The semantic variant, a reflection by Dario Missaglia, national president of Proteo Fare Sapere, on the issue of early school leaving

The debate that has opened up around the issue of the so-called school dropout, promises well. To put it this way, certainly not because of the ministerial decisions, clearly improvised and questionable on a subject that instead requires a fine knowledge, clarity, publicity of the criteria and controls with the subjects of the territory. It is now important that councils, along with social forces and school unions, first check the educational and social priorities in which to invest.

The debate promises well, perhaps, because it calls on everyone to reflect and make decisions that cannot be postponed until better times.

I have found in this sense a very significant contribution in Alberto Alberti’s recent essay1one of the great masters of modern pedagogy to whom we continue to express our gratitude for the generous commitment lavished for many years towards the CGIL school, on many occasions for debate and research.

Recently Alberto, after a touching and in some places touching foray into the territory of fiction2, has once again offered us a series of very current reflections on this very complex phase of our society, urging everyone to reflect on how and to what extent the great changes in society, the way we think and live people, have conditioned or could condition, in positive or negative, even school policy.

At one point Alberto writes: “Everyone who takes care of the school remembers the battles of the 60s and 70s of the last century against class selection. Many took part personally, many witnessed it, everyone knew or at least heard of that fiery booklet that is still preserved today. Letter to a teacher and the experience of Don Milani in Barbiana “3.

In fact, I remember it very well even in the most recent ones political / ministerial document on the issue of dispersion (January 2018, Minister Valeria Fedeli of Education), the person in charge of that document, Marco Rossi Doria, quotes verbatim the battle against class selection and the role of Don Milani. Not only that, this document contains a very significant and detailed part of historical reading that analytically illustrates the results that the public school has recorded in the midst of a thousand difficulties in the field of education and training of the new generations. I don’t know if the merit of that approach should be attributed more to the minister of the time Valeria Fedeli or to Marco Rossi Doria; the fact is that in the letter / document of the Commission appointed by Minister Bianchi, in which, certainly, Marco Rossi Doria has no secondary role, those historical references have disappeared.

If a document speaks to us through the things it writes, it also speaks to us with the silences it includes. Returning to the letter from the “Bianchi Commission”, I think of the silence about the role that public schools have played in more than 70 years to raise the cultural level of millions of people, to be able to bring in and stay (at least in primary and secondary) even that mass that wanted be excluded from the opportunity to learn. I think of the obstinacy to believe that change was possible despite so many difficulties, experimenting with didactic methods and contents, methods, times and rhythms of learning, reorganizing time, school, structures, didactic technologies. Open the school to the knowledge of society, of the world of work; Encourage interest and participation in school. The history of primary education and childhood (less secure and still with many problems to solve secondary education, in particular secondary education) tells us of a possible change without diminishing at all the severity of dropout and the repetition.

The silence on all these aspects weighs like a stone in the letter quoted and helps to concretize the “issue of issues”: the heart of the problem is no longer the change of school but the limitation of giving resources to external subjects through the ‘stipulation. of territorial training agreements to carry out initiatives “towards” the school. First the alliance and the resources, then what to do and how to do it.

For a full assessment, we obviously reserve the right to read the 36 pages of the Commission document that have not yet been made public. But already from the public letter, of concern and denunciation of the work of the minister, one can catch one abysmal difference with the 2018 document.

It is as if a process that Alberto explains very well had also been immediately attached to this Commission: “… a concept was elaborated and a civilian was seized … of a certain geographical area. The definition of “early school leaving” emerged, a semantic variant that, like the Orwellian neolanguage, profoundly modifies the judgment about a phenomenon and the perspective of its treatment. Community interventions guarantee help to schools but in an exclusively additional way. Any institute that complains of failures or dropouts does not re-examine the way it works and intervenes to fill educational gaps, but asks for funding … The problem from the inside shifts to the outside. The school that fails and moves away is not in question. He is accusing the wrong territory … the school is this and it continues like this, it cannot be adapted to the needs of the students. Students are wrong “4.

This must be thought, I think, even by those uneducated and reactionary of the Italian right who insist that a million students, born in Italy and attending our schools, be private, without the ius scholae, of that right to Italian citizenship which would be the only way to reaffirm the civilization of this country in which “The school is open to all” (art. 34) and “It is the duty of the Republic to remove obstacles … “(art. 3). Nothing to do, for these champions of Italian identity, the laws are right, that millions of young people are “wrong”.

Why this confusion when it comes to addressing the issue of dispersal?

The dynamics induced by the massive movement of financial resources that move on the stage undoubtedly plays a role (one and a half billion euros as a fund). PNRR on dispersal and then other huge resources in other PNRR intervention chapters and still many other funds moving with the Pon and FSE funds). Over time, this economic flow has led to the development of entities and associations specializing in fundraising, equipping themselves with skills and experts to carry out activities in the different territorial and training contexts. Very often, banking foundations and financial groups play an important role in these institutions; in short, neoliberalism has discovered the usefulness of being interested in school and training as well. It is the new “patronage” of the market. As early as the 1970s Pierre Bourdieu warned us by predicting that the market economy would find a way to hide the cold values ​​of the capitalist economy, transforming them into warm social relations. I do not mean by this that this is the exclusive structure of our society, but the process is underway.

Fortunately, a healthy associative and voluntary fabric of the territory is also maintained and alive in our country, which presses, non-profit, to rebuild a state of promotional welfare, attentive to rights and duties, to the protection of the environment and model of the sustainable future. A piece of civil society that manifests new demands, drives change, wants to contribute to the reconstruction of a territory in which the quality of human relations and the right to lifelong learning are at the center; a piece of civil society that is an enemy of that welfare state that can only live if people in difficulty are treated as victims (of destiny, family, territory) who are granted a claim for compensation while they remain . a victim. Hence the pain and relief professionals, willing to cure the disease, to grant compensatory measures and facilitate an ungrateful life. In a perverse circuit in which the victim remains a victim and social assistance is a dangerous and costly drift for the future of well-being. A historical trend of the Italian welfare crisis that now runs the risk of repeating itself, intersecting with the modern version of the private sector seeking business in the public and in the growing holes of a welfare state in setback.

That’s why we’re sure of one thing about this complex scattering story: it is the school that must change, from within, with the strength of its ideas, of the primary responsibility that only those who work in that school must assume, knowing and living the educational relationship with its students. An extraordinary opportunity to make the work of those who work in schools the primary lever for change in the way we organize means, tools, time, people, learning methods.; in this research project, empowering and involvingif any all the active resources of the territory from the Municipalities.

This is “the issue of issues” and it is difficult because it commits us all personally to supporting schools with ideas, proposals, support for training, solidarity and commitment to acquire the means and tools to create that school capable of not leave no one behind. . As requested by ours Constitution and the values ​​that inspire us.

Dario Missaglia

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Note

1 Alberto Alberti, What school in the future ?, Rome, Anicia Editions, 2021

2 Alberto Alberti, Ludovico and his storiesRome, Anicia Editions, 2020

3 Alberto Alberti, What school in the future ?, cit., p. 26

4 Ibid., Pp. 27, 28

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