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Contemporary liberal education: slowing down to discern

Contemporary liberal education: slowing down to discern Purpose – This essay seeks to argue that contemporary liberal arts education can be viewed from the perspective of contemporary psychological understandings of human cognition combined with the classical pedagogy developed in the foundational concepts of Jesuit education. Through a description of the human cognitive system as discussed in the writing of Daniel Kahneman and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, the concepts of “slow thinking” and “discernment” are offered as important models that can inform development of a liberal education in an information‐saturated society. Design/methodology/approach – The essay presents an interpretation of the essentially “liberating” nature of liberal education in light of the psychological literature that demonstrates how one's culture contributes to the formation of cognitive structures that allow largely automatic processing of information in a non‐reflective, fast process that leads to understanding that is constrained and somewhat closed to alternative understanding. This interpretation is then discussed in light of a process of discernment that allows the individual to open up to new ideas. Findings – The essay thus derives the conclusion that a focus on pedagogy of discernment is the essential feature of a modern liberal education and leads to creative expression of new ideas in new ways. Originality/value – The essay presents an alternative view of contemporary liberal education that is based on a well‐developed historical approach (Ignatian discernment) and supported by current psychological research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png On the Horizon Emerald Publishing

Contemporary liberal education: slowing down to discern

On the Horizon , Volume 22 (1): 3 – Feb 4, 2014

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References (6)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1074-8121
DOI
10.1108/OTH-11-2013-0044
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – This essay seeks to argue that contemporary liberal arts education can be viewed from the perspective of contemporary psychological understandings of human cognition combined with the classical pedagogy developed in the foundational concepts of Jesuit education. Through a description of the human cognitive system as discussed in the writing of Daniel Kahneman and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, the concepts of “slow thinking” and “discernment” are offered as important models that can inform development of a liberal education in an information‐saturated society. Design/methodology/approach – The essay presents an interpretation of the essentially “liberating” nature of liberal education in light of the psychological literature that demonstrates how one's culture contributes to the formation of cognitive structures that allow largely automatic processing of information in a non‐reflective, fast process that leads to understanding that is constrained and somewhat closed to alternative understanding. This interpretation is then discussed in light of a process of discernment that allows the individual to open up to new ideas. Findings – The essay thus derives the conclusion that a focus on pedagogy of discernment is the essential feature of a modern liberal education and leads to creative expression of new ideas in new ways. Originality/value – The essay presents an alternative view of contemporary liberal education that is based on a well‐developed historical approach (Ignatian discernment) and supported by current psychological research.

Journal

On the HorizonEmerald Publishing

Published: Feb 4, 2014

Keywords: Pedagogy; Liberal arts; Cognitive theory; Discernment; Ignatian pedagogy

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