A Midsummer Comedy

September 14th: back to school. So close! Too close! Yet, we don’t have a clue about how the new school year will start. Of course, I understand that everything depends on the trend of data and I don’t want to preach about what ought to be done, because I really don’t know and I respect whoever holds such an office as Minister of Education these days, this said, I think it is worth telling what has happened in these two past months, just to get the picture to what degree of confusion and dismay we’ll tackle our going back to work. It may sounds like a comedy but it is more like a tragedy and one act is yet to be written, the most important one.

Act I

The Minister of Education and her advisers have summoned 20 teachers, each as representative of one Italian region, to inform them of her decisions about the start of the new school year.

Minister of Education (smiling with satisfaction 😏): “As we have to keep distanced according to our guidelines, I order that from now on there will be no more crowded classes. 15 students each class top. This is my wish. I am happy to say that this is the dawn of a new era for schooling in Italy.”😑

Teachers (with deference): “Splendid! It was about time! We all rejoice with this resolution Madam, but, if it has been so decided, I am sure you have considered  that at least 200.000 teachers are to be hired plus, doing the Math, we need twice as many classrooms”.

Minister of Education: “How dare you mistrust your Minister, you dummies! Of course, I have thought about the spaces required (haven’t I 🤔?)! There is no need to build new schools: there are cinemas, theatres, B&Bs and much more that can be of use in this emergency. You, for example, you!

Teacher (😳):” Me?”

Minister of Education: “Yes, you? Where do you teach?”

Teacher (😳😥) : Casalpalocco… near Ostia Lido… Rome.

Minister of Education (triumphantly): “You see? You are the perfect example!!

Teacher (😳): “Me?” “How so?”

Minister of Education: “Yes! There are plenty of suitable sites where you work: apart from the splendid beaches, which can be utilised from September to early November and, if the season is fine, from March to June, you have the fortune of being close to the Roman site of Ostia Antica.” 

Teacher (😰):” I wouldn’t call 10 km close, Madam, but even if this were an option, how  could we get there? There are about 1.300 students in my school. Do you mean that 650 of them should be sorted among cinemas, beaches, B&Bs, theatres and Ostia Antica Roman site?”

Minister of Education (smiling): “Clever, isn’t? And after two weeks they will rotate with the other half!!”

Teacher(😤): ” I beg you pardon, but I, for example, teach in 6 different courses, so do you actually mean that in a day I could bounce from school, to the cinema, to the theatre, to the B&B, to the beach and eventually end at Ostia Antica to meet my students? Did I get it right?”

Minister of Education (😡): “Are You telling me, that you don’t wish to help your country and make sacrifices in such desperate times?”

Teacher (😢): “Of course I am not, Madam, but I was wondering, what about December, January and February in my case? And what about those who live in places where they are not so fortunate in sites or weather? Any tips?”

Adviser : (whispering)” May I suggest to take some time and think about new solutions, Madam ?”

Minister of Education ( quite annoyed): “As I see you don’t wish to oblige me, you are all dismissed for now. You will be summoned, you as soon as I can break something new to you.

All teachers exeunt

 Act II

A week has passed and the Minister has summoned another meeting.

Minister of Education: I am proud to announce that in only a week we have found the proper solution. The school year will start and we will be able to satisfy all the safety protocols and the wishes of those who selfishly seem to care only about their needs (glancing  at the teacher who had spoken the week before). I decided to divide each class in two halves and while one half remains in class the other one will follow the lessons at home. Well, what do you have to say now?”

(The teachers confabulate for a while till one takes the floor😟 )Teacher: ” Hem! Splendid! We all rejoice with this resolution Madam, but, if it has been so decided, I am sure you have considered that since the quantities of the data flow uploading will enormously increase with this option, the IT connection of thousands of schools will have to be enhanced, so…..there is a chance that we may not be ready.”

Minister of Education (😤) : ” Again! ” ” Of course, I’ve thought about the general situation of IT connection in schools ( 🤔haven’t I ?), by the way, ( she hesitates), as representatives of the school community, how many of you would be or will be ready by September? 

 6 Teachers (in unison) : ” We would “!

Minister of Education ( 😳) :” Six!!” ” Six out of twenty?” ” And what do the others have to say ?”

Teacher (😟): “I am glad to hear that some of my collegues may boast such effective connections, in my case I can only say that despite our numerous requests, we have received no funds yet, we have also been waiting for the making of 10 classrooms for three years, but still in vain”,

Minister of Education (very annoyed). “Who is speaking?” ” Ah, it is still you from Ostia Antica,…..”

