An Unexpected Journey: How a Community Based Learning Experience Changed My Teaching Praxis
This paper presents my firsthand experience as a participant in a community based learning experience in the Dominican Republic and my reflections about developing an educational praxis that prepares students to meet Ignatius’ goal of overcoming all evils that beset humankind. In particular, five pedagogical lessons in service of this goal are presented: (1) educators should take the student perspective to facilitate more effective classrooms; (2) students engaging in action will develop a much broader understanding than students learning in a passive manner; (3) contrary to popular belief, confusion is one of our most valuable and underutilized teaching tools; (4) incorporating opportunities for students to develop genuine relationships within educational settings catalyzes a higher level of engagement and; and (5) if our classrooms are designed to allow students opportunities to make the world a better place, more often than not, they will succeed. My experience allowed me to better understand both the Jesuit educational mission and develop pedagogical tools that will meet this mission. I encourage all educators (teachers, staff, and administrators) to engage in their own unique community based learning experiences, as it will change their opinion of what is possible with education.