I have been teaching high school aged men and women problem solving skills since January of 1974. The technology of the day—the sliderule. At Grain Valley High School, I started my first programming (coding) class in 1978 using four TRS 80 computers from Radio Shack with 4K Memory. We saved our programs on cassette tapes. Wow…technology has changed in the last 41 years, but developing problem solving skills in young minds …well… that hasn’t changed that much.
After 31 years with the Jesuits, I have learned that more than just teaching problem solving skills, Ignatius asks his followers to prayerfully discern and reflect on how to solve a problem. A problem solver in the Ignatian tradition needs to gather all the relevant information about various alternatives and carefully weigh all the circumstances and likely outcomes. Do the steps in the solution and the solution itself bring “Greater Glory to God?” If the solution process violates our Christian ideals and values, an alternative path to the solution must be found and followed. An Ignatian problem solver will always use compassion and a commitment to justice in the solution process.
In a global society where profit margin often guides a decision, a Rockhurst graduate will make every reasonable effort to find God’s guidance and will in the problem solving process. This involves a sincere commitment to prayer and reflection. As he prays and reflects does he experience desolation or consolation? Over a period of time in prayerful consideration and reflection, the problem solver should feel a deep sense of agreement and trust. He should feel as though the process is not his own, but what God wants. If he feels anxious and confused about the solution, Ignatius would call this desolation. The problem solver should reconsider. Perhaps he should take a new path to the solution or just tweak the process until the feelings of desolation fades and are replaced with consolation. Although I have littered this blog with many Jesuit “hot words”, our society desperately needs our sons of Ignatius. What will make our STEAM program different?—Men that will reason through problems with both their hearts and minds.
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.