Go Forth and Teach: The Characteristics of Jesuit Education
By the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education
The writing of the Ratio Studiorum (The Jesuit plan of studies), began
in 1586. The Characteristics of Jesuit Education, based on the Ratio
Studiorum, but published 400 years later, in 1986, was republished
the next year in the US as Go Forth and Teach.
This post includes excerpts from Go Forth and Teach: The Characteristics
of Jesuit Education which I have placed into categories.
Purpose of Go Forth and Teach: The Characteristics of Jesuit Education
- (9) “…The purpose is rather to describe…the inspiration, values, attitudes and style which have traditionally charac-
terized Jesuit education, which must be characteristic of any truly Jesuit school today wherever it is to be found, and that will remain essential as we move into the future.—Introductory notes from Go Forth and Teach
Subjects to be taught in a Jesuit Education
The priorities in the formation of Jesuits became priorities of Jesuit education:
a stress on the humanities, to be followed by philosophy and theology, 105…repetition of the material and active involvement of the students in their own education. 107 Much time should be spent in developing good style in writing. 108 The role of the Rector, as the center of authority, inspiration and unity, is essential. 109
- (27) …Jesuit education also includes a careful and critical study of technology together with the physical and social sciences.
(28)…Jesuit education includes opportunities …for all students to come to an appreciation of literature, aesthetics, music and the fine arts.
(29) …Jesuit education…develops traditional skills in speaking
and writing and also helps students to attain facility with modern instruments of communication such as film and video…
(31) …Jesuit education…includes a well-developed program of sports and physical education…
(39) Jesuit education is adapted to meet the needs of the country and the culture…this adaptation, while it encourages a “healthy patriotism”
is not an unquestioning acceptance of national values…
(54) …the “Christian humanism” of Jesuit education, emphasizes
the happiness in life that is the result of a responsible use
(26) A thorough and sound intellectual formation includes mastery of basic humanistic and scientific disciplines…[and] includes a growing ability to reason reflectively, logically and critically.
(77) In a Jesuit school, the focus is on education for justice. Adequate knowledge joined to rigorous and critical thinking…
(53) In a Jesuit school, a framework of inquiry in which a
value system is acquired through a process of wrestling with competing points of view is legitimate.
Jesuit Pedagogy (teaching methods) and the Spiritual Exercises
150. Ignatius insisted that Jesuit schools should adopt the methods of the University of Paris (“modus Parisiensis”) because he considered these to be the most effective in achieving the goals he had in mind for these schools.
The methods were tested and adapted by Jesuit educators in accordance with their religious experience in the Spiritual
Exercises and their growing practical experience in education.
Many of these principles and methods are still typical of
Jesuit education because they are still effective in implementing
the characteristics described in the previous sections.
(160) 6. There are analogies between methods of the Exercises
and traditional Jesuit teaching methods, many of which were incorporated into the Ratio Studiorum…
B. A few examples of directives from the constitutions and ratio studiorum:
(161) 1. The curriculum is to be structured carefully: in daily order, in the way that courses build on material covered in previous courses and in the way courses are related to one another. The curriculum should be so integrated that each individual course contributes toward the overall goal of the school.
(162) 2. The pedagogy is to include analysis, repetition, active reflection, and synthesis; it should combine theoretical ideas
with their applications.
(163) 3. It is not the quantity of course material covered that is important but rather a solid, profound, and basic formation.
Formation of each student:
Intellectual and Spiritual Formation; Values
- (25) “…Jesuit education…is concerned with the total formation of each student…
(107) In Jesuit education…the aim is the fullest possible development of every dimension of the person, linked to the development of a sense of values and a commitment to the service of others which gives priority to the needs of the poor and is willing to sacrifice self-interest for the promotion of justice…
(28) In Jesuit education, particular care is given to the…creative dimensions of each student in all courses of study…They are essential in the formation of the whole person and are a way to discover God as He reveals Himself through beauty…
(34) …Religious and spiritual formation is integral to Jesuit education…
(93)…The aim of Jesuit education is the formation of principled, value-oriented persons for others…
(51) Jesuit education includes formation in values, in attitudes, and in an ability to evaluate criteria; that is, it includes formation of the will…
(52) Personal development through the training of character and will…is all aided by the necessary and fair regulations of the school…
“We…challenge you and try to inspire you to put into practice…the values that you cherish, the values that you have received in your formation.” 34
(73) …Jesuit education—in progressive stages that take into account the developmental stages of growth, and…assists in the formation of men and women who will put their beliefs and attitudes into practice throughout their lives.
