Daily thanksgiving for the Montessori classroom teacher. Spring 2009, Using the Spiritual Exercises as a basis for self reflection and self awareness.

Julie Kugler Ackley, M.Ed.
Mentor: Doug Olberding, Ed.D.


Julie Kugler Ackley, M.Ed.The mission of Xavier University is applicable to each and every Xavier student, no matter in what program that student is enrolled. The University's mission reflects its Jesuit educational traditions and Ignatian pedagogy. It calls all of us to recall that Xavier University is a "community of inquiry grounded in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition dedicated to engaging and forming students intellectually, morally and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, towards lives of solidarity, service and success" (retrieved from

When I reflect upon this statement, I realize the connection that this has to the philosophical foundations of Maria Montessori and how students in Xavier's Montessori teacher education are enriched by this connection.

Over a century ago, Dr. Maria Montessori began her unique and transformational method of education in the poorest areas of Rome. Trained a medical doctor, she brought the eyes and soul of a scientist to her work and combined this with a strong Catholic faith.

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The Teaching Vocation and the Jesuit Mission: Student Perception

 Sally M. Barnhart, M.Ed.Sally M. Barnhart, M.Ed.
Mentor: Barbara Harland, RN, MSN, Med (Nursing)

As a Clinical Faculty member my job assignment includes classroom instruction, field placement , and supervising responsibility for Xavier students in Early and Middle Childhood Education from their first field experience (EDFD 100), through their methods classes (Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies) and their 15 week intern assignment for student teaching during their senior year. Additionally, I currently serve as the Co-President of the Ohio Field Directors, which represents all Public and Private Universities in Ohio. I am a participating member of the National Field Directors' Forum for the American Association of Teacher Educators. I am an active member of the 2008-2009 Ohio Department of Education Pre-Service Connections Committee convened by ODE which is providing research and data for the classroom of the 21st Century and the stakeholders.

Ignatian Mentoring Research Project: Hypothesis included the belief that a high percentage of the Xavier Freshmen, as Majors in Early and Middle Childhood Education, do not identify or connect their chosen teaching vocation with the Jesuit Mission.

EDFD 100: Introduction to Education: Coursework Inclusion

The work begins in EDFD 100 an Undergraduate Course for 3 Hours credit. As per Xavier's Catalog, this course provides an introduction to the foundational, philosophical and organizational patterns of United States education. Topics include the review of history, philosophy societal impact and school culture. There is an Ohio Pathwise emphasis, along with the Ohio Academic Content Standards. Lesson planning is introduced. All students are placed in a public/private school for a related field experience.

Research Component

After IRB approval, in January 2009, thirty second semester freshmen freely consented and were surveyed during this research project. The questions were rated with a scaled score of;
1= I am not aware of this
2=I am somewhat aware of this
3= I am very aware of this
The survey included the following questions:

  • I chose Xavier University specifically for its Jesuit tradition
  • I have read and understand Xavier's Mission Statement
  • I have heard of St. Ignatius of Loyola
  • I have read The Spiritual Exercises
  • I know the meaning of the term Cura personalis
  • I have an understanding of who founded the Society of Jesus
  • I have an understanding of "Discernment of Spirits"
  • Through my Jesuit Education, I have learned about "Finding God in All Things"
  • I believe that Jesuit pedagogy is a model that seeks to develop men and women of competence, conscience and compassion.
Survey Results and Reflection:

Research results:

94% of the students surveyed were unaware of The Spiritual Exercise.
96% of the students surveyed were unaware of the meaning of the Term Cura personalis.
92% of the students responded that they were unaware of who founded the Society of Jesus.
96% of the students surveyed were not aware of or have an understanding of Discernment of Spirits.

The good news reported in the survey results:

98% of the students responded that they were very aware that the Jesuit pedagogy is a model that seeks to develop men and women of competence.

Therefore from the students surveyed, the research results indicated that the freshmen did not identify with terminology or specific vocabulary that identifies the Jesuit pedagogy.

Reflection and Questions Asked:

Reflecting on the purpose of this survey and study brought forth many challenges and questions, which required this researcher to begin a rigorous self-study. The thirst for knowledge and understanding of the Xavier students became a conscious decision to reflect on my role as a model and mentor for the Xavier freshmen. The questions from the research survey were overwhelmingly obvious to this researcher.

  • How will the freshmen students read, reflect and assimilate the Jesuit Mission into their daily lives, unless they are intentionally instructed on the meaning of the questions surveyed?
  • How can the young future teaching professionals identify with the philosophy of St. Ignatius and The Spiritual Exercises without reading and having open classroom discussion?
  • How can each student "Find God in All Things" or the meaning of Cura Personalis, as it pertains to their chosen profession of becoming an Early or Middle Childhood Educator?

These questions and answers required specific attention and research from the writings of William A. Barry, S.J. A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Finding God in All things. Along with the work of John Patrick Donnelly's Ignatius of Loyola, both readings inspired the researcher to connect the Xavier Mission within the daily life of each student.

Education Pedagogy and The Xavier Mission:

The EDFD 100 course design is deeply rooted in the students' desire to learn educational pedagogy, along with actual hands on classroom field experiences. The Xavier freshmen begin their vocation within the Cincinnati area by observing teachers, reading about the past and looking to the future for educational practices of the 21st Century classroom. The responsibility to mentor the young aspiring teachers in developing Best Teaching Practices, along with finding a 'servant's Heart is imbedded in the instructional strategies. It is from this research that the transference of systematically teaching the Ohio Academic Content Standards and embracing the Xavier Jesuit Mission become so clearly defined. It is recognized through this research that facilitating the personal growth and development of the young educator is important, but equally as daunting is the responsibility to assist each student in their understanding that teaching is a service to others.

The results of the survey clearly identified the challenge within the EDFD 100 classroom setting to connect the Jesuit mission and Ignatian pedagogy with the young education majors. In collaboration with Mary Lisa Vertuca, the teaching model for EDFD 100: Introduction to Education included intentional instruction of assigned readings, oral discussion and personal reflections written by each student. As an assigned reading and reflection, each student in EDFD 100 was given a personal copy of Go Forth Student Life in The Jesuit Tradition and Do you Speak Ignatian. The goal of connecting and integrating the Xavier Mission Statement, the Xavier Core Values, The Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Mission Statement and the Dispositions for Teaching were written in the course Syllabi. Included in the intentional instruction for the Xavier freshmen was the following:

Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Mission Statement , which was written under the direction of Dr. Cindy Geer, Chair and all the colleagues within the department.

Xavier University's Department of Childhood Education and Literacy is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and to the orderly discussion of critical issues confronting educators in a free, inquiry-based environment committed to current and relevant scholarship and research related to our profession. Xavier University seeks to create awareness of social justice in all disciplines through its emphasis on living the Jesuit tradition of intellectual, moral and spiritual preparation. The candidates in the Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Montessori and Literacy programs, through their academic and professional training, are prepared to value the lives of children regardless of racial linguistic, socio-economic, religious, or ethnic background and to work with and value family and school structures in both urban, rural, and suburban settings. Special attention is given to developmentally effective practices and advocacy for all children, with ethical issues and values as expressed through the Jesuit tradition. Thus, the Childhood Education and Literacy preparation at Xavier University strives to send out into the education community candidates who are morally sensitive to the academic and social needs of our time, foster an appreciation for human diversity, reason critically, and think creatively. Candidates in the Childhood Education and Literacy Department are encouraged to develop and maintain a disposition toward lifelong learning in the profession of education and to the service of their students and their students' families and communities.

The Coach Effect

The mission statement breathes life in the EDFD 100 Introduction to Education coursework as the freshmen proceed to digest the responsibilities that are ahead as a classroom teacher. The challenge of this energizing research can be compared to Xavier's Basketball Program and the Coaches strategy for the team. The freshmen come to Xavier with an adequate offense in their portfolio, which includes academic excellence, moral and ethical character, and an understanding of their personal responsibilities within the Xavier community. However, it is important to arm the young freshmen with a strong defensive ability through the development of their intellect, along with their interpersonal skills, while building their individual process for discernment within the community. This process must provide opportunities to embrace the Xavier Core Values, understand how the Spiritual Exercises impact their own life and how to Find God in All Things. It is widely known in the world of basketball that a good defense produces a strong offense. Therefore in the Xavier environment, the freshmen will be prepared to find their 'servant's Heart within the teaching profession.

Research Readings and Class Discussions

It is important to note that selected readings solidified and stimulated questions and reflections concerning the Jesuit Mission during the class discussion. The reading of Finding God in All Things, the author, William Barry states, "It doesn't bother me that people have not heard of The Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola, but that those people who have heard of The Exercises think that it is reserved for only religious or holy people." (Barry 11) He invites the reader to willingly incorporate and discern the ability to find God in the dispositions of life, which brought forth a discussion of the importance of Teacher Dispositions from the Xavier Early and Middle Childhood Handbook. Through the readings of Ignatius of Loyola, Donnelly reviews two main purposes of The Exercises: To teach people to pray more effectively and help people who were trying to reshape their lives to find and embrace what they see as God's will for them. (Donnelly 79) This is a personal "Aha" moment in the research and study of St. Ignatius and The Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius teachings declare to all that study his writings, that each of us encounters God at every moment of our existence. (Barry 20). The question becomes, "How does faith connect with the Xavier student?" The Xavier freshmen recognize and understand that their chosen vocation incorporates a diverse society that is rapidly changing, but their response to their environment does not reflect attentiveness to the Ignatian pedagogy. An open discussion of the Jesuit vocabulary builds a connection and knowledge base that serves the Xavier freshmen in their quest for future endeavors and understanding of the past. Examples of the important Ignatian words were discussed in class from the handout Do You Speak Ignatian? Students contributed their personal thoughts and understanding of the term "cura personalis" and the Jesuit pedagogy, which are intertwined in their attitudes, along with their responsibility to become leaders in service. Through additional discussion, it was identified that the freshmen came to Xavier for various reasons; such as scholarship money, athletics and/or influence of their parents. The research found that the Xavier freshmen were excited, enthusiastic and possessed a broad base of academic content knowledge, while their religious values were kept in a separate compartment and were not considered when discussing their chosen profession. Without oversimplifying the task at hand, it is the Mission of the Xavier's Department of Childhood Education and Literacy to prepare the Xavier students, beginning with EDFD 100: Introduction to Education and follow each of them through the four year educational process, so that the students can be mentored and assisted in cultivating their ability to discern the connection between their chosen vocation of teaching and Finding God in All Things.

Future Opportunities for Growth and Development

The research for EDFD 100 has just begun and the work will continue with more readings, class discussion and a follow up survey. As a clinical faculty member, it is the mission of this instructor to influence the Early and Middle Childhood Majors to find and develop their own Personal Mission. As written in The Xavier Mission Statement and given to the Xavier Freshmen to incorporate in their community, to develop intellectually, morally and spiritually with rigor and compassion toward lives of solidarity and service. This should be a mission for each of us that mentor and touch the lives of all students at Xavier University.

Reference Materials:

John Patrick Donnelly (2004) Ignatius of Loyola Founder of the Jesuits, New York, Peason.
William A. Barry, S.J. (2008) Finding God :in all things, Notre dame, Indiana, Ava Maria Press.
George W. Traub, S.J. (2006) Do you speak Ignatian? Ohio, Xavier University
Division of Mission and Identity (2007) Go Forth and set the world on Fire, Ohio, Xavier University

Thanks to: Mentor: Barbara Harland, MSN., M.Ed., RN., CNL; Department of Nursing

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Where is God in All of This
A Personal Reflection on Cura Personalis and Calling
through Xavier's Mission Academy

Leslie Ann Prosak-Beres, Ph. D.Leslie Ann Prosak-Beres, Ph. D.
Mission Academy Participant

"The Jesuit ideal of giving serious attention to the profound questions about the meaning of life encourages an openness of mind and heart, and seeks to establish campus communities which support the intellectual growth of all of its members while providing them with opportunities for spiritual growth and development and a lifelong commitment to social growth."

A Call to Excellence
When the opportunity arose for a formalized Mission Academy specifically for veteran faculty in the Academy, it provided me with a distinct purpose of renewal to discuss our mission, our Jesuit tenets and beliefs, and, our focus on serving our academic community on campus and beyond. It was this gathering of pilgrims who shared, discussed, and debated our existence as Jesuits over an academic year that supported my search for human excellence. It was the call to critical thinking and disciplined studies, a call to develop the whole person, head and heart, intellect and feelings.

The Mission Academy, then, was just the opportunity I was looking for and praying about as an individual and an academician. I love the opportunity I have been afforded to teach courses in literacy, both reading and children's literature, over the past 25 years. I have thrived in offering my talents on academic committees. I have enjoyed researching and writing about those topics that have supported my interests in developing teacher candidates. As I reflected on all of these gifts I had been given, the urge to do more in the Jesuit tradition was haunting me, as I contemplated the focus of my remaining years at Xavier. It helped me personally to develop thoughts and desires to serve the world in a different, more inclusive way.

Our systematic study in the Mission Academy, incorporated methodology from a variety of sources, which better contributed to the intellectual, social, moral and religious formation or lack thereof, of the whole person. As documents on Jesuit education suggested, in the underlying principle of Tantum Quantum, that which may work better is adopted and assessed while that which is proven ineffective is discarded. Those who were part of the Academy sorted their foci and understanding of mission, with stress on uncovering and exploring the patterns, relationships, facts, questions, insights, conclusions, problems, solutions, and implications which a particular discipline brings to light about what it means to be a human being. This study in Ignatian Pedagogy was the process by which we, as companions in the Academy, accompanied each other in our pursuit of competence, conscience and compassionate commitment.

Since Jesuit Education strives to give learners ongoing development of their imagination, feelings, conscience and intellect, the Mission Academy encouraged us and helped us recognize new experiences as opportunities to further growth. It enabled us to see service to others in a new light as more self-fulfilling than personal success or prosperity. The opportunity to gather allowed the development of more complex learning skills beyond rote knowledge to that of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Understanding the impact of Jesuit Education within the Ignatian Paradigm and cultural humility through service, suggested that we engage in an ongoing process of self-awareness and self-reflection in the process of becoming servant leaders in society.

How Characteristics of Jesuit Education impacted the Mission Academy
Since the inception of the first Jesuit school in 1548, the Jesuits have believed that a high quality education is the best path to leadership and service. It is the path to developing leaders with the potential for influencing and transforming society. This, then, became my focus during the Mission Academy as well as the focus for many of my other colleagues on the journey to excellence.

Fr. General Kolvenbach at his address at Georgetown (1989) suggested that, the ultimate aim of Jesuit education is that full growth of the person which leads to action action, especially, that is suffused with the spirit and presence of Jesus Christ, the Man/Woman for Others. 2 Developing one's strength in academic knowledge rooted in sound understanding of mission, gives birth to well-rounded, intellectually competent, open to growth individuals, committed to doing justice, and in generous service to the people of God. 3 The in-depth study of Jesuit education became a carefully reasoned investigation through which I reformed my attitude towards other people and the world. This formed education strengthened my way of thinking by the way I approached how I lived in the world, seeking the greater good in terms of what can be done to enhance the quality of peoples lives. Understanding Jesuit education became a paradigm that spoke to the teaching-learning process and addressed the dynamic interrelationship of teacher and learner strengths on the journey of growth in knowledge and freedom to serve others at home. in the workplace, in the community, and ever-present human need.

My Mission, My Plan
In my opportunities, over the past two years, to travel nationally and internationally, attend and present at conferences related to my literacy expertise and Jesuit focus, I have come to realize my desire to do more as it relates to" cura personalis" and our university's mission. Why, you might ask, did I want to do more The more was life giving and encouraged me to go beyond the walls of Xavier; the mission encouraged the use of my talents to being human with and for others in an environment of care, respect and trust. My acronym for mission became: Many, Initiatives for, Service and, Solidarity, In, Other, Neighborhoods near and far.

The Opportunity
The opportunity began simply and quietly with a phone call on August 17, 2011. I was in the consultation area of Mercy Hospital in Lorain, Ohio. My Dad had suffered a stroke the day before, the day before classes started, the day before I realized that Guatemala was to become part of my life. I had been reflecting about service in a more global sense; I had just returned from delivering an academic paper in Lima, Peru. My emotions were high because of the trip and equally high over my Dad's prognosis. Joe Berninger, a graduate of Xavier and Executive Director of Cooperative for Education, called me. He was a calming influence on a day that was fraught with uncertainty; he was interested in establishing a relationship with our Department of Childhood Education and Literacy. We spoke about two hours regarding potential educational opportunities for our students and for his cooperative. Our interests were mutual; our beliefs were common; our intentions were genuinely Jesuit. We ended our conversation in prayer for my Dad, for the Cooperative for Education and in thanksgiving for our meeting.

Why Guatemala In a word: poverty. Guatemala's Central and Western Highlands exhibit one of the most extreme combinations of systemic poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the hemisphere. The indigenous populations that inhabit these regions suffer from malnutrition (rates of which rank among the worst in the world), poor health outcomes, racism, high rates of illiteracy, and low levels of educational attainment. Together, these factors virtually guarantee that the next generation will be no better off than the last. Due to a lack of opportunities, many indigenous migrate (often illegally) to the U.S. in search of better jobs. They face many perils along the way, including the break-up of the family unit, exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous human smugglers, and death. Cooperative for Education aims to help communities in the Western Highlands lift vulnerable young people, and their communities out of poverty. By providing marginalized children in these regions with educational opportunities and access to technology, they can achieve success as individuals, as members of their local communities and as contributors to Guatemalan society.4

In the communities that CoEd serves, families subsist on $3-$6 a day. They live hand-to-mouth, with little access to education and no hope for a better future. Parents in these remote towns and villages want more for their children. That is where Cooperative for Education (CoEd) comes in. CoEd provides educational opportunities to impoverished Guatemalan schoolchildren that help them:

  • Stay in school
  • Learn valuable skills
  • Gain access to better jobs, and
  • Aspire to a better life, beyond poverty

No more was said; I was convinced that I was being called to help with the initiative. Plans began and Guatemala became my project for the Mission Academy and my year of study with my personal mission and identity.

