In the fictitious parenthesis to which Covid pushed us, the feasibility of adapting resources to the new conditions of our existence has been tested; the pandemic has catalyzed the adoption of certain measures, some of which were already proposed before the need to fake the virus and others were implemented as an imminent precautionary requirement.
New technologies supported tele-much-thing. But it was quickly concluded that, if for most of them it worked, the same did not apply to the School. From studies that confirmed (which seemed evident at first sight) that the inequality among the student population increased with distance classes, up to the assumption on the part of students, in interviews given in television reports, of the longing they felt for their friends , from colleagues and even… from teachers, everything came to point to the need for face-to-face classes.
The function of the School is not limited to the simple transmission of “packages” of knowledge organized in “menus” adapted to the physical ages aiming only at the improvement of certain cognitive abilities. If this were the case, the enterprise would be much better. They didn't even have to order, just consume!
But the mission of the School is also to make accessible to its students aspects of culture fundamental to their personal development, understood in a global way, and not only in the intellectual aspect, that is, including capacities of personal balance, social insertion and of interpersonal relationship. And these are lost when the house becomes the school.
At the end of the last century, Novak drew attention to the importance of the role played by affective stimuli in learning. It is the student as a whole, body and mind, who learns and emotions activate and reinforce this process.
This interaction between thought, feelings and actions advocated by Novak in his theory of education has been confirmed by works in the area of cognitive sciences, such as those by Damásio and it will be, perhaps, one of the reasons that explain why face-to-face classes are irreplaceable.
But if it is consensual that the Distance School accentuates the inequalities between students, that the affective aspect is lost in that, which is a remedy and not an option in relation to the “physical school”, let us not forget that in this case the inequalities persist and that continues to suffer failures and deficiencies.
In our Schools, a lot is bet on work for “the right answer”, the one that is quoted, the one that launches the educational establishment to the front of the rankings; strategies that pressure students to identify and memorize content that they repeat without giving it meaning are insisted upon.
Teaching and training are two very different practices in the methods they use and, as a consequence, they also have very different results.
Learning should not be conceptualized as a response to stimuli, nor as a mere processing of passive information absorption, but rather an active process that is critically appropriate by the student. Memorized responses become useless when the problem changes; what is asked is that education can provide the competence so that each one asks the appropriate question and has the means to find their own answers.
We cannot provide students with a “map” by which they will be guided in the foreseeable future; we must, in fact, equip them with the necessary skill and confidence so that they can use them in the search for their own path, in a future whose nature we cannot foresee; and by giving them a greater role in the knowledge-building process, we enable them to make decisions and confidently face problematic situations, uncertainties and changes.
The author writes according to the old spelling.