A Mission Week Reflection on… Student-Centered Education

Paul

Student-centered education at SJU flows out of the model of Ignatian Pedagogy. This Jesuit tradition has produced a process by which teachers accompany learners in the lifelong pursuit of competence, conscience and compassionate commitment.

The pursuit of competence demands vigorous evaluation of student work, holding it to standards of excellence in every discipline. The formation of conscience is accomplished through embedding ethical principles across disciplines and curricula. But, as educators, we are not simply detached, dispassionate critics of our students’ academic work. At our best, whether faculty, staff or administrators, we join our journey to that of our students, as guides and companions in life-long learning, growing with our students as we elicit their voices while training their intellects and helping them cultivate their virtues (as we hopefully hone our own).

This commitment to students is often called, cura personalis, literally, “the care of the person.” It involves risk – the risk of exerting great investment with no sure promise of reward. It involves compassion – not a general feeling of sympathy, but as the word itself connotes, a “suffering with” our students, both in and beyond the academic setting. Above all, student centered education means knowing that, in the words of Michael Joncas, “here in our midst / we touch God’s human face.”

Paul F. Aspan, Ph. D.
Associate Provost
Faculty and Academic Support