The Immersion and the Benefits
During the latter part of July and beginning of August, I will travel to Guatemala with Cooperative for Education to experience first-hand how I can bring this part of Latin America to my students of literacy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and their teaching/learning experiences and expertise to Guatemala. What are the benefits of Ignatian Pedagogy as it aligns to the Mission of Xavier University for me, as mentor and for the students I teach.

1. Ignatian Pedagogy promises to help teachers be better teachers. It enables teachers to enrich the content and structure of what they are teaching. It gives teachers additional means of encouraging learner initiative. It allows teachers to expect more of students, to call upon them to take greater responsibility for and be more active in their own learning. It helps teachers to motivate learners by providing the occasion and rationale for them to relate what is being studied to their own world experiences.
2. Ignatian Pedagogy personalizes learning. It asks learners to reflect upon the meaning and significance of what they are studying. It attempts to motivate students by involving them as critical active participants in the teaching-learning process. It aims for more personal learning by bringing student and teacher experiences closer together. It invites integration of learning experiences in the classroom with those of home, workplace, community, and ever-present human need.
3. Ignatian Pedagogy stresses the social dimension of both learning and teaching. It encourages close cooperation and mutual sharing of experiences and reflective dialogue among learners. It relates student learning and growth to personal interaction and human relationships.
4. And, for me personally, Ignatian Pedagogy applied to my immersion trip to Guatemala and the planning for subsequent trips for pre-service teachers and graduate students of literacy with the Cooperative for Education (CoEd) will be a personal source of renewal to the tenets of our university's mission in mind, heart and soul and to my gift of mentoring persons of others.

How does the Cooperative for Education in Guatemala provide an opportunity to experience Ignatian Pedagogy in Action for me and for Xavier Education Students of Literacy (in Reading and Children's Literature). I believe it embodies the five key teaching elements of Ignatian Pedagogy: Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation.

1. Context
What needs to be known about learners (their environment, background, community, and potential) to teach them well? Cura personalis--personal care and concern for the individual--is a hallmark of Jesuit education, and requires that teachers become as conversant as possible with the context or life experience of the learner.

Getting to know another culture and country and how literacy development can make a difference in the lives of its children is the focus of this study.

2. Experience
Experience - What is the best way to engage learners as whole persons in the teaching and learning process.

An immersion trip engaged in the teaching of literacy and the learning of another language and culture.

3. Reflection
Reflection - How may learners become more reflective so they more deeply understand what they have learned and appreciate its implications in the continuing search for truth?

Educators in training through memory, understanding, imagination, and feelings grasp the essential meaning and value of what is being studied and are able to apply it to wherever they have the opportunity to mentor others.

4. Action
Action - How do we compel learners to move beyond knowledge to action. While it may not immediately transform the world into a global community of justice, peace and love, the immersion trip to Guatemala as a capstone trip in either the Xavier undergraduate program in education or the graduate program in Literacy should at least be an educational step towards that goal even if it merely leads to new experiences, further reflections and consequent actions within the area of literacy' specifically reading and children's literature.

5. Evaluation
Evaluation -How do we assess learner's growth in mind, heart, and spirit? Ignatian Pedagogy aims at evaluation that includes but goes beyond academic mastery to the learner's well-rounded growth as persons for others. It is hoped that observant teachers will perceive indications of growth or lack of growth both in and out of class discussions, and that their generosity in response to the common needs of others will be an influence in their lives much more frequently.

Where is God in all of this
The Call
What is the plan for me through personal study, prayer and reflection because of this Mission Academy?

1. Personal renewal of being a person for others as a member of the Xavier Community.
2. Exploring and seeing God in all Things through other lenses or in a different colored chalk.
3. Taking action on a felt call to working with the Cooperative for Education and the Berninger brothers.
4. Learning about Breaking the Cycle of Poverty through Education in Guatemala and helping others to experience the same during their matriculation through a program of literacy education.
5. Designing a curriculum rooted in Jesuit Pedagogy and Xavier University's mission that aligns with already existing travel abroad programs in Education and across our three colleges.

The Plan
How will I attempt to respond to the Call? The following are the goals set for my response to the Mission Academy:

1. Imersion in the study of the history of Guatemala.
2. Imersion in the study of Latin America Spanish.
3. Imersion in my trip to Guatemala, July 29 - August 8, 2012.

The Reflection
God instilled the "call" to seek a better understanding of mission and "cura personalis" in my life and the lives of those I am privileged to serve both here and in other parts of the world. I journeyed with colleagues in the Mission Academy to sort out the path of service and justice set before me and seek the MAGIS in what I do for my students and the university. The spirit of God enabled my heart to open to the goodness of the people of the world because I believe that the world is infused with the grandeur of God. I was called to understand His love for me here and now. The call was to transcend myself, to understand my ultimate meaning and therein to find God.

1 The Mission of Jesuit Higher Education. (accesed April 25, 2012).
2 See Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Themes of Jesuit Higher Education, an address at Georgetown University, June 7, 1989, (accessed April 10, 2012).
3 See Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Ignatian Pedagogy Today, an address delivered at the International Workshop on Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach Villa Cavaletti, April 29, 1993, (accessed April 10, 2012).
4 Cooperative for Education (accessed April 13, 2012).
5 Cited in Cooperative for Education, pp.2-5.
6 See Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach, pp. 5-6, pdf (accessed April 10, 2011).

For more information and photos.

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Student Teaching Seminar: Current Issues in Early Childhood Education (EDEC 451)

Student Teaching Seminar: Cohort (EDEC 456)

Debora L. Couch-Kuchey, Ph.D.
Mentor: Ginger McKenzie, Ph.D. (Education)

Debora L. Couch-Kuchey, Ph.D. As a graduate of Xavier University, it has become apparent to me that Xavier offered more than just a college degree. In my undergraduate studies, having no experience in other universities, I was not yet aware of exactly what else I received from my undergraduate education. It was not until I received my master's degree from a state university and my doctorate from yet another state university, that I realized Xavier had given me much more than the credentials necessary to receive and maintain my teaching license. Xavier had taught me the mission of Jesuit theologians, the mission of service, the mission of compassion for others and instilled in me the value of a
life of service and the value of being a lifelong learner. Nineteen years later, when I returned to Xavier University as an assistant professor, I wanted to assure that I more fully understood the wholeness of a Xavier University Education to assure that I incorporate the necessary components into my courses that bring to life Xavier's Mission of Service. "Xavier's mission is to serve society by forming students intellectually, morally, and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, towards lives of solidarity, service and success," (Graham, Michael J., [2004-2006]) Xavier University Catalog). Hence, my pursuit began with my involvement in Xavier University's Ignatian Mentoring Program.

What is my purpose as a Xavier faculty member?

What is Xavier? Xavier is a private Jesuit Catholic Institution offering "a quality education that enables students to put personal academic goals in the context of the diverse achievements of civilization and the vast potential of the human person," (Xavier University Catalog, p. 15). As previously stated Xavier's mission is as follows, "Xavier's mission is to serve society by forming students intellectually, morally, and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, towards lives of solidarity, service and success."

What is Jesuit education? Jesuit education:

As a faculty member of the Education Department of Xavier University, I then looked at the mission of Xavier's Education Department. The mission of Xavier's Education Department is as follows:

What is Xavier University's student population?

C. Wright Mills, stated that "the one deep experience that distinguishes the social rich from the merely rich and those below is the schooling, and with it, all the associations, the sense and sensibility to which this education routine leads throughout their lives." "As a selection and training place of the upper classes, both old and new, the private school is a unifying influence, a force for the nationalization of the upper classes." (Payne, Ruby, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, (p. 58). Since the majority of Xavier's population attended private schools, it appeared that a need existed to enable pre-service early childhood teachers to understand diverse populations in order for Education Graduates to better understand the children, families and cultures of the students they may serve in their future classrooms.

Fulfilling Xavier's mission in the student teaching seminars

Having a more complete understanding of Xavier University, I proceeded to look at the following courses to more
fully incorporate the Jesuit and Ignatian Identity into these courses.

Upon great reflection I decided the mission driven teaching component to be added to the student teaching seminar would deal with the work of Dr. Ruby Payne. Twenty of her books, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, were purchased and placed on reserve in McDonald Memorial Library. This book helps pre-service teachers
"understand the hidden rules of the economic classes and spreads the message that, despite the obstacles poverty can create in all types of interaction, there are specific strategies for overcoming them." Payne, 1996.

The Jesuit tradition focuses on the total educational mission of forming students intellectually, morally and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, towards lives of solidarity and service. Through reflection, I believed that the work of Dr. Payne encompasses this mission in the realm of educators. Dr. Payne forces one to come to terms with their own stereo-types and prejudices of the population of the differing economical classes. She challenges one to put these prejudices and stereo-types aside, and open their minds to discovering the hidden rules of the economical classes in the United States. It is through coming to terms with these hidden rules, through developing an understanding of why people of different classes behave in different ways, as well as understanding the driving force behind such behaviors, that teachers can begin to help students escape the boundaries of their socio-economic class, while still appreciating their heritage and culture.

Not only did the pre-service teachers read the before mentioned book of Dr. Payne, but they were also required to attend a workshop provided through the funding of this program. Ms. Martha Pennington Menefee, a trained consultant of Dr. Ruby Payne, presented "Understanding Poverty: Putting Theory into Practice." The pre-service
teachers were required to write a summary and analysis of the book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, as well as a reflective analysis of Ms. Menefee's workshop on March 12th. The reflective analysis connected the workshop to the book and to implications for the classroom. Throughout the semester, class scenarios were given and group discussions of these scenarios were held to further develop the students' awareness of working with children of poverty to enable the children to overcome the obstacles poverty can create in their lives. The following quote was referred to and repeated often: "No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship," Dr. James Comer (Ruby Payne; A Framework for Understanding Poverty, p. 18).

The objectives for A Framework for Understanding Poverty were as follows:

Xavier pre-service teachers will be able to

The poverty statistics as given in A Framework for Understanding Poverty were carefully analyzed as to their implication in early childhood education. The statistics are as follows:

The following key points as given in A Framework for Understanding Poverty were discussed along with the implications of these points in teaching young children.

Dr. Ruby Payne strongly urges educators to take inventory of the student's eight resources. These resources are seen as necessary in order for the child to move out of poverty. Pre-service teachers were encouraged to take an inventory of these resources in the students they were currently servicing during the student teaching semester. The eight resources as given in A Framework for Understanding Poverty follow.

Pre-service teachers were then presented with the registers of language as given in A Framework for Understanding Poverty, along with the implications for the school setting.

What does the register of language mean in the school setting?

Pre-service teachers were encouraged to become aware of the Hidden Rules among Social Classes as given in A Framework for Understanding Poverty.

Poverty Middle Class Wealth
Possessions People Things One of a kind objects, legacies, pedigrees
Money To be spent To be managed To be invested
Personality Is for entertainment Is for acquisition and stability. Achievement is highly valued Is for connections. Financial, political, social connections are highly valued
Social Emphasis Social inclusion of people they like Emphasis is on self-governance and self-sufficiency Emphasis is on social exclusion
Food Quantity important Quality important Presentation important
Clothing Valued for individual style and expression of personality Valued for it's quality and acceptance into norm of the middle class; label important Valued for its artistic sense and expression, designer important
Time Present most important; decisions made against future ramifications Future most important; decisions made against future ramifications Traditions and history most important; decisions made on the basis of tradition and decorum
Education Valued and revered as abstract but not as reality Crucial for climbing success ladder and making money Necessary tradition for making and maintaining connections
Destiny Believes in fate Believes in choice Noblesse oblige
Language Casual register, used to survive Formal register, used for negotiation Formal register, about networking
Family Structure Matriarchal Patriarchal Depends on who has money
World View In terms of local setting In terms of national setting In terms of international setting
Love and Acceptance Based upon whether individual is liked Based largely on achievement Related to social standing and connections
Driving Force Survival, relationships, and entertainment Work, achievements Financial, political, social connections


Once a teacher understands these hidden rules among social classes, he/she will be better able to create meaningful relationships with children of poverty. In A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Dr. Ruby Payne offers suggestions for building such relationships.

Appreciation of humor and entertainment provided by the child

Dr. Payne also offers a warning against behaviors that hinder the development of such relationships.

Lastly, Dr. Payne offers suggestions for teachers to build the emotional resources of children of poverty. According to Dr. Payne, in order to do so, a teacher must understand the following:

After reading and reflecting upon Dr. Payne's work, 81 students were given an opportunity to attend a professional development "Understanding Poverty: Putting Theory into Practice," on March 12, 2005 at the Cintas Center Xavier University. The professional development was presented by Martha Menefee, principal Holly Hill Elementary, West Clermont School District. Ms. Meneffee discussed how she as a principal implemented the work of Ruby Payne into Holly Hill Elementary School and the impact that the changes have had on the school.

Following the professional development seminar the students wrote a book review of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, connecting the work of Ruby Payne to developmentally appropriate practices, theory and theorists in Early Childhood Education. Students speculated how they would use the information in this book in their future classrooms. (Case studies were used to broaden and deepen understanding of the major components of the book.) Students were also required to write a reflection of the seminar. They wrote a brief summary of the experience and their reaction to Mrs. Menefee's presentation. Students compared their interpretation of A Framework for Understanding Poverty and Mrs. Menefee's implementation plan.

The book reviews demonstrated a new found knowledge and respect for children of poverty as well as an appreciation for the suggestions offered to better prepare these pre-service teachers to deal with children who came from a different social class than they. Some samples of responses to the work of Ruby Payne follow:

"Overall this book allows you to walk in someone else's shoes for a few pages and helps you realize
why Johnny or Susie couldn't do their reading list for March because they just had enough money
to get to the grocery store, etc. It makes you learn not to get upset or criticize but recognize their
efforts and make adaptations"

Kelly Cooper

"After reading this book I was able to look at his (a student's) situation differently and better understand the strains on not only him but his family as well. I had a new understanding of their lack of resources and the pre-formed opinion that was given to be before I had the chance to fully discover the child on my own."
Courtney Miller

"Ruby Payne's book was an eye-opener to me. Not just to me the future educator but on a very personal level as well. According to Payne, "two things that help one move out of poverty are education and relationships" (11). Luckily I had educated parents and strong relationships to get me to where I am at today."
Heather Rabe

"Relationships are something that is built over time; they normally do not form overnight. Understanding of how others use their available resources helps us to form a solid and trusting line of communication. This line cannot be built on "outside judgments," it must be built on respectful understanding. This can only happen if we allow ourselves to come out of the shell of our own class and look with open eyes and mind to the resources of other classes. Until this occurs Hamilton warns there will always be a breakdown in communication which results in strained at best relationships. As I stated before, becoming more accepting of the lives of others helps to open the lines to caring, meaningful and vital relationships. Both Payne and Hamilton stress that this is where the real learning occurs."
Katie Slusher

Suggestions for 2005-2006 semesters

It is suggested that the courses continue to develop an understanding of the economical and ethnical diversity
of children in the early childhood classroom in order to ensure the Xavier pre-service teachers' ability to fulfill the
NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct's Responsibility to respect the dignity of each child in relation to the child's family
and its culture, language, customs, and beliefs.

Suggested Readings Include:

A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Ruby Payne
Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know but are Afraid to Ask About African American Students, Gail Thompson

It is suggested that we continue to evaluate material to enable pre-service teachers to develop an awareness of
the diverse cultures, language, customs, values and beliefs of the children in their prospective classrooms.

It is also suggested that future funding be pursued to contract Ruby Payne trainers to present on site workshops.

I hope to pursue future funding to receive the necessary training to become a Ruby Payne presenter.

Special Thanks to My Ignatian Mentoring Group
Dr. Ginger McKenzie
Mrs. Cecile Walsh


Payne, Ruby (1996). A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.
Thompson, Gail (2004). Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know but are Afraid to Ask About African American Students. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint.
Xavier University (2004-2006) Xavier University Catalog. Cincinnati, OH: Office of Registrar.

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Jesuit Education and Montessori Education: Common Threads

Rosemary Quanranta, PhD (Education)
Mentor: Renee Zucchero, PhD (Psychology)

Jesuit Vision

  • Sees life and the whole universe as a gift calling forth wonder and gratefulness.
  • Gives sample scope to imagination and emotion as well as intellect (education of the whole person).
  • Sees to find the divine in all things, all people, all cultures.
  • Seeks freedom and responsible actions.
  • Empowers people to become leaders in service, "men and women (people) for/with others".

Montessori Vision

  • To create an environment and curriculum that enhances and unfolds awe and wonder daily.
  • To educate the whole child: physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive and self development skills.
  • Models respect for all things, all people, all cultures, all life.
  • Through freedom of guided choice students experience the power of teaching themselves and becoming responsible citizens of the future.
  • Embodies community and service for classroom, school, city, country and world through cosmic curriculum and deep community relationships.

Jesuit Education "Cura personalis" Care of Person

  • Attitude of respect for the dignity of each individual.
  • To nurture the whole self: mind, body, heart, soul.
  • Using Spiritual Exercises to see the daily gifts given to us.
  • Developing relationships with students that go beyond teaching.
  • Guiding students toward personal responsibility.

Montessori Care of Person

  • Attitude of respect for oneself and each other.
  • Teaching students to care for their daily needs.
  • Teaching students to care for their environment,
  • Developing a healthy community that nurtures each other as well as nurtures one self, the brain as well as the heart and spirit.
  • To develop an awareness of personal responsibility and the impact it has on community

Jesuit Education Discernment

  • A process of making choices through being open to God's spirit in order to make good decisions that will contribute to the betterment of oneself and the greater good.
  • What am I passionate about?
  • How can I make a difference in the world?
  • "Go Forth and Set the World on Fire"

Montessori Education Making Choices

  • Provide a supportive environment that allows for the development of making choices, making mistakes and the consequences of one's choices.
  • What is one's cosmic task?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my challenges?
  • How do I use my choices to enhance and contribute to the community.

