The boys are sick. And the children too. Disorientation, relationship difficulties, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, anxiety are just some of the manifestations of this discomfort. Every day teachers from all over Italy, from schools of all levels, face an emergency that is unprecedented in the history of the Republic.. Only those who have never come into contact with children and adolescents could deny that they are going through a phase of deep suffering. And only those who have never taught would think everything was fine before the pandemic.
For years, together with the economic, social and cultural changes that have affected our country in the broader context of globalization, the world of education has witnessed the exponential increase in requests for help from students of all ages. no, they manage to externalize their needs and anxieties precisely at school, with their teachers and with their peers, rather than in the family.
Are they weak? Too mimicked? Are they worse than us?
I do not think so. Externals of this type are only for those who want to take responsibility, identifying as the cause of widespread discomfort the inability of children and adolescents to react and be resilient (the magic adjective too often used as an invitation to adapt to system). . Our students are better than us and their discomfort is proof of that. It is the protest (implosive not explosive, yes) against a social system that is not good. And it is, to this day, the only protest taking place in the desolate context of general addiction.
How is the activity of teachers set up in this framework?
Every day we find ourselves having to deal with a very high number of requests, managing a workload that only those who do this work can understand. It is necessary:
- study (yes, teachers should always study) to prepare their lessons;
- select, and often invent, appropriate teaching strategies for their students, thinking of everyone, from the most autonomous to those who need constant guidance, from the most motivated to those who need to be continuously supported;
- correct homework, identifying strengths and weaknesses from which to constantly reschedule work to be done in the classroom and at home;
- assess (yes, assessment is not the mathematical average of individual grades, but a much more complex and articulate task that requires specific skills, time, attention, and deep reflection);
- dealing with the creation of a healthy relational space, marked by mutual listening and serene confrontation;
- manage the emotional load of their students, devoting time to them even after class, listening to their needs, trying to intercept solutions and acting as an intermediary with families, social workers, psychologists, support centers ‘study, etc .;
- ensure relationships with families, establishing relationships based on clarity and collaboration, in awareness of the diversity of tasks and roles.
And then you have to take a lesson. The tip of the iceberg that only represents a small percentage of our work. The only one visible. Or rather, the only thing you want to be visible in the eyes of non-experts.
To what is stated must be added all the activities related to teaching that include meetings, teacher associations, school-family meetings, etc. as well as all the bureaucratic tasks that have been delegated to faculty, tripled by the pressure of the pandemic emergency, and that thicken the ranks of undeclared work.
It will not be difficult to understand that, in order to orient oneself in such a broad and complex framework, updating and training are essential. And teachers have always been concerned about this, even before a law, n. 107 of 2015, introduced this concept as “revolutionary”. We update ourselves because every day we are in touch with the changing world and we know what each of us needs to grow and help our students.. And this can only be known to us teachers, because what is needed in one particular classroom context is not necessarily necessary in another. The needs of the school can only be explained by those who make it, live it, maintain it, only those who enter the classroom every day and put their professionalism at the service of the students, in an envelope of lives that do not disappear in the end of lessons.
For this training to be welcome, it is good news that the Government is interested in it and wants to fund it.
But what kind of training is it? And through which iter has the new system been conceived? And above all, who pays the price?
The new training system
The system of “continuing education with incentives“, provided for in Article 44 of Decree Law No. 36 of 2022, which will become law on June 29, provides for the establishment of a Higher education school that will have the mission to promote and coordinate the permanent training of the titular profesorado, doing use of the INDREE and the INVALSI for the development of his activities and will be endowed of administrative and accounting autonomy.
Three-year training courses will be set up with annual intermediate controls as well as a final control that the permanent teaching staff will support before a teacher evaluation commission (art.11, DLVO 16 April 1994, n.297) , integrated, in the final verification phase, by a technical manager or a school principal from another institution. The contents of the training will be defined by the School of Higher Education, an entity in which it is explicitly stated that the teaching staff of the School sector cannot be hired for any reason. So teachers, the only ones who know in detail what the school needs, will have no voice in the game that decides their training and the extracurricular time they will have to devote to it.
