New year old problems, from cell phones in the classroom to student occupations. Our interview with Mario Rusconi (ANP Rome)

In the school, at the opening of the new year, old or at least already widely known topics are discussed again.
We talk about it with Mario Rusconi, president of ANP Rome.

So, how do you feel about the debate these days? Don’t you think it’s a bit mushy? There is no big news, old stories repeat themselves. Or not?

One of the images that I often like to quote when I talk about school problems concerns the orchid greenhouse. What do those pretty flowers have to do with school, some might argue?
Well, the metaphor in my opinion is very pertinent. Let me explain.

We feel…

On the basis of many years of (alas!) experience, I have always developed the conviction that issues relating to the education of our children and young people must be treated with the accuracy, delicacy, kind and fervent passion of an orchid floriculturist.
If the basic conditions, the temperature, the humidity, the insolation are altered, the risk for these magnificent flowers is very high, the environment deteriorates, everything tends to deteriorate.
Leaving the metaphor aside, I have always (in vain?) wished that, when we talk about school, we take into account attitudes, expressions, language suitable for not incurring the risk of…deterioration of ideas!

Which is precisely what – it seems to me – is happening these days: ideas that are not exactly new, often formulated carelessly or with good slogans for every season

In my opinion, observations based on professional reflection, completeness of proposals, even clearness of contrasts cannot and must never be lacking, provided they are expressed with that level of civic spirit that we have always invoked as a gift to be cultivated by our students.
Criticizing on a biased basis, without contextualizing the problem, not treating it in a precise way, expressing oneself with “trompe l’oeil” slogans without adequately arguing, using aggressive expressions … all this is more reminiscent of some television talk shows than a serious debate on serious issues.

Let’s take for example the topic of the cell phone in class.
What do you think of the level of debate?

Topics such as the often abusive use of cell phones in class by students must be tackled with lay professionalism.
Arguing, as some evidently very distant from attending school do, that it is necessary to use the cell phone in class to connect … with the world of information means forgetting that the vast majority of our classrooms have PCs, Ilims, iPads suitable for the purpose formative.

Not to mention the old, indeed very old, problem of student occupations…

Minimizing attitudes/behaviours harmful to people’s dignity or the functionality of school buildings, reducing them to bullshit means first of all not knowing the regulations in force (primarily the Students’ Statute) appropriately referred to in a recent ministerial circular, secondly assuming the compliance, sometimes complacency towards aggressive and antisocial forms as a sort of tolerant, gentle sympathy for youthful exuberance.

Perhaps, as always, there is a lack of overview of the problems;
school issues should be tackled from a system perspective and not in watertight compartments

Exactly: in school, as in any other sector of life and work, there is no before and after. First the big reforms, then everything else.
The system must be mastered at the same time, without being pervaded by the easy, self-absorbing form of benevolentism: before (mobile phones, recovery measures, attention to teachers …) let’s address the major main themes.
Which, generally, from experience, are lost along the way, if the whole is not taken into account.

New year old problems, from cell phones in the classroom to student occupations. Our interview with Mario Rusconi (ANP Rome)