Jesuit Education Service

  • Service Rooted in Justice and Love
  • Educating Men and Women (people) for Others
  • Service of Faith
  • Promotion of Justice
  • To develop a disciplined sensitivity toward the suffering of our world .
  • The will to act for the transformation of unjust social structures that cause that suffering.
  • There will be no justice with out love.

Montessori Education Service

  • Beginning with classroom community we develop a respectful understanding of each other and our community needs supporting each other in work and play.
  • Working with the local community, the students begin to give back to local food shelters, Lydia's House, and North Avondale Community Center.
  • Service Projects are an ongoing part of our Elementary curriculum.
  • Upper Elementary will begin an afterschool program called YSL (Youth Service League) where students will volunteer to serve in many capacities: school, local community, city and world. Could we collaborate together to serve?

Jesuit Education Structure and Flexibility

  • Attending to individual needs of students
  • Class size helps maintain a personal relationship with students.
  • Working with students to support their strengths as well as their challenges.
  • Going beyond the class to support the individual students.

Montessori Education Structure with Individual Choice

  • Supporting choice and independence creates an environment that allows for continued grown and development in a structured classroom setting.
  • Students have a teacher for 3 years and this develops a rich understanding of who each student is and how to support them on their educational journey.
  • Meeting the individual needs of each child, enhancing their strengths and supports their challenges.
  • Going beyond the classroom setting to support individual students.

Jesuit Education Solidarity and Kinship

  • Awareness that only by working together can the human family meet effectively. the challenges of worldwide hunger, ignorance, disease and violence.
  • Extending of care to those close at hand.
  • Commitment to change the economic, political and social structures that enslaves, dehumanize, and destroy human life and dignity.
  • This is done through community service, service-learning projects and immersion experiences.

Montessori Education Cooperation and Collaboration

  • To work together in a community of cooperation and collaboration, compassion and love.
  • The experience of working together in a community setting, teaching and supporting each other through daily interactions and learning situations.
  • To experience and participate as a school community the importance of changing the world through collection of food for food banks, working with families in the Avondale and Norwood Community, supporting scholarship needs and imbedding the philosophy that we are here for a purpose and to "give back".

Jesuit Education Reflection and Accountability

  • Reflection is a cornerstone to Ignatius's learning process.
  • Thoughtful reconsideration of subject matter, experience, idea, purpose, or spontaneous reacting, in order to grasp its significance more fully.
  • Achieving personal insights and coming to an understanding of who I am... and who I might be in relation to others.
  • Learning how to learn
  • Ask questions to broaden students' awareness and compel them to consider viewpoints of others.

Montessori Education Reflection/Transformation

  • Daily reflection allows students to prioritize, understand, change, celebrate and improve oneself and the community as a whole.
  • Asking questions instead of giving answers allows for the student to discover, experience, and investigate with a deeper understanding.
  • Understanding one's strengths as well as one's challenges helps one celebrate strengths and work on challenges in a supportive community who accepts me for who I am.
  • Socratic Discussion allows for understanding of others viewpoints and the ability to verbalize one's own.


"Go Forth and Set the World on Fire"
- St. Ignatius Loyola

The great gift of education is not the accumulation of facts and statistics but the lighting of the fire of learning, discovery and joy."
- Maria Montessori


  • A Jesuit Education Reader by George W. Traub, S.J.
  • Lighting the Way, Incorporating Jesuit Values as a Graduate Student
  • Do You Speak Ignatian? By George W. Traub, S.J.
  • The Gifts of the Ignatian Heritage Flyer


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'soul-Tending: Using Picture Books to Nurture Spirituality in Young Children

Lesley D. Roth, M. Ed.
Mentor: Trudelle Thomas, PhD (English)

Dr. Montessori believed in a spiritual force that guides human development; referring to this force as--Lesley D. Roth, M. individual spiritual embryo (Montessori, 1972, p. 109). In educating the young child, she urged teachers to respect this spiritual force and to follow the natural inclinations of the child-understanding that the direction of a child's life is contained within his own soul. Montessori writes, "Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire 'to make him learn things', but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called the intelligence" (Montessori, 1965, p. 240). Consistent with her observations of the young child, she believed that the first six years are exceptionally significant to the holistic and spiritual development of the child. Unfolding in the child are unique sensitivities or critical periods of learning in which, the young child literally incarnates the world around him. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul (Montessori, 1972. p. 63). It is in these privileged moments of teaching and these silent moments of personal reflection that the Ignatian principles resonate deeply for me----tending, mending, and nourishing my soul.

The Ignatian Mentoring Program lights the way for significant spiritual and intellectual growth. My friend and mentor, Trudelle Thomas, has blessed me with her time, patience, honesty, expertise, and spiritual guidance. She skillfully chorales my unending questions and thoughts regarding the Ignatian principles into guided practices including meditation, the daily examen, and the spiritual exercises. This year of mentoring and discernment continues to cultivate the magis in my personal and professional life; affording me the moments to follow the questions and trust in the answers. Trudelle has also inspired me to pursue my efforts of developing and presenting a comprehensive workshop on literature as relevant and pertinent to the spiritual development of the child. With many cups of coffee, lunch meetings, and phone calls we gathered research on the spiritual development of the child, discerned children's literature relevant to the topic, developed teaching strategies to cultivate spirituality in the young child for parents and educators in sectarian and non-sectarian settings, and have been accepted to present on this topic at the American Montessori Society National Conference, March 15, 2013.
The following article provides a comprehensive view of the spirituality of the child in relation to literature as tending to its development.

Development of Topic

It is the spirit of the child that can determine the course of human progress and lead it perhaps even to a higher form of civilization?
Dr. Maria Montessori

Unique to the Montessori Method of education is the cross curricula emphasis placed on the spirit of the child. Over the past two decades professional discourse regarding the topic of spirituality and its stance within the realm of children's education and development has been growing. This is due, in part, to an increased sensitivity toward cultural diversity and to the significant proclamation issued by the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child confirming that children are entitled to spiritual nurturance indistinguishable from other necessary needs.
Indeed, spirituality in the Montessori classroom is not a fabricated lesson that finds itself on a shelf to be used briefly and then returned; rather it is embedded in the lessons, conversations, activities, and daily interactions that occur harmoniously in a school day. Conversational language, storytelling, and book reading provide fertile and accessible terrain for children to explore their spiritual growth, identity, and relationship with self and others.

The Voices of Children
Our ability to communicate with one another is perhaps the most transforming social quality of our humanness; it is often the path in which we share a deeper dimension of ourselves. According to researchers, David Hay and Rebecca Nye, children's thoughts and feeling about spiritual and religious themes appear to be a natural part of human development and if their abilities are sufficient they may employ language to verbalize their spirituality (Hay and Nye, p. 142). Over the years, my awareness of this idea has heightened and I have become more present in these privileged moments with children, to this point I share an excerpt of one of my young students gifted to me over 12 years ago.

There is an idea that comes into my mind that I wish I did not think about "it is that the world could be destroyed" My hope and prayer is that the families and children of those at war are able to stay strong and get thru the pain. If I had one wish, I would wish for world peace and that food would be plentiful for everyone.
Dylanne (8 years old)

Dr. Robert Coles noted that in numerous conversations with children regarding spiritual concerns there appeared, regardless of cultural and religious background, a common desire to understand the universe and their place in it. This was often articulated through words, gestures, songs, stories, and drawings. In addition, children often combine spiritual musings with ethical concerns, e.g. wondering why there is injustice in the world and often expressing a wish to influence the entire universe in an effort to improve its condition.

Rebecca Nye explains that while conducting her research in two primary schools, children were willing and enthusiastic to talk with an adult whom they hardly knew, about their feelings and thoughts. Through these conversations, Dr. Nye noted that as children expressed themselves their unique spiritual self emerged.

Ruth, a seemingly quiet, happy, and articulate 6 year old, had a pronounced sense of wonder and delight. Her individual way of commenting and answering questions were imaginative in response, often drawing on nature, her senses, and appreciation of the mysterious transformations that occur in life. (Hay and Nye, pp. 95-96).

Ruth's own individual signature, if you will, or her aesthetic appreciation of the natural world, directed the form of her spiritual responses.

What does this mean in considering our own perceptions of spirituality and our sustaining relationships with children? How do children experience their environment and, in particular, their spirituality? These are personal and professional questions worth time and reflection. As educators we are skilled in initiating dialogue, listening to children's conversations, extracting information, and asking pertinent questions, this is familiar territory, yet if we heighten our awareness and become more intentional in our practice to cultivate and nourish the spirit of the child-we begin to pause and listen differently, honor the conversations as transcending and transforming, and seek to follow the questions.
Through their research, Hay and Nye discovered that dismissing conversations of a spiritual nature with children is detrimental to their spiritual growth so much that after the age of seven children will suppress fundamental questions to the point that they insist they were never asked. By listening to children thoughtfully without imposing easy answers, teachers and caregivers can foster open-mindedness and also supply some language and concepts as scaffolding for spiritual expression. (T. Thomas, working book draft).

Language emerges with experiences in speaking, visualizing, thinking, reading, and writing. For the young child, the critical period of sensory exploration and language acquisition is particularly significant to the spiritual development of the child which is also unfolding and revealing itself during these formative years. Therefore, it is important to create an environment in which young children feel safe, honored, and respected in sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Literature provides another option in which children can relate experiences and make meaningful connections. Discerning books of spiritual relevance including those related to emotions, values, compassion, solitude, joy, and wonderment is paramount in the process of shared reading and conversations with children. Matching children's literature using Dr. Fowler's stages of spiritual development is one method that supports the child in this process. Although there is some debate among researchers as to the concept of spirituality being structured in such a definable manner, most agree that certain common themes prevail relative to a child's psycho-social and spiritual development.

Fowler's Stages of Spiritual Development Literature Criteria to Support Stages of Spiritual Development
Intuitive Stage: Pre-images of the Holy or Divine.
Security and Protection
Rooted in their surroundings-nature
Ages: 2-7
Mother figures, maybe in stories related to animals and other characters
Security, protection, love, and caring Nature oriented themes
Mythic Stage: Prosocial behavior
Moral issues
Comfort and Security
Ages: approx. 7-11
Stories that apply to values
Can create and retell stories about spiritual experiences
Problem Solving
Learning how to deal with the world
Cosmic awareness


Fowler, James. (Ed.). (2001). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco:Harper.
Hay, D. with Nye, R. (2006). The spirit of the child. (Rev. ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Montessori, M.. (1965). Spontaneous activity in education. F. Simmonds, trans. New York: Schocken.
Montessori, M. (1967). The discovery of the child. Trans. M.Jospeh Costello, S.J. New York: Ballantine Books.
Montessori, M. (1972). The secret of childhood. (M.J. Costelloe, Trans.). New York: Ballantine.

Literature Topics to Foster Children's Spirituality
1. Seeking Wisdom

Wisdom refers to the ability to make good choices and to recognize what is most valuable, righteous, and enduring. It involves setting priorities and devoting the most effort and time to that which is your highest value; in this regard, it implies discernment, that is, not just the ability to make choices between right and wrong, but also between competing goods.

Reading aloud with children, sharing your own stories, and listening to children with respect are all ways to foster wisdom. Wisdom-seeking involves asking questions about value, about the big picture, and about consequences of actions. To reinforce wisdom, many picture books explore themes of love, generosity, fairness, modesty, humility, self control, loyalty, and more. Such books help children to learn positive values and ideals.

Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis has explored wisdom traditions from around the world to come up with 24 virtues that appear recurrently. The ones most associated with wisdom are these six: 1) Curiosity; 2) love of learning, 3) critical thinking (good judgment) 4) creativity; 5) social intelligence, and 6) perspective (ability to step back).

An important aspect of wisdom is simply to respect and live with the questions: There are often no simple answers, but even so it is important to keep asking questions. A few books that offer wisdom are the following:
Muth, John J., The Three Questions. A young boy seeks counsel from, Leo, the wise turtle who lives in the mountains as to the three questions; "When is the best time to do things?", "Who is the most important one?", and "What is the right thing to do?" While Leo does not give him the answers directly it is the experiences of the young boy that leads him to the answers he is looking for.

Demi, The Greatest Power. Based on a fictitious story about the boy emperor Ping, who is known for his love of harmony, he sets a challenge to the children of his kingdom: show him the greatest power in the world. According to the Emperor,? To know the greatest power in the world is to know the greatest peace.? The children of the kingdom set to work with their own ideas of what the greatest power might be; money, weapons, or beauty; with the exception of a young girl name Sing. As she reflects upon the challenge, Sing wonders how any of those things, which cannot last forever, could be the greatest power in the world. Certain of something even more powerful, she contemplates on the source rather than the pleasure of the emperor. This lyrical text enraptures young readers and encourages contemplative thought as its story unfolds. In the realm of spirituality, the idea if interrelatedness, wisdom and harmony are depicted beautifully.

In addition, an abundance of folk tales, fables, fairy tales, and other wisdom tales from cultures around the world are readily available. Educators can help them see the common ground among different traditions.

Moreover, folk tales often transmit values by telling stories of animals and fanciful creatures. Here are a few that feature African or African American settings:
Aranjo, Frank. The Perfect Orange (Ethiopia)
McDermott, Gerald. The Magic Tree: A Tale from the Congo.
Paye, W. and Lippert, M. Head, Body, Legs: A Tale from Liberia
Steptoe, John. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale.

2. Becoming Your Own Person
Young children will benefit from stories that encourage them to trust themselves and become who they are meant to be. This is not the same as building self-esteem through verbally affirming children. Rather becoming one's own person involves growing in self-knowledge, listening to one's own experiences and desires, and taking action to contribute to the world. This includes a cluster of practices and questions: Who am I? Who am I called to become? Listening to one's inner voices and intuitions. Finding one's voice and using it. Self-mastery.

Drs. Hay and Nye explain that becoming one's own person "involves a child's sense of relationship with their own identity and her own mental life." This includes the relationship to one's own body and consciousness, questions from children include: Why am I here? How did I get here?

As children learn to become their own person (and avoid becoming someone else) they are likely to grow in resilience, perseverance, and confidence. Biographies of people who had dreams and aspirations as children fit into this category. This includes children who overcame obstacles in order to follow a dream.
Pavlova, Anna. I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina: A Girlhood Story. This is a picture book which tells a girl who saw a performance of 'sleeping Beauty' at a theatre and eventually, with much determination, went on to become a ballerina who danced on stages all around the world.

Cannon, Janell. Stellaluna. A small fruit bat is taken in by a mother bird who nurtures her along with her other babies. Stellaluna never really fits in with the rest of the family, but they value her anyway. Eventually she discovers her true identity as a bat and teachings her old 'siblings' bat-skills, just as they helped her learn bird-skills.

Fox, Mem, Whoever You Are. This short story portrays children around the world joined together by their similarities rather than differences. It calls on familiar childhood experiences and relates them to those of all children, i.e. pain, love, and joy. The text is written for young children with two lines on each page. A replication of a hand-carved gold frame, borders each of the vibrant pictures. The framework is a point of interest for children and inspires a valuable quality to the text and pictures (framed art is often special). Looking at artwork is glimpsing into the window of an artist's life. This is a rather abstract concept of spirituality for the young child. If we use this story to talk about the frame as being the outside of the window the perspective is narrowed. Help children create their own frames; this is often as easy as stopping by the local art supply store for donated scarps of matte board. Let children frame their own work and ask, Children may be encouraged to discuss these questions with each other.

3. Unplugged Time
The increasingly hectic pace of life and electronic over-stimulation may contribute even more to stress in children (adults too). Alone time is especially important for children who are introverted or sensitive by nature, but it is important for all children.
Of the five categories on this list alone time is the one that is least affirmed by our culture. It is vital that parents and teachers find ways to let children know it is good and healthy for children to spend time alone time truly alone, not plugged into gadgets. There are many ways adults can foster alone time taking a child on a nature walk, teaching a child breathing-meditation or guided imagery, providing a sandbox or other hobbies that foster solitary play. Bird watching (at a feeder) or visiting museums also can foster quiet. Architect Sarah Susanka recommends that every home have an away room where a person can escape activity; if this isn't possible, a quiet nook or corner or even a tree-house or fort can provide an oasis of solitude.

On a similar note, quiet time is valuable, even when a child cannot be alone. One mother insisted her four children have read and rest every day after lunch during summer breaks; kids could read or rest in their shared rooms. Even though they were not actually alone, they were resting quietly and came to value this daily quiet time.

Many creative adults regard quiet times as essential to their creative process. Authors Barbara Kingsolver and Aldo Leopold and many others have written about the time they spent alone in childhood as essential to their creativity. The same is true of many inventors, artists, and musicians.

Teachers can use picture books as a way to into reinforce the value time spent away from busy-ness. Such books can be used as a springboard for conversation. "How do you know when you need time alone" What do you do when it gets too noisy "Do you think Little Bear felt lonely when he was all alone" These are some of the questions that can help a child to name and honor the value of time alone or in silence.
Boynton, Sondra. One Two Three (rhyming board book). A counting book that goes from 1-10. The best lines are on the last few pages: Ten makes a celebration LOUD, LOUD, LOUD, and one is wonderful after a crowd. This book will appeal to quiet spirits.

Carle, Eric. The Very Quiet Cricket. A baby cricket is eager to make a sound by rubbing his legs together, especially as a wide assortment of creatures greets him (a worm, a dragon fly, a cicada). No sound comes out until the very end when he meets another small cricket.

Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius. A tale of a woman who wanted to travel the world when she grew up and then live by the sea, just as her grandfather had done. Her grandfather had asked her to do something to make the world more beautiful. In her aging she realizes that the random scattering of lupine seeds grow into the most beautiful gardens in her neighborhood.

