School is perhaps the most neglected sector of society, out of any debate that interests public opinion. We are not talking about it if the striking case does not happen. Yet it is the most successful example of “resilience,” the social virtue of the time in which we live.
In the last two years, the school has undergone everything and more, and has absorbed blow by blow into the incredible. Nevertheless, the machine, understood as an organization, still stands, functioning in the sense that every morning more than seven million students and over a million workers come in, all involved in the great education and training service.
Yes, but what education and training? For years, the school has been in an unstoppable, certified decline from the annual reports for the Invalsi testswhich in theory should serve to activate improvement, not to attest to failure.
The gap between the goals set out in the study plans and the actual results is getting ever deeper. Invalsi tells us that the percentage of students who “do not achieve sufficient results” is growing year by year, especially in Italian and mathematics. At the national average level, albeit with significant territorial differences, percentages of around 50% are now reached with an increase of many points in the last two years.
The annual Invalsi report in July always attracts media attention. The school suddenly makes headlines. Two days. Then everything ends there until the next report, which inevitably goes worse than the previous one (the negative trend has distant roots). If there is “a stop of decline” it is almost seen as a success.
Once in a while someone brings the evidence to our young people “They do not understand a simple written text”, a text with two subordinates, not a Manzoni period. Years ago Betrothed Period analysis was done and students understood the structure and meaning of 15-line periods. Now the text of the novel has become literally incomprehensible to the vast majority, who are content to read the summaries of the plot. But even the summary of the novel will soon be archived because it is “useless” compared to today. Communication via SMS and Twitter has led to the inability to understand a text that fills well over 140 characters. And the school almost threw the towel in the ring. Efforts to increase language and logic skills have been in vain. It seems that they are also convinced in the ministry, because the priorities are quite different.
Exhaustion or resilience?
The school is lived with total resignation especially by those who work there. Especially in the last year, it seems incredible that we have been able to endure everything that has happened and continue. Out of a sense of duty, someone says. Either for exhaustion or for “resilience”, no one knows.
During the winter period, there was virus and quarantine chaos, with a tsunami of primary and secondary rank rules, notes, rules, circulars, slides, summary / explanatory tables, detailed provisions for any situation, destined to change from month to month. to month, from week to week, with an unmanageable tangle for everyone except at school, where the latest update is regularly followed “without saying bao”, to use a term that is dear to Minister Bianchi.
So the vaccines, the green passport, the super green passport to have access to any recreational or sporting activity from the age of 12, with discrimination between vaccinated and unvaccinated students. A few weak voices against it rose to say that in school one can not “discriminate”. But the “new normal” quickly took over, with masks close to the nose and mouth until June, albeit at intervals, open classrooms and record temperatures. Eventually, the state exams conducted under African heat conditions with the sole supply of a hard blower, perhaps brought from home to survive. And there is still talk of ventilation systems that may need to be installed at the beginning of next school year. The third in a row! Meanwhile, courses are being held on “mandatory” courses for health and safety at work.
Also guillotine competition for the role of teacher, with multiple choice quizzes and an error rate of up to 90% in some competition classes. Simplification and guarantee of objectivity, it was said in the beginning, only to admit the errors and the inadequacy of the test.
Not to mention the contract has expired and has not yet been renewed, with the small wage increases to be satisfied. A permanent job is now considered a privilege for the few.
“Inclusive and loving” school. And the skills?
After all, school continues. This year, for a few months, it was guaranteed a little more than the “face to face” opening. The main commitment was directed at the organizational efforts to deal with emergency situations on a daily basis. From March onwards, there was a didactic resumption, however, the lost time has a weight in the training process. However, it seems that this is also of little interest to families who are determined to say “enough father” but ready to postpone the education gaps. For the majority of parents, a diploma is enough.
Finally, the war’s new emergency in Ukraine was not just a topic for discussion. The generous welcome of 30,000 Ukrainian students demonstrated the school’s ability to be an institution “Inclusive and loving”as Minister Bianchi said.
It is therefore the school that is functional for today’s society. But we do not think it can offer quality training yet. This is a residual opportunity entrusted to the abilities of some leaders and the professionalism of some teachers. It is no longer the basic mission. Probably so with the hypocritical astonishment when Invalsi attests to the new reality.
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