Interesting, isn’t it?
No recent event make us talk about school more than COVID.
“DAD” (didactic on distance) was probably one of the keywords of the pandemic era. However, the most widespread opinions, supported by statistics, speaks about that as an educational failure, actually.
Technology, hailed as the best and only solution (and financed on the same way), is now a convenient scapegoat: the useless debate between “apocalyptics” and “integrated” has regained strength. But technology favors or allows only some of the processes involved in educational dynamics, and, though powerful, a “medium” remain just a “medium”.
At the end of the day, the quality of work depends on the quality of people; and the quality of teachers is an even more complicated subject than COVID. And it is so for a thousand reasons, first of all the fact that the outcome of “good teaching” is difficult to recognize and certify, which is why for years we have been floating between the “coldness” of INVALSI data, the more or less plausible comparisons with foreign systems and a system that has transfigured this difficulty into a taboo, a category that does not accept evaluations of any kind or even structural changes (by “structural” change I mean, for example, the request for approaches that do without the textbook and improve using of technology).
However, as I said, at least it has been talked about, because the truth is that the covid era has highlighted mostly pre-existing difficulties.
The “educational success” depends by many reasons and it would be important to analyze them all. There are responsibilities of families, of politics, of the students themselves.
But now I must talk about school.
While the people feels (or like to feel) that everything has been done “in parentheses”, and wants to come back to the good old days, as if nothing had happened, we find ourselves in the embarrassing situation in which some schools did a lot of things and want to be thanked for, and some did nothing or should have better done nothing. Some teachers were absolutely good and some absolutely wrong.
We don’t speculate on percentages of good and bad ones but I have to notice that just 6% of Italian teachers were involved in training course in the past two years. If the situation was so difficult, I would have expected, along with the decree mandating the implementation of the Plan on Integrated Digital Teaching, at least the temporary training obligation.
Looking forward to another similar school year, managers and teachers should have spent the second half of June and the first half of September NOT teaching to the students, but studying and discussing, to understand what to propose this year. I’m talking about goals and methods, but also about tools, of course.
I think it was worthwhile even at this time.
I, too, maintain that the Support Decree was made with good intentions and good objectives. Moreover, schools have already had a lot of money to implement these activities. But in practice, what are the prevailing activities? Have they really been selected based on the criteria of the decree? Who will control them? How understand if activities were working?
In conclusion the problem of student recovery is less urgent than quality of teaching.
At first glance, whenever we talk about technology in school, two extreme theories face each other . About the school in the pandemic-age and about distance learning, someone says that everything has changed and someone says that nothing has changed.
But as always, the truth is a little more complex.
Statistics speak to us of a generation “adrift”, for which the school is required to adapt, provided that the school has noticed these changes, which is legitimate to doubt (in the school do the teachers discuss about social changes? do they talk about learn-to-learn now?); on the other hand, schools that have moved in time (adaptation of infrastructures and internal training) are already able actually to make “educational” proposals (not just “instructive”) with the new tools.
The feeling is that 1-2 classes in higher school has short of breath! In fact, with the DAD in high school, the adolescents experienced school as an optional experience and upon returning a sort of mutual reckoning began: the school set up a path of crossfire and – after having “used” the politically correct reasons of the need for sociality and the importance of proxemics in teaching – has actually subjected the students to daily assignments (maybe the professional horizon of the teachers remains the scrutinies, sadly); but also the students have metaphorically put the teachers up against the wall, they are no longer even willing to cheat the school, they actually desert it.
The pandemic has therefore only worked as a highlight of a foretold educational terminus: even the high school must review its programs and focus on motivation, collaboration and competence. If it remains anchored to the scheme of contents and frontal methodologies, if the educational relationship is based on “whoever wins it over”, we risk having a sensational and perhaps incontrovertible disconnect with the generations of digital natives (from born in 2006 and beyond). The future of society is at stake.
The supplementary report relating to the survey on teaching practices during the lockdown is online.
The Report, based on the study of the answers given to the online questionnaire by over 3,700 Italian teachers, is configured as a snapshot for a peculiar historical moment.
It’s not an exhaustive analysis but makes a constructive reflection.
Some of the data that emerged substantially reveal a transposition of traditional frontal teaching into the DDA, where two main practices emerge, such as video-conference lessons and the allocation of resources for study and exercises.
In general, the part of the teachers who took part in the survey split into two groups, one having a greater confidence with the ITC and face the distance as inspiring and professional challenge. The second a lower confidence with strong need to increase ITC skill for the didactics.
In Italy we call “DAD” (didattica a distanza, something like teaching by distance) and it means when a teacher uses web to provide content or learning tools. For many years the schools use that in 10-50% perceptual range. Since lockdown caused by covid-19 and as the schools are closed, the school manage 100% didactics by distance.
Thought about 70% of students regret the school in presence, it’s been an important chance to increase digital skills. Many teachers do.
And many school are proud to declare they are ON LINE and cover 100% of school time by the web, thanks to some platforms like WebEx, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. All we need the platforms to connect, it’s true. But are we sure to call it “teaching”, just because we are connected and look at a webcam??