Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cura Personlis in Unexpected Places

It’s state reporting season in Indiana these days.  As a private school offering the Indiana State diploma and accepting voucher funding, we are responsible to collect, format and report various data points regarding students, faculty and course offerings.  I have written before of my feelings about big data… my feelings haven’t changed.  The lesson in frustration of state data reports is still strongly in favor of “data is only as good as the human inputting it” … but this week, I have to admit, something rather remarkable occurred.

You all can read ad nauseam about the woes of the ISTEP exams in Indiana.  Last week, I was working on the TL report (or Testing Label report for those of you not in the know).  Data requested includes students with testing accommodations/special needs.  None of this is particularly interesting… but the data collection method turned a corner of cura personalis I did not expect or anticipate.  I called a meeting of Academic Counselors and Learning Center Faculty to fill out the spreadsheet.  We ended up talking about each individual student needing accommodations, updating one another with recent evaluations, checking in on student who may need additional care and generally enjoying one another as professional educators.  This process took all of 25 minutes – but the outcome was way beyond another spreadsheet. The conversation, dare I say colloquy, created in the group a companionship for the benefit of the young people in our care.  The conversation created a companionship for students as individuals, in light of care and consideration for their lived potential. 

In 2007, Fr. General Kolvenbach gave a speech on cura personalis (care of the person) where he calls the listener to “that which leads us ‘more’ to the end for which we are created”.   If as educators, we truly answer the call to develop men and women for and with others, shouldn’t we too find those moments for others in our daily roles in the trenches?  Times where we are surprisingly present for another – even in state data reporting.  The awe and wonder for once directed at moments of connection and not the spreadsheet on the screen.