4. The Golden World
Researchers Hay and Nye write Mystery-sensing as a central aspect of children's spirituality (1998, p. 66). Mystery involves the awareness of life experiences that are in principle incomprehensible. Talk of mystery involves acknowledging that reason and human knowledge, valuable as they are, are limited. There is much that humans do not know but can still appreciate.

Wonder comes naturally to young children who are discovering the world for the first time. Indeed, one of the pleasures of being around young children is the chance to re-experience the wonder of simple things: a flame appearing when a match is struck; the sunset, water coming from a faucet, or a butterfly. In her famous essay, environmentalist Rachel Carson writes that "To keep a sense of wonder alive, every child needs at least one adult with whom he can share it. Otherwise, sophistication and coolness can set in, sometimes as early as age 6 or 7, and deplete a child of this innate, life-enhancing capacity. Otto explains that experiences of wonder are not taught but caught; they can be awakened and affirmed".

Books that address themes that are beyond human understanding reinforce the value of wonder and awe. These include those that affirm the importance of gratitude and giving thanks and underscore the importance of wonder and openness as well. But even when person begins to understand something from a scientific point of view, she can still hold on to the amazement and wonder it inspires. A child can learn that the Grand Canyon was formed by many years of erosion and still stand in awe of its majestic beauty.
Jonathan Haidt, who studied world wisdom traditions (mentioned above) saw these six enduring virtues as contributing to a sense of transcendence: 1) gratitude; 2) ability to appreciate beauty/excellence; 3) hope; 4) humor and playfulness; 5) enthusiasm or zest; 6) spirituality (defined as a sense of purpose).

Muth, Zen Shorts. This book combines stunning illustrations and spare language to deliver three classic Zen stories of enlightenment and love. In this picture book, three siblings view the world differently when a giant panda moves into the neighborhood and tells each of them an amazing tale. This unique book offers real-life lessons in a gentle way -- and will foster thoughtful discussions about how we should treat ourselves and others.

5. Widening the Circle
Researchers Hay and Nye coined the term relational consciousness to describe a heightened awareness of being related to things, other people, to oneself, and the divine. They found that young children are generally more aware of the interconnectedness of being (hence their interest in animals). This is in part because of their obvious dependence on parents and others. But even so, at times they experience a heightened sense of this connectedness, of the interrelationship of all things' spoken of as an waking up or an intense noticing.

Hay and Nye contrast relational consciousness with the "possessive individualism" which is seen as normal for many people in the Western world. Most people see themselves as individuals first and foremost, and view ties to other people and to nature as secondary. This individualism is often defined in terms of things they possess, whether material goods or abilities.

While becoming one's own person is important, it is equally important for the child to remember that she is always connected to others and will become oneself within this context.
Self and others (especially mother, family)
Self and animals
Self and world

Wood, Douglas. Where the Sunrise Begins. In posing the question, Where does the sun rise begin? This book explores a series of possibilities including a marsh, a lake, a treetop, a far off country, until it materializes that the sunrise begins in you. Beautifully illustrated and not too text heavy.

Brown, Margaret Wise. Runaway Bunny. A small bunny tests the love of his mother by proposing situations that encourage his mother to respond. The mother bunny dispels every situation with an unconditional response of love and devotion.

Sources Consulted and Recommended Reading:
Haidt, Jonathan. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Times. 2006. Basic Books:
Hay, David and Nye, Rebecca. The Spirit of the Child. 1998. Harper Collins: London

Broad criteria to use when you choosing children's books:

  • A good story. Something you and your child/children may want to hear.
  • Beautiful illustrations / something you enjoy looking at.
  • A worthwhile message without being too overt.
  • Not too much text on the page.
  • Something both the child and adult can enjoy over and over.
  • A few well-chosen books are better than a big pile. Try to avoid bad art, commercial images; anything that's too didactic or too sentimental.

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Nurturing Ignatian Values Through Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices

Cathy Sacco, M.Ed

Mentor: Donna Hutchinson-Smyth

Balancing the speed of our culture

As an educator, an artist and a Xavier graduate, I am sensitive to how our fast-paced culture causes pressure and stress for both adults and particularly for young students. This sets up a climate that mainly honors production and multi-tasking at the expense of our own well-being and of those around us. Sadly, our children have little control over this aspect of their life, and must conform and measure to adult expectations which are not always developmentally appropriate for them.

By succumbing to the increasing speed of our times, we allow our human needs to go unnourished, stripping away our natural opportunities and capacities for reflection and connection, which can foster inner knowledge, awareness, and joy. This deficit of attention and reflection can put a halt to the potential for understanding ourselves and each other, and also to the unfolding nature of our gifts and potential.

I have always been interested in self-knowledge as an important pedagogy and way to live as a person, an educator, and as an artist. I believe that this part of myself was critical in my desire to bring more authentic presence into the classroom environment so that students felt seen and heard, and to create an environment that made space for mistakes and discovering, which demands time and reflection. I became interested in finding and helping to create a whole-person approach in education that integrated the cognitive (head), the experiential (hands), and the spirit (heart). Xavier's mission includes these things, as do several educational approaches such as Montessori and Waldorf curriculums.

This sacred space of inner knowing, which I liken to communing with the innate wisdom of God as it connects through our own spirit in a unique way, is naturally called upon and culled when we begin to recognize and attune to it. As I have trained in contemplative and mindfulness practice (which is becoming aware of the present moment with intention and without judgment), I have increased this capacity and been able to offer more of myself to my students, colleagues, and family.

Considerable research demonstrates that among other things, these practices foster:

* Increased attention, focus and clarity

* Increased emotional regulation and awareness

* Increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for empathy and compassion

* Increased capacity for perspective taking of other people's opinions and living with conflict

Slowing down the classroom and focusing on less than more:

The metaphor of the garden is a good one to examine human growth and potential, where nature evolves un-seen below the surface. Some flowers bloom early and some later, but all require patience, different nutrients and different tending in order to unfold. Patience and trust is needed for this divine order.

When we create space to intentionally slow down, we can offer opportunities for depth in the classroom by incorporating mindful listening and mindful seeing, multiple modes of reflection including regular journaling to encourage deeper learning, first-person experiences and expression. This creates an intimacy that is critical for sharing authentic relationship with ourselves and others.

Integrating with the mission:

One of the ways I bring the Mission into my teaching has been by integrating this new awareness and the practices into the class: Arts in Middle Childhood. I wanted to enhance it by incorporating different forms of mindfulness and contemplative practices for wellbeing and compassion, focus and attention, and perspective-taking, which highlights the natural connection with Ignatian principles.

I have found that these elements give students a deeper, more meaningful learning experience, and develop an awareness for positive interaction and social action. Many informal assessments we have done indicate that students see value in them and actually love them. The practices honor their wholeness. I have also seen students use the practices to manage difficult emotions and anxiety during test taking time, family or work relationships, or to simply learn how to respond rather than react.

For example, some students reported that they appreciated the practices and assignments because they helped them:

* Cultivate more attention and reverence to what is around them. Before that they missed many of these moments. They were able to see more of the sacred and beautiful in the every day.

* Use their imaginations and creative thought more often so that they were able to do their assignments and problems better.

* Get to know themselves better and learned aspects about themselves they didn't know existed.

* Develop a life-skill for stress and anxiety management.

Each class starts with Mindful Moments, a self care component which takes about 10 minutes at the beginning of each class. This usually involves a minute or two connecting with the bell and sitting together in stillness, and then doing a practice such as breath awareness, body scan, mindful seeing, listening, movement such as walking or yoga, visualization or other creative/contemplative practice.

The initial class time allows students to take a rest from their busy day, and connect to themselves and each other more deeply over time. This also lays a fertile ground for Reflection and Self Awareness. Our class involves a great deal of higher level thinking skills (on Bloom's Taxonomy). By adopting an increased mindful and compassionate approach with our students we add a layer of compassion and care. When our students' need for care is filled they often have more to give to others (Magis). Magis to me means that we must strive to be more for others, but to do that we need to nurture and grow ourselves. Cultivating practices for self care is essential. This is especially true in the face of so many mental health issues today.

Mindfulness is also integrated into the entire class through our increased presence, short awareness practices, and within the various visual and performing arts that students delve into through the semester. The class is experiential and participatory in nature, and truly stretches our students' capacity to notice each moment and be aware of the sacred in all things (God In All Things). In learning by doing and reflecting on their first-person experiences of personal meaning, our students are more likely to embody the principles for their students, who learn by adult example.

I also was able to share these practices as I co-facilitated a faculty learning community this year on mindfulness and contemplative practices. This was very rewarding in that the members were then able to take these practices into their projects and teaching, spreading the benefits and Ignatian principles with their students, and for themselves.


I am grateful for Donna Huchinson-Smythe for mentoring me to explore Ignatian-Jesuit principles on our many lovely walks through the woods. We enjoyed discussions of our lives as we lived them into connection with the Mission and personal interests.

References which were helpful:

Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises- A Desktop Primer

Do You Walk Ignatian? A Compilation of Jesuit and Ignatian Values Expressed in the Work Day

Montessori and Peace by Maria Montessori

Education and Peace by Maria Montessori

Teaching Mindfulness - A Practical Guide For Clinicians and Educators Donald McCown, Dian Reibel and Marc s. Micozzi

Multiple Intelligences - The Theory In Practice by Howard Gardner

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Teaching for Social Justice: A Course Syllabus

Delane Bender-Slack, Ed.D
Mentor: Ed Hahnenberg (Theology).

Social justice has an integral place in education. For example, there is a crisis rooted in injustice because privileged, mainstream people have access to good schools while poor, disadvantaged people do not (Gee, 1996). Moreover, disadvantage impacts students differently according to their class and race (Kozol, 1992) as well as gender (Sadker and Sadker, 1995). Educators who are interested in social justice teaching could help to resolve actual injustices while increasing student and teacher motivation through meaning-making.

The classroom is the most radical space of possibility in the academy because in it one can think, rethink, and create new visions (hooks 1994). Additionally, Jesuit pedagogy promotes service to others, challenging students while encouraging responsibility, asking questions, facilitating students' understanding in a personally relevant manner, and helping students see the world from multiple perspectives. The design of this social justice course rests on those beliefs.

Defining Social Justice

Teaching for social justice reflects how a teacher understands social justice. Although social justice is a negotiable term, for the sake of this project, I based it on the following assertions by key scholars in the field:

Justice should begin with the ideas of domination and oppression, emphasizing issues of decision-making and culture as well as the importance of social group differences; therefore, social justice is the elimination of institutionalized domination and oppression since the deep injustices in our society can only be rectified by basic institutional change (Young, 1990).
Justice is a preferred relationship between institutions and human beings that is tied to the notion of rights and impartiality as well as an ethic of caring (Noddings, 1999).
A just society is one where everyone affected by a decision has a part in making that decision (Greene, 1998).

Whereas the very idea of justice coexists with the political (Young, 1990), and is individually based on teachers' understandings of social justice, what occurs within and between schools is complex. Thus the term social justice includes a number of ideas and concerns outside of and within the field of education.

For example, Oakes and Lipton (2003) provide a social justice framework specifically for education with the following three objectives, representing the secular perspective:
1) To uncover, examine, and critique the values and politics that undergird educational decisions and practices as we also explore the more instrumental issues of organizing curriculum and instruction
2) To challenge educational common sense and to ask important questions about why we do the things we do in schools and who benefits from them
3) To attend to the ways in which schooling often contributes to the creation, maintenance, and reproduction of inequalities, particularly along the lines of race, class, gender, language, sexual orientation, and other such categories so we can construct more empowering alternatives
Social justice is associated both with individual empowerment and with structural control. In other words, social justice is concerned with questions of power and decision-making as well as both economic and cultural resources available to individuals and to particular communities or sectors of those communities.

For the Jesuit understanding of social justice, I referred to the following excerpts from Decree 4 from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus where their mission was THE SERVICE OF FAITH AND THE PROMOTION OF JUSTICE. While there is a clear focus on the poor, the specific tenets that impact social justice teaching are listed below:
In the service of faith, the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement.
Our response to these new challenges will be total (involving prayer and action), corporate (collaborative), rooted in faith and experience, and multiform (different in different contexts).
Strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith, and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministrations, by means of the Spiritual Exercises, and the education of children.
Recognize and respect the rights of all, especially the poor and the powerless, and work to actively secure those rights.
Demonstrate an openness and generosity to anyone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.
Offer resistance to the many forms of contemporary atheism, including a social justice without God.
Be willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane society through the opportunities offered by an ever more serviceable technology.
Notice the millions in our world, specific people with names and faces, who are suffering from poverty and hunger, from the unjust distribution of wealth and resources and from the consequences of racial, social, and political discrimination. Not only the quality of life but human life itself is under constant threat.
It is now within human power to make the world more just, but we must want to.
Promote justice and human freedom on the social and structural level; attack injustice at its roots by transforming the attitudes and habits which beget injustice and foster the structures of oppression.
Bring people to a real reconciliation with God.

Cleary there are similarities and differences in the secular and Jesuit conceptions of social justice. My objective in designing the course was to negotiate the tension between the two by recognizing where they overlapped and where they resisted and even confronted each other.
Educational goals and methods have always been characters in our national morality play, political archetypes representing order and stability and disorder and the breakdown of civilization. Against this backdrop, the issues of power and privilege have been effectively laundered from U.S. education under the ruse that education is an objective science. Lacking a political economy model, teachers are denied the opportunity to see and understand their own embeddedness in history, language, culture, and power (McLaren, 97).
I believe that education is never neutral, and that we, as educators serve the purpose of recognizing our location and our students' context when engaging in social justice teaching.

Describing the Process

This syllabus represents a calling of mine: social justice teaching. Although at one time, I thought that social justice was a concept I understood, I have found that through research, contemplation, practice, and reading, social justice teaching is complex, complicated, and evasive.

During one of my earliest meetings with my first doctoral advisor, he inquired as to my research interests. Quickly, and rather matter-of-factly, I responded, "I am interested in social justice."

He looked at me for a moment, blinked a few times, and asked, "Yeah, but what does that mean?" As simple and perhaps basic as that sounds, his question has haunted - and motivated - me. Moreover, his question started me on a quest. Before beginning my doctoral program, I had read a number of professional social-justice oriented texts to use in my classroom teaching, earned a graduate certificate in Women's Studies, and had three articles published in English Journal (Slack, 1999; Slack, 2001, Bender-Slack 2002). I thought I knew what social justice was and, more importantly, knew what it meant to teach for social justice in the English classroom.

Consequently, it was disconcerting but exhilarating to realize my quest for recognizing social justice and its place in English education had only begun. While I read a number of teacher interpretations of what it meant to teach for social justice, my growing interests in scholarly research and teacher education as they intersected with my work in adolescent literacy led me to explore the notion of social justice as it related to teaching in the social studies (Bender-Slack and Raupach, 2006; Bender-Slack and Raupach, 2008) and the use of texts in the secondary ELA classroom (Bender-Slack, 2009; Bender-Slack, 2010a, Bender-Slack, 2010b).

Since coming to Xavier, the place of social justice in education has become even more complicated for me, however, due to Jesuit pedagogy, providing a space for social justice in my classroom is even more important. When constructing my syllabi each semester, choosing texts, designing lesson plans, and interacting with others, social justice is at the forefront of my thoughts, beliefs, and motivations because I take the mission of Jesuit pedagogy seriously.

Due to past research, I had given much thought and time to teaching for social justice. Choosing to include particular secular texts when designing the syllabus was relatively easy because I was familiar with many of the works and scholars. The Jesuit texts were much more difficult. I re-read the handouts, fliers, and desktop primers I received when joining Xavier in 2008. I talked to my mentor and colleagues in Mission and Identity in order to identify other resources. Additionally, I visited the Xavier library, specifically the Jesuit section on the third floor, examining numerous texts. I learned more about solidarity and kinship, mission, service rooted in justice and love, discernment, and reflection.

Originally I planned to organize the course by spending one half studying the secular notion of social justice and the other half the Jesuit conception of the term. I decided, however, that I would synthesize the course by negotiating both each week so that one did not appear to be privileged over the other. Next, I wondered if Jesuit and secular texts and topics should be equally balanced each week. Due to the nature of my research and background knowledge, I decided that was not crucial but attempted to do so anyway. Clearly, just because the texts or topics were balanced, does not mean they would be given equal representation during instruction. Due to the complex variations on social justice both within and between the Jesuit and secular communities, the representation was challenging. Although there are differences, I found that there were a number of ideas and ideals that overlapped. These are synthesized in the syllabus the follows.


