SCHOOL / Basic education, the biggest absences: evaluation and career

The Executive Order no. 36, published in the Official Gazette on 30 April last, discipline, by art. 44 to art. 47, the issue of the basic training of teachers and their recruitment. The norm is based on the recognition that a teacher’s professionalism can not only consist of the professional preparation, ie in the knowledge of the subject he intends to teach, but that it also requires specific knowledge of psychopedagogical and didactic nature and above all the ability to use the latter effectively in class.

The assumption is not insignificant when one considers that many teachers still teach today in the same way that their teachers used to adopt, that is, when they were still students. The rate of reproduction of traditional teaching methods is still very strong in Italy today, and the prejudice that simply knowledge of a subject is sufficient to develop the ability to teach is well rooted. The knowledge that is certainly essential cannot be considered exhaustive in itself for the teaching profession without the support of didactic techniques. So the precondition for changes in basic education and recruitment is acceptable.

The issue of continuing education is also being relaunched, which was already clearly addressed in the so-called Good School Act (Act 107/2015). Paragraph 124 of Art. 1 actually affirmed that it should have been compulsory, permanent and structural, but subsequently these normative definitions were “emptied” of meaning by leaving it to the teaching staff to quantify the hours for the training itself. It is clear that the unions, which since its inception have been against the law of the Good School, have had a good game in evading such an obligation, thanks to the modest number of hours approved by the teaching staff. Now, with the recently announced decree, Continuing education for teachers, which is always defined as continuous and structured, seems to be coming back and aims to encourage the innovation of teaching models, especially in the light of the experience of the health emergency.

Part of it, whether digital skills and their critical use, will be compulsory for all and will take place within working hours, but it will also introduce a system of updating and training, always aimed at innovative didactic planning, which will be carried out outside working hours. In this perspective, a wage incentive will also be given.

Finally, the foundation has been laid for a high school that will adopt specific guidelines and accredit the structures that offer the courses to guarantee their quality. Its activities will also be aimed at managers and employees.

Therefore, there are various innovations, the coherence of which will only become apparent in the implementation phase, because, as you know, the implementation rules, often defined in consultation with the unions, manage to mitigate or circumvent the most important changes. In particular, the transient phase envisaged risks, as has happened in other cases, being definitively transformed in accordance with Flaiano’s aphorism, for which “nothing is more definitive than the provisional”. Perishability will be harder to overcome if it allows for the maintenance of benefits for some subjects.

Above all, it is not clear how the teaching professionalism is to be measured concretely in the context of the actual teaching experience, against which the measuring tools and institutions that are able to evaluate it must be stated. Nor can we see the definition of a career on the horizon that can strengthen the high professionalism working in the school. In fact, the latter often perform basic support functions for the school system: how can we ensure that they continue to be maintained over time?

Many of these teachers, who are indispensable to the schools, achieve meager financial rewards and even less recognition on the moral level. In fact, the state insists on maintaining a frustrating and unrealistic egalitarianism that ignores the profound differences between those who work by giving their soul and those who, on the other hand, are content with the minimum.

Above all, it ignores what was done by these teachers (along with school leaders) during the period of the pandemic. Many of those who in the most difficult moments have offered an uninterrupted commitment, even at the expense of personal sacrifices, retire today and live their current state of disappointment. Having made the necessary differences, it almost seems as if the myth of the “mutilated victory” has been resurrected, which had spread among the veterans of the Great War, who had risked their lives and fought relentlessly in the trenches, only to turn back to the usual problems, exacerbated by the post-war economic crisis.

However, the definition of a teaching career would represent a step of a meritocratic nature against which school associations would not hesitate to trigger their mobilization. Merit, his friend Roger Abravanel would suggest, continues to be intimidating.

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