by Mario Pomini *
Also the well-known philosopher and psychoanalyst Umberto Galimberti seems to have joined the large group of those who denigrate the Italian public school, and especially its teachers. Already a few months ago the leading exponent for the Confindustria school, the economist Andrea Gavostoin yet another speech he argued to the sound of statistics, read in his own way, however, that Italian teachers should not complain about their low salaries because their workload was inferior to that of European colleagues. Thesis certainly not new and a thousand times denied by the facts, as has also been reconstructed on this blog. Then the Parliament put the of him by introducing the imaginative figure of expert teacherwho has now become a permanently incentivized teacher who will be able to receive a salary increase but from 2032 (not a typo), that is, in ten years.
Now even the philosophers take it out on the school that they would not educate at emotions. But this is not the important point of Galimberti’s lecture at the recent Philosophy Festival in Modena, but rather the completely erroneous idea that the philosopher has of the Italian public school. Galimberti apodictically affirmed: “I am for the public school as long as bad teachers can be fired”. If the sentence is correct, it means that the philosopher theoretically prefers the private school, where teachers live in fear of dismissal; only for at least 150 years that education has passed from the privileged elites to all, and this thanks to the public school.
The final part then, which the private school would be preferable because it fires, is almost a nonsense for those who know the world of school, totally denied by the facts. The private school, too equal, in Italy it is not the school of excellence. And this is also true in the US: students who have enrolled en masse in private Community Colleges by borrowing know this. In fact, the Italian private school serves a small segment of the school population, divided into two categories. A segment is superior in terms of income, because as the economist and sociologist already claimed a century ago Thorstein Veblen there is always someone who likes to distinguish themselves through the consumption of expensive goods, and a private school with a robust (let’s say Bocconian) tuition does the job. Then there is another segment, that of school recovery – let’s call it that. In no case can we say that private school is the best school. Just look at the data Invalsi. We hardly ever find private or equivalent institutions at the top of the ranking. Perhaps it will be appropriate to look at reality as well as to read Plato. The reason is clear: when the student becomes a client there is an incentive for the individual school to behave opportunistic. Of course there are exceptions. Not all private schools are examination centers, and not all public schools are of good quality.
Then the philosopher goes into the very treacherous and bumpy terrain of economic liberalism in the scholastic field. Galimberti continues: “We introduce the dismissal of bad teachers, or the luckiest students will go abroad, while the worst will stay here, to take the Basic income“. I can be, and indeed I am, in agreement with the philosopher – and who wouldn’t be – that unprepared and unsuitable teachers should be fired. But I wonder why when we talk about teachers we always start with punishments and never with prizes. Here Galimberti could offer us a psychoanalytic starting point. With an authentic corporate spirit of a boldly meritocratic type, which Galimberti seems to evoke, we should first indicate the prizes for the best, and then the punishments for the lazy. In economics courses this is taught and every entrepreneur knows it well. On the other hand, the school thinks in a completely unilateral way, threatening only dismissals, perhaps because teaching is already considered a reward in itself.
Then the liberal vocation of the Jungian philosopher flies upwards. In his opinion, the best students (but which ones?), Dissatisfied with the Italian school, it is not known whether public or private, would go abroad and the worst would remain here to earn their citizenship income. Galimberti also falls into the neoliberal fable according to which many brilliant minds would abandon Italy because they are totally dissatisfied with our level of education, the public one of course. On the contrary, the opposite is true, many of our graduates are doing well in Europe and in the world because they have a primary level of preparation. Unfortunately, it is the productive world that does not want to exploit them unlike other developed economies and therefore emigrate. Then taking, for a certain period and under certain conditions, the citizenship salary is not a fault or a shame, as the Italian philosophers would like or not, and not even a violation of the natural laws of the economy, but simply an act of civilization. economic which has been introduced in many countries. Of course, its application can improve.
Ultimately the philosopher fell into a neoliberal trap. He was misinformed, at least as far as the economics of education are concerned, and for this reason he came to conclusions certainly not up to his reputation. He has developed an idea entirely wrong of the Italian school, both in the public part, which would be poor, and in the small private part, which would be excellent. He wants a school that punishes, but doesn’t reward. He thinks that a world governed by the fear of losing one’s job produces who knows what excellent result. The school of fear is the school of conformity and servility that no one would ever want. In short, even the philosopher has not escaped the saddest and most mistaken common places.
As often happens, if you do not know the subject well, it is better to keep quiet. The school does not need the advice of the philosopher who passed to neoliberalism, for these the not small group of economists close to Confindustria, naturally educated in the UK or USA, is enough and advances.
* Prof. associate of political economy, Padua