Bender-Slack, D. (2010a). Social Justice Teaching: Adopting a Critical Pedagogy to Negotiate Old and New Literacies Teacher Education and Practice
Bender-Slack, D. (2010b). Teaching for Social Justice: English Teachers and the Texts They Use. English Education, 42 (2): 181-203.
Bender-Slack, D. and Raupach, M.P. (2008). Negotiating Standards and Social Justice in the
Social Studies: Educators' Perspectives. The Social Studies, 99 (6): 255-259.
Bender-Slack, L. and Raupach, M.P. (2006). Teaching for social justice and teaching controversial
issues: Are they one and the same? The Journal 6 (1): 33-37.
Bender-Slack, D. (2002). Using literature to teach global education: A humanist approach. English Journal, 91(5), 70-76.
Slack, D. B. (2001). Fusing social justice with multigenre writing. English Journal 90: 62-66.
Slack, D. B. (1999). Why do we need to genderize? English Journal 88: 91-95.
Bigelow, B. (1998). The human lives behind the labels: The global sweatshops, Nike, and the race to the bottom. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 21-38). New York: Teachers College Press.
Gee, J. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
Greene, M. (1998). Teaching for social justice. In W. Ayers, J. Hunt and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice: A democracy and education reader (pp. xxvii-xlvi). New York: Teachers College Press.
Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Jesuit General Congregations 34 (2008). Jesuits and university life (pp. 133-137). in Traub, G. (Ed.). A Jesuit Education Reader. Chicago: Loyola Press.
Kozol, J. (1992). Savage inequalities : children in America's schools (1st Harper Perennial ed.). New York: HarperPerennial.
McLaren, P. (2000). Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the pedagogy of revolution. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
Noddings, N. (1999). Care, justice, and equity. In M. Katz, N. Noddings and K. Strike (Eds.), Justice and caring (pp. 7-20). New York: Teachers College Press.
Oakes, J., and Lipton, M. (2003). Teaching to change the world. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Sadker, M., and Sadker, D. M. (1995). Failing at fairness: how our schools cheat girls (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster
Tyson, C. (1999). 'Shut my mouth wide open': Realistic fiction and social action. Theory Into Practice, 38(3), 155-160.
Young, I. M. (1990). Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Collaborate Innovate Educate
College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education
Department of Childhood Education and Literacy
Teaching for Social Justice 000 - 01
Spring, 2010

Instructor: Dr. Delane Bender-Slack Day Time: Tuesday 7:00-9:30
benderslackd@xavier. Location: 194 Cohen
745-3958 Office Hours:Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00

Xavier University's Department of Childhood Education and Literacy is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and to the orderly discussion of critical issues confronting educators in a free, inquiry-based environment committed to current and relevant scholarship and research related to our profession. Xavier University seeks to create awareness of social justice in all disciplines through its emphasis on living the Jesuit tradition of intellectual, moral, and spiritual preparation. The candidates in the Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Montessori and Literacy programs, through their academic and professional training, are prepared to value the lives of children regardless of racial, linguistic, socio-economic, religious, or ethnic background and to work with and value family and school structures in both urban, rural, and suburban settings. Special attention is given to developmentally effective practices and advocacy for all children, with ethical issues and values as expressed through the Jesuit tradition. Thus, the Childhood Education and Literacy preparation at Xavier University strives to send out into the education community candidates who are morally sensitive to the academic and social needs of our time, foster an appreciation for human diversity, reason critically, and think creatively. Candidates in the Childhood Education and Literacy Department are encouraged to develop and maintain a disposition toward lifelong learning in the profession of education and to the service of their students and their students families and communities.

This course introduces students to theoretical perspectives and instructional practices related to social justice from both the secular and Jesuit traditions. In this course, students will examine the theoretical positions related to a variety of topics in social justice. Teaching for social justice, including the more practical aspects of developing thematic and inquiry-based lessons, facilitating classroom discussions, and promoting a positive atmosphere within the school community will be examined. Students will be required to analyze, synthesize, and reflect upon the readings in order to begin the process of application within their teaching context.

Ayers, W., Hunt, J., and Quinn, T. (Eds.). (1998). Teaching for Social Justice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Kiechle, S. (2005). The Art of Discernment. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.
Traub, G. (Ed.). (2008). A Jesuit Education Reader. Chicago: Loyola Press.
Various book chapters and articles on E-Reserve


  • Analyze, discuss, and reflect upon the social justice theories presented in class
  • Evaluate the implications of these theories for teaching and learning
  • Incorporate available resources into a social justice teaching project
  • Develop and model instructional methods to motivate social justice activism within the educational context


Weekly Reflections and Postings: Students will be expected to keep a written reflective journal that responds directly to the guiding question for the week. Your journal entries should focus not only on what you are learning through the course readings and weekly classroom discussions, but should also include your thinking about and reflecting upon your pedagogical practices, your developing philosophy of social justice, and your personal life experiences. Reflective work does not mean that you summarize the readings or provide a synopsis of the reading, but that you carefully and critically consider the issues and implications of what you are reading, relating it to the personal and professional growth you are experiencing. You will want to comment on things you find important, enlightening, confusing, or disturbing. Students should then use this journal to make one posting per week via Discussion Board. Postings should be made no later than noon on the Friday prior to the class meeting and students should also make an effort to respond to at least two of your classmates' postings.

Multi-genre Annotated Bibliography: Students will receive release time the ninth week of class in order to individually investigate the literature, music, and other resources that are available for the purpose of teaching social justice in the classroom. Students should use their local library, online sources, and other research facilities to research, develop, and write a bibliography of at least ten sources appropriate for use in the classroom. Your sources should include the following: biographies, realistic fiction, poems, journals, newspaper articles, short stories, artwork, songs, documentaries, movie clips, etc.
The annotated bibliography must be written in APA format, and include a brief synopsis of each source (no more than one paragraph) and a statement of pedagogical implications (no more than two sentences). In parentheses, after the entry, students should include any awards the source may have won. Copies of this bibliography should be made for every member of the class, including the instructors.

Social Justice Unit Plan: Each student will become a member of a group to develop a unit that addresses one aspect of social justice that has been introduced in this course.

The unit will also include:

  • unit justification
  • content standards and student objectives
  • a thematic planner (unit overview)
  • lesson plan using the XU lesson plan format from each student
  • at least one technology connection
  • a bibliography of sources, references, and texts
  • a unit plan assessment (to assess the effectiveness of the unit, not the progress of the students)
  • Each group will be expected to present their unit plan as a PowerPoint during the final class meetings. Each student must post the unit thematic planner on Blackboard.

Points for Assignments:
Weekly Reflections and Postings 110 points
Annotated Bibliography 50 points
Social Justice Unit Plan 100 points
Presentation of Social Justice Unit Plan 50 points
310 points possible

A 95-100% C+ 82-84%
A- 93-94 % C 79-81%
B+ 90-92% C- 77-78%
B 87-89% D+ 74-76%
B- 85-86% D 71-73%
Failure - 70% and below Points basis = Number of points by points possible


Attendance: The Xavier University catalogue states "In order to earn credit in any course for which he/she is registered, the student is required to attend classroom and laboratory exercises regularly and promptly. Lack of reasonable attendance as determined by the individual faculty member is reason for denial of credit for a course and possible course failure."
As people who highly value education, it is important that you attend all class sessions. Your participation and attendance in class is critical. Attendance will be taken every class period through a student sign-in sheet that will be checked by the professor. Please be on time, as punctuality is an indicator of consideration for your fellow educators. All students should arrive on time and remain in class for the duration of the meeting. Failure to attend class meetings will result in a lower class grade and possible course failure. In other words, two absences will decrease your earned final grade one letter grade. If you miss more than two classes, you will receive an F for the course. Two tardies equals one absence. Any snow day may be made up during finals week.

Class Participation: Participation is necessary for sharing ideas and building a sense of a learning community. Participation includes but is not limited to contribution of ideas in class, answering questions, pre-class preparation, submission of assignments in a timely manner, and being respectful of the differing ideas, opinions, and experiences of others. Students are expected to be fully prepared and to become actively involved in activities, discussions, and exercises.This course is part of an accredited teacher preparation program, which leads to a professional license or certificate. Unprofessional behavior may result in a lower course grade. All assignments must be turned in to the instructor on or before the assigned due date. *Turn off or silence all phones/pagers before class. Do not use your computers in class for activities unrelated to our class material. Please close computers except when taking notes. If I see computers being used otherwise, you will not be able to use your computer in class at any time.

Quality of Work: All assignments must be typed with correct grammar and spelling. As college students in an education course, APA style is expected. Completion does not insure receiving all of the allotted points. Students who fail to provide quality assignments will receive a lower grade. Grades will not be disputed. Assignments turned in late will receive a maximum of half the possible points allowed.
Note: All work is expected to be prepared in a thoughtful and professional manner. In order to receive full credit, work must be: (1) Professional - insightful, free of spelling, grammatical, and all mechanical errors. (2) Submitted on time - deductions will be taken for all late or incomplete work. (3) Neatly word-processed, double-spaced, APA format (4) Ethical - in line with ethical standards, and most importantly (5) Of excellent, outstanding quality through evidence of critical thinking and deep reflection.

Academic Honesty: The Childhood Education and Literacy Department values and expects academic honesty. It is expected that each student will submit original work. Where others' works and ideas are used, citations must be included. Plagiarism: 1. Submitting another's published or unpublished work, in whole, in part, or in paraphrase, as one's own without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, citations, or bibliographical reference. Please refer to the Xavier University Catalog for the official statement and consequences.

Accommodations: Xavier University's Learning Assistance Center can be reached by calling 745-3280. The Writing Center is located in Alter B12 and the phone number is 745-2875. Please discuss necessary accommodations with the professor.

Graduate Work: Each student taking this course for graduate credit is responsible for putting her/his status on each assignment. The work should be of the highest caliber. I expect you to go above and beyond the assignment guidelines. Advanced assignments will be given.

Week 1 Guiding Question: What is social justice?
: Introduction
Review of syllabus and course requirements
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
View: Haggis, P. (Writer/Director). (2005). Crash [Motion Picture]. United States: Lions Gate Films. (first ten minutes of the film)
Weekly Readings:
Young, I. M. (1990). Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Chapter 1, Displacing the Distributive Paradigm]
Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum [chapter 1]
Romero, O. (1988). The violence of love. New York: Orbis [Chapter 6: God's Justice, pp. 119-136]

Week 2 Guiding Question: What is the place of religious beliefs and practices in social justice?
View: Duigan, J. (Director) and Young, J. (Writer). (1989). Romero [Motion Picture]. United Sates: Paulist Pictures.
Weekly Readings:
Kiechle, S. (2005). The art of discernment. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.

Week 3 Guiding Question: What is the place of social justice in education?
: Critical Theory
View: Menendez, R. (Writer/Director), and Musca, T. (Writer). (1988). Stand and Deliver [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros. (last twenty minutes of the film)
Weekly Readings:
Oakes, J., and Lipton, M. (2003). Teaching to change the world. Boston: McGraw Hill. [Chapter 2 and3]
Greene, M. (1998). Introduction to Teaching for Social Justice. In W. Ayers, J.A. Hunt, and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. xxvii-xivi). New York: Teachers College Press.
Kolvenbach, P. (2008). The service of faith and the promotion of justice in American Jesuit higher education. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 144-162.). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Week 4 Guiding Question: How is teaching political? ethical?
Teaching for democracy
Service Rooted in Justice and Love
Weekly Readings:

Ayers, W. (2004). Teaching the personal and the political: Essays on hope and justice. New York: Teachers College Press. [Chapter 1: Introduction: Teaching as an ethical enterprise]
Parker, W. C. (2003). Teaching democracy: Unity and diversity in public life. New York: Teachers College Press. [chapter 4: Promoting justice: Two views]
Buckley, M. (2008). Education marked with the sign of the cross. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 138-143). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Assignment: Choose a topic for a social justice unit
Example: Michalove, B. (1999). Circling in: Examining prejudice in history and in
ourselves. In J. Allen (Ed.), Class actions: Teaching for social justice in
elementary and middle school (pp. 21-33). New York: Teachers College

Week 5 Guiding Question: Why identify as social justice teachers?
Solidarity and Kinship
Weekly Readings:
Bender-Slack, D. (2010). Teaching for Social Justice: English Teachers and the Texts They Use. English Education.
Giroux, H. A. (2004). Teachers as transformative intellectuals. In A. S. Canestrari and B.A. Marlowe (Eds.), Educational foundations: An anthology of critical readings (pp. 205-212). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Palmer, P. (2008). The Heart of a Teacher: Identity and Integrity. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 311-331). Chicago: Loyola Press.
Jesuit General Congregations 34 2008). Jesuits and university life (pp. 133-137). in Traub, G. (Ed.). A Jesuit Education Reader. Chicago: Loyola Press.

Week 6 Guiding Question: How can teaching be used for social activism?
: Engendering multiple strands of inquiry
Weekly Readings:
Behuniak, S. (2008). On Where and with whom is my heart? In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 359-361). Chicago: Loyola Press.
Bigelow, B. (1998). The human lives behind the labels: The global sweatshop, Nike, and the race to the bottom. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt, and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 21-38). New York: Teachers College Press.
Stern, D. (1998). Teaching for change. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt, and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 277-287). New York: Teachers College Press.

Week 7 Guiding Question: How does one negotiate teaching for social justice?
Cura Pesonalis
Weekly Readings:
Christensen, L. (2000). Reading, writing, and rising up: Teaching about social justice and the power of the written word. Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools. [chapter 5: Poetry
Chapter 6: Immigration]
Tyson, C. (1999), 'shut my mouth wide open': Realistic fiction and social action. Theory into Practice, 38 (3), 155-160.
Brackley, D. Higher Standards. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 189-194). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Week 8 Guiding Question: Who is teaching social justice for?
: Men and Women for Others
Weekly Readings:
Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as a practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.[chapters 1-3: Engaged Pedagogy; A Revolution of Values: The Promise of Multicultural Change; Embracing Change: Teaching in a Multi-Cultural world]
Taylor, T. (1999). Addressing social justice in class meetings: Can we Choose our battles? In J. Allen (Ed.), Class actions: Teaching for social justice in elementary and middle school (pp. 34-43). New York: Teachers College Press.
Malloy, R. (2008). Liberating students - from Paris Hilton, Howard Stern, and Jim Beam. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp.299-310). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Week 9
Annotated Bibliography Work Time

Week 10 Guiding Question: What is the best way to approach the teaching of social justice?
Critical Pedagogy
Jesuit Pedagogy
Weekly Readings:
Duncan-Andrade, J. M. R., and Morrell, E. (2008). The Art of Critical Pedagogy. New York: Peter Lang.[chapter two, pp. 23-48]
Duncan-Andrade, J. (2005). Developing social justice educators. Educational Leadership, 70-73.
Kelly, D. and Brandes, G. (2001). Shiftingout of "neutral": Beginning teachers' struggles with teaching for social justice. Canadian Journal of Education, 26 (4), 437-454.
Hutchinson, J. N. and Romano, R. M. (1998). A story for justice. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt, and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 254-269). New York: Teachers College Press.
Newton, R. (2008). Reflections on the educational principles of the Spiritual Exercises: Summary conclusion and questions for teachers. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 274-279). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Assignment: Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 11 Guiding Question: How will teaching for social justice impact my classroom?
: Building communities within and outside of the classroom
Weekly Readings:
Zollers, N., Albert, L., and Cochran-Smith, M. (2000). In pursuit of social justice: Collaborative research and practice in teacher education. Action in Teacher Education, 22 (2), 1-14.
Lin, Q. (2000). Toward a caring-centered multicultural education within the social justice context. Education, 122 (1), 107-114.
Kohl, H. (1998). Some reflections on teaching for social justice. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt, and T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 285-287). New York: Teachers College Press.
Abuja, R. (2008). Marketing to the poor. In G. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 366-369). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Week 12 Guiding Question: What are the consequences of teaching for social justice?
Blurring of Boundaries
Weekly Readings:
The Writings of Ellacuria, Martin Baro and Segundo Montes (pp. 3-23) in The Jesuit Assassinations. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward.
Migliazzo, A. (Ed.) Teaching as an act of faith. New York: Fordham University Press. [Conclusion: A Prudent Synergy: Pedagogy for Mind and Spirit, pp. 311-336]

Week 13
Unit Plan Group Work Time

Week 14
Sharing unit plan PowerPoint presentations

Week 15
Sharing unit plan PowerPoint presentations

Week 16
Sharing unit plan PowerPoint presentations
Course and Instructor evaluations