Teacher (😩) “Casalpalocco”

Minister of Education : “Whatever”!😡

Adviser ( whispering): ” As you can see Madam, those who declare to be ready come mostly from the North of the country. Large investiments will be required for the South in particular and, if I may (passes a letter), a note has just arrived: the State Council has given an adverse opinion about the matter. May I suggest to take some more time and think about new solutions, Madam?”

Minister of Education (muttering): ” It seems the the State Council has nothing to do but meddling with school matters these days”. (to the teachers): ” You are all dismissed for now. You will be summoned, you as soon as I can break something new to you.

All teachers exeunt

Act III

It is almost the end of July and the Minister has just summoned another meeting.

Minister of Education (visibly satisfied)😃: “ I am very proud to annouce that we have reached a final and definite plan. As one meter distance has to be guaranteed, I have disposed to buy one and a half million brand new one-seater desks with wheels (general startle😳😳😳), which will replace those old two-seater desks at the cost of 325 Euros each. Hence, never say again that this Ministry doesn’t invest on education. We do. I do”

(The teachers confabulate in agitation, till one takes the floor😟 )Teacher: ” Hem! Splendid! We all rejoice with this resolution Madam, but, if it has been so decided, I am sure you have considered that those desks are quite….. cramped. We are all aware these kind of desks are largely used in other countries, but they have different systems of education, they use tablets and test through multiple choice. We don’t. We still have books and use dictionaries to translate from Latin or Greek and to write compositions, let alone the wheels………”

Minister of Education (now infuriated, interrupts the teacher 😡). “I have had Enough!” “The point is that you live in the Middle Age, YOU are the Middle Age. You don’t want to update you teaching methods, you have made a crusade agaist the use of technology and on-line learning, you despise any novelty! It’s about time you renew your strategies and make them more suitable for the new generations. The mind of our students is not a funnel to be filled but a fire to be lit”😑

Teachers (all together😕😳): ” A funnel !” “You mean, a vase!”

Minister of Education (out of her senses 😡😡) : ” You have not come here to impart ME a lesson!” “If I said a funnel, it is a funnel!” “Check Wikipedia and you’ll see” (somebody laughs😆 ). “Who dares? I am sure, it is always you from Ostia Antica!”

Teacher : “But, I didn’t say a word!” 🤐”By the ways, Casalpalocco”.

Minister of Education (shouting): ” Whatever!”😡

(A teacher attempts to say something after a few minutes of silence) Teacher (gently): “It is not a bad idea after all, Madam, the wheels…..a more lively ….. why not? But, may we ask to be informed if the desks can be sent by September 14th, so that we may arrange things in our schools?

Minister of Education (to her advisors): “What do you answer to this?”

Advisor (clumsily🙄) : “They will arrive, of course, in due time”.

Teachers : “And when is it ?”

Advisor (whispering to the Minister) : ” May I suggest to take some more time so that we may check this matter about the desks, Madam?”

Minister of Education (to her advisor😩) :” I can’t believe it, we don’t know when they are ready!” (addressing the teachers) “You are all dismissed for now. I’ll call you as soon as I can break something new to you”.

All teachers exeunt

Act IV (a short one)

It is August and the Minister has summoned another meeting.

Minister of Education: ” You will all wear masks at school”. “That is all”.😑

All teachers exeunt 😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳

Act V

September……….💪💪💪

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “A Midsummer Comedy

    • The number of cases is increasing, and if this is the trend, by September 14th we’ll be back into lockdown zone and on-line learning. It seems people could not do without moving, going on holiday and this is the outcome. Let’s hope for the best (after all , I didn’t mind on- line learning). I hope everything is fine with you and your family. 😘🙋Stefy

      • We’re doing fine here. I live in a small community. So far the rate of infection is slowing and our school district decided to go back to on-line learning when school starts in two weeks. Very grateful for that. Stay healthy!

  1. “dawn” not down . . .

    Is this complete fiction, mostly fiction, a parody of reality, or complete reality (assuming, of course, no such meeting took place and it’s only used as a vehicle to communicate the communique from the self-declared experts)?

    Regardless, well-written, a fun read and would be thoroughly enjoyable were it not for the depressing picture it paints.

    I have a friend who started back in the classroom today. Masks being worn, but social distancing iffy and spotty (8th graders). His school is in Georgia (the state, not the country).

  2. one of the most amazing Tragicomedy I ever read in my life 😂😭 I just don’t know if I should laugh or cry 🥴 my dearest lovely teacher, I should translate it in German and send it to the