We are the school
Publish date 05-05-2021
«Distance learning? It is an emergency tool. How to go to the emergency room. You can't stay there for long. " Anna Maria Ajello uses a metaphor to describe the horrible school year in full pandemic.
She is a psychologist, a professor at the University of Rome, she is the national president of Invalsi, the body that has the task of evaluating the quality and performance of the school system in our country. Covid has complicated the situation, it has put students and teachers in an extreme situation. Now, we must run for cover.
Is reality really that complicated?
I would say yes. We used remote technologies because we had no alternatives, but we must not forget that at school we learn together and that sociality is as fundamental as the cognitive aspect. In full coronavirus, we unfortunately offered a weakened way to learn. The confirmation also comes from other countries much more knowledgeable than us in terms of technology.
For example Holland. The tests they did show that with distance learning, the learning state was very poor.
Do you see this risk with us too?
Absolutely yes. We always think about the economy, but now we also need refreshments for the school, or compensatory activities that must start as soon as possible. We are facing a social problem and the school must be helped. I think of some virtuous realities that I met in Trentino: they are cooperatives that help the children to do their homework in the afternoon, to carry out different activities, with the same educators who provide evaluation elements to the teachers. It is a pact that starts from the school and also embraces the territories.
We cannot wait any longer also because the stakes are very high.
If we maintain levels of competence, our country will not develop its excellence. We must be very clear: excellences are not spontaneous flowers that are born in desolate lands. Indeed, nothing is born about desolation! We must ensure that the general level of the population rises. This is now a global problem, as the whole issue of fake news and those behind it demonstrates.
The fight against inequalities is also at stake. The dad in some fragile territories and contexts has favored early school leaving ...
Unfortunately, that's the way it is. The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities that existed before. And the future is complex because the mass of families that will have problems will grow. It is true that there will be economic refreshments, but not indefinitely. We are all concerned about these situations.
It is not about giving responsibility, but about taking action. These things can be faced but must be taken as they are, not only with the good will of the individual teacher. It is the community that must take charge. The single person can't make it in complicated situations in normal times, let alone now ...
There is another wounded dimension in this time and it is the sociability of the boys. Will there be consequences?
I am especially concerned with younger children. Luckily, primary schools in Italy have remained open, but this is not the case everywhere. In America, for example, children have stayed at home in some states. This effort in different forms also affects the older ones. I go back to the reasoning above: you have to take it into your head that you have to face damage, not think of something like a measles that once passed does not return or returns very rarely.
This virus is not an exanthematous disease, it must be considered as a serious disease, so we must act as adults who must repair the damage that has taken place.
It is not insoluble damage, it is not irrecoverable damage, but it is damage. I fear trivialization. No, let's set ourselves the task of recovering. We can do it.
What can the school world learn from this situation? What is the greatest teaching of this experience?
I think of three aspects. On the technology front, we have understood that we must teach how to use them. It is the great issue of digital culture on which we need to learn more. Then I believe that a greater personalization of learning is at stake, that is to realize that you cannot do the same thing for everyone and therefore a long preparation of the activities that are done is required. Finally, I hope the pandemic will help us understand that we are all involved on the educational front, not just the school. I think of the famous African proverb which says: "To educate a child, it takes a village." If we understood this, we would be a better country.
NP February 2021