    • Seeks to develop intellectual skills for both a full life in the human community and service in the Kingdom of God;
    • Critical attention given to the underlying philosophical and theological implications of issues;
    • A world view that is oriented to responsible action and recognizes the intrinsic value of the natural and human values;
    • An understanding and communication of moral and religious values through personal concern and lived witness, as well as by precept and instruction;
    • A sense of the whole person - body, mind and spirit;
    • Ultimate goal is the integration of the intellectual dimension of learning and the spiritual experience of the student, along with the development of a strong system of personal moral values; (Xavier University Catalog)
    • To educate, in the Jesuit tradition, students from varied background to be critical thinkers and ethical professionals in education who effectively contribute to and serve a world of many cultures and diverse communities. (Xavier University Education Department Mission Statement)
    • Statistics Approximately 10% attended Jesuit high schools
      • Approximately 67% are Catholic
      • Approximately 3% ranked #1 in their high school class
      • Approximately 75% have at least one parent with a college education
      • Approximately 85% Caucasian
    • Top Feeder High Schools
      • Saint Xavier HS, Cincinnati, OH
      • Saint Ignatius HS, Cleveland, OH
      • McNicholas HS, Cincinnati, OH
      • Brebeuf HS, Indianapolis, IN
      • Saint Xavier HS, Louisville, KY
      • Ursuline Academy, Cincinnati, OH
      • Lexington Catholic HS, Lexington, KY
      • Gonzaga Prep HS, Washington, D.C.
        (Xavier University Freshman Class Profile 2004-2005,
    • EDEC 451 Student Teaching Seminar: Current Issues In Early Childhood Education. This seminar addresses pertinent issues to teacher certification, professional development and career preparation for the early childhood teacher. (Junior/Seniors)
    • EDEC 456 Student Teaching Seminar: Cohort. This seminar style course addresses pertinent issues related to the day to day student teaching experience, professional conduct, teacher licensure and career preparation. Emphasis on the National Association for the Education of Young Children Standards, Pathwise and Praxis criteria. (Graduate Students)
    • Analyze the eight resources of their students;
    • Explain language registers, discourse patterns, and story structure of students from poverty;
    • Give examples of hidden rules among classes;
    • Identify discipline interventions that are effective for children of poverty;
    • Explain mediation and cognitive structures of students of the various classes;
    • Explain how economic realities affect the patterns of living.
    • 6.8 million poor families in US in 2001;
    • Regardless of race or ethnicity, poor children are much more likely than non-poor children to suffer developmental delay and damage, to drop out of high school, and to give birth during the teen years;
    • Poverty-prone children are more likely to live in single-parent families;
    • Poor inner-city youths are seven more times likely to be victims of child abuse or neglect than are children of high social economic status;
    • Poverty is caused by interrelated factors: parent employment status and earnings, family structure, and parent education;
    • Children under the age of 6 are particularly vulnerable to poverty;
    • Children living in families with a female householder and no husband experienced a poverty rate of more than five times the rate for children in married-couple families;
    • The US child poverty rate is two to three times higher than most other major Western Industrialized Nations;
    • The number of white children in poverty out number the number of minority children in poverty, but the percentage of children in poverty in most minority groups is higher (Payne, Ruby, p. 11 - 13).
    • Poverty is relative;
    • Poverty occurs in all races and in all countries;
    • Economic class is a continuous line, not a clear-cut distinction;
    • Generational poverty and situational poverty are different;
    • An individual brings with him/her the hidden rules of the class in which he or she was raised;
    • Schools and businesses operate from middle-class norms and use the hidden rules of middle class;
    • For our students to be successful, we must understand their hidden rules and teach them the rules that will make them successful at school and at work;
    • We can neither excuse students nor scold them for not knowing; as educators we must teach them and provide support, insistence, and expectations;
    • To move from poverty to middle class or middle class to wealth, an individual must give up relationships for achievement (at least for some period of time);
    • Two things that help one move out of poverty are education and relationships;
    • Four reasons one leaves poverty are: It's too painful to stay, a vision or a goal, a key relationship, or a special talent or skill (Payne, Ruby, p. 10-11).
    • Financial: Having the money to purchase goods and services
    • Emotional: Being able to choose and control emotional responses particularly to negative situations, without engaging in self-destructive behavior
    • Mental: Having the mental abilities and acquired skills (reading, writing, computing) to deal with daily life
    • Spiritual: Believing in divine purpose and guidance
    • Physical: Having physical health and mobility
    • Support Systems: Having friends, family, and backup resources available to access in times of need
    • Relationships/Role Models: Having frequent access to adults who are appropriate and who are nurturing to the child and who do not engage in self-destructive behavior
    • Knowledge of Hidden Rules: Knowing the unspoken cues and habits of a group.
    • Frozen: Language that is always the same (Lord's Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, etc.)
    • Formal: The standard sentence syntax and word choice of work and school with complete sentences and specific word choice
    • Consultative: Formal register when used in conversation; discourse pattern not quite as direct as formal register
    • Casual: Language between friends
      • Characterized by 400-800 word vocabulary; Word choice general, not specific, sentence syntax often incomplete;
      • Intimate: Language between lovers or twins; often the language of sexual harassment (Payne, Ruby p. 49 - 50).
    • Formal register needs to be directly taught
    • Casual register needs to be recognized as the primary discourse for many students
    • Discourse patterns need to be directly taught
    • Discipline that occurs when a student uses the inappropriate register should be a time for instruction in the appropriate register
    • Students need to be told how much the formal register affects their ability to get a well-paying job. (Payne, Ruby p. 49 - 50).
    • Acceptance of what the child cannot say about a person or situation
    • Respect for the demands and priorities of relationships
    • Using the adult voice
    • Assisting with goal setting
    • Identifying options related to available resources
    • Understanding the importance of personal freedom, speech and individual personality.
    • Put-downs or sarcasm about the humor or the individual child
    • Insistence and demands for full explanation about a person or situation
    • Insistence on the middle-class view of relationships
    • Using the parent voice
    • Telling the individual his/her goals
    • Making judgments on the value and availability of resources
    • Assigning pejorative character traits to the individual
    • Emotional Intelligence: The ability to respond emotionally to a situation from choice without doing harm to yourself or others
    • Emotional Blackmail: When fear, guilt, or obligation is used to manipulate you into a behavior
    • Resiliency: The ability to move out of dysfunctional and damaging situation
    • Emotional Coaching: The approach that helps develop emotional intelligence
    • Coping Strategies: Specific things a person can say or do with students to help them develop resilient characteristics and deal with situations
    • Use of Stories: To teach concepts and behaviors.
    • OBSERVATIONS - You will observe 3 different settings/programs
      • one birth-2 early intervention center-based or home-based
      • one inclusionary 3-5 year old preschool program
      • one inclusionary 6-8 year old early childhood setting
    • DISABILITY PRESENTATION AND HANDOUT- Each student will choose and research a disability served in the public school system, i.e. Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, etc. You will gather information on the characteristics and treatment of the disorder. You will present your findings to the class and provide each class member (and the instructor) with a handout. (Please presentation rubric.) Students will develop digital disability presentations. These presentations can be shared among students to develop a person portfolio of information about a variety of disabilities. Students can then keep this digital collection until they have a student they are supporting in the regular classroom. The videos can then be shared as a means of preplanning with the regular classroom teachers within the building for the inclusive student's educational success.
    • JOURNAL ARTICLE - Please select a research or journal article describing the application of a theorist or learning theories in the early childhood classroom. This article must be chosen from original scholarly work in professional journals. The article must represent a research study. Write a 1-2 page paper summarizing the information in the article based upon the format provided. Please present your summary and reflections to the class. Please include a copy of the article with your paper to be turned in to the instructor. (Please reference the article format provided for more specific support.)
    • COMMUNITY PROJECT - You will develop an individualized project in which you can develop your skills and further examine one aspect of Early Childhood Services you would like to improve or gain more skills. You are encouraged to contact, visit and collect information from different community resources/agencies that serve families with young children with disabilities. This is your project --make it useful to you. An example of something you might be interested in is learning more about may be strategies to support children with Autism. You may attend some training offered by the Autism Society of Cincinnati and observe a teacher implementing those strategies. Think about what you know about best practices. Address what you have learned with respect to the theorist you most closely believe in. Bring information about the resource/agency (i.e., booklets, flyers, pamphlets, etc.) to share with everyone in the class.
    • IEP/IFSP MEETING - You are required to observe one I.E.P. meeting and one I.F.S.P. meeting. A written report describing the experience is required of each. This will include the where, what and how of the meeting itself and an interview with the teacher or person leading the meeting. Who are the people at the meeting and what role do they play and/or service do they provide? Include your reaction to your observation. Have your time sheet signed for your portfolio file. (Please see rubric defining exact details.)
    • PARENT EDUCATION HANDBOOK Please develop a section on learning of young children for your handbook. Please include the importance of the learning environment (discussing what is learned in each area: math games, writing development, literacy, science areas, etc.). Include a sample of a parent newsletter. Include how you will address parent education. Discuss how you will include parents in the classroom and how you will get parents to become actively involved with their child's education. Please remember to be sensitive to parents needs - consider working parents, guardians, and grandparents as caregivers. (Please see rubrics.)
    • Address the various ways in which you provide social justice for students with disabilities. Reflect on the different types of advocacy you provide, instruction, and support to children, teachers, and parents.
    • What is "Social Justice"? Social Justice is generally thought of as a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. Sometimes people don't think that they have a voice. So we have to speak for them as educators. We have to stand up for them when we know that they are right or when something needs to be changed. With the realization of a world where all members of a society regardless of background have basic human rights and equality (wikipedia, 2007). I know I chose the right field to Master in because I feel that everyone needs a chance to be successful in their lives.
    • Providing social justice for all students is an important part of my responsibility as a teacher. When working with students with disabilities, I do this in a number of ways. I provide different types of advocacy, instruction and support to children, other teachers and parents. Social Justice helps us all. We need to put a focus on all students, but especially children with disabilities.
    • Social justice is experienced by my students as they walk into the classroom environment which is inviting and is centered on the goal is to engage the students to learn. My students arrive each morning to an environment where the staff is familiar with each child's areas of concerns and their needs to assist them in becoming successful. Success can be viewed differently for each child depending on the child's needs and abilities. In the end, success is a word the children learn and apply as they experience learning. As most of the students' first teacher, it is my goal to begin laying the foundation for their education journey. The students create the classroom rules that promote success and safety to all of the students while receiving as little guidance from me as possible when creating these rules. The students obtain ownership to these rules as they become valuable to them to provide success to all of the learners in the environment. It is best to provide the guidance to the students and allow them to take ownership of the rules because they will be more meaningful to them. It is my belief that all children are capable of learning, and it is my responsibility to allow each student to experience knowledge as they participate in a variety of learning experiences. The expectations of each student are that they are active learners and together through experiences they will have opportunities to expand and apply their knowledge.
    • A key component to provide social justice in my classroom is to allow the students to know what the expectations are for each child during each learning experience they encounter while in the classroom setting. These expectations must be communicated with all children at a level where they can process the information and apply it to the situation when they encounter it. These expectations are modeled by the preschool staff as the students are exposed to the specific situations. The children are also given ample exposure to these expectations and time to adjust to these expectations.
    • Social justice is present in my classroom because it allows my students to become active learners in an environment that focuses on their needs, strengths and weaknesses. This practice of social justice allows all of my students including the children with disabilities opportunities to acquire, practice, and apply their knowledge in an environment that encourages success to all learners.
    • Respect is one of the most important ways of social justice with children and their families. As educators we have to show and treat parents and their children with respect. I think sometimes parents are intimidated by the teacher and the education system, and teachers may get intimidated by the parents. We need to show respect to all children and parents. We don't know what the parent might be going through. A smile or a how are you doing will not hurt. We need to respect the family that has children with disabilities as well. When people know that they have someone to support them and confide in they know that they can trust and respect you.
    • Communication is a very important part of providing social justice to students with disabilities. It is essential to have good communication between regular education teachers, special education teachers, aides, related service personnel and other school staff when it comes to children but it is even more important when it comes to students with disabilities. It is also necessary to have good communication between school and home and school and private therapy. Knowing what is going on and communicating back and forth so everyone knows what is being worked on is very important toward the well being and educational needs of each child. It is also important to have at least monthly meetings with the special education team to discuss the children and other issues and topics dealing that surround the children and schooling environment.
    • As a special education teacher there are many things that I can do to provide social justice for my and other students with disabilities. As a teacher my job is to make sure that the goals and objectives are being met on each child's IEP while they are learning in their educational setting. It is important to help the child in their learning process but also to help them feel successful as they are building their skills and working towards the goals on their IEP's and also goals that they are striving for themselves. I will communicate the progress on their goals and objectives to the parents at least four times a year but more often than that. I have an open communication policy and can always be contacted by email or phone if there are questions or concerns that the parents may have. If I have a question for the parent I may send a note home or call the parent. I believe it is very important to have a strong connection between home and school and to work as a whole team to help educated each child.
    • I provide advocacy for students with disabilities by making necessary accommodations, adaptations, and providing appropriate intervention. I accommodate students with disabilities by adjusting my curriculum so that is meets the needs of the individual child. I use reading material that is at the reading level of the students I work with and is just challenging to them, not frustrating. I also adapt the environment so that I address the different learning styles of my students with disabilities. I model for students, specific directions and post examples and directions as I teach. Providing appropriate intervention advocates for students with disabilities by helping them to reach their fullest learning potential. To do this, I assess students' needs and tailor my lessons and activities accordingly. If a student is struggling with comprehension, we work on strategies to use during guided reading. If a student is having difficulty with fluency, we spend time working with words, study word parts, and practicing sight words. Students who have a hard time organizing their ideas are provided with graphic organizers to help them in that area.
    • I also provide advocacy for students with disabilities is other areas. For students who have a hard time with social skills, I set clear goals and objectives to help them in that area. I also provide experiences that will encourage them socially. For students who have motor skill issues, I provide accommodations including scribing for them for assessments so that they are able to focus on doing their best work and showing what they know. I also provide students with extra time as needed, alternative assessments, one on one support, and help with reading as needed.
    • I advocate for parents of students with disabilities as well. I do this by providing them with meaningful information to help them help their child. I meet with them in parent teacher conferences to discuss where their child is and ways they could help their child to be successful in the classroom. I also let them know about valuable community resources and ways in which they can use them to best meet their child's needs. By advocating for students, accommodating my instruction and adapting the learning environment, and supporting parents, I am providing social justice for students with disabilities.
    • As an advocate for my students and their parents it is important that I make sure that the children are being provided a free appropriate public education, designed to meet their unique needs, in their least restrictive environment. Parents should annually receive a copy of Whose Idea Is It Anyway but I can make sure that they know exactly what information is in the packet and understand the rights of their students with a disability and their rights as parents and what their child is entitled to in their education and placement. I can also help them to understand what the school district will provide as far as educational services to their child based on their needs and level of ability.
    • Teaching parents and students to work and learn to find the best advice for their specific situations and become self-advocates is also important. With help and guidance they will learn what is legally mandated, what other resources are available, and they must successfully lobby for the services they need. There are hundreds of organizations, funds and laws that support services for students with disabilities. Sometimes for parents it seems that getting appropriate services almost never happens automatically but hopefully with the help of a teacher while also learning to be a good self-advocate they can get the resources, services and results that are the best for their child.
    • As a teacher, and especially as a special education teacher, it will be my responsibility to be an advocate for social justice for my students, their parents and their teachers. I feel that learning more about the Jesuit and Ignatian traditions here at Xavier, particularly in this class, has better prepared me to be such an advocate.
    • There are several ways I can be an advocate for my students. I believe that the primary way is to view my students as unique children first, and to focus on their specific disability second. My job is to make sure that my students are getting the best instruction that I can give them. I should challenge them and have high expectations for them, rather than try to make things too easy and have low or no expectations. I need to be an advocate for my students in IEP meetings and with administration and teachers to ensure that my students are provided with all of the services that they are entitled and that they are not just viewed as a test score or a member of a specific sub-group. I should focus not only on academics, but also on helping my students develop as individuals.
    • The best way that I can be an advocate to my students' parents is to keep in constant communication with them. The parents should always be aware of their child's progress and any difficulties or problems that arise. They need to be provided with information about school and community resources that can help both them and their child. A very important way that I can be an advocate is to make sure that the parents are well aware of the rights that they and their child have. Before, during and after any IEP or other important meetings, I should make sure that the parents are well-informed about what will be taking place, and that they understand everything.
    • To be an advocate for my students' teachers, I think that one of the most important things I can do is to help them better understand their students, their role with the students, and my role with the students and special education in general. I should communicate with them every day about our students' progress, and about any areas that need assistance.
    • In terms of advocacy, I feel that the primary focus should be on the student, followed by their parents and their teachers. However, it is important to remember that all three of these groups are important and should not be neglected. Being an advocate for parents and teachers is ultimately beneficial to the students themselves.
    • The forms of advocacy which are exercised in the preschool environment are ones that will assist the students with reaching their goals as designated by their IEP. My first goal is to allow the IEP team to have a clear picture of the child's abilities and areas of deficits in the child's present level of performance in the IEP document. Without this, the IEP will develop unfocused on the child's needs and areas of concerns being addressed. It is my responsibility to 'speak' for the child and display their strengths and weaknesses in the child's present level of performance. At the preschool level, I always encourage my families to learn more about the laws and familiarize themselves with these laws to better assist their child in receiving services. We have offered several workshops for our families with the focus to expand the family's knowledge of the laws of the IEP process. These families work effectively with the school personnel understand that they are active participants in their child's learning process in the school setting
    • What is your understanding of the purpose/meaning/ significance of disability according to the teaching of your religion/community?
    • How do you see your (parents and/or grandparents) (practicing members of the religious community) interpreting the position of the church on the birth of a child with a disability?
    • How are children with disabilities welcomed into your (religious) community and what kind of support is there for their parents?
    • Children with disabilities may have strange sometimes violent behaviors. Does your (religious) community have any answers as to the significance, treatment, or cure for such conditions?
    • 8.1 million Catholics have a physical disability.
    • 1.3 million Catholics have sensory disabilities.
    • 560,000 Catholics are mentally retarded or cognitively disabled.
    • 700,000 Catholics are classified as mentally ill.
    • 3.6 million Catholics have assorted health problems which limit one or more of their daily living functions
    • 6 million Catholics report they have more than one disabling condition.

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Early Childhood Special Education: Learning Theories

Kathleen G. Winterman, Ph.D.Kathleen G. Winterman, Ph.D.
Mentor: Ginger McKenzie, Ph.D. (Education)

Course Description (EDSP 391/591)

Students will investigate and observe learning theory models as a foundation for early childhood intervention-understand development of infants and young children along with the ability to identify specific disabilities and describe implications for development and learning; using instructional practices based on knowledge of the child, family, community, and the curriculum; and support and facilitate family and child interactions as primary the context for learning and development.

Course Objectives
Knowledge and Skills Assignment

Effects an exceptional condition(s) can have on an individual's life (CC3K1)

Observations, Course Lectures

Impact of learners' academic and social abilities, attitudes, interests, and values on instruction and career development (CC3K2)

Disability Presentation, Community Agency, IEP Meeting

Support and facilitate family and child interactions as primary contexts for learning and development (EC6S1)

Community Project, Parent Handbook, IEP Meeting

Recognize signs of child abuse and neglect in young children and follow reporting procedures (EC9S1)

Course Lectures, Observations

Organizations and publications relevant to the field of early childhood special education (EC9K1)

Journal Articles

Use instructional practices based on knowledge of the child, family, community and the curriculum (EC4S1)

Community Project, Parent Handbook

Variations in beliefs, traditions, and values across and within cultures and their effect on relationships among individuals with exceptional learning needs and their educational opportunities (CC3K3; CC3K4; CC3K5)

Parent Handbook, Community Project


Course Assignments

You will submit a written report on each setting observation that evaluates and assesses the curriculum of each program. You must describe each setting, describe early childhood theory models employed, and how parents and/or other family members are involved. Describe one child with an identified disability - what are the outcomes/goals designed for that child and how are they being addressed? (Please see rubric describing specific for observations assignment.) Undergraduates observe in two settings.

You will submit a written report about your visit. Include name of agency and contact person (include contact person's position/title). Tell what you learned and your reaction to this experience - not to exceed three typed pages for your report. You need to have the agency sign your time sheet for your portfolio file. (Please see rubric.)