Every teacher knows how many training courses, even run by reputable organizations, have proven to be essentially useless., because they are totally detached from the school context. And it is absurd that in the decree we entrust our training to those who do not live it, without assuming any form of collaboration in the planning of activities and the teaching of courses.
The reform process
But even more absurd is the fact that such an invasive reform of the school system is achieved by decree law, ignoring the confrontation with the unions. and denying Parliament the opportunity to debate it by giving it the necessary attention and time and clearly informing the public. This transformation will have a strong impact on the teaching profession, will eliminate the freedom of teachers to choose the areas of their training, with the evaluation mechanism will create systems of internal control and competition that can not give good results in an educational community.
These systems, advocated by Law 107, may be good for a company (I have my doubts about that), but they are detrimental to the school. In the work environments in which we take care of others, and we do it as a team, the values that must be at the basis of the relationship between equals and with the deans (today, it is not uncommon, called Managers) are collaboration . , sharing, mutual support, communion of intentions, frank confrontation, free expression of one’s own thoughts, the impossibility of being blackmailed.
The fact that action has been taken by decree has suppressed all forms of serious opposition and the lack of listening is even more striking if we take into account that, with the joint statement of June 14, following the strike of May 30 , FLC CGIL, CISL, UIL, SNALS and GILDA have requested the deletion (and not the modification) of the part of the decree relating to continuing education (in addition to substantial modifications in the provisions relating to initial recruitment). Going straight, ignoring the protests of most representatives of the school world, is a clear and unequivocal signal. And don’t say that subsequent amendments have solved the problems. The situation remained virtually unchanged.
Funding for the School of Higher Education
The last but most important issue to reflect on in this bleak picture is that of funding. Decree no. 36 of 2022 refers to “more urgent measures for the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR)”. However, only a small portion of these funds go to the School sector. For the establishment of the new training system, the funds will be obtained by subtracting them from the school itself.
The school finances the school (higher education).
I it does so through cuts in chairs estimated in light of data relating to future population decline.
In the coming years there will be fewer students in our classrooms and in the face of that, what does the government decide to do? It allocates the funds that would come from what in the modifications of the decree defines “the adaptation of the personnel of the autonomy of the profesorado consequent to the demographic tendencies, taking into account the migratory flows” to the subsidy of new figures of management and to the financing of all the training apparatus they will manage. If it weren’t for reality, it would sound like a joke.
For years, it has always been stated that it is necessary and indispensable for the success of educational practice reduction in the number of students per class. The pandemic has let those in the dark know that our students are crammed into chicken coop classes for hours. Projects are activated on projects (therefore more investments) to reduce early school leaving, listening tables are opened, recovery and / or extracurricular courses are started to support those students who need additional help, proliferate acronyms and continuous diagnoses that should help students and teachers to personalize their studies and, in the face of the dramatic forecast of a demographic decline, instead of reducing the number of students per class and finally make the school Italian public a democratic school, the idea is to create a higher grade school that no one feels the need?
It is a robbery against our students. It is a fatal blow to the Italian school. A school that is based on the professionalism and dedication of a teacher who must be able to deal with the only thing that matters: the human and intellectual training of students. As long as there is such a high average of students per class, doing so in a truly effective and inclusive way will be impossible and those who say you can do it or have never stepped on a class.
Decree 36 will come into force at the end of June. I tried to say no by going on strike, informing and informing. The government is on its way, but it does not have my consent or that of many colleagues. The school needs a reform that invests in the school and not in school (higher education). We know this and disagreeing is what we can and must do even after the decree is passed. We owe it to ourselves, but especially to our students and their families.
Let there be no talk of a future in a country that is thus mistreating its best resources.