Jesuits Discuss How to Learn at First Installment Jesuit Studies Cafe

In both their own pursuits of an education and later in their role as educators, Jesuits look to Joseph de Jouvancy’s The Way to Learn and the Way to Teach as a guide. Two Jesuits led a discussion of a 2005 translation of the book on Thursday over Zoom at the Jesuit Studies Cafe, the first event in a series hosted by the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies in collaboration with partners at the University of Lisbon and the Italian-German Historical Institute. 

The Jesuit order deemed the piece by the renowned French Jesuit poet, pedagogue, philologist, and historian to be so crucial for Jesuit education that in 1599 they added it as a complementary piece to the charter of Jesuit education, known as the Ratio Studiorum. 

His writing, in which he details the rules for good teaching, is a complex work that serves as a manuscript of some of the earliest Jesuit teachings, according to the event’s co-host Cristiano Casalini, a professor in teaching, curriculum, and society. Casalini is a research scholar with the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College.

“He covers a very huge amount in a very condensed way,” Casalini said. “If you read it quickly, you might say, ‘Well I’m not sure what is there,’ because it’s all in little pieces. But he has condensed a lot into these pieces.”

Rev. Claude Pavur, S.J., associate editor for the Institute of Advanced Jesuit Sources and another co-host of the cafe, connected de Jouvancy’s suggestions for an ideal Jesuit education with the current emphasis Jesuit schools place on the classical studies of Latin and Greek. 

“The letter scores involve language learning, learning how to compose, learning how to imitate authors, get involved, learning something about classical culture and subjects,” he said. 

Pavur then explained how, contrary to “popular belief,” Jesuit education has always placed an emphasis on historical studies. This, Pavur said, gives Jesuits the ability to teach and learn from a global perspective. 

“A young Jesuit teacher who wants to progress in his own teaching must learn history, chronology, and geography,” Pavur said.

Regardless of belonging to different missions and regions, de Jouvancy was not a proponent for altering the strategies of the Jesuit curriculum. His work argued that strategies of teaching the Jesuit curriculum to youth from different missions and regions should center around Latin and Greek, Pavur explained.

“Whether you’re in Belgium or Colombia, you would have to learn this classical culture,” Pavur said about de Jouvancy’s message. “This is the way into the level of culture, the cultural heritage that forms the basis of education.”

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

September 20, 2020