This should be an interactive parent handbook that could be shared with students' parents to demonstrate best practice in Early Childhood Special Education. Students will develop power point presentations with video clips embedded within to demonstrate teaching strategies, what children learn in each center, and ways can become active members in their child's education. This would become a teaching tool that would be a useful for years with minor adjustments made to accommodate new theories and techniques.

Summary of results
As students of a Jesuit Institution, we discussed the meaning of living lives in service to others. The students in the course were able to provide examples of how they live the mission through their work as Early Childhood Intervention Specialists. Given the assignments listed above, students were asked to reflect on what social justice and advocacy for children with disabilities meant to them. Below are a few of their responses:

The writing probe:

Social Justice for Students with Disabilities

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Teaching Reflectively through Ignatian Pedagogy

Teresa Young, Ed.D.
Mentor: Thomas Kessinger, Ph.D. (Education)


Jesuit education seeks to develop the whole student mind, body, and spirit. Ignatian pedagogy is a model that seeks to develop men and woman of competence, conscience, and compassion (Traub, 2008, p. 403). The mission of Xavier University's Department of Childhood Education and Literacy reinforces these goals:

Xavier University's Department of Childhood Education and Literacy is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and to the orderly discussion of critical issues confronting educators in a free, inquiry-based environment committed to current and relevant scholarship and research related to our profession. Xavier University seeks to create awareness of social justice in all disciplines through its emphasis on living the Jesuit tradition of intellectual, moral, and spiritual preparation. The candidates in the Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Montessori and Literacy programs, through their academic and professional training, are prepared to value the lives of children regardless of racial, linguistic, socio-economic, religious, or ethnic backgrounds and to work with and value family and school structures in both urban, rural, and suburban settings. Special attention is given to developmentally effective practices and advocacy for all children, with ethical issues and values as expressed through the Jesuit tradition. Thus, the Childhood Education and Literacy preparation at Xavier University strives to send out into the education community candidates who are morally sensitive to the academic and social needs of our time, foster an appreciation for human diversity, reason critically, and think creatively. Candidates in the Childhood Education and Literacy Department are encouraged to develop and maintain a disposition toward lifelong learning in the profession of education and to the service of their students and their students' families and communities.

Guided by the above mission statements, I reflected on the courses I teach at Xavier. I also reviewed the five educational principles comprising the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm: context [understanding student life and culture], experience [providing intellectual and affective learning opportunities], reflection of meaning for self and others, action [the external expression of learned content] and evaluation of student growth (Korth, 2008, pp. 281-283). Realizing that these tenets promote the goal of Jesuit education and speak to the teaching-learning process, I questioned how I could make these principles and, specifically, Ignatian Pedagogy apparent in my courses? This became the foundation for the Ignatian Mentoring Project.

Ignatian Mentoring Project: Guiding Principles and Research Focus

To strengthen my understanding of Jesuit education and Ignatian Pedagogical Strands, I reviewed several websites, specifically the Jesuit Resources at Xavier University ( I also used Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy, A Desktop Primer (Mooney) to determine how I might infuse this approach into my courses. I could incorporate the mission into all of my courses but there was a natural connection to the Language Arts/Social Studies Methods course offered spring semester. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to infuse the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands into the course content in order to assist students in assimilating these ideas into their teaching and reflection process. After reviewing the websites, course syllabi, meetings with my mentor, Thomas Kessinger, I used the principles of Ignatian pedagogy to develop the focus for the Ignatian Mentoring Project.

Ignatian pedagogy is a model that promotes the goal of Jesuit education, speaks to the teaching-learning process, addresses the faculty-student relationship, and has practical meaning and application for the classroom. Similar to the process of guiding others in the Spiritual Exercises, faculty accompany students in their intellectual, spiritual, and emotional development. They do this by creating the conditions, laying the foundations, and providing the opportunities for the continual interplay of the student's experience, reflection, and action to occur (Korth, 2008, pp. 280-281).

Ignatian Mentoring Project: Teaching Reflectively through Ignatian Pedagogy

As part of the Ignatian Mentoring Project, I conducted a seven-week research study in which the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands were presented and discussed during the Language Arts/Social Studies course for Early Childhood Education offered Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 8:00-12:00. The Language Arts/Social Studies course incorporates language arts and social studies instructional strategies, oral and written language skills, and reading and children's literature for the integrated curriculum.

This course is designed to prepare students to teach language arts and social studies to children in preschool through third grade from a holistic, developmentally appropriate perspective. Students are familiar with best practices, teaching strategies, and classroom application in regards to the disciplines of language arts and social studies instruction. In addition, national and Ohio standards relating to early childhood are explored in both disciplines as well as through an interdisciplinary approach. A field component experience allows for observation and strategy implementation in the early childhood classroom. Students observe, plan and implement lessons guided by their cooperating teacher.

In week one, I shared the objectives and goals of my participation in the Ignatian Mentoring Project. I described to students that the Ignatian Mentoring Program started in 2004 with a grant from Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. This program currently allows faculty to incorporate and assimilate the Ignatian vision into their professional identities. As part of this program, this project incorporated two parts. First, students anonymously completed a survey (Figure 1) outlining their understanding of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands. The second part of the project involved student responses to weekly reflection statements.

The Ignatian Pedagogy Survey

Figure l
Ignatian Pedagogy

Please answer the following questions. Do not include your name.

l.) Can you identify any of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands?

2.) If yes, please list the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands you can identify.

3.) If you answered yes to 2 above, identify any of the strands you incorporate

a.) in your daily life.
b.) in your classroom experiences.
c.) in your field practicum experiences.

4.) Is reflection a part of your daily routine? If yes, how?

5.) Is reflection a part of your teaching experience? If yes, how?

I have been given information about this research study and its risks and benefits and have had the opportunity to ask questions and to have my questions answered to my satisfaction. By my completion and return of this survey, I freely give my consent to participate in this research project.

After completing the survey, I distributed the Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy, A Desktop Primer. We discussed each of Ignatian Pedagogical Strands and students commented on their understanding of how these statements could be incorporated into their teaching (See a complete list of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands in Appendix A). I also reviewed Ignatian Pedagogy, A Practical Approach (Korth, 2008), which included the following elements: context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (pp. 281-283). We specifically discussed reflection, and I incorporated the following statement as a part of our discussion:

Reflection and discernment were integral parts of Ignatius' learning process. Reflection is a thoughtful reconsideration of some subject matter, experience, idea, purpose, or spontaneous reaction, in order to grasp its significance more fully. Thus, reflection is the process by which meaning surfaces in human experience by understanding the truth being studied more clearly; understanding the sources of one's sensations or reactions in the consideration; deepening one's understanding of the implications for oneself and others; achieving personal insights into events, ideas, truths, or the distortion of truth; coming to an understanding of who I am...and who I might be in relation to others. Reflection is informative and a liberating process that forms the conscience of learners in such a manner that they are led to move beyond knowing to undertake action. Faculty lay the foundations for 'learning how to learn' by engaging students in the skills and techniques of reflection. A major challenge to faculty is to formulate questions that will broaden students' awareness and impel them to consider viewpoints of others (Korth, 2008, pp. 282-283).

Because students would be completing weekly reflections, we elaborated on our understanding of the definition of reflection and how to use this process in the course content. "Reflection is the process of assessing information or events, thinking about and analyzing them, and then using the results to change or enhance future events. The process of reflection includes the cyclic process of description, analysis and planning." (Bullock and Hawk, 2001, pp. 29-30) We discussed the importance of reflection in their interaction with children, lesson planning, and learning the language arts and social studies content. I emphasized how reflection would be an important part of this course and their continual understandings about learning to teach.

After we discussed the overview of the Ignatian Mentoring Project, and students completed the survey, I organized and analyzed the survey data. The students' responses are listed in Figure 2. Twenty students completed the survey. It was apparent from this analysis that students were unfamiliar with any of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands. However, students were incorporating reflection as part of their daily routines and in their teaching practices.

Ignatian Pedagogy Survey Results

Figure 2

Question 1: 0 students could identify the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands

Question 2: 0, not applicable because students could not answer question 1

Question 3: 0, not applicable because students could not answer question 1

Question 4: 16 out of 20 students responded that they use reflection in their daily routine. Specifically students reflected on their work, daily activities, goals, and conversations and interactions.

Question 5: 17 out of 20 students responded that they use reflection as a part of their teaching experiences. Students incorporated reflection to determine if their teaching was effective, to examine ways to improve their teaching, and to review student achievement.

Weekly Reflections: Incorporating the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands

I selected specific Ignatian Pedagogical Strands that supported the course topics. Each week, through lectures and activities, students were introduced to these Ignatian Pedagogical Strands. Other strands were also observed and mentioned in our classroom discussion and in students' field experiences. On Thursday mornings, students anonymously completed reflection statements. The following is a list the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands incorporated in the weekly reflections:

  • l Who am I as a teacher of young children?
  • l How do I view teaching as a vocation and as a service to others?
  • l How will I embrace the unique qualities in each student through teaching methodologies and strategies?
  • l How do I assess the students in my field experiences?
  • l How am I developing a teaching plan for my field experiences?

Students' reflection statements were read each week. I connected students' comments to future lectures and continually reviewed the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands relating them to the course content and their field experiences. At the end of the study, I examined all of the students' responses to the weekly reflection statements again and identified similar comments related to the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands. Reviews of the weekly reflections and excerpts highlighting these statements are described below.

Reflection Question, Week 2: What is your philosophy of teaching, specifically "Who am I as a teacher of young children?"

The students provided many examples in their reflections of how they felt they are teachers of young children. Narrative descriptions addressed their responsibility to students as motivators, role models, and a life-long learners. Many students stated the importance of embracing the unique qualities of each child and developing a relationship with their students. The following excerpt highlights the students' reflections:

My philosophy of teaching is to value each child as an individual and build rapport with each child and their families. I, as a teacher of young children, am someone who values each student and tries to incorporate all learning styles to help each child succeed. I want to be an encourager and motivator to each of my students. I also believe it is essential to model what is important in my own life to my students so they have a better understanding of who I am and can relate to me.

Reflection Question, Week 3: "How do I view teaching as a vocation and as a service to others?"

The theme of responsibility to educate children was evident in students' responses to this reflection question. Students clearly stated that they believe they are role models for students and they saw the multiple roles teachers play in educating children. Students also believed that teaching is a way for them to "give back" and help children achieve their potential. The following examples explain students' feelings about teaching as a vocation and service to others.

Example One: "I think that each student brings unique qualities to the classroom. I think it's important to make children feel comfortable enough with themselves and their qualities to invite them to share with the class. Teaching allows us to show or bring out each quality in all of our students. It's important to show the students that they are unique and embrace our classroom."

Example Two: "Teaching to me is all about giving back. The greatest part of being an educator is being able to give a gift to each of my students. My gift is to help each of them reach their academic goals as well as personal goals."

Example Three: "Teaching is about helping others and serving others. Teachers work to help students succeed and reach their highest potential. As a teacher, I will do all that I can to understand and serve others in the community. Teaching, all in all, is a great way to give back to the community and help others!"

Several students also indicated that they felt like teaching was a calling for them. They acknowledged the importance of serving the students that they teach and being a part of the community as well. They want to make a difference in the world and believe they can accomplish this through teaching. One student stated, I have wanted to be a teacher since I was five and I know deep down it is what I have been called to do. I want to be a good teacher more than anything else.

Reflection Question, Week 4: "Embracing the unique qualities in each student through teaching methodologies and strategies."

Students responded to this question as it relates to their thoughts about future teaching experiences. One student commented, "I will embrace the unique qualities of each student by understanding they all have different ability levels and are not always able to learn the same way." This theme resonated with several of the students. They indicated the importance of learning as much as they can about their students and then providing appropriate instructional approaches to meet various students' needs. Another student responded, "I feel that it is extremely important for teachers to know the interest of the students." Students planned on talking with their students and establishing relationships that extended the children's learning.

Reflection Question, Week 5: "How do I assess the students in my field experience?"

This statement encompassed the Ignatian Pedagogical Strand of utilizing clear and specific evaluation methods. During their field experiences, students spend time in classrooms participating in observation, creating lesson plans and teaching language arts strategies and skills. As a part of lesson planning, they create evaluative methods to measure student success. They also spend a great deal of time observing students and their cooperating teachers to learn about the complexities of the classroom. When asked to respond to how they assess their students, overwhelmingly students responded to using observation in the classroom. The following excerpts depict the students' commitment to learning about students and then using this knowledge to inform their instruction.

Example One: "I do a lot of observing when I am in my field experience placement. I also take
anecdotal notes while the students are doing reader's workshop. These notes come from the conferencing I do with the students."

Example Two: "I observe and take anecdotal records as I walk around. I create checklists to help me keep track of where my students are and what I need to teach. I get to know my students and see where they are."

Example Three: "It is important to use multiple methods of assessment whether it is just observation, anecdotal records, keeping checklists, projects, creating rubrics, or having actual written assessments. Not all students are able to express themselves the same way. They may have the knowledge, but sometimes they can't express their knowledge."

Students responded to using observation as a form of assessment; however, they also emphasized the importance of evaluation methods being authentic. One student responded that she wants to use multiple methods so that she could see the full developmental spectrum of the children she was teaching. She believed assessment should occur before, during, and after teaching so that she could alter her teaching to best fit the students' needs.

Reflection Question, Week 6: How am I developing a teaching plan for my field experience?

Students responded to this question in a variety of ways. Many felt that they were very much in the "process" of creating a teaching plan. They were completing observational notes, watching their cooperating teachers, and getting to know the students. They were also asking their cooperating teachers many questions about the how and why? of teaching and reflecting on their own knowledge to make sense of their evolving understandings. Many of the students indicated that they were quite concerned with meeting the needs of all of their students. They felt their lesson plans and instruction should focus on all of the students in their classrooms. The following examples explain students' feelings about creating teaching plans that are systematic, sequential and purposeful.

Example One:
"I am taking observational notes on what my students know and what their interests are. I have also spoken with my cooperating teacher about where the students are going or need to go in their Language Arts and Social Studies. When I develop my lessons, I use Internet resources to get ideas about what may work. I also refer back to my text books and class worksheets to see how to correctly layout a writing/reading workshop. When writing the lesson, I try to think of questions that my students may have and then make sure I am clear in my teaching. I ask questions that will help the students think deeply about the topic. I also try to make my lessons interactive so my students are engaged."

Example Two:
"I am developing a teaching plan through my field experience. Within my field experience, I am learning different techniques for discipline and am constantly learning of new activities and ideas for centers, as well as how to approach different learning styles. Everything within my field experience is experience that I can call on when I am a classroom teacher. Everything serves as an inspiration for future teaching and helps to develop my teaching plan."

Ignatian Pedagogy Survey Results

In Week seven, I repeated the survey with the students. Figure 3 represents the students' responses to the same survey questions that they responded to in Week one.

Figure 3

Question 1: 19 of the 19* participants answered "yes" to being able to identify any of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands. One student completed the course as an independent study.

Question 2: If yes, please list the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands you can identify. The following strands were identified and the number in parenthesis indicates how many students responded to the same Ignatian Pedagogical Strands:

  • Reflection (12)
  • Embracing the unique qualities of each child (7)
  • Interdisciplinary (7)
  • Student responsibility and independence (6)
  • Challenging and rigorous (3)
  • Teaching as a service (3)
  • Assessment (2)
  • Respect (2)
  • Creating relationships with students (2)
  • Student-centered learning (1)

Question 3: If you answered yes to 2 above, identify any of the strands you incorporate in your daily life, classroom experiences, and field practicum experiences. The following strands were identified and the number in parenthesis indicates how many students responded to the same Ignatian Pedagogical Strands:
(a) in your daily life: Reflection (9)
Forming relationships (2)
Embracing the unique qualities of students (1)
Showing and sharing skills (1)
Student responsibility (1)

(b) in your classroom experiences:
Reflection (6)
Embracing the unique qualities of students (5)
Teaching as a service (3)
Interdisciplinary (1)
Respect differences in classmates (1)
Student independence (1)
Challenging students to think (1)

(c) in your field experiences:
Reflection (7)
Challenging and rigorous (2)
Student responsibility and independence (2)
Teaching as a service (2)
Embracing the unique qualities of students (2)
Learning from professors and cooperating teachers (1)
Interdisciplinary (1)
Observation (1)
Providing multiple pathways for learning and assessing (1)
Different instruction (1)

Question 4: 18 out of 19 students responded that they use reflection in their daily routine. Specifically students reflect on their work, daily activities, goals, and conversations and interactions. This was an increase of 2 students from the initial survey.

Question 5: 19 out of 19 or100% students responded that they use reflection as a part of their teaching experiences. Students incorporated reflection to determine teaching effectiveness and student achievement. They also searched for ways to improve their teaching. Students included observation and field notes as part of their reflection. Students also reflected on assignments and conversations. This was an increase of 2 students from the initial survey.

*One student completed the course as an independent study.

The final survey results clearly indicated that students were able to acknowledge and identify the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands discussed in the course and observed in their field placements. Students were able to provide specific examples which they were unable to complete in the first survey. In part, the continual review of the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands during discussions and assignments made them relevant and reoccurring and I believe, influenced the final survey results.


"Jesuit education is instrumental, student centered, characterized by structure and flexibility, eclectic, and personal" (Traub, 2008, p. 403). For this project, I presented the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands to incorporate the tenets of Jesuit education and help students learn how they could infuse this foundation into their teaching experiences. As previously outlined, "The Ignatian pedagogical process includes the elements of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation" (Korth, 2008, p. 283). During class discussions, we talked about the dynamic structure of experience, action and used reflection to make sense of the learning that took place in the students' field placements. I used the weekly reflection statements to make the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands explicit and assist students in connecting course content to these ideas. Although students were not initially aware of the specific Ignatian Pedagogical Strands, making them explicit was effective as students assimilated this knowledge and responded to these ideas in their weekly reflections. It was apparent from the final survey results how important it was to present the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands in detail, and make them relevant to the students' learning. The final survey results indicated that students' comments focused on specific Ignatian Pedagogical Strands such as the unique qualities of each child, teaching as a service to others, the interdisciplinary nature of teaching, helping students to be responsible and independent, and incorporating reflection in their daily lives and teaching experiences. The results also showed how students learned and applied the skill of reflecting in their classroom conversations, observations, and field experiences.

