La scuola come lavoro minorile

WHY SCHOOLS ARE WHAT THEY ARE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF EDUCATION – Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray

Forse tra cento anni considereremo i bambini a scuola come oggi consideriamo i bambini in fabbrica nel XIX secolo.

L’inquietante pensiero s’insinua e prende corpo leggendo l’erudito tomo di Peter Gray.

***

Come trasmette i suoi saperi l’uomo?

Fondamentalmente in due modi. Nella sua storia si è passati dal primo al secondo ed è illuminante studiare questo cambio di paradigma

… How did we go from conditions in which learning was self-directed and joyful to conditions in which learning is forced on children in ways that make so many of them feel helpless, anxious, and depressed?…

Oggi pensiamo: chi non va a scuola (ovvero chi utilizza la prima modalità di trasmissione del sapere) sarà una persona diversa e inadeguata. Questa considerazione ci terrorizza e ci tiene in scacco…

… When we see that children today are required by law to go to school, that almost all schools are structured in the same way, and that our society goes to a great deal of trouble and expense to provide such schools, we naturally assume that there must be some good, logical reason for all of this. Perhaps if we didn’t force children to go to school, or if schools operated differently, children would grow up to be incompetent in our modern world…

Tesi: i metodi del passato funzionano ancora oggi

… The reality, as I will show later, is that alternative ways have been tested and have succeeded. Children’s instincts for self-directed learning can work today as well as they ever did…

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Lo spartiacque è la rivoluzione agricola: è da quel momento che cambia il nostro modo di pensare l’infanzia…

… Agriculture, once established, kicked off an ever-accelerating whirlwind of changes in our ways of living, and those changes dramatically altered our ways of thinking about and rearing children…

L’agricoltura ci fa entrare in un’era particolare della nostra storia: quella legata al “primato del lavoro”…

… It altered the conditions of human life in ways that led to the decline of freedom, equality, sharing, and play… toil, not play, was king…

Prima il lavoro era un’attività secondaria…

… The hunter-gatherer way of life was knowledge-intensive and skill-intensive, but not labor-intensive… they did not have to work long hours…

La società dei nostri antenati era la società del tempo libero

… Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins famously referred to hunter-gatherer societies, collectively, as “the original affluent society.”2 They were affluent not because they had so much, but because their needs were so few…

Con il lavoro nei campi inizia il lavoro minorile

… Children’s lives changed gradually from the free pursuit of their own interests to increasingly more time spent at work that was required to serve the rest of the family…

La proprietà privata diventa il fulcro della società e le diseguaglianze esplodono…

… Agriculture also provided the conditions that led to private property and class differences, and to the breakdown of the equality among individuals that pervaded hunter-gatherer societies…

Il “di più” può essere conservato e non basta mai…

… The more land and goods a farm family owned, the better off they were. They could feed more children, and those children gained more inherited wealth and higher status, which served them well in attracting mates and in staking out their own farms…

I nuovi valori che si impongono:

… toil, child labor, private ownership, greed, status, and competition…

Ma noi possiamo osservare il nostro passato anche oggi guardando a talune popolazioni che vivono in uno stato simile a quello dei nostri antenati. Gli Hazda, per esempio, si rifiutano di lavorare…

… In the 1960s, anthropologist James Woodburn noted that Hazda hunter-gatherers, despite being surrounded by farmers and being urged by government authorities to do so, refused to take up farming themselves on the grounds that it required too much work…

John Bock ci istruisce sul Botswana, altro specchio del nostro passato…

… In a study of peoples with mixed hunter-gatherer and agricultural subsistence, in Botswana, John Bock and Sarah Johnson found that the more a family was involved in hunting and gathering, the more time children had for play…

Ma in questa operazione non mancano le fonti di confusione. I famosi Yanomami, per esempio, sono “primitivi” ma hanno perso il loro carattere nomade. In questo senso non fanno testo…

… Many of the so-called primitive cultures described by anthropologists are primitive farming cultures, not hunter-gatherer cultures, and they show a wide range of departures in social structure and values from those of hunter-gatherers. One much publicized example is that of the Yanomami of the Amazon rain forest, made famous by Napoleon Chagnon… the Yanomami were in fact not true hunter-gatherers and hadn’t been for centuries. They did some hunting and gathering, but got most of their nourishment from their crops,… Chagnon reported that these people had sharp hierarchies of power, in which “big men” exerted authority over others and men brutally dominated women. He also found them to be quite warlike, with frequent raids and murders between neighboring villages… Girls were expected to do the work of adult women by the age of about ten…

