SCHOOL / End of year, last call to escape the growing inhumanity

“Professor, but do you love us?”. Silvia’s questions surprise me in the break, in the courtyard in front of the entrance to the classical high school, where I teach. “Of course I want you! Can’t you see it?”. “Yes, prof. You can see it,” reassures my third high school student. we have reached the end of high school.

It’s been a difficult year. Exit from the PC screens, materialized in the classroom, our students’ faces seemed easily recognizable even behind the masks. One could look them in the eye and resume the interrupted speech, or rather only transposed at a distance, almost two years earlier. It was necessary to hurry to catch up on the lost time and prevent possible setbacks of the pandemic.

As we progressed through the school year, we realized in the pro room that having them “in presence” did not mean having them “present” at all. Since returning from the Christmas holidays, in fact after the euphoria of a new “normality”, we had seen them spread in the thousands of streams of preparatory courses for the entrance exams of the university faculties in the effort to obtain the necessary language certifications and finally to take time off to attend the fateful tests on which their future in their eyes really depended. And then my students’ days were filled with things to do while the lesson hours were emptied of energy and relevance. You tried to grab their humanity and it escaped you, impregnable in your hands like an eel.

The question was its plastic representation. Between April and May, it was necessary to repeat name calls to find a prepared person. Having two terminal classes, the one of the more “cunning” exhibited “volunteers” who, already in the “small university” state, “brought” the authors as presented in the textbook. No trace of the overwhelming and current danger of Orwell’s expected homologation and depersonalization that I had become hot on in class; no evidence of a “company” determination in the struggle to resist this dehumanization process, as Tolkien and Eliot have indicated; no personal responsibility for the indifference of the adult world that Salinger condemns.

The word that my IIIA most loathed was “meaning”. “But why are you so angry at nihilism, prof?” exclaims Stefania angrily. “Nothing holds, everything ends in nothing”. “What should parents tell Holden about little brother Allie’s death? What can one say in the face of death?”. I want to tell about myself, but Anna intervenes to confirm her partner’s words. “You can very well live your life with the things you have to do every day, without drama, although nothing has an ultimate meaning“. I am reminded of the pictures of the cleansed houses in Severodonetsk, which I find increasingly difficult to look at in an addictive context, where between Russia and Ukraineto lose risks being my humanity.

“Can’t wait to get out of this school mmerda! “Stefania ends the discussion. For a moment I expect the sacred walls of our host institution to fall upon us. The gods of Olympus, on the other hand, spare us pitifully.

There is no point in insisting: I question. I send the volunteers to the professorship. “Tell me about you“I encourage them by sitting down between the desks. As I pass through the row of desks, I give up for the first time calling Giulia, who is sitting in front of me, continuing to text and hiding her cell phone between herself and the pen holder so I do not notice it. If reality really has no meaning, then what prevents you from burying any call to make room for something greater than your own sense of the moment in indifference? Do I still want the good for Giulia?

Last lesson. Shortness of breath and gasping under the mask after the thirty-five degrees of a Sicilian summer that has already broken out, I walk down the corridor towards Silvia’s class.

I want to greet them with a piece of music. “When I see you, I see hope,” Roo Panes sings, turning to his Ophelia. “At the end of these years together – I say goodbye to my students – I hope to have helped you to be a little more confident that life is to you and not against. And I wish you always have someone to look to, a face that sees the hope resurface in you that what you want is there, that it is possible ”. Even though that face was not mine.

What’s left for me this year? It risks drowning in the lament of bankruptcy, in the meat chopper of my inadequacy budgets, or it may become a request, perhaps a prayer, that the mysterious and beautiful design of their existence be fulfilled beyond the time horizon delimited by electronic register and my ability to want their good. Not in a scribble, but, as “my Wilde” says: in a work of art.

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