The School's Role in Coronavirus Times
Tips for Home Studying from Italy: 10. Teachers as Masters of Life
Daily pills to help students (and families) organize their study in Covid-19 times, when almost one billion children have seen their schools close. Signed by Marcello Bramati and Lorenzo Sanna, deans and teachers at Faes high schools in Milan. As reported by Time magazine, they are teaching online during the lockdown, in an ongoing experiment in remote learning. Every morning at 8.30 a.m., their advice, tips and good practices for students of all ages.
Another week of closed schools is starting. In our society it seemed impossible to stop the football championship, or a Formula 1 race. It seemed impossible to stop machinery, to cancel meetings, to give up something. But everything is postponed, overtaken by the emergency.
Nevertheless, in this suspended time something did not stop. Lessons go on almost everywhere. And they include audio, video, live lessons and also formal fulfilments, like class councils. Not in presence, but from everyone's homes, as if we were experiencing a temporary jolt to our daily routine.
But this is not enough and cannot be enough. The school, which through computers arrives in the homes of millions of students every morning, can and must do more. It should provide students of all ages with the tools to interpret these peculiar times.
Without chasing away the troubles, the teachers should try to face them, prompting the students to ask themselves the deep questions necessary to feel alive, even at home. A necessary task in this period, in which the curiosity, the disbelief and the amazement of the first few days have left room for nervousness, for some of us, and a sense of helplessness and fragility for all of us.
What is the meaning of teaching, if not understanding the reality in its deepest sense? Reality to which the coronavirus is exposing us so quickly and so harshly? School certainly cannot be reduced to a flood of notions and results to be verified and recorded. Surely this aspect is a tangible part of teaching and is also necessary, but it is not enough to make it really useful. This difficult month is proving it.
At the moment we need relationships, between people and great texts, thinkers, teachers. The little ones need the relationship with their teachers, who should welcome their big questions and try to deal with them, even by documenting themselves and discussing with their colleagues.
Older children need a relationship with teachers who can show themselves capable of understanding the delicacy of the current situation. In other words, teachers should be capable of showing cultural paths to follow, books to read, thoughts to compare. In order to decipher this historical period that seems to mark a change of epoch.