(42) …the educational process recognizes the developmental stages of intellectual, affective and spiritual growth…the curriculum is centered on the person…
Each student develops at his own pace
Each student is allowed to develop and to accomplish objectives at a pace suited to individual ability…(42)
Spiritual Aspects of a Jesuit Education
Ignatian Spirituality, Spiritual Exercises
(65) Making the Spiritual Exercises  is encouraged as a way of knowing Christ better, loving him, and following him. The Exercises will also help the members of the educational community understand the vision of Ignatius, which is the spirit that lies behind Jesuit education…
(153) …lay people need to have an understanding of Ignatian spirituality, of Jesuit educational history and traditions and
(155) 1. …the quality of the relationship between the guide of the Spiritual Exercises and the person making them is the model for the relationship between teacher and student…
(157) 3. The progression in the Exercises is one source of the practical, disciplined, “means to end” approach that is characteristic of Jesuit education. 78
Eucharist and sacraments
(91) For Ignatius, the response to the call of Christ is made in and through
the Roman Catholic Church, the instrument through which Christ is sacramentally present in the world…
(68)…For Catholics, the Eucharist is the celebration of a faith community centered on Christ. All adult members of the community are encouraged to participate in these celebrations, not only as an expression of their own faith, but also to give witness to the purposes of the school.
(69) Catholic members of the educational community receive
and celebrate the loving forgiveness of God in the Sacrament
Depending on local circumstances, the Jesuit school prepares students (and also adults) for the reception of other Sacraments.
(102) For Catholic students Jesuit education offers a knowledge
of and love for the church and the sacraments, as privileged opportunities to encounter Christ.
- (61) Members of various faiths and cultures are a part of the educational community in Jesuit schools today; to all, whatever
their beliefs, Christ is proposed as the model of human life.
Everyone can draw inspiration and learn about commitment from the life and teaching of Jesus…Everyone can imitate him in an emptying of self…
(62) …To be “Christian” is to follow Christ and be like him: to share and promote his values and way of life as far as possible. 26
(64) …Students encounter the person of Christ as friend and guide; they come to know him through Scripture, sacraments, personal and communal prayer, in play and work, in other persons; they are led to the service of others in imitation of Christ the Man for others. 
Prayer/worship and community of faith
(67) …Jesuit education offers a progressive initiation to prayer…All are encouraged to praise and thank God in prayer…
(68) …the educational community in a Jesuit school…is a community of faith, and expresses this faith through appropriate religious or spiritual celebrations.
(95) Jesuit education…is faithful to the teachings of the church, especially in moral and religious formation.…
(125) The Jesuits will be more effective…if they live in service and inspiration to one another, forming a true community in prayer and in life…
Service founded on a Faith Commitment
(111) Service is founded on a faith commitment to God; for Christians this is expressed in terms of the following of Christ. [which] leads to a desire to always do “more”…
(63) Pastoral care…enables the seeds of religious faith and religious commitment to grow in each individual by enabling each one to recognize and respond to the message of divine love…then responding to this discovery through a commitment to service within the community…
(71) …Ignatius asks for the total and active commitment of men and women who, “to imitate and be more actually like Christ,” 32 will put their ideals into practice in the real world of the family, business, social movements, political and legal structures, and religious activities. 33
Teachers and administrators, Jesuit and lay are guiders of intellectual, moral and spiritual development of every student
(43)… Teachers and administrators, both Jesuit and lay, are more than academic guides. They are involved…taking a personal interest in the intellectual, affective, moral and spiritual development of every student,
helping each one to develop a sense of self-worth and to become
a responsible individual within the community…
the adult members of the educational community guide students in their development of a set of values…
(45) …The task of the teacher is to help each student to become an independent learner, to assume the responsibility for his or her own education.
