Perché ai bambini non piace la scuola?

SEVEN SINS OF OUR SYSTEM OF FORCED 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

I bambini odiano la scuola, è notorio.

La amano giusto per gli amici che lì incontrano, ovvero per qualcosa che avrebbero comunque…

… When children do like school, it’s usually because of the friends they meet there, not because of the lessons…

Ma perché tanto odio?

Una possibile risposta: gli insegnanti non li capiscono

… Not long ago I read the book Why Don’t Students Like School? by cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham. The book had received rave reviews from people involved in the school system, but I found that it fails to answer the question posed by its title. Willingham’s thesis is that students don’t like school (and also don’t learn much there) because teachers don’t have a full understanding of certain cognitive principles and therefore don’t teach as well as they could. They don’t present material in ways that appeal best to students’ minds….

Ma forse la rispostano è più semplice: la odiano perché odiano le prigioni, come tutti noi.

E’ questo l’elefante seduto nel bel mezzo della stanza che noi fingiamo di non vedere…

… Children don’t like school because to them school is—dare I say it—prison. Children don’t like school because, like all human beings, they crave freedom…

Oltre ad essere strutturata come una prigione, la scuola manda lo stesso messaggio: “non va bene come sei, dobbiamo cambiarti”…

…In school, as in adult prisons, the inmates are told exactly what they must do and are punished for failure to comply…

Non illudetevi di capire: il lavoro non è mai una prigione crudele come la scuola, il parallelo non regge…

… It is against the law in this and other democratic countries to force someone to work at a job where the person doesn’t want to work, or to marry someone he or she doesn’t want to marry. In contrast, it is against the law to not force a child to go to school if you are the parent and the child doesn’t want to go…

La scuola è un vero e proprio “istituto di correzione”…

… Given the historical origins of our schools, described in the last chapter, it should be no surprise that this is the case. To the Protestant reformers who started them, schools were meant to be correctional institutions…

Non chiamiamola scuola, chiamiamola “educazione forzata”…

… Another term that I think deserves to be said aloud is forced education. Like the term prison, this term sounds harsh. But again, if we have compulsory education, we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it…

Di seguito accenno ai 7 vizi della nostra scuola.

***

Primo vizio: negazione della libertà senza giusto processo.

E’ il vizio più grave poiché tradisce i principi più profondi della nostra società…

… A basic premise of our democratic system of values is that it is wrong to deny anyone liberty without just cause and due process. To incarcerate an adult, we must prove, in a court of law, that the person has committed a crime or is a serious threat to self or others…

E nei confronti degli adulti il sopruso non è meno grave: sequestro di persona senza giusta causa né giusto processo.

***

Secondo vizio: interferenza indebita nello sviluppo personale.

La scuola, esattamente come l’ “overparenting”, rende il bambino più fragile e dipendente…

… practice of children’s assuming adult-like responsibilities was not exceptional in the early to mid-nineteenth century, before the era of state-enforced compulsory schooling. Today the typical twelve-year-old in a middle-class suburb is not trusted to babysit or even walk home from school unaccompanied by an adult…

L’idea del “bambino incapace”, una profezia che si auto-avvera: “poiché sei incapace ti metto sotto tutela, vivendo perennemente sotto tutela resti incapace a vita”…

… The belief that children and even teenagers are incapable of rational decision-making and self-direction is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By confining children to school and other adult-directed school-like settings, and by filling their time with forced busywork, which serves no productive purpose, we deprive them of the time and opportunities they need to practice self-direction and responsibility….

Il messaggio di fondo della scuola: “sei un incapace”…

… An implicit and sometimes explicit message of our forced schooling system is this: “If you do what you are told to do in school, everything will work out well for you.”…

Il giusto atteggiamento di Mark Twain

… “I’ve never let school interfere with my education.”…

***

Terzo vizio: demotivare l’apprendimento.

