“If you talk about it in class, yourself

School is over, the war continues: perhaps it will end – and it is hoped – before the bell rings again, but talking about it in class has been and must be an educational opportunity and the maturation of critical thinking. This is what Dario Ianes is convinced, who together with Liliana Segre, Stefano Vicari, Alberto Pellai, Daniela Lucangeli, Sara Franch is publishing the volume “War: the words to say it” (Erickson editions, in bookstores from 27 June) : a collective reflection, from various childhood and youth experts, on what to say and how to say it, at home as in the classroom, when war enters our lives, albeit indirectly. Talk about it, and do not be silent, first of all: this is the first recommendation that the six authors share. Because talking about war, at home as well as in the classroom, can be a valuable opportunity for growth.

“In my thirty years of working to promote and spread the memory of the Shoah, I have certainly met thousands of girls and boys, they were my most important interlocutors – writes Liliana Segre in the first chapter – I have always tried to stimulate young people and adults not only to learn about history, but to be active protagonists in the story itself, to take responsibility, to never turn their heads away, to welcome those fleeing war, famine, persecution. it becomes the story of civil consciousness.It is the ‘method’ that I have always tried to follow and promote, as it was then for Don Milan’s ‘I care’: knowledge and memory, but also interest in the other, in the different, for those who need and knock on “your door”.

Dario Ianes, why this volume?
The idea came from Vicari because we published one months ago book on the effects of the pandemic. Earlier I had edited a very interesting volume, op how to talk about ISIS for children, who at the time were very afraid of terrorism. We had involved several writers to give courage to parents and teachers, and provide useful information to talk to the children about this complex problem. Now the war in Ukraine seemed like a topic to be addressed, so I accepted the proposal and involved other writers to provide some help in the sea of ​​problems.

Your chapter is dedicated to warfare explained in class: but will it be discussed again in September?
I hope so. I certainly hope the war is over, but I think it’s instructive and formative to talk about war. What we state in our chapter is then a valid approach beyond war and preparedness: it is a way, a mindset, to address controversial issues without dividing the world into good and evil. It means to build complex thinking, which separates, which understands, which puts itself in the place of the other: it means not to relativize, but also to take a stand and build one’s own affirmation, but in a cooperative, respectful, complex documented path. By tackling these issues, the teacher becomes a model for a person looking for who at the moment does not know has no answer, lies in the uncertainty of not knowing, but with the certainty of searching. It thus becomes an epistemological model: we seek together, we try to understand. The school must be the place where one learns to build complexity in cases. In Edgar Morin’s extraordinary volume “The Seven Knowledge Necessary for the Education of the Future” (a volume that is more than a century old but retains all its relevance), the ability to deal with uncertainty was identified as the first knowledge. The school must convey hopes that are different from just skills, and must be the place where one can exercise them, even when dealing with different “alignments”, which often multiply in our classes, also due to the different origins of the students. . War then becomes an education and training “pretext”, just as terrorism could be, or migration, or how the climate emergency situation should be.

Will it therefore be opportune for us to return to the classroom in September to talk about war?
Yes, it was spoken so warmly that most of the teachers did it, in solidarity and emotionally. Now let’s keep talking about it, cold: When it comes to citizenship, this is planetary citizenship. Current events at school are a big dilemma, not everyone agrees on how “waterproof” our classes should be. For some, school needs to protect, but I do not think it can become a bubble. It is certainly a great obligation for teachers to bring current events into the classroom: it means planning activities and themes beyond the routine.

Are the teachers ready to do this? How can they be helped?
This is the theme of the themes: introductory and ongoing teacher education. For years, we have been thinking about how we can reform university teacher education, providing at least a year of study to gain an understanding of the world of youth and the pre-teens, in addition to teaching and learning. On this, as on continuing education, our country is far behind. Another issue is the teachers’ personal supervision, of the emotional strain they have, to be in contact with children, but above all with young people: a harsh experience that tests as a person and brings forth rigidity, fear, insecurity. And then, in order to have teachers who are able to bring current events into the classroom and deal with complexity, the recruitment system obviously needs to be revised, which in Italy is simply insane: to be done well, recruitment has to be done locally, in small numbers , selection and improvement of even those responsible for the evaluation. Today, in our maxi competitions, candidates are much better prepared than the commissioners. And there are people at school who do not even know what school is. A serious shortage, especially for a school that wants to be spacious and able to accommodate students with disabilities. It is on this that we must work, right now, for our school to be up to the complexity with which we all have the right and duty to measure ourselves.

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