(110) A traditional aim of Jesuit education has been to train “leaders”: men and women who assume responsible positions in society through which they have a positive influence on others…
Instructors at Jesuit schools to cooperate with other schools and agencies
(115) The teachers and directors in a Jesuit school cooperate with other schools and educational agencies…
Teachers in the Jesuit Schools Help Out Parents
(131) Teachers and directors in a Jesuit school cooperate closely with parents, who are also members of the educational community. There is frequent communication and ongoing dialogue between the home and the school…
Parents are offered support and opportunities for growth in exercising their role as parents…parents are helped to fulfill their right and responsibility as educators in the home and family and they in turn contribute to the work of education going on in the school. 71
(133) There is consistency between the values promoted in the school and those promoted in the home. At the time their children first enroll in the school, parents are informed about the commitment of Jesuit education to a faith that does justice…
Life long learning instilled in children and adults
- (46) Since education is a life-long process, Jesuit education tries to instill a joy in learning and a desire to learn that will remain beyond the days in school…it is much more important to learn how to learn, to desire to go on learning all through life.” 20
(48) “...the adult members of the educational community are encouraged to continue to mature in all of these areas, and programs of ongoing formation are provided to assist in this growth. 21
(152) …all adult members of the educational community need to take advantage of opportunities for continuing education and continued personal development—especially in professional competence, pedagogical techniques, and spiritual formation. The Jesuit school encourages this by providing staff development programs in every school…
Faith and Justice
(74) …“The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service
of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement…
This service of the faith that does justice is action in imitation of Christ…Justice does not reach its interior fullness except in charity…Justice without charity is not evangelical.” 37
Goal of faith and justice
(76) The goal of the faith that does justice and works for peace is a new type of person in a new kind of society, in which each individual has the opportunity to be fully human and each one accepts the responsibility of promoting the human development of others…
Eccumenism an dialogue for betterment of society
(38) …Jesuit education promotes dialogue between faith and culture—which includes dialogue between faith and science.
(76) …But all members of the educational community, including those who do not share Christian faith, can collaborate in this work…working together in the promotion of justice and can become the beginning of an ecumenical dialogue which sees justice as intimately tied to faith.
(94) …The purposes and ideals of members of other faiths can be in harmony with the goals of the Jesuit school and they can commit themselves to these goals for the development of the students and for the betterment of society.
(100) The Jesuit school community encourages collaboration in ecumenical activities with other churches and is active in dialogue with all men and women of good will.
Ignatian Worldview and the Kingdom of God
(93) Jesuit schools are a part of the apostolic mission of the church in building the Kingdom of God…
(110)…the goal of Jesuit education in today’s understanding of the Ignatian worldview is not to prepare a socio-economic elite, but rather to educate leaders in service…to work with others for the good of all in the service of the Kingdom of God.
(127) …Jesuits are available to provide…discussions, workshops, and retreats, which can enable others in the school community to come to a better knowledge and appreciation of the world view of Ignatius.
(139)”…Since the worldview of Ignatius is the basis on which a common vision is built, the director is guided by this worldview
and is the one responsible for ensuring that opportunities are provided through which the other members of the community can come to a greater understanding of this worldview and its applications to education…
(132) As far as possible, parents should understand, value and accept the Ignatian worldview that characterizes the Jesuit school.
The school community…provides opportunities by which parents can become more familiar with this worldview and its applications to education.
The Jesuit “system” of schools, agents of change in the World
which needs transformation
(148) …Jesuit schools still form a network, joined…by a common vision with common goals;
teachers and administrators in Jesuit schools are again sharing ideas and experiences in order to discover the principles and methods that will provide the most effective implementation of this common vision.
(149) …The broader the interchange on the regional level, the more fruitful the interchange among Jesuit schools can be on an international level.
(150) To aid in promoting this interchange of ideas and experiences an exchange of teachers and students is encouraged wherever possible.
57) …Jesuit education emphasizes the need to be in contact with the world…that is in need of transformation without being blind to the essential goodness of creation.
(78) 1. …Teachers try to become more conscious of [justice issues], so that they can provide students with the intellectual, moral and spiritual formation that will enable them to make a commitment to service—that will make them agents of change…