I Promessi Sposi ci ammorbano solo perché li abbiamo studiati a scuola. Occorre un quarto di secolo per riabilitarli nella loro bellezza.

I bambini, di loro, sono dei “curiosi naturali” che imparano da sé…

… Children come into the world burning to learn. They are naturally curious, naturally playful, and they explore and play in ways that teach them about the social and physical world to which they must adapt… They learn to walk, run, jump, and climb…

Che succede a sei anni di tanto particolare da dover cambiare le cose tanto radicalmente? Nulla…

… Nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn when children turn five or six. We turn it off with our system of schooling…

Solo che a scuola imparare diventa un lavoro orribile

… The biggest, most enduring lesson of school is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible, not joyful play as children would otherwise believe…

Un avversario irriducibile della scuola: Albert Einstein

… Albert Einstein, who loved to play with math but hated studying it in school, is one of many great thinkers who has pointed out the deleterious effects of forced instruction….

La sua è solo esperienza personale.

Le parole del genio nel merito…

… It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty…

Scuola e ansia, un binomio nefasto e inscindibile…

… When students are evaluated for their learning and are compared with other students, as they constantly are in school, learning becomes not only work but a source of anxiety…

L’ansia impedisce di imparare, una conclusione sia intuitiva che scientifica…

… A fundamental psychological principle (discussed in Chapter 7) is that anxiety inhibits learning. Learning occurs best in a playful state of mind, and anxiety inhibits playfulness…

***

Quarto vizio: ingenera vergogna, cinismo ed egoismo.

Strumenti di apprendimento coercitivo: bastone e pubblico ludibrio

… It is not easy to force people to do what they do not want to do. At first, the cane was the most common instrument of coercion in schools. Another early method was public shaming…

Forse il bastone non va più di moda ma la vergogna è ancora tremendamente attuale…

… We rely now primarily on a system of incessant testing, grading, and ranking of children to motivate them to do their schoolwork. Children are made to feel ashamed (inferior) if they perform worse than their peers and proud (superior) if they perform better. Shame leads some to drop out, psychologically, from the educational endeavor…

Quando il voto è tutto i ragazzi diventano cinici e copiano il più possibile…

… Students are constantly told about the value of high grades. Advancement through the system and eventual freedom from it depend on them. Students understandably become convinced that high grades are the be-all and end-all of their schoolwork. By the time they are eleven or twelve years old, most are realistically cynical about the idea that school is fundamentally a place for learning. They realize that much of what they are required to do is senseless and that they will forget most of what they are tested on shortly after the test…

Ma perché si copia senza sensi di colpa?

… Students understand that the rules distinguishing cheating from not cheating in school are like the rules of a game. But it’s a game they did not choose to play…

Copiano le “mele marce”? No, copiare è un’attività di massa

… On anonymous questionnaires, approximately 95 percent of students admit to some degree of cheating, and roughly 70 percent admit to repeated acts of the most blatant forms of cheating, such as copying whole tests from other students or plagiarizing whole papers…

Motto…

… we needed the grades to get into the best schools….

Chi copia si fa del male? No, se l’alternativa è imparare cose inutili

… Teachers often say that if you cheat in school you are only cheating yourself, because you are shortchanging your own education. But that argument holds water only if what you would have learned by not cheating outweighs the value of whatever you did with the time saved by cheating…

Per gli allievi il “sistema” è il nemico.

Tra gli allievi lo studente onesto è una spia.

Copiare è una strategia win-win

… In other respects, cheating to get high grades seems to many students to be a win-win-win situation. They want to get high grades, their parents want them to get high grades, and their teachers want them to get high grades…

***

Quinto vizio: promuove il bullismo e ostacola la cooperazione.

