Teacher education, the future of the school and the progress of the country

I am aware that the one I am referring to may appear to be an outdated reflection, but since this reflection is very topical, I will briefly refer to it to start mine. I refer to the reflection on the school by Ernesto Galli della Loggia, published in Corriere della Sera of 25/09/2020 entitled “The quality (denied) at school”. The author starts by asking and asking ourselves what the meaning of the phrase that is most abused of all when it comes to school is: “We need to invest in education”. Then the author goes on to list the possible areas of this investment need with some questions: “In the right to education? In construction? In the South? By reducing school dropouts? In teachers’ salaries? In favoring courses and places of excellence? In digitalization, in promoting one subject sector at the university rather than another? ”To these areas, other basic areas can be added for the education sector to function optimally. the latter of the various problems.The latter goes first and foremost through the centrality-quality of the teachers, and I would add to the whole school staff, from the headmaster to the assistants.

It is not my intention here to criticize the idea of ​​Ernesto Galli della Loggia, about whom I have only reported on the ideas I share, albeit with some emphasis, but the reference to his article, which was published only a few months after the pandemic start. (and not two and a half years later) I have to reflect on the problem of the problems in the Italian primary school up to the majority age of the new generations, which is its quality.

First of all, I believe that we need to examine what the purpose of this public service should be, which is why I am based on Article 34 of our unrivaled Constitution. In it, the voters wanted to emphasize that the school must be open to all and also must be inclusive through instruments of a compulsory nature and the provision of benefits for the “skilled and deserving” who go to it. In this way, the basic legislation was intended to assist the Republic in carrying out the fundamental task which it has, which is the one provided for in Article 3, the pillar on which the whole Constitution is based, in the essential part of the ratification of the principle of equality: “It is the duty of the republic to remove the obstacles … which prevent the full development of the human person …”.

When this is the case, it is precisely from this “full development of the human person” that we must begin. The overall purpose of the primary school can only be the formation of a free, critical, active and cultured human person, that is, a citizen who is aware of his rights, free from any condition and able to claim them, with a developed critical capacity. and interpretation of the reality that surrounds him, the result of a secure possession of a knowledge as broad as possible.
I realize that pursuing this goal is not a simple thing, but school autonomy, at least in theory, has tried to make it more achievable. It entered into force on 1 September this year. 2000-2001 (I was in service at the socio-psycho-pedagogical and linguistic high school “Palumbo” in Brindisi, first as a school principal and then as a school principal), but was born from a conference on the School, held ten years earlier on the initiative of our current President of the Republic of Mattarella, Rapporteur Sabino Cassese, and made feasible through the subsequent legislative measures of the Governments Prodi 1 and D’Alema 1 and 2 by Minister Luigi Berlinguer and by the Amato 2 Government by Minister Tullio De Mauro. This fundamental part of the school reform (Act No. 59 of 15 March 1997, Implementing Regulation of this Act, Presidential Decree No. 275 of 8 March 1999) was continued until the end of the 13th parliamentary term. With the 14th election period, the center-right returned in the saddle with Berlusconi 2 and 3, the reform suffered some setbacks, but the school’s autonomy is now law and no one can think of lifting it. For the last twenty years it has resisted and, I would say, advanced because of the experience it has accumulated.

With these measures, the Italian school, whose profile was traced by our Constitution in Articles 3, 33, 34, finds a clear explanation of its intentions. In fact, Presidential Decree No 275 of 8 March 1999 states that autonomy: “is a guarantee of freedom of education and cultural pluralism and is incorporated into the planning and implementation of education, training and education interventions aimed at human development, appropriate to the different contexts, to the demand from families and to the specific characteristics of the topics involved “. It is a task that unequivocally moves towards achieving a quality product, the structure of which requires the individual school unit and, above all, the teachers who work there: the precise will to develop their competencies and to take full responsibility in didactic research, in the production of documentation of teaching materials, in the development of the local curriculum and new models for didactic organization, in the guidance of newly hired teachers, possess the ability to analyze the existing, the surrounding environment, programming, definition of goals, learning goals, reading of the guidelines, the relationship to all the subjects involved and of course introspection towards them.

Scuola della Repubblica was not prepared for this, but after more than twenty years, some steps forward have certainly moved it. However, we must bitterly state that we have not even touched the quality, if not on a remote island in our national territory. Add to this the fact that these years of the pandemic have dug the furrow even more and interrupted even the virtuous processes that had been set in motion. For example, the Invalsi data in its 2021 national report tell us this, but not only. The invalsi data, which confirm the skills of Italian and mathematics in students attending middle and high school, although not exhaustive for a complete analysis of the problem, are alarming. They are significantly worse than in 2019 and they are worse than previous years. As if to say that the deterioration is not only due to the phenomenon of learning loss that Puglia suffers the most from, i.e. the loss of skill levels and also of knowledge and skills of the students after the prolonged interruption of learning paths, as it due to the pandemic, but they is certainly due to something else as well. The negative data that Invalsi has provided for years leads us to conclude that the loss of these skills in students is structural and is due to the very structure of the entire Italian school system and its malfunctions.

It is therefore a question of the age-old underlying problem, that is, of our inability to carry out the overall reform of the system, whose attempts, let me be brief, have failed since the 1970s. The path to be followed is certainly the one mentioned by Minister Luigi Berlinguer above, i.e. an overall reform of the school to be implemented in pieces, taking into account the project and the strategies to be implemented. However, even this path requires the indispensable support for the continuity of political action, which remains lacking.
However, one thing is ahead of any other intervention you can start and must do to avoid system crashes. I emphasized above how the quality of the school goes through the centrality-quality of the teachers. This is not the only thing, also considering that the School of Autonomy is an established reality, even though it must be filled with effective content horizontally in relation to the entire national area and vertically in the individual school units.
The centrality-quality of the teachers undoubtedly means aiming to pursue their basic education in all areas in terms of their knowledge, skills and abilities, but also their ongoing education, which means compulsory continuing education with any opening to the outside world: University, Associations. Research organizations etc.

I do not need to spend much on this subject because I believe that the professional trade associations have said a lot of what is to be said: Aimc – Cidi – Mce – Proteo, of course supported primarily by Flc Cgil, with the opinion addressed to the Italian Parliament : “A crucial choice: the future of our school and the cultural, economic and democratic development of our country depends on the law of basic and continuing education of teachers”. The commendable initiative was implemented because on 15 June the review of the amendments to Legislative Decree No. 2598 on the conversion of Legislative Decree 30 April 2022 n. 36, which contains further urgent measures to implement the National Recovery and Resistance Plan (Pnrr) . The discussion has started and is expected to arrive in the classroom on Monday, June 20th. I hope that the result will give a positive result similar to an idea of ​​the professionalism of senior teachers.

It is built through disciplinary knowledge and “professional knowledge in the field of psycho-pedagogical, didactic, organizational and managerial, conscious professionals who are able to work in a collaborative dynamic and to take on institutional, collective and civil responsibility.” The study plans at the university for obtaining the teacher qualification, the internships, the acquisition of educational points must complete the basic education aimed at the quality of the product. Ongoing continuing education in continuity with the initial one through the teaching centers, with the indispensable collaboration between universities, associations and schools and support from Higher Education must follow and support the teacher’s professionalism throughout his working life. The difficult road can be opened and one must start following it, the achievement of the goal is not obvious, but it is a duty to try because the future of the school and the progress of the country is at stake.

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