As part of a culminating experience for this course, students create a reflective journal that represents the content materials and knowledge they have learned during the semester. Weekly classroom observations, learning techniques, lesson plans, and other relevant and important information are included in their journals. The journals are designed to focus students' attention on the school and its resources, the thought processes of elementary children, and the instructional flavor of the environment. It is my hope that the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands will be a part of this journal, and information from the Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy Desktop Primer will serve as a reference for students to include and implement in their future teaching experiences. I will continue to purposefully infuse the Ignatian Pedagogical Strands into the Language Art/Social Studies course to assist students in the reflection process and in assimilating these ideas into their teaching practices.

This project could not have been completed without the support and guidance of my mentor, Tom Kessinger, thank you for helping me achieve my goal.


Bullock, A.A. and Hawk, P.P. (2001). Developing a teaching portfolio: A guide for preservice and practicing teachers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Korth,S.J. (2008). Precis of Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach. In G.W. Traub, S.J. (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader (pp. 280 - 284). Chicago: Loyola Press.

Mooney, D.K. (2005). Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy: A Desktop Primer. Cincinnati: Xavier University
Traub, G.W. S.J. (2008). A Jesuit education reader. Chicago: Loyola Press.

Appendix A

Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy, A Desktop Primer

Ignatian Pedagogy

  • Embraces the unique qualities in each student
  • Facilitates students' understanding of information in a personally relevant and personally appropriate manner.
  • Employs a systematic, sequential and purposeful teaching plan
  • Encourages students to decide what is truly good for themselves and society through a process of discernment.
  • Is challenging and rigorous
  • Is interdisciplinary
  • Makes use of novel teaching methods and technologies as they arise.
  • Relies on professors to serve as model "women and men for others" both in and out of the classroom.
  • Encourages attentiveness, reverence and devotion to reveal truth and wisdom.
  • Utilizes clear and specific evaluation methods.
  • Encourages student responsibility and independence.
  • Emphasizes eloquentia perfecta--speaking and writing excellence.
  • Views teaching as a vocation and as a service to others.
  • Values the five educational principles comprising the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm: context {understanding student life and culture}, experience {providing intellectual and affective learning opportunities}, reflection of meaning for self and others, action {the external expression of learned content} and evaluation of student growth.

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The Voice of Jesuit Experience on the Significance of Disability

Victoria Zascavage, PhDVictoria Zascavage, PhD
Mentor: Phil Glasgo, PhD (Finance)

The Problem

The purpose of this study was to present the voice of Jesuit theologians on the significance of disability within the historical context of Catholic doctrine. The study serves to expand perspective using historical exploration and reflection. The practical application of the study sought to broaden course component within the ethics and disability construct sections of Special Education.

The Process

Five theologians with an expertise in Jesuit theology consented to interview. These participants were chosen because of their active participation in the Catholic faith and their age range. Each theologian answered four open ended question addressing their understanding of the purpose/meaning/significance of disability.

The Context

Old Testament
Within our religious history we can see a fluctuation of acceptance of individuals with disabilities. Within the Old Testament we recognize descriptions of difference. For example, in Exodus 4:10 Moses said to the Lord: O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue. The Lord replied to Moses: Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf and mute? Who gives sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Here, without benefit of rabbinical interpretation, God creates disability. We go on to visit Moses in Leviticus 20:16 where God directs him to tell Aaron that: For the generations to come none of your descendants who have a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect is to come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed. No man with a crippled foot or hand. Or who is hunchbacked or dwarf or who has any defect or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles... because of his defect he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar and so desecrate my sanctuary, I am the Lord who makes them holy. God as presented in the Old Testament rejected those he created who were not physically perfect.

New Testament
The New Testament brings a new Rabbi, Jesus the Christ who speaks as One with God. In Luke 5:22, he heals a man with paralysis and asks: Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to say get up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins He said to the paralyzed man, I tell you to get up and take your mat and go home .John 5 describes the healing at the pool near Bethesda where the disabled gathered- the blind, the paralyzed, the lame. Jesus addressed an invalid of 38 years: Do you want to get well? Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to help me into the pool... Then Jesus said to him-Get up-Pick up your mat and walk. At once the man was cured... The man who was healed had no ideas who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the crowd that was there. Later, Jesus found him at the temple and said to him: See you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

Further along in Luke 9:37, Jesus removes the evil demons of epilepsy and in Luke18: 42 restores sight: Receive your sight; your faith has healed you. In John 9, the disciples asked Jesus whose sins caused congenital blindness: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind? Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but his happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work... Having said this he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. We leave the New Testament with conflicting information and no real answers. Has God changed positions? Are those with physical deformities sinners while those who are blind serve to display the work of God within their lives? Is all of this figurative? Does disability serve God?

An Example of the Early Church
In 1287, in a small town in Florence Italy a child was born to a noble family. The child was hunchbacked, dwarfed, blind, and lame. The family shame was formidable. At the age of 6 the child was mortared into a wall of the Catholic Church where her only contact was with the parish priest. She had a window that allowed her to hear Mass, and a window that brought her necessities. At sixteen she was taken out to a shrine in Castello, Italy for a pilgrimage. When she was not healed, she was abandoned. A beggar endeared to the townspeople of Castello, she was taken in by the Dominican nuns. As a tertiary she visited the sick, comforted the dying, and served the imprisoned. Her work with young children made her a beloved in the community. Margaret of Castello believed that God had made each person in His own image and likeness. Following her death in 1320, 200 miracles have been credited to her intercession. In 1609 she was beatified and is today a patron saint of the disabled. (Retrieved from on February 20, 2008).

Searching for Answers
In 1486, again seeking to understand difference, the Dominicans Henricus Institor (Kramer) and Jacop Sprenger wrote the Malleus Maleficarum (1487). In the Malleus they described children born with what we might now recognize as Down syndrome, Prader Willis syndrome, or a number of medical conditions (i.e. lactose intolerance) as, Another terrible thing that God permits to happen to men ... when their own children are taken away from women and strange children are put in their place by devils. (Kramer and Sprenger, transl.1928/1971, p.406) The church referred to these infants as changelings. According to the Malleus, there were three sorts of changelings ( Wechselkinder) - those that were always ailing and crying and could never have enough milk, the second from artificial insemination of a team of devils, and the third who were actually devils in guise of infants. All were very heavy, ailing, did not grow and never had enough milk. They had arrived because of God's divine punishment of their parents for a variety of sins. Some were just witches; others were conceived from the carnal knowledge of an Incubus devil. It was not uncommon for these children to mysteriously vanish into the night.

Within the Last 50 years
For centuries, the church has been instrumental in the care of individuals with disabilities. The religious have founded orphanages, run homes, and fought for the humane care of the individuals with physical and mental disabilities. Lives of service to the poor, homeless, the diseased, lepers fill our history. Catholic schools have educated the blind, the deaf, the mentally retarded and the abandoned. The Catholic Bishops of the United States of America position:

It is not enough to affirm the rights of people with disabilities. We must active work to make them real in the fabric of modern society. Recognizing that individuals with disabilities have a claim to our respect because they are persons, because they share in the one redemption of Christ, and because they contribute to our society by their activity within it, the Church must become an advocate for and with them. It must work to increase public sensitivity towards the needs of people with disabilities and support their rightful demand for justice. Moreover, individuals and organizations at every level within the Church should minister to persons with disabilities by serving their personal and social needs.

Many can function on their own as well as anyone in society. For others, aid would be welcome. All of us can visit persons unable to leave their homes, offer transportation to those who cannot drive, read to those who cannot read, speak out for those who have difficulty pleading their own case. In touching the lives of men, women and children in this way, we come closer to imitating Jesus' own example, which should be always before our eyes ( cf. Luke 4:17-19,21). Pastoral Statement of US Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities (1978, updated 1989), United Catholic Conference, Inc.

The Outcome
To address the Jesuit experience on the significance of disability five Catholic theologians consented to interview. Each of the five participants is a respected male, Catholic theologian/religious leader who graciously agreed to participate in this theological exploration. Individual participants are coded for the sake of confidentiality as follows:

Participant 1- Theologian between 70-80 years old
Participant 2- Theologian between 60-70 years old
Participant 3- Theologian between 50-60 years old
Participant 4- Theologian between 40-50 years old
Participant 5 - Theologian between 30-40 years old

The comparison and thematic discussion centered on four questions:


What is your understanding of the purpose/meaning/ significance of disability according to the teaching of your religion/community?

Participant 1: Real disability, this is in the gospel- blind man- some say who caused this - nobody caused it- God did not curse them ; it was not from their parent's sin . We do not understand the mystery. Suffering assuredly to the church is a good thing - no pain, no gain, some are strong, some commit suicide - I learned patience from this - patience to suffer.

Participant 2: Diversity - traditionally- will of God since God is all powerful. Somehow from God either as test or a punishment- or a way of making us stronger- should be accepted as such. Jesuit -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin explained suffering - world as finite and breaks down -not sent by God's will but structure of the universe - material things.

Participant 3: Part of me wants to say manifestation of God's grace; sounds negative not to be disabled is a blessing, disability of course is not this. Another way - an opportunity to respond to a disability- finding completion- I never thought of this in terms of religion - more in line with health.

Participant 4: Blind gospel, people asked because of his parents sin or sin in him Jesus replied neither - to show forth the glory of God- the cure- message- invitation for all of us- the label of disability- we are called to shed our blindness to see God glory shine through in each and every person we encounter- gifts or talents are all created in image and likeness of God and a revelation of God's love in our world- opportunity to see the way God sees us; opportunity to bring God love into that person's life- to see in a different way- to see not just through the eyes but the heart.

Participant 5: I don't know purpose- it is not as if God decides that one will have disability another not- I don't believe God gives disability to an individual. The church would say that no matter what our challenge in life is - challenge -cross-complaint we can reflect on the suffering of Christ's life and draw strength from that - just as Christ struggled with his cross we are called to challenge our cross.

How do you see your (parents and/or grandparents) (practicing members of the religious community) interpreting the position of the church on the birth of a child with a disability?

Participant 1: My parents would have thought it was somebody's fault - a punishment- or they were a victim- more a victim.

Participant 2: Traditional notion - will of God- hide these children, embarrassed, institutionalized them- not true for all people - trend was to hide just not knowing how to deal- In the Third World-Nicaragua- many parents in poverty, older parents drop off their child at the institution and never visit- abandoned children- it is a financial issue- they run from this. Yet at the same time- there are young people dedicated to caring lovingly for every need of the physically disable in very poor institutions often without air conditioning, electricity, and financed day to day.

Participant 3: If by that, the option is birth or abortion- my parents would have given birth- child is important no matter what the condition. Child is God's gift to you- it does not matter what the child was like- that was secondary. Also blue collar neighborhood so practically speaking- no extraordinary medical services were available

Participant 4: In my family tradition, every child born no matter who they were was a precious gift and deserved to be loved. My mother and father -they may not have had testing like amniocentesis - they would not have thought of abortion as part of the landscape of options- if you had the were with all you would care- unless they were so disabled you could not care for them- there were some institutionalized- most common disability was Down's - might have had a physical disability such as blindness, deafness, lacking a limb- my mom and dad would have accepted that child.

Participant 5 :I think my parents would see that as - say God does not give disability that it is an accident of birth- grandparents probably the same- the language of -it is not the child's fault

How are children with disabilities welcomed into your (religious) community and what kind of support is there for their parents?

Participant 1: They are physical, people, anyway handicapped or deformed- arms, internal, special needs- ordinary ways they would not find helpful- in wheelchairs- example ramps. I would say since the 60's with Vatican II the church is more sensitive- lavatories available now provided in all churches - built because of the ADA stuff - hearing aids in the church.

Archdioceses orphanage supports education, therapeutic, that kind of thing; Catholic social services - helping physical problems, mental problems. The Society of Jesuits, the one real case -brother: has one arm; Jesuit brother; he produces plays- theater for the disabled and he also worked/s with Iraq veterans.

Participant 2: Historically the men have never been allow to enter the priest hood with a disability - with Canon law kept out of the priesthood or religious life- there are very few. This is religion's inability to cope with disability.

Most churches have no access -it is unusual to see a disability in church. At our chapel (B) we are prided for accessibility and community is accommodating to disability. This is unusual. Just recently at the university- we had to deal with the campus- how do you get around- it is just beginning to be aware -you don't see a lot of disabled people around here// wheelchairs//don't see that they have access to college education, with all our talk, 22 years of teaching and I had one girl who was nearly blind with a seeing eye dog and I do not remember any other disabled students-

Most do not have access to university -people are not comfortable with them - shy, embarrassed especially if they have deformities... we hide them in institutions, out of the States most countries deal with it daily because they do not have funds, here (USA) you get the idea everyone is healthy. My personal break through was in Nicaragua where they are normalized - the same as I am. Personally, in Nicaragua, ministering for severely disabled- shocked at first- they could not move, or talk, feed, or take care of natural functions- but there was a little person in there who can relate and give and receive love as a friend.

Participant 3: At 4 o'clock mass a student- girl from campus with a wheelchair- she is welcomed and not treated differently but as far as Jesuits with disabilities- deaf- don't remember his name - he was just one of the crowd -then there was Curry - a dynamic person.

Participant 4: The religious community on a day to day basis there has not been practical support- from Catholic secondary education the cost in a school situation has historically and even now been an argument to prevent children with significant disabilities to be accepted into most Catholic schools. Greater awareness in Catholic parents has pushed the envelope- what can be provided compared to public school. Parents want them to be in a faith and sacramental preparation atmosphere. Years ago- they were in orphanages, institutions- we are growing- honest. The parents pushed us forward- involve people with disabilities- physically adapt the buildings, find ways to include people in parish community- the more people are included the more it breaks down the stereotypes and fears- it can be very edifying and help them grow in their faith. We have come some ways but a lot further to go.

Participant 5: Fully and completely - children with disabilities there are programs for them to teach them the faith on their level and to give theme mutual experiences on their level - I personally worked with children with Asperger and children with disabilities - for example, a young girl who could not read write or speak and was developmentally handicapped - we created special processes to give expression to faith - processes were - she communicated by using a computer. We would give her mother a copy of the prayer before services. In advance and she would know when the Our Father was coming and she would press a button that could express the Our Father and she could pray with the class.

The church itself in the design of new churches you are strongly encouraged required to have a ramp to the building and to the sanctuary - so people can go to sanctuary as servers - the pulpit goes up and down - so individuals in wheelchairs can go at mass. There is this dramatic accommodation - for a full active participation in the liturgy.

Children with disabilities may have strange sometimes violent behaviors. Does your (religious) community have any answers as to the significance, treatment, or cure for such conditions?

Participant 1: I think I'm correct in saying that we are pretty good at knowing what we can and cannot do - we would be upfront- we are not capable to handle - we would get support - we are not Gods- you do what you can- there is grace in knowing what you can't do. Overall view everyone is created in God's image - everyone is to be loved, and supported, and respected. God has no favorites- in Matthew He is there for the just and the unjust.

Participant 2: Defer to medical world institution and hospitals, throw up hands in despair and not deal with it. Teachers must deal with the shouting out but teachers learned how to deal -our Catholic schools would not deal - they would pass it off to the public school, I doubt if our Catholic school teachers have the skills to do this- Catholic School is a haven from this kind of behavior.

Participant 3- Nothing comes to mind, we have never, I have never been in a community environment where that this has been brought up- do not acknowledge existence.

Participant 4: I don't think we believe people are possessed by the devil anymore- when I was training for ordination- good psychology makes good theology. We are beyond the times when there was a leper colony in Carrville and St. Francis of Assisi's time when church had a ritual where as a leper you were sent outside the city walls in ritualized exclusion- lighting of candle and snuffing it out.

Participant 5: No. with our young woman we would accommodate her by getting her a private tutor- to help her deal with her pencil stabbing approach, hair grabbing approach to life -- she could not speak read or write.


Dominant within the analysis of the interview sub-themes is disability as an occasion for compassion; disability as a dynamic social issue; and disability as a vehicle for the understanding of the mystery of life. There is evidence in these interviews of an understanding and level of acceptance that was not possible in the early church. Looking at the experience presented by five generations of theologians familiar with teaching to the mission has permitted us to see a progression of acceptance. The acceptance focuses mostly on accommodations for liturgical participation. The interviews point out difficulties encountered in acceptance within the Jesuit educational community. The study raises questions concerning our mission as Jesuit educators; concerns that can be brought into the classroom, researched, and discussed.


According to The National Catholic Partnership on Disability (, download March 10, 2008) there are in excess of 14 million Catholics with disabilities of which:

As determined by the NCPD (Retrieved from on March 10, 2008):
92% of the general public expressed admiration for those with disabilities, "because they overcome so much"; 74% expressed pity; 58% had feelings of awkwardness because they don't know how to behave around people with disabilities; 47% expressed fear because people with disabilities remind them of what could happen to them; 16% expressed anger because people with disabilities cause inconveniences and 9% expressed resentment because of feeling that those with disabilities get special benefits and privileges.

In a1998 statement, Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities, American Bishops determined:
Parish liturgical celebrations and catechetical programs should be accessible to persons with disabilities and open to their full, active, conscious participation according to their capacity. We should encourage them to do the Lord's work in the world according to their God-given talents and capacity.

We are still searching for ways to be aware, how to recognize, to be sensitive, how to include people into full life of the church, worship, and education. What we say and what we believe has not always been reflected in our practices as we learn more we can integrate into our community. (Participant Four)

Paper presented at the TASH Conference, Nashville, TN, December, 2008.

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