Scuola: competitività sfrenata, e quindi egoismo

… By design, it teaches selfishness. The forced competitiveness, the constant grading and ranking of students, contain the implicit lesson that each student’s job is to look out for himself or herself and to do better than others. Indeed, too much help given by one student to another is cheating. Helping others may even hurt the helper, by raising the grading curve and lowering the helper’s position on it…

La cooperazione è favorita dalla convivenza in un mix di età anagrafiche ma nella gabbia scolastica ci sono solo coetanei…

… Under normal conditions, children develop their abilities to cooperate and help one another in free, self-directed, social play, where they learn to resolve their differences and take into account one another’s needs in order to keep the game going (see Chapter 8). Age-mixed play is especially valuable in this regard. Researchers have found that the presence of younger children naturally activates the nurturing instincts of older children (discussed in Chapter 9). Older children help younger ones when they play together…

Si creano così le condizioni ideali per il bullismo verso gli isolati…

… The age-segregated, competitive atmosphere of school, along with students’ lack of any real voice in school governance, provides the ideal conditions for the generation of competitive coalitions, or cliques, which provide a foundation for bullying. Children who are not accepted into any of the prevailing cliques may be picked on mercilessly, and they have no way to escape….

Per i molti bullizzato la scuola non è un luogo spiacevole, è l’inferno in terra.

L’apprezzamento per il bullo, almeno quello non patologico, è diffuso negli ambienti scolastici…

… These bullies are among the popular kids—the athletes, cheerleaders, preppies. They are popular not only with the other kids but also with the teachers, school administrators, and adults…

Direi di più: il bullo agisce essenzialmente perché – quando vessa l’’isolato – si sente ammirato dal gruppo.

Accanto alla violenza del bullo ne cresce una ancor più pericolosa socialmente: quella che cova il bullizzato…

… Every once in a while, however, in a particularly vulnerable person, the despair or rage or both erupt into violence, either against the self or against the whole school, and only then does school bullying become an issue to the larger community…

Breve storia di una bullizzata tratta da “The Scarred Heart” di Helen Smith…

… Kids at school called her fat, threw things at her and pushed her around. They ridiculed her with rumors that she stuffed tissues in her bra. She attempted suicide and her parents admitted her to an inpatient mental hospital program and sought counseling but said it didn’t help. After missing fifty-three out of the required one hundred and eighty days of school, she was told that she would have to return to school or appear before a truancy board which could then send her to a juvenile detention center. She decided the better alternative was to go into her bedroom and hang herself with a belt. . . . In times past, she could have just dropped out of school, but now kids like her are trapped by compulsory education…

Il bullo prospera dove ci sono gabbie: in prigione, in caserma, a scuola

… Bullying occurs in all institutions where people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting. It occurs regularly, for example, in adult as well as juvenile prisons…

Il bullismo nella grande gabbia della Cina comunista

… In their acclaimed book, Will the Boat Sink the Water?, Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntau describe the prevalence of bullying in rural China. The peasants are not allowed to move off the land and they are governed, top down, by petty bureaucrats…

***

Sesto vizio: inibire il pensiero critico.

Il pensiero critico disturba la risoluzione dei test. Interferisce in modo fastidioso…

… most students… They learn that their job in school is to get high marks on tests and that critical thinking interferes. To get a good grade, you need to figure out what the teacher wants you to say…

Conta solo la risposta corretta

… To think critically, people must feel motivated and free to voice their own ideas and raise their own questions. But in school students learn that their own ideas and questions don’t count. What counts are their abilities to provide the “correct” answers…

Tipica reazione alle lunghe spieghe dell’insegnante che cerca “di far pensare” gli allievi…

… “I appreciate what you are trying to do, but I don’t need or want to know why the method works! All I need to know is how to follow the steps that the teacher wants and get the answers that she wants.”…

A scuola il tempo è la risorsa scarsa (anche perché il bambino non vede l’ora di finire). Purtroppo, pensare, richiede tempo…

… Students recognize that it would be impossible to delve deeply into their school subjects, even if they wanted to. Time does not permit it…

Altro ostacolo: l’ansia

… Another great inhibitor of critical thinking in school is anxiety. The continuous evaluation of students that occurs in school reduces critical thinking not only because it leads students to look for what the teacher wants, but also because it promotes anxiety…

Si pensa male paralizzati dall’ansia.

