by Franco Cimino
School begins. Also this year, like every year. This would appear to be new. At least in hope. While in a particular joy, it appears to be ancient. The hope that Covid does not return to “imprison” the children in masks or in the houses, with the desks that become the chairs of the house and the table in a living room, and the desk, a bright screen from which the teacher is rarely seen and “Ugly”, all around the desert that activates the crafty temptation to keep the computer on and go back to bed. Or, keep the headphones loud to your favorite music.
Joy, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of this. Leaving the house a bit sleepy to wake up completely at the sight of the first partner, the first friend, the first girl / or sighted / or, hoping that it is the one awaited, courted / or perhaps uselessly in the summer, and who knows this time … The joy of stopping all together in front of the still closed door of the School, to tell each other about everything and more, as if we were seeing each other for the first time and, instead, we did not stay up to night chatting in the dedicated groups. The joy of being in the classroom. To have class, because class also means communion of intentions, being united, helping each other. Even when you argue or collect companions to “feel” unpleasant, perhaps discovering at the end of the year or even at the end of the course, that the very one, on the other hand, has become our best friend, who already was and not the ‘they understood. The joy of meeting the professors, talking to them, fear them, endure them, love them, “sympathize” with them, keep them in mind and heart. Because a teacher is forever. Even the one who “ruined” our days and “tortured” a whole year and “rejected” unjustly, because we could see that he “had it with me”. The joy of being “pampered” by the janitors, their hidden friends, always ready, even that grouch or that always angry, to protect them, sometimes becoming accomplices in their pranks, let’s call them that. The School has always remained this wonderful thing, the mysterious space in which hope is joy. Yes, hope is joy. While hope with joy become energy for life. Force that transforms shyness and suffering, anguish and pain and, above all, the fears of today into certainties for the future. Indeed, in the certainty of the future, as at that time dreamed that it will come for them. Every year, especially in the latter of my distance from the professorship, I always write a thought for my children, who are all the pupils and students of my city and of the world.
This time I will not write anything new and ancient. Facebook brings me back an article of mine from seven years ago. And Raffaele, that beautiful boy “lost and found” that the School was unable to defend. I have never forgotten it. I dedicate this beginning of the school year to him and to the young people of today the beauty of him, so that they can add it to their own, perhaps with that strength that he did not have to defend his. For a lifetime there has been talk of school reform and there is no lack of new government that does not take a hand to change it. So much to show interest in it, or a vision of society that for at least forty years has lacked the politics and culture that should support or inspire it. The accumulated damage to each passage of a new time never “caught” due to the lack of culture of the past, are in front of everyone’s eyes. Luckily there are the teachers, these poor Christians, as beautiful as the Saints, as courageous as the soldiers in war, as heroic as the saviors of the Fatherland, who, despite the “ever lower” salaries and the continuous downsizing of their function, also for the “managerial” power concentrated within an absurd business logic of the School system ”, they continue to give the best of themselves. Because teaching is not a profession. It is not a profession.
It is not even, as rhetoric has it, a vocation. It is simply a spirit of service. That of giving without doubt to have if not the joy of having contributed to raising the children of others as one’s own children. Certainly have the gratification of having handed over the future ruling class to the country. Certainly have the certainty that the future begins from their hands, that it will be better or worse, if they, the teachers, have been up to that great task, to contribute to forming the Person. I have never been able to say what good school is, many “scientists”, even at the sports bar, have talked about it and for the whole day today they will do it, even from the numerous television lounges, if the reports on the war in Ukraine ( the only war dealt with) and the interminable funeral of Queen Elizabeth with the walkway of King George over the entire “mass-mediated” planet, will allow this. I know, however, from having lived and practiced it, that the true school is the one that instructs, trains, strengthens, in a continuity without any interruption, our children. I know that the true School must provide the tools for an autonomous understanding of reality. Especially, in this frenetic and tumultuous today, in which technology dominates knowledge and reduces the ability to select the thousands of information per second, which, without a safety net, our young people devour, while their loneliness grows in that huge crowd. indistinct in which the human being himself gets lost.
