From strength to strength

Two workshops organised by Jesuit Education Australia were designed to strengthen Ignatian pedagogy in the country’s Jesuit and Companion schools.


Jesuit Education Australia (JEA) held two Learning by Refraction training workshops in March of 2023 – one hosted by Saint Ignatius’ College in Adelaide from March 15-18, and the second one by Xavier College Kew from March 22-25.

The two Trainers’ Training Labs were facilitated by Fr Johnny C. Go SJ and Rita Atienza, co-authors of the book Learning by Refraction: A Practitioner’s Guide to 21st Century Ignatian Pedagogy.

The workshops gathered a total of 35 educators: 13 in Adelaide and 22 in Melbourne.

Eight Australian schools were represented in the two workshops: St. Aloysius ‘ College (Sydney); St. Ignatius’ College Riverview (Sydney); St. Ignatius’ College (Adelaide); St. Ignatius’ College (Geelong); Xavier Catholic College (Ballina); Loyola College, Watsonia (Melbourne); Redfern Jarjum College (Sydney), and Xavier College (Melbourne).

Facilitators Fr Johnny and Rita looked quite happy–and rightly so–considering the abundance of great and concrete ideas on the practice of IPP that emerged from the LbR Trainers’ Training Labs in Australia.

Jesuit Social Service also sent representatives particularly for their work in Ignatius Loyola Centre and the Jesuit Community College.

The Trainers’ Training Labs built on past JEA efforts to strengthen the practice of Ignatian Pedagogy in the Jesuit and Companion schools in Australia. Fr Johnny had conducted an introductory workshop in Canisius Centre in Pymble way back in February of 2020. Also, during the pandemic, a number of schools took Fr Go’s online MasterClass, which he described as a deep dive into 21st-century Ignatian pedagogy.

The participants collaborated on a design task to respond to a problem or challenge in their schools, which they then took turns presenting to their colleagues.

The Trainers’ Training Lab was designed as a four-day hands-on training to strengthen competence on this particular approach to the IPP.

Of the two Trainers’ Training Labs, Fr Johnny had this to say: “With such high-calibre and passionate Ignatian educators gathered together, one can’t go wrong simply because of their shared wisdom and collective energy. The whole experience has truly been an embarrassment of riches in terms of insights and inspiration!”

Thanks to Fr Peter Hosking SJ, Barbara Watkins and Kain Noack (SIC, Adelaide), and Fr Chris Middleton SJ, Bill Doherty and Monique Dalli (Xavier, Melbourne) for hosting the participants so warmly.

By Fr Johnny Go SJ and Jenny Hickey

About the authors: Fr Johnny C. Go SJ is a co-creator of the program Learning by Refraction, a contemporary method of applying the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm in classrooms. Jennie Hickey is the Formation and Education Officer at Jesuit Education Australia.

Jesuit Education Australia Workshops

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Class photo of the first cohort hosted by Saint Ignatius College (SIC), Adelaide.