School, it’s not (just) about money

Lgood news that schools and the training of the younger generations are themes present in the programs of almost all the parties involved in the electoral campaign. The bad news that the proposals of almost all parties, with few distinctions, continue to favor the interests of those who work there at school rather than those of those who study and go to school to receive training appropriate to the complexity of our time.

Everyone says that precarious teachers must be stabilized. Well (although we should discuss how to select them…). They say teachers need to be paid better. Sacrosanct. That merit must also be introduced in teaching careers. It was time. That school building must be extended and strengthened. God forbid. The problem that no one – but own no one – wonders what the real emergency of the Italian school (and, conversely, of society) is. What is taught in the classrooms? What kind of training is offered to students? What knowledge and skills are shared? What is urgent to do to form younger generations that are more educated, aware and responsible for those who have come out of our schools in recent years?

I am not repeating, except in a nutshell, data that are now universally known: we are a country that is traveling towards worrying return illiteracy rates, one in two Italians unable to decode a written text correctly if it contains even only a hypothetical sentence or a sentence that is syntactically less than elementary, we have a number of NEETs (young people who do not study and do not work) incomparably higher than all other European countries and the technical-scientific training is running water on all sides. Not only that: young people arrive at the university for whom geography is an optional and contemporary history an unexplored galaxy.

And we are completely illiterate in some of the disciplines most necessary to understand the world we live in: we are just beyond zero in economic and financial training, and the same is true for the study of the media, their languages, their communication and seduction techniques. Our governments have even been fined by the European Union because we are the only ones who do not include media literacy in the school curricula, we paid the fines and everything remained as before.

Furthermore, schools and universities are not always equipped to develop in students those skills that all the most recent surveys indicate between the most demanded by the labor market in the coming years: critical thinking, the ability to solve complex problems, the development of creativity. A few decades ago it seemed that the magic recipe to revive the school was contained in the formula of the three i’s: English, IT, business. Now it is finally understood that these three i’s are not objectives but prerequisites. As if to say: if you need a ball to play football, today you need English, IT and a constant relationship with the world of work to do school seriously. There are others, in perspective, the ies that the school needs today.

Some he pointed out some time ago with his usual clarity and foresight the former rector of the University of Bologna Ivano Dionigi: invent, intelligo, innovo. This should train the school: to seek, discover, understand, interpret, innovate. But to do this it takes a high thought. A shot of imagination and fantasy. Not, for once, a question of money. Politics promises those. Instead, in this case, first of all thought, project, vision would be needed.

The last organic reform of our school system paradoxically dates back to the Gentile reform. 1923, just under a century ago. Then there were adjustments, adjustments, filings, retouching, reforming and counter-reforming. But no one has ever tried to seriously think and plan what could and should be the school of the future. There is someone among the political forces involved in the electoral campaign interested and capable of doing itor? We will see. Of course, to start a project like this one would have to have the courage to think more about the future of the new generations than to win the next elections with generic or unattainable promises.

The author Rector of IULM University – Milan

August 25, 2022, 21:13 – change August 25, 2022 | 21:13

School, it’s not (just) about money