And in it it is dispersed. The real school is the one in which every teacher, no one excluded, knows how to understand that every day, from that gate and along that courtyard and those corridors and stairs, they walk up to their entrance into the classroom, two individuals in one. One is the student, the other is the boy / girl. The simplest thing is to choose between the two, the student or the schoolboy. It’s easy to do. Less tiring. More within our reach. We invite him to sit with the ways that each teacher possesses. We start the lesson immediately, books open, attention imposed and explanation required, otherwise the manager gets angry. Because the program, the times, the skills, the departments and the group of classes that have to walk hand in hand… You want to make sure that I, that teacher, let me find myself behind.
And, then, the “questions, for the votes, which still give us the power, the one left in our hands. Yes, it is better to choose the student, it is easier. Convenient, even, because with these electronic registers open to parents, do you want one of these not to go to the manager to “tell me four”? But yes, it is better to choose the student, because I am prepared, I know the lesson by heart, and I will be fine. I’ll make a great impression. Some detachment with a more severe tone, and the boys fear me. For, power says, being feared is better than being welcomed. Accepted. “Fascinated by its own espresso charm. Oh no, power is better.
It saves us from talking, off the pitch, with the boys. More to listen to them. Even for a long time. Talk about them, listen to them talk about their things. Of their worries. Of the misunderstandings of the adult world and the difficulty of understanding the adult world. Of the increasing difficulty of being listened to. At home. At school. Better hear them at the desk, these blessed students. Two questions and go. Not more, because there are so many to question. Two questions for those who don’t know. Two questions for those who, having studied a lot, went there to be heard for an hour! But two are enough, because there is no time. Two questions for a full eight, because ten is not given (it’s too much!). Two questions for a good three, which is always better than a two. And the speech is closed. The real school, on the other hand, is the one that, if forced to choose, will allow the teacher to choose the boy. And you block the lessons if that one boy, more than the student, needs help. And after having helped him, he knows how to make a lesson for everyone of that effort. The real School is the one that at the end of the day of those two individuals, distinct and distant, was able to make them a unitary subject. A person. Full.
The true School is a window, on which the student is led to invite him to look outside, leading him to distinguish between what is anthropic and what is Nature, so that he can understand the difference and prepare himself in search of Beauty. Because only in Beauty is there the salvation of the planet and of humanity. There is Peace. And in Peace, Progress. Also of Sciences. And of Life. The School, which you prepare for work, must not be confused with a sort of apprenticeship within an economy which, among other things, work does not offer to everyone. Nor in quantity. Nor in quality. The school for work must come a moment later and on another space and another time. What is needed today is that the School does not lose its children. For some time the institution’s attention has been directed to the phenomenon of “early school leaving”. It is a term that must be translated well, so that it is not resolved solely in the concern that the economic system does not have the workers it needs.
A concern that would turn out to be extemporaneous and fleeting, given that the system could have recourse to the modern “reserve army”, made up of the workforce of “welcome” immigrants. The dispersion that the real school has to deal with is that of the double loss of children. The first is that of the annual and progressive decrease of members. This year there are more than three hundred thousand. Fortunately, the number of staff has not been reduced. The second is the loss of children. They are the ones who sign up, they show up for a while. And then they disappear. The School, which has not seen them before, loses sight of them later. The Society that has other things to do, lets them hide in the folds of its pain, in the ravines of suffering. In the pitch black of ignorance. To complain are only the statistics and the mechanical system of data collection. Nobody else takes care of it. Nobody goes looking for them.
This society, fatherless, has no authority to set out as “the good Shepherd” of the Gospel. The missing children, together with the “lost” children, and all of them together with the children who do not seek and do not seek each other, represent the real problem facing a lost country, deprived of the authority of politics and the strength of institutions, as ours. Country very much in danger. Above all, for the democratic stability of its Constitutional equilibrium. The school I like is the one to which I would run back and stay in it until my last day. It is the School that forms the Person and invites him to be a good citizen. It is the School of Research. Even scientific. And of Culture, even of Life. It is the School that finally finds my Raffaele today. She finds it in all the missing boys she’s gone looking for.