Altra fonte di confusione…

Another example of reduced play in a primitive agricultural society is that of the Baining, of Papua New Guinea… the core value of the Baining culture was that of work, which they saw as the opposite of play… “We are human because we work.”…

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Le civiltà possono essere classificate dal rapporto che instaurano con l’infanzia. Severità e durezza sono una prerogativa di certe economie…

… In a classic study conducted in the 1950s, Herbert Barry, Irvin Child, and Margaret Bacon used anthropological documents to rank primitive societies according to their child-rearing philosophies and methods.11 At one end were cultures that stressed obedience and commonly used corporal punishment to achieve that end. At the other end were cultures that valued children’s assertiveness and rarely or never used corporal punishment. They found that this ranking correlated strongly with a culture’s means of subsistence. The more a culture depended on agriculture and the less it depended on hunting and gathering, the more likely it was to value obedience, devalue self-assertion, and use harsh means to discipline children…

Per il contadino la creatività sembra meno importante, i giorni del suo lavoro si ripetono uguali. Ma è lui in prima persona a sopportare i costi e ad incamerare i ricavi del suo lavoro. In questo senso rischia molto

… Success in farming generally depends on adhering to tried-and-true methods. Creativity is very risky; if a crop fails, a whole year’s food supply may be lost. Farmers, unlike hunter-gatherers, don’t regularly share food, so a family that loses its crop may starve…

Contadino ideale: pazienza, obbedienza, conformismo…

… Thus, the ideal farmer is obedient, rule abiding, and conservative; farmers’ strict discipline of children seems designed to cultivate those traits…

Cacciatori: ogni giorno è diverso, si agisce insieme – tutti sono essenziali – e si dividono i frutti. Come in una squadre di calcio, basta che venga espulso un uomo, e la squadra soffre a prescindere…

… For hunter-gatherers, each day’s food supply comes from the cumulative efforts of diverse individuals and teams, each foraging in their own chosen way and using their own best judgment. The diversity of methods, coupled with the sharing of food among all members of the band, creates a hedge against the possibility that anyone will starve…

Il valore base: la capacità di negoziare

… negotiation and compromise, not threat and submission, pave the way to agreement…

Una genitorialità permissiva facilita l’acquisizione di questo tratto caratteriale.

Punizioni corporali: più diffuse tra gli stanziali…… In one study, Carol and Melvin Ember analyzed massive amounts of data for approximately two hundred different societies, to determine which societal traits correlated most strongly with the use of corporal punishment to discipline children.14 Not surprisingly, they found that the more violent a society was overall, the more likely it was that parents used corporal punishment…

Botte, guerra e violenza domestica sono fattori tra loro correlati…

… The beating of children correlated positively with frequencies of wife beating, harsh punishment of criminals, wars, and other indices of societal violence…

Nell’agricoltore c’è un desiderio di controllo. Vale per l’ambiente e vale per la famiglia…

… Agriculture brought to human beings more than a new way of procuring food. It introduced a new way of thinking about the relationship between humans and nature. Hunter-gatherers considered themselves to be part of the natural world; they lived with nature, not against it. They accepted nature’s twists and turns as inevitable and adapted to them as best they could.16 Agriculture, on the other hand, is a continuous exercise in controlling nature; it involves the taming and controlling of plants and animals, to make them servants to humans rather than equal partners in the natural world…

La metafora agricola applicata ai figli è pervasiva ancora oggi…

… Our own notions of child care and education are founded on agricultural metaphors. We speak of raising children, just as we speak of raising chickens or tomatoes. We speak of training children, just as we speak of training horses…

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In epoca feudale il possesso della terra era possesso del potere.

