School without soul. Neither meat nor fish for ‘medium’

60 years have passed since the school reform, which introduced the uniform middle school, that is, a cycle of study that would make it possible to eliminate discrimination between those who were sent to a vocational school and to work largely manually. from an early age, 11 years old, and who on the other hand could have the privilege and the means to continue their studies up to the university and the highest levels of education and training.

Since then, many things have changed, and even the middle school, which in fact, already in the years of the fascist regime, planned to be transformed, with a unified and formative intention, but the Bottai reform did not have time to be launched due to the war and the fall of the regime. Specifically, even that reform was not exempt from discrimination and division, as its three-year course was divided into three directions: the school of crafts, intended for a country class that was then the majority of the country, the vocational school, more in-depth than the first, directed against those who at that time wished to continue with specifically technical studies, and finally the individual middle school, intended for those who were later to be enrolled in colleges and universities, which then happened with the reform 60 years ago, postpone any craft and professional path to it.

In fact, that reform already had some internal flexibility, as it initially allowed everyone to read Latin as well, but before they reached the exam, which was also established for the Latin language, they chose whether to take it, with the opportunity to access high school, or during the past year attend a technical training course instead, based more on practical than theoretical activities. The first individual middle school also provided repair exams in all three years of study in the various individual subjects and the impossibility of being promoted with more than three subjects for “repair”.

Basically, the goal of this path was to encourage the growth and maturation of students at a particularly delicate puberty to the physical and mental development of each individual, without predetermining an outcome to the detriment of the individual student’s awareness of orientation. according to his views on the future.

A lot of time has passed since then, and even the middle school of that time has undergone many reforms, both in the curriculum structure and in the assessment systems and in the methods of training and integration of students. First, the judgments were introduced instead of the grades, then again the grades instead of the judgments (in the series we changed everything so as not to change anything), a unit curriculum was established, but planning the didactic activities according to the specific realities and training needs of each class, rather than according to the ministerial programs, the Latin and substitute exam was abolished. Above all, an attempt was made to integrate the different special conditions of disabled students, students with special educational needs and educational delays in each class, with the aim above all to create a cohesive class group, free from internal discrimination, in which they were placed in the formation of the future citizen and his ability to orientate himself in the civil context in which he finds himself, with the awareness of his cultural orientations to be elaborated in the course of higher education, in the foreground.

Obviously, with this path we wanted to emphasize the pedagogical aspect more than the eminent didactic curriculum, and make the subjects themselves a tool for human and cultural growth and maturation, in the awareness that similar topics would again be addressed and elaborated . in the higher education cycle.

This scheme did not work perfectly, but in its general objectives, until the end of the last century. About twenty years ago, in fact, more for budgetary reasons than for educational reasons, a series of reforms began, focusing in particular on this very delicate cycle of studies, with the sole purpose of eliminating it definitively. They have not been able to remove it, especially due to the very strong opposition from the school staff and public opinion, but they have weakened it greatly and the desire to eradicate it never ends.

From the years when Minister Berlinguer was thinking of abolishing a year in middle school, which combined middle and primary schools, to Minister Gelmini, who reduced curriculum, especially for the humanities, through the construction of extensive institutes, in some cases even huge institutes , involving the direction and the extremely complex administration of middle schools along with primary schools, up to the often artificial construction of bureaucratic figures in support of the management of these institutions, the road was very twisted. And above all, he has gradually transformed the teacher, whose main task is to educate and train his students in synergy with his colleagues, into a little bureaucrat who breathes between a report, a monitoring and preparation of reports, moreover, gradually completely computerized, because the registers are no longer agendas that one can fill in to realize one’s educational path, in itinerant but simple electronic forms which, once drawn up, no longer change, under the increasingly irreconcilable and invasive eyes of parents who are ready to resort to legal avenues in order to affirm the sacred rights of their children, even when they are not shining with great dedication to study and participation. But the teacher’s cliché of a few hours a week, a few days a month, and a few months a year of work is still hard to die for. It’s enough for the culture to die, and the smartphone, the latest discovery of the platonic cave in the palm of its hand, has been established

There is no reason to bother Severino to realize that a profession which, unfortunately, has always been affected, especially in Italy, by wages lower than those of other similar categories in Europe and in the world, and which rightly requires a high margin for autonomy and “free”. teaching “(as our constitution also says) has been reduced to a” function of a technical apparatus “, where the teacher is more akin to a” gear “whose main purpose is to integrate with the apparatus itself instead of contributing to the growth of humans. during training.

The triumph of this reductio ad unum apparatus, which is clearly in conflict with the presumed autonomy of each school and with every humanistic intention, is the monitoring and selection based on the quiz, the definitive glorification of media technology as the promotion of the individual and individualism

Surveillance systems run by an institution that is essentially unrelated to the school called INVALSI have been introduced and enforced, an extraordinary symbol for those who have decided to assert themselves without criticism or comparison with the school world, which had originally even pretended to influence evaluation, didactics of the student, rather than being limited to monitoring his skills. However, it completely ignores what history, art, music, philosophy, even science are in a country where three quarters of the world’s artistic and cultural heritage is located.

As if that were not enough, teachers are also selected on the basis of recruitment systems worthy of a TV quiz competition, with questions that are often ambiguous but do not require analytical and critical skills, but a single dry answer, as if the teacher do it. not he should be qualified for the complexity and specificity of teaching, but he should have a driver’s license on the increasingly uneven road in his class.

After 60 years of reformist rage that has only led to confusion, disorientation, depression and mistrust among those who perform one of the most important occupations for the same stability in social and institutional systems, a right-wing and a left-wing exponent is final. agree and say the same sentence. Salvini and Bianchi believe that middle school, not the weakest link, of course, but more delicate than the entire study cycle, “is neither meat nor fish”

We will ask ourselves with what pedagogical, cultural, psychological or docimological skills they confirm this, given that this consideration is more suitable for those who have it as a butcher or fishmonger. But in any case, not in the Kantian area “of ends”, but in “leave or double”, where even a teacher’s career is defined by the answers to the quizzes given at the end of the training courses, even with a minister selected based on the question: “what should the middle school be, more meat or more fish?” there is a risk of silence or even worse that he responds: “a salami” that obviously gives more of a picture of what the respondent is than what he would like the object of his attention to be.

In a society of traders even at a high level, where competence and growth are measured in power and profit, the school risks being a “society of foreigners”, because we only work for the love of people, their best deeds and of nature. an attitude which, especially with the resurgence of the war and the ongoing environmental destruction, appears almost mad and manic.

An oriental proverb says that “The Master opens the door, but you have to enter alone” A bit difficult in a context where the doors are constantly slammed in the face of the Masters.

Yet only the work of great masters can still save us from the suicide of our species and in particular from ourselves.

Carlo Felici

Leave a Comment