Posted by Linda Ciano – When I think of heat, Dante’s Inferno inevitably comes to mind; the opposite never happens with the cold and frost of Cocito … memories of years of catechism and of a culture from the nineties that are still strongly rooted in Catholic traditionalism.
It’s June 20, 2022. I’m at my school waiting for the state exam plenary session to begin, and … it’s terribly hot. I actually have two meetings because I have taught two. Oddly enough, I’m a little anxious. Waiting and getting to know the presidents always creates a feeling of slight discomfort; experience has taught me that unpleasant encounters sometimes occur in the roulette of appointments.
It starts. After the presentations, it is an increasing vortex of stacked papers, documents struggling in colored folders, sheets left at random and soon forgotten, grids and evaluations, grades and judgments, more or less chaotic work plans.
It’s official: The state exam has started again this year … Sighs are heard wandering around the room, chasing each other and taking turns; there is some galvanized. The others … We look at each other with eyelids swirling between apathy and disappointment, resignation and the desire to finish soon.
Now … Someone used to say that the question can only arise spontaneously: what are the state exams for? And there are those who say that it is the official and indispensable culmination of the end of the student’s educational path; who report manuscript sentences in a strictly didactic language, the one who is surrounded by delicious words with a psychopedagogical aftertaste and who with flashy narcissism forgets that the school consists of gestures, culture, emotions and
people; there are even professors and presidents who love these useless exams to the point that they put a range of strategies into play aimed at devouring the student and exalting themselves, bearers of cultural greatness and incredible mastery, with a complacency that scares. and creates pity, at least for me.
My dear Messeri from the Ministry, which we, like Voldemort, dare not mention (much, in spite of generations and names that follow each other, very small changes …), it has never occurred to you that this “affair” of Mussolini’s memory could be eliminated to invest the resources used for the exam – many, too many … – in innovation, teacher training, renovations, projects and ways to make the school better and perhaps
give it back the status of an education agency from which it has been completely deprived? In the fluid society – Baumandocet – the school has not only lost its dignity, but is constantly denounced because its social role is apparently completely overshadowed by a swirling world where ideals and values are the last bastion, fragile, dramatically fragile, of a system , which confuses minds and keeps them entangled in a limbo of alienation and flattening; where critical thinking, interpretation, study, and culture are continually shattered, as in a perverted labyrinthine game from which it is impossible to escape. The school is a part of us; it is the essential opening of our lives; it is an osmotic refuge of variegated voices, listening to each other for the positive construction of our identity, in a social and social universe where every moment constitutes a kind of attack on our personal, physical and mental categories.
But what I feel with greater grief, as a teacher still in love with his work and desperately rooted in an idea of growth and
well-being in a place that has for me the sanctity of a temple is that we have now become a bureaucratic gear whose state exams represent the degenerate apotheosis.
Just think of how they are constructed and the incredible ability, if not the will, to make them worse year after year: the Italian test – common to all addresses, and this would already require specific treatment – consists of three types, which are reminiscent me about the Pirandello characters in “Six Characters in Search of a Writer”. They wander cautiously around the sheet, claiming to play their part on a confused and filled stage.
Type A: analysis of a literary text complete with indicative questions and production requests;
Type 2: Argumentative text … And here the question mark could be multiplied exponentially, because the clues do not respect the basic requirements of a pure argumentative text, but wander into an intermediate thing, where the section on “Understanding and analysis” occupies type A and “Production “asks the student to structure an incipient text in which they can argue for their opinion, often without the possibility or request for refutation;
Type 3: argumentative-expository reflection on current topics: perhaps among the three the trace from which the student’s writing ability is most evident.
Now I wonder, and I ask you: how can a written production be limited to an almost accounting approach of paragraphs and subsections and questions and titles “appropriately paragraphed” and numbers and …? Writing is an expression of the soul, it is the juice of the mind and the heart, it is the voice of creativity and interpretation. How can it be reduced to this vivisection as if it were a corpse cleansed of academic anatomical interests? To
me who writes and loves to write above all else, allow me, these types are an abomination. Much simpler could not be offered to children a series – numerically definable – of clues, where an analysis of the text is required with only the text and the reference notes or the development of a current topic and, if anything, a clue historically, the latter brutally suppressed for some years ago? This, in the hypothesis, where you want to force the state exams alive – waste of resources …
And will we talk about the oral interviews? Do we really want to talk? I think there is a malignant tendency to formative involution in the oral interview … And this malignant tendency bears its name in common sight, glorious virtues of modern times: multi-disciplinary and / or interdisciplinary paths … Explain me – because I just do not get there – as one in an address like Agriculture, for example, can expect to put together, in one
misleading nonsense, disciplines like those that address the humanities. How can one come up with composing the pascolic symbolology of the fauna and flora elements with a technical-scientific dissertation of the same elements … e.g. …
In recent days, I have often heard of students confusing the leopard hedge, a metaphorical box with polysemous interpretations, for “bushes”; I myself have witnessed the “wonder” of Mussolini becoming King of Italy and listening to Giovanni Pascoli while recounting the experience in the trenches … It is damn indisputable that our boys and their preparation have been greatly influenced by the degenerate effects of FAR as it is
it is fundamentally true that the school today moves between the fine masks of a value and social system that undermines its pedagogical basis for landing on real and virtual shores, much more fascinating to our students. On the other hand, it is equally objective to note that in view of the difficulties encountered by the Italian school, ministerial dictates are often schizophrenic, apathetic, and dominated by political or pseudopolitical purposes that separate normative practice from effective and long period. And then it happens that MIUR in practice, complete with official letterhead, asks the boys who claim to be lexical elements that simply do not exist in the Pascoli lyrical subject of analysis. And it seems to be a trivial event. Or maybe not. To you the awkward sentence. But after all, this is my flowing stream of consciousness – rebellious and unstoppable for his
same nature – between questionable clues, random evaluations, paths bordering on paroxysm, tired and unmotivated colleagues, presidents sometimes egocentric and despotic and too eager to avoid appeals, perhaps it could lead to reflection.
And then there is the heat of June and July, the fans in the face, the fans explained, the “web commission” not working, the mirage of a promised summer, and so, and so, and so … Maybe it would be desirable to rethink the possibility or not keep the state exam alive, and if this provocation of mine should prove to be blasphemous for some, it would be nice if the students could end their education path with a ceremony, with touch why not ?, where to tell and tell each other, remember their best moments and even the bad ones, the ones that mark you and make you grow, along with their teachers who will be for them, for better or worse, life references, mentors and guides in the most rosy and flattering views.
Because we talk so much about people referring to our children, but my impression – to be honest – is that we, taken from papers, acronyms and digital minutes, do not even realize that we are seeing them leave our lives without ourselves to have eye contact with them, perhaps for the last time.