SCHOOL / 13 years for a small section to review: who failed?

It is the afternoon after the first exam is written. I enjoy, proudly, the choices of my fifth: 19 out of 23, that is, 83%, chose the literature test (analysis of a poem by Pascoli or excerpt from a short story by Verga), in Italy only 19%. Excellent signal, the experiment worked. Which one? Reading classics in their entirety for five years, fromOdyssey on Moral operettasfromHell ouch Octopus bones. Free of paragraphs, now they do not have to seek refuge in type C, the den of the desperate, where it is well known that it is enough to write four clichés about Covid or on the Internet: in Italy 35% have chosen it, here none.

They continue for six hours, and by the end no task is alike. The flatness of ministerial questions is swept away by familiarity with literary texts and with the book of experience. They do not dispense pre-cooked discourses of realism, but they detect differences between Nedda’s “black, large, swimming in a blue liquid” and yet “veiled by the shadowy shyness of misery” and Silvia’s “laughing and fleeing” eyes; since oysters do not cling to the rock in the manual, they save themselves from the flood of sentences made about Sicilian society in the nineteenth century, and when the protagonist cries and gives birth to “a crippled and struggling child”, they intercept, on the edge of bitterness for her unhappy fate, the sign of an immeasurable love; they also wonder if anyone cares about the distant tears and their freshest because pain distorts your features, but “it’s nice to have a heart after all”. On these sheets, a paragraph and a student do not duel, that is, two avatars, but two real subjects meet: this text and this boy.

In the evening between the first and second practice, the concert in Bari by Vasco Rossi puts me in my head, in addition to the adrenaline Just usanother chorus: “I want to make sense of this exam / even though this exam a sense does not have it“.

For example, q escapes mewhat is the meaning of the oral interview: question again? Shouldn’t six in-house teachers already have checked and overtested for a year or two or three or even five? Until the last hour of the last day of the last year, he will drool for one last question, three minutes each?!? Or would it make sense to show who knows, to whom, how much a student knows? To hear the stammer of fascists allied with the Nazis and atomic bombs on Hiroshima, the impression is that the bar settles for little more than a whiff of a truck driver clashing with the pallor of a month away from the sea; as far as Latin is concerned, graduating from science is the same as leaving professional science.

In some time the oral focuses on “conceptual knots”: the relationship between man and nature, the crisis of the profession, progress, etc. What is practice? Verga speaks Italian in progress, Dickens speaks English, in the story the industrial revolution. What is missing is the simple question: what do you say about progress? Because “progress” is the topic, but what would your thesis be? The monologues oscillate between the repetition of the small sections and a few waves of opinion from the bar, both enemies of affective knowledge, i.e. of a personal assessment not according to, but within the studied. Maybe nobody taught these guys how to argue. Questions were always asked about the paragraph. Then it was enough to add any false slogan like “we should respect the environment” or “today young people live on mobile phones, while the true values ​​are different” to praise their critical spirit.

Still, the ministerial order spoke clearly: “to argue in a critical and personal way”, “interdisciplinary”, “avoid a rigid distinction” between subjects. It would require a compact discourse which develops a thesis through documented logical steps. But after years of impassable fences between disciplines, are we being tricked into a miraculous improvisation in extremis?

Some examples of interdisciplinarity: the hypersphere in Dante’s paradise in the reading of the physicist Patapievici; Heisenberg and the Titanic as collision points for Comet positivism; the relationship between truth and beauty i Zibaldone as a synthesis between Enlightenment geometrization and poetic sensibility: differences with respect to Keats.

In the absence of this habitus, all that is left is to rage between bizarre connections, which is the grave of any serious disciplinary and interdisciplinary path. Many young people have already put pen to paper, in good time, not only what the knots will be, but also what topics for each topic and in what order they will reveal them: cutting a corner for themselves is an eventuality not considered .

At least today, however, the questions should be reversed: more than “do you know this?”, “What do you think?”; more than “what do you want to do now?”, “who are you now?”. No intelligent boy would respond to the latter regardless of the former. Yet, after a life behind the school desks, we do not consider them capable of such broad horizons. In fact, the corridors are overshadowed by nineteen-year-olds who, the minute before the oral exam, nervously repeat a few paragraphs from the notebook. Perhaps they have not found written in any book that culture is what remains when you have forgotten everything you have learned, and that the goal of knowing is therefore to see and, instead of remembering, to understand.

We had thirteen years to tell him, but there was no time. Now we stay true to the line and once again examine the information it has swallowed and expelled. It is unthinkable that the ball of knowledge is heated by a well-founded and original thought. In a whisper I whisper another song, by Niccolò Fabi: “I don’t want you to say what I know, but what I can’t say”. Because in education the alternative remains radical, between information and knowledge: do we learn to know, like duplicates of the Internet, or do we learn to see, like no one else?

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