On April 9 and 10, a conference was organized in Empoli by the association “Free beyond illusions”. The event was also streamed on YouTube.
The main theme of the meetings was the school and some of its essential aspects.
The aim was to lay the foundations for creating a new vision of the school, starting from the analysis of the current situation and the critique of a hitherto anachronistic and ancient system.
We should all know how much schooling is a central component not only in the life of the individual but also of society as a whole, one of the cornerstones of democracy.
Nevertheless, the serious debate about the school system is often overlooked or only superficially confronted by prejudices and clichés.
At the moment, our system has a myriad of criticisms, some of which are visible to everyone but no one seems to be able to systematically take over.
The governments that have followed suit over time have always aimed solely at undermining the reforms they have previously adopted. It was never possible to follow a common line, go all the way and then evaluate the results and decide which way to go. We have thus received a series of incomplete measures, which leave insurmountable gaps that lie in the work of school principals, professors and students.
The workshop dealt mainly with three thematic pillars: evaluation, connection between education and the world of work, reform of the school cycles.
These topics were discussed together with various speakers who addressed them from different perspectives. In fact, principals, economists, senators, students, and many other interesting personalities attended. Among the guests of honor were former Minister of Education Lucia Azzolina and Valeria Fedeli, former Member of Parliament Annapaola Concia, former Secretary of State Miur Gabriele Toccafondi and Invalsi President Roberto Ricci.
One of the fundamental issues that arose in the meetings was that of early school leaving.
In particular, the teacher Mauro Piras highlighted in the context of the reform of the school cycle the disturbing data on the failure of the secondary and I grade II secondary school. Citing the data provided by Miur for the years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 (pre-pandemic), there is a very significant overall omission in the transition between the I and II cycles.
Indeed, early school leaving is one of the biggest plagues in the country, but no one seems to be systematically acting on the structure of the educational institution in order to reduce this serious phenomenon.
Perhaps it is assumed that in the end it is not so important or that it is inevitable that a large proportion of children under 18 years of age decide to leave school.
In this question, among others, former Minister Lucia Azzolina spoke about how the school is seen more as a social safety net than as an opportunity and an investment.
The minister said we are now dealing with 3 million children who have left school in 20 years. Some studies tell us that this situation has a non-negligible economic cost. Clarification of dispersion could have an impact on GDP, ranging from a minimum of 1.4% to a maximum of 6.8%.
Without considering the implicit dispersion.
However, analyzing the effects of this phenomenon is not enough, it is necessary to trace its causes.
Why do young people drop out of school? There are many reasons that contribute to promoting this event.
From this workshop came a myriad of interesting considerations and ideas on how to approach this topic.
In particular, the system of teacher recruitment, the system of evaluation and incentives, and in particular the rigidity of school cycles were targeted.
The current school system is too rigid and binds the child to a choice that he has to make too quickly. It does not offer the opportunity to discover its own inclinations, as it is closed in an excessive discipline and differentiation of paths, so that the student refuses the opportunity to know himself. The innumerable prejudices towards different types of training also cause a strong social segregation.
We discussed a way that makes the student more responsible, while at the same time leaving him with greater freedom of choice on topics. In this way, it would also be possible to overcome the high school / vocational dichotomy that does nothing but build up social inequality.
In short, there have been so many suggestions. But the biggest problem remains the political will to act actively and directly on such an urgent issue. Young people, their education and their future work are not too long on the political agenda.
The pandemic has further exacerbated this dramatic situation, but may have provided the opportunity to bring the importance of education to the attention of many.
The large participation in this event by many different actors involved in different ways in the school world, and also by the ordinary citizen, shows that together we can build an alternative to what seems to be the only possible school model.
It takes debate, discussion and research to build a new school.
A school about illusions.