***

Settimo vizio: standardizzare.

Il percorso è lo stesso per tutti…

… By forcing all schoolchildren through the same standard curriculum, we reduce their opportunities to follow alternative pathways. The school curriculum represents a tiny subset of the skills and knowledge that are important to our society…

Nel mondo reale la nicchia conta molto più che lo standard…

… In the real world, outside of school, diversity in personality as well as in knowledge is valued. Part of the task of growing up is to find niches that best fit one’s personality…

E chi non rientra nello standard? Ieri era un asino, oggi un malato

… In the modern school classroom, however, there is only one niche, and those whose personalities don’t fit are seen as failures, or as suffering from a “mental disorder.” Instead of adjusting to the diversity of personalities, schools try to mold personalities to fit the school, often with drugs. The most obvious current example of this concerns the high rate of diagnosis of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyper activity disorder) among schoolchildren today…

Ma i bimbi hanno personalità diverse. E parlo di personalità, non malattie…

… Some children are naturally more active and impulsive than others, and this gets them into trouble in school. It is even harder for them than for the typical child to sit still for hours every day, to attend to assignments that don’t interest them, and to tolerate tedium. In today’s world of high-pressure schooling, those kids get labeled as having a mental disorder, ADHD…

Il 12% dei maschietti è diagnosticato ADHD. Per le ragazzine arriviamo al 4%. Un’epidemia. E’ credibile tutto cio’?

Ieri, per lo meno, lo stato innaturale di un bambino chiuso a scuola era riconosciuto…

… When I was in elementary school, decades ago, the adults seemed to recognize that it is not natural for children to spend long hours sitting and studying. We had a half-hour morning recess, an hour of outdoor play at lunch, and another half-hour afternoon recess, and we almost never had homework…

Chiediamoci: perché chi non impara a scuola poi impara a casa?…

… Not long ago, I solicited reports from parents who had withdrawn a child from public school and begun homeschooling sometime after the child was diagnosed with ADHD. In the great majority of cases, according to the reports, the children were taken off the drugs and had no particular problems learning under the conditions of homeschooling…

E gli insegnanti?

Vedono e sanno, ma non possono agire liberamente. Loro per lo meno sono liberi di andarsene…

… One teacher, in response to an early sketch of this chapter, wrote, “I don’t choose what I teach; the state does. Teachers know wonderful things about how children learn, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it. . . . My ability to keep my job is based on how many of my students pass the [state-mandated] test.” But teachers, unlike students, are free to quit…

***

C’è poi un vizio residuale: la scuola interferisce in modo negativo nella vita famigliare. I genitori vengono incontrati la sera e con essi si assolvono solo ad impegni  residuali e di poco conto. Se non fosse per i compiti a casa, dove i genitori diventano carcerieri…

… I should add interference with family life as an eighth sin. Schooling eats into the time that families can spend together, on their own activities. It also interferes with family harmony, as parents must be enforcers of homework, cope with the negative effects that schooling has on children’s moods and home behavior, and in some cases do battle with their kids every day to get them to go to school…

***

Alternative?

C’è chi è scettico: la trasmissione della nostra cultura è fondamentale.

Vero, ma scegliersi i maestri è molto diverso da vederseli imposti. D’altronde i bambini (e le loro famiglie) posseggono un intuito particolare per scegliere in modo oculato da chi apprendere.

Ancora lo scettico: imparare richiede sforzo, non illudiamoci.

E chi lo nega? Ma un conto è lo sforzo motivato, un altro lo sforzo imposto. Nel nostro caso la motivazione è tutto, lo sforzo motivato non è meno intenso per il solo fatto che ci sembra più piacevole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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