then Solomon said, “Don't kill the child! Give it to the first woman—she is its real mother.” When the people of Israel heard of Solomon's decision, they were all filled with deep respect for him, because they knew then that God had given him the wisdom to settle disputes fairly.

JPP Resources for Learned & Wise

JPP tagcloud image

The JPP tagcloud/tree greyed-out with learned and wise highlighted in dark grey.

Tagcloud/tree learned & wise (png)

Staff briefing paper

This briefing paper aims to be a quick introduction to the virtues and the thinking and theology behind them. It designed to be distributed at the start of the half-term or left in people's mailboxes.

Learned & Wise staff briefing paper (pdf)

PowerPoint Animation

A PowerPoint animation in which the JPP tree/tagcloud reduces to the virtue pair Learned & Wise. This resouce could be the first slide in an assembly. If these animations are used regualrly, pupils get used to focusing on a pair of virtues.

Learned & Wise animation (ppt)


These posters are intended to draw attention to the JPP pair of virtues in focus this half-term.

All of these posters could be put up around the school for the half-term or new posters could be added each week.

These posters can be printed off at A3 or A4 size.

Learned 2: The secret of a true scholar
Learned 3: Learn from yesterday
Learned 4: Learn everything you can
Learned 5: Learned thesaurus
Learned 6: Living and learning amdg
Learned 7: By teaching you will learn
Learned 8: If you have knowledge
Learned 9: As long as you live
Learned 10: Change the world

Wise 3: Ask advice of every wise person
Wise 4: Teach me wisdom


"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." Aristotle

"Any fool can know. The point is to understand." Einstein

"Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from living." Anthony Douglas Williams

"If you are wise, then know that you have been created for the greater glory of God and your own eternal salvation. This is your goal. This is the centre of your life. This is the treasure of your heart." St Robert Bellarmine SJ

Christ the Teacher

One of the most important ways we become learned and wise is by watching the actions and listening to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Christ the Teacher icon
Christ the Teacher notes
Christ the Teacher webpage

Hymns & Songs

Some hymns which fit the theme Learned & Wise include:

Be thou my vision
Help us, O Lord, to learn the truths your word imparts
Immortal, invisible, God only wise
O Lord, you search me and you know me (Bernadette Farrell/Psalm 139)
Seek ye first the kingdom of God


Some Jesuit schools use the traditional names for the classes/years in the school: elements, figures, rudiments, grammar, syntax, poetry and rhetoric.

Rhetoric, the final year in a Jesuit school, is the goal of Jesuit education: that a pupil will be able to speak and argue well because s/he is a well-educated, or learned, person.


Living and Learning AMDG

When St Ignatius was pursuaded to open the first Jesuit school at Messina in Sicily in 1548, he was in the middle of writing the Constitutions of his new religious order, the Society of Jesus.

Ignatius wrote that the purpose of a Jesuit school is "improvement in living and learning for the greater glory of God and the common good." (cf. Constitutions n.440)

Excellence in learning, gaining a first class education, is one of the two strands of the DNA of Jesuit education - the other being the formation of virtue and character.

Homer and Peppy - Learned
A clip from The Simpsons which could be used to introduce the idea of 'learned'.

Homer and Peppy - Learned (0m 25s)

Copyright Notice
The Jesuit Pupil Profile, tagcloud image and logo, and resource material, are copyright. The Jesuit schools of the British Province have permission to use them freely. If you wish to use or adapt this material and are not a British Province Jesuit school, please ask first.
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Contact the Jesuit Institute
Schedule of JPP themes for 2018-19