Thinking well in the Digital Age
Fr Johnny Go SJ, a Jesuit educationalist from the Philippines, was in Ireland recently to give a three-day workshop to the teachers and staff of Jesuit schools both from the Province and from abroad.
The workshop involved exploring practical ways to respond to the changing landscape of the 21st century digital age, and the challenges this new era poses for educators.
Fr Johnny is the co-author of a detailed handbook, Learning by refraction: A practitioner’s guide to 21st century Ignatian pedagogy, (Johnny Go and Rita A. Atienza), and this handbook forms the basis of his workshops.
In this interview with Pat Coyle, he unpacks the five principles of an Ignatian approach to education. These include the care of the student as an individual, attention to the student’s experience, the importance of reflection by the student on that experience before putting what is learned in reflection into action and an evaluation by the teacher of the whole process for future learning.
He then looks at the challenge we have to think deeply in an age of internet skimming. Citing a Facebook study that researched what percentage of people would share an article they had hardy read, he said that the figure was a staggering 70%.
Fr Johnny says the information culture need to find a balance between fundamental thinking, where you reassure yourself that you have a truth that others lack and relativistic thinking where you give all ideas equal merit without discernment. So, he adds, that the real challenge for teachers, parents, and educationalists is to help students become counter-cultural, learning to spend time assessing and evaluating the information they access so readily. Students need to be given a safe-space, he says, where they can come out of their comfort zones and start forming their own opinions based on good information, solid reflection and an acceptance of the complexity of life.