Nasce il lavoro dipendente accanto a schiavitù e servitù…

… Landowners discovered that they could increase their wealth by getting other people to work for them. Systems of slavery, indentured servitude, and paid labor emerged as means to supply landowners with workers…

La piramide feudale è inesorabile: la massa dei servi alla base. Si lavora tutti di buona lena, bambini compresi…

… At the bottom of this pyramid, making up the great majority of the population, were the serfs, who were provided with plots of land on which to grow their own food. In return, the serfs owed payments and services to their noble lords. Usually serfs were bound to their lords in a system of servitude that made it impossible for them to leave the land, even if other work was available, and their children were similarly bound. They were, for all practical purposes, slaves. Children of serfs, even the very young, worked from dawn to dusk in the fields…

Valore supremo l’obbedienza

… The most valuable trait in medieval times, for most people, was obedience—obedience to the father within the family, to the lord within the manor, to the king within the kingdom, and to God in heaven, who was understood to be the “king of kings.”…

Educazione e obbedienza diventano sinonimi…

… In medieval society, the life purpose of those in the lower classes was to serve and obey those above them. It was in this way that education became synonymous with obedience training…

I bimbi venivano pestati un po’ da tutti…

… in one document dated as near the end of the fourteenth century, a French count advised that nobles’ huntsmen should “choose a boy servant as young as seven or eight” and that “this boy should be beaten until he has a proper dread of failing to carry out his master’s orders.”…

Con l’assolutismo la piramide graduale dell’epoca feudale è sostituita da un vertice unico comune a tutti: il Monarca. Nulla cambia riguardo al ruolo del lavoro e dell’obbedienza dovuta.

Il capitalismo scalzerà l’organizzazione feudale e l’asolutismo. Ai nostri fini cambia poco, anzi, il lavoro in fabbrica fu anche più duro, specie per i piccoli…

… Ultimately the force that drove out large-scale feudalism nearly everywhere was industry coupled with capitalism… Business owners, like landowners, needed laborers and could profit by extracting as much work from them as possible with as little compensation as possible… People, including young children, worked most of their waking hours, six or seven days a week… Child labor was moved from the fields, with its sunshine, fresh air, and occasional opportunities for play, into dark, crowded, dirty factories, or into coal mines…

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E veniamo all’avvento della scuola. Le prime hanno carattere religioso.

La religioni dei “cacciatori” era sgangherata e poco esigente

… Hunter-gatherers’ religions were nondogmatic and playful. Their deities, which generally represented the forces of nature, were relatively equal to one another, had little or no authority over humans, and were sources of amusement, inspiration, and understanding…

La religione dei contadini è rigorosa e gerarchica. Una sequela di dogmi da mandare a memoria…

… Gods became more fearsome, demanding worship and obedience, and some gods came to be viewed as more powerful than others. This trend culminated in the development of monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—each founded on the idea of a steeply hierarchical cosmos headed by a single, all-powerful god who demanded continuous devotion and worship…

Furono i cattolici ad avere le idee più chiare: l’insegnamento doveva essere impartito ex-cathedra procedendo dall’alto verso il basso.

La società cattolica doveva assumere forma piramidale esattamente come nella Chiesa del Cristo…

… The Church, with its clear structure of authority—from God to pope, on down through cardinals, bishops, and priests, to parishioners at the bottom—mirrored the pyramid of feudalism…

Così come la Chiesa trasmette la salvezza al popolo subordinato, allo stesso modo trasmette il sapere verso il basso al popolo da salvare.

Il monopolio della conoscenza era riservato agli ecclesiastici.

Il ruolo delle università

… The Church developed universities not for the purposes of free inquiry, but for the purposes of formulating and controlling doctrine…

La dottrina del peccato originale esige sofferenza in tutti i campi, anche in quello dell’apprendimento…

… The doctrine of original sin justified human suffering, and it certainly justified the beating of children….

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Con i protestanti l’istruzione si fa ancora più compulsiva.

Il capitalismo – è vero – promuove autonomia e individualismo

… The rise of skilled crafts and businesses, beginning in the sixteenth century, produced capitalists who did not depend on the feudal hierarchy for their livelihoods. In their view, they had raised themselves up by their own bootstraps…

Max Weber ha reso in modo vivido  la nascita della responsabilità personale

… As Max Weber famously pointed out in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the values espoused by Protestant sects closely matched those of capitalism.21 One value was individuals’ responsibility for their own success or failure. According to Protestant teachings, it is each person’s duty to interpret God’s word—that is, to read and understand the Bible—himself or herself and pray directly to God…

Per i protestanti, la vita è un affare tremendamente serio. Al centro di tutto sta il lavoro. Il profitto non significa certo godimento ma è piuttosto un segno di predestinazione da propiziare…

… profit was not immediate enjoyment, but was to prove oneself to be in a state of grace with God, to be one of the select who would spend eternity in heaven, not hell…

Il dovere del duro lavoro è centrale più che mai…

… Success as a capitalist required a person to work hard and then invest, not spend, the profits…

