About some effects of school autonomy

I happened to read about School technology an article written by Alvaro Belardinelli, which proposes an assessment of the 22 years of Italian school autonomy and immediately after a teacher, entitled The bitter consequences of a school confusing mass education with mass promotion. Belardinelli’s balance is clear, objective and passionless: he is also worried and quite pessimistic.

I am adding the teacher’s letter to this interesting article because it allows me to focus on some negative effects of “school autonomy”. I was struck by the beginning, as I say: “In addition to the usual institutional greetings on the website of our school, a classical-language high school, I thought that it is certainly nice to end the year with a reflection on good feelings, and that it is without a doubt comforting to all who our students are happy to be good instead of learnedit “. Contrary to the title, fascinated by the vagueness of the period, I did a little research and went back to the source at the high school” Romagnosi “in Parma.


Reading the principal’s “year-end greetings” made me better understand what the teacher meant. Here is an excerpt: One of our students […] reflects on the experience of the PCTO in the third sector […] he wrote: “Human contactthis has been my case […]. Laugh, joke, talk […] And to do this, there is no need for Dante or analytical geometry, nor genetics or Plato, it is enough to be men“. Basically, it’s a nice summary of the school year, which from the end the whole path lights up: when everything what you studiedknown, encountered does not remain as visionism, […] but it becomes culture, vital knowledgeso much a part of who you are that you allow yourself just be a man […]”

This is the controversial goal of the professor, who writes to defend the idea that teachers should have “responsibility for creating skills in tomorrow’s citizens and workers“And not just to promote ‘good feelings’. And then, he continues, mass education should not be confused with mass promotion. authority.The first is the shyness of dealing with something that has created discomfort.

The leader’s “greeting” could be criticized without pretext, but whoever wrote it preferred to allude. The principal has clearly explained her thoughts, while the teacher criticizes it covertly. Why is he doing this? In order not to bring “discredit” to your school (another effect induced by school autonomy: never “bad publicity” to your school)?

In order not to get on a collision course with the management? I do not know, but I see it as an exercise in voluntary bondage, as nothing prevents explicit criticism of a text that is published. And it is precisely subordination that is one of the most serious limits of a class of teachers that has now lost its intellectual pride and clings, as it can, to the waste of the “serious” school, a ghost that is often provoked, but now overcome by technocratic-bureaucratic school that is getting stronger every day.

This school, which has renounced its main function (the dissemination of knowledge) can also have a “human face” and is the school that the principal talks about, moved by the student’s words. If a boy says that “to laugh, joke, chat, neither Dante nor analytical geometry, etc. are needed. etc. just be men“, Continue; if a woman with an education approves it and is set to head an important institute, the matter becomes more serious.

But the leader actually says something deeply different from what the boy writes in good faith: “What you have studied, known, encountered, does not remain as intended, something is stuck in your head, but becomes culture, vital knowledge […]”. The boy did not find anyone who made him reflect on what the value of knowledge is, so much so that he expels it from proper human contexts (laugh, joke, chat). It is naive, but it also comes from the student’s young age. In the words of the leader, we can instead see filigree tribute to some idol tribus of the people of the school: the recognition of the value of PCTOs and soft valuesa broken lance in favor of skills and against “notionism”.

All spiced with a sauce that unites the current school with the ancient: the rhetoric of good feelings. I close the speech circularly and go back to the balance of the twenty years of “school autonomy”: negative balance, because in these twenty years, the little authentic democratic and progressive that existed in the school between the sixties and nineties in recent years. century has been crushed. The teacher class has lost its orientation, immersed in a deluge of reforms, all appalling but all oriented in one direction: the class school, which is very different from the mass school.

And the contrast is not between “mass education and mass promotion”, but between families who can guarantee their children a good level of education and families who are not capable of it. It is not new that Italian society lacks social mobility; the school, the institution that most of all should guarantee it, is today set up to reproduce inequality. This is a fact: ISTAT statistics confirm it. It will not be the pathetic defense of one’s own teaching subject or the invocation of rigor and discipline that will improve the school.

The school will be better when a sufficient mass of people of all ages and conditions greatly feel the need for greater social justice and will move, so that the republic removes the economic and social obstacles that actually limit the freedom and equality of citizens. It is not a revolutionary program, but Article 3 of the Constitution: it is time to take it seriously.

Giovanna Lo Presti, Ungeskolen

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