Jesuit Education vs the Virtual Frontier

My husband is a Jesuit-educated fellow, and he has a great deal of respect for the way Jesuits help to hone a student’s reasoning abilities and encourage a life-long love of disciplined study.

So he was both troubled and pleased — but admittedly mostly troubled — to read this piece by Matt Emerson, who teaches at a Jesuit Prep school:

“The frontier” is the metaphor the Society of Jesus recently selected to frame the position of Jesuit education in the modern world. Last summer, at Santa Clara University, the Jesuit Secondary Education Association (JSEA) sponsored a week-long colloquium entitled Jesuit Mission: Sent to the Frontiers. A Jesuit educator myself, I attended the colloquium. Throughout that week and long after, the metaphor troubled me: Does a frontier, I thought, accurately capture the landscape on which students learn?

A little over a semester into the new school year, having reconsidered the colloquium and its guiding metaphor, I am convinced the image is inadequate.

The most compelling evidence for this belief comes from my students. While covering the Sermon on the Mount, I had students read the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew and then create a list of “Modern Beatitudes.” I told students to imagine the perspective of, for example, the head of MTV or the publisher of a popular magazine. From that perspective, I asked, what makes someone happy or blessed?

Here are examples of what students wrote:

Before you go read the rest, I hope you’ll be encouraged by the very thing that left my husband encouraged: that there are young teachers who are serious about restoring reason and discipline to their student’s studies. Or, about introducing it.

Related: It is Women’s History Month, so read how heiress Katharine Drexel managed to create a network of schools, and develop colleges for the disadvantaged.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • doc

    This reminds me of a buddy who was at Washington University in St Louis who drew the sad (for him) distinction between his school and TAC, where my daughter attended, saying, “well, she goes to a Catholic college, while I attend a Jesuit university.”


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