Non c’è più una Chiesa a cui ubbidire, ora l’origine del comando è interiore, ma la solfa non cambia…

… The Protestant, capitalist ethic, at least in theory, replaced obedience to human masters with obedience to a set of stern principles concerning the route to future betterment, in this life and the next…

La scuola protestante. Scopo: indottrinare. Metodo: memorizzare

… The primary method of instruction in the early Protestant schools was rote memorization. The goal was indoctrination, not inquisitiveness…

Il gioco dei bambini è malvisto in una società tanto tetra…

… Protestant school authorities toward play is reflected in John Wesley’s rules for Wesleyan schools, which included the statement: “As we have no play days, so neither do we allow any time for play on any day; for he that plays as a child will play as a man.”…

La lista delle punizioni è molto molto lunga e molto meticolosa…

… One master in Germany kept records of the punishments he meted out in fifty-one years of teaching, a partial list of which included: “911,527 blows with a rod, 124,010 blows with a cane, 20,989 taps with a ruler, 136,715 blows with the hand, 10,235 blows to the mouth, 7,905 boxes on the ear, and 1,118,800 blows on the head.”…

***

Veniamo alla scuola obbligatoria.

Da chi è stata inventata? Dai militari. In particolare, la scuola di stato, dagli stati-militari.

Presentava già tutte le tristi caratteristiche di quella attuale. Lo scopo: piegare il bambino…

… The most concerted, large-scale effort toward the development of universal Protestant schooling occurred in Prussia, the largest of the German kingdoms, beginning in the late seventeenth century… the leader of the Pietist schooling movement was August Hermann Francke… He developed a standardized curriculum (mostly of religious catechisms) and a method of training and certifying teachers to teach that curriculum. He arranged to have hourglasses installed in every classroom, so that everyone would follow a schedule dictated by time… he was clear in stating that the primary goal of his schools was to break, and then reform, children’s will…

Facoltà da sviluppare nel discente: la forza di volontà

… “The formation of the child’s character involves the will as well as the understanding. . . . Above all, it is necessary to break the natural willfulness of the child…

Bambini mai soli: monitoraggio e supervisione continua. Come ii un panopticon carcerario…

… the most effective way to break children’s will was through constant monitoring and supervision in school…

***

Lo Stato divenne il nuovo idolo a cui la scuola era tenuta ad asservirsi. Il processo si inaugura nei primi dell’ottocento…

… By the beginning of the nineteenth century, churches throughout Europe had been forced out of political power, and states began to take over the task of educating the young…

Lo scopo era forse quello di alfabetizzare? No, già praticamente tutti sapevano leggere e scrivere…

… The primary purpose of the new state-run schools was not literacy. By this time in history, the written word was everywhere, and literacy was high throughout Europe and North America…

I bimbi imparavano a casa

… Children whose parents could read learned quite easily to read at home…

Qualche numero

… By the early nineteenth century, roughly three-quarters of the population in the United States, including slaves, were literate, and percentages in most of Europe were comparable.31 On both sides of the Atlantic, the percentage of literate people was far higher than was the percentage of jobs requiring literacy…

Possiamo parlare di eccesso di alfabetizzazione: si imparava a leggere, scrivere e far di conte anche laddove nella vita quotidiana questi saperi non servivano affatto.

Il reale scopo della scuola: la censura. La gente accostava “letture pericolose e fuorvianti”, bisognava arginare il fenomeno…

… The primary educational concern of leaders in government and industry was not to make people literate, but to gain control over what people read, what they thought, and how they behaved…

Altro scopo: la costruzione del patriota nazionalista

… Secular leaders in education promoted the idea that if the state controlled the schools, and if children were required by law to attend those schools, then the state could shape each new generation of citizens into ideal patriots and workers…

La Germania dettava legge e batteva la via nella realizzazione del progetto.

Era necessario formare all’obbedienza e al rispetto dell’autorità.

Un fine malvagio ed occulto? Niente affatto, la pedagogia non era reticente sul punto, le cose venivano scritte in questi termini nero su bianco e senza infingimenti…

… German educational leaders promoted compulsory state-run schooling primarily as a means to turn the peasants into loyal, well-behaved German citizens. For example, a 1757 article in a Prussian journal of economics predicted: “The inner contentment which the peasant will obtain from such schooling will not only dry the sweat of his brow, but cultivate in him the incentive to work for the good of society. . . . Disloyalty, laziness, idleness, disobedience, disorder, and drudgery would all disappear.”…

I proclami guglielmini dissipano ogni dubbio…

… In 1794, King Frederick William II of Prussia declared officially that children’s education was henceforth a function of the state, not that of parents or churches…

Il curriculum era uno solo: il “nazionalismo”.

L’indottrinamento religioso impallidisce di fronte a quello statalista…

… In the words of historian James Melton, “Perhaps no religion was ever more ardently espoused than that of the love of country in the Germany of William II. Children were made to feel that the German language was the most perfect of all languages, and German literature the most excellent of all literatures….

I paesi più liberi e avanzati arrivano per ultimi alla scuola obbligatoria. Il caso dell’Inghilterra…

… England, which was the most fully industrialized country, was one of the last to adopt a system of universal compulsory education. A major force against it was the high prevalence of child labor. Industrialists wanted to keep poor children at work…

Cosa detta il grande passo?

Bisogna ammetterlo, c’è chi rema contro: i padroni vorrebbero i bimbi al lavoro, non a scuola. Inoltre, non mancano gli spiriti alti e ben intenzionati. Ma anche qui l’elemento determinante fu la censura, ovvero il timore che la gente (già alfabetizzata) si orientasse – come già faceva – verso letture radicali e sediziose…

… Already, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the common people were reading and getting excited about such seditious works as Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” and William Goodwin’s “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.” Finally, in 1870, the English Parliament passed the Education Act, which established a system of state-run elementary schools and mandated attendance for all children between the ages of five and thirteen…

In GB vediamo ripetersi quanto già visto in Germania…

… Among the most influential British proponents of compulsory public schooling was the prominent theologian and historian Rev. John Brown, who wrote, “’Tis necessary therefore, in order to form a good citizen to impress the infant with early habits, even to shackle the mind (if you please so to speak) with salutary prejudices, such as may create a conformity of thought and action with the established principles on which its native society is built.”…

E negli USA? Il Massachusetts batte tutti sul tempo introducendo la scuola obbligatoria nel 1852. Lì, d’altronde, operava Horace Mann, un fan del sistema prussiano: la scuola al servizio dello stato…

… He saw compulsory schooling as a means of enlightening children in ways that served the interests of industry and the state…

Lo spirito che negli USA informa il progetto di scuola coercitiva: il controllo sociale…

… The spirit behind compulsory education in the United States is laid out in the writings of Edward Ross, one of the founders of American sociology, who in the late nineteenth century published a series of articles that were later collected into the book Social Control: A Survey of the Foundations of Order. Ross advocated for compulsory public schooling as a means of maintaining social order…

La religione statalista e la scuola come messa

… Ross, like Frederick II in Prussia, saw compulsory public schooling as the secular replacement for religion in the task of maintaining social order…

***

Viste le premesse, non sorprende che dalla scuola si passò alla scuola obbligatoria per finire alla scuola unica obbligatoria…

… Once compulsory systems of state-run schools were established, they became increasingly standardized, both in content and in method…

I bambini divennero il prodotto di una catena di montaggio.

Perché assumere le donne? Più economiche e più idonee a dare un illusorio aspetto accogliente alla Macchina…

… Female teachers generally replaced men in the classroom, largely because they could be hired more cheaply, but also because women would soften the image of schooling, reduce the use of corporal punishment, and make schooling more palatable to tender-minded parents.42 At first, however, the female teachers were called assistants…

Nella sostanza, la scuola resta per i bimbi un’esperienza profondamente innaturale…

… Today most people think of childhood and schooling as indelibly entwined. We identify children by their grade in school. We automatically think of learning as work, which children must be forced to do in special workplaces, schools, modeled after factories. All this seems completely normal to us, because we see it everywhere. We rarely stop to think about how new and unnatural all this is in the larger context of human evolution and how it emerged from a bleak period in our history that was marked by child labor and beliefs in children’s innate sinfulness…

Ai bimbi non piace andare a scuola, questo è un fatto.

E se a volte piace è perché lì hanno gli amici, ovvero qualcosa che avrebbero e hanno sempre avuto comunque.

C’è chi sostiene che la scuola non piace perché gli insegnanti non incontrano le esigenze del fanciullo.

Ma la risposta è più semplice è un’altra: la scuola non piace perché è una prigione.

Non facciamo gli ipocriti, a qualcuno di voi piacerebbe stare in prigione? E allora non rimproveriamo troppo i nostri figli recalcitranti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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