On November 5, 2019, the New York Times spoke about us. By Italy, which became the first country in the world to make sustainability education compulsory, inserting it as a guiding concept for civic education. We were the top of the class where the world saw us copying the model. A model that could have changed society and the way people go to school, but which to date, if you do a Google search, do not seem to have generated much beyond the initial news boom. Is that really so?
Like a Trojan horse …
As stated in the law from August 2019, all schools from September 2020 have included one hour / week of civic education. The law should have become a reality through systematic implementation with ministerial decrees, teacher training, curriculum development. “We had a plan,” explains Lorenzo Fioramonti, former minister of Miur. “We were about to start 6 months of education in January 2020 – each school would have a coordinator for civic education. We made guidelines for teaching sustainability, understood as a social, environmental and economic concept – interconnected spheres that require interdisciplinary teaching” .
But through this law, Fioramonti had a double goal. To bring the concept of sustainability to the schools and at the same time put the students at the center, as bearers of ideas and activities facilitated and not taught by teachers. It had to be a revolution in the way of teaching: “For me, it was a Trojan horse from which one could move the school system itself,” he continues.
… A dossier in a drawer
“But I resigned at the end of 2019, and the plan ended in a drawer: no decrees or formations,” Fioramonti says bitterly. “Of course there was Covid-19, but there was also the political will of those who came after me to stop the project. Not because it was not necessary, on the contrary, but because I had done it. The usual inability to focus on the best of the country and not on board games has intervened. The inability that had pushed me to resign ».
And then with the plan in a drawer, but the law was passed, the schools introduced civic education without the support and vision that only Miur could (and should) provide – all in the midst of father and quarantine.
“So far, there has not been much attention paid to sustainability issues,” he explains Barbara Floridia who, after becoming deputy secretary of the Ministry of Education (MI) in the Draghi government, dusted off the plan. “That is why I have structured the Regenerazione Scuola, a systemic national plan that provides schools with tools, resources and teaching materials and enhances the environmental education provided in civic education. It was necessary to speed up this process, which at present can not be postponed and requested by young people. With this plan, we have given them a voice and provided a network of 300 experts – the green society – that schools can rely on to accelerate teaching sustainability while training teachers, ”he says enthusiastically. According to MI data, 150 schools participated in the first week of regeneration, over 3,000 received green funding and 28 colleges were born with the curvature of ecological conversion. In short, Mi took over the dossier, but the data speaks for itself: There are initiatives from virtuous schools or teachers, pilot projects, but the systemic level of the 60,000 and not the 150 or 3,000 schools has not yet been touched.
How is the school that the boys want
What do you need? A systemic and innovative turning point
“For us kids, it’s clear: we lack an overall vision,” says Cecilia Savio, activist for Fridays for Future and student at the Chieri Science High School. “Every teacher does as he pleases, there are no guidelines, no coordination of the subject, and so education in sustainability is spread has little effect.” As a member of the school’s environmental commission, I ask her if she knows Regenerazione Scuola: “No, and I’ve never heard of it.”
Let’s talk about the obstacles: «Teachers are not used to thinking about sustainability». An example? “We students set up water dispensers, and they keep buying it in bottles. Instead of supporting the blocking of cars in front of the school, they get an exemption for driving to class. They deter us from going to demonstrations. And then they have a limited vision of what sustainability means: they only face it from a scientific point of view, when instead it is necessary to discuss it from an ethical, political, social point of view. They are the first to not understand why an interdisciplinary approach is needed.
Let’s move on to Fioramonti’s vision of the Trojan horse to change the way we teach. “If only it were like that!” she says sharply. “Teachers are not used to giving us an active role, they see social studies as another lesson at the desk. Of course, there are exceptions, the professors who are trained and make us main characters, but everyone should do it, not just a few. We students do not need civic education, when it should instead be the heart of the school. If he had the magic wand to reform everything, Savio would start from here: “A figure formed to coordinate the bourgeois education of each class. An interdisciplinary approach that integrates lessons, projects and even external experts. But neutral bodies – not Eni, which is currently training teachers. I do not understand how this conflict of interest can be accepted by the institutions or by us students “, she says annoyed about the Eni case, which actually poses a real dilemma about the independence and legitimacy of those who control information. “And then I want us young people to be at the center: we are more sensitized than the professors, and it’s easier to talk about it among young people. We launched a debate among young people in Chieri. The school should encourage and not oppose similar initiatives ».
Two key words emerge from the interviews: systematics and cultural change. Floridia also agrees with the obstacle to the education model. “The plan also serves this purpose: we need to detach teachers from the old way of doing school, accompany them towards new teaching models and help young people transform their environmental sensitivity into green skills”.
Call me by my name: who hinders Alias’ career in schools
When do we need it? Now
Italy has lost its first place in the class. But he is trying to regain the initial drive and the systemic vision.
At the same time, the consequences of climate change are tangible and the risks for the future enormous – given the delays in the political response: time is running out against us. Every year that goes by without a focus on sustainability corresponds to tens of thousands of students who have been deprived of the right to have the necessary competencies for the ecological transition. Every month that passes, precious time is lost to sensitize teachers, students, and through them families to a different consumption model. Every day that passes is another day where far too many young people continue to suffer, often in loneliness, from eco-anxiety.
Sustainability education is the indispensable weapon for changing course. The will to accelerate exists in institutions and among young people, but this change must be made systemically for it to have significance. By training teachers in sustainability and a new pedagogical approach so that they become initiators and not an obstacle to change. To make all 60,000 schools green – starting from (not getting to) those in the suburbs and inland areas, forgotten by the land system, but at the center of the climate crisis. Reiterates the importance of and the rules of independence for those developing curricula or educations. And to give centrality to children and young people, the true leaders of this turning point, who can only reach our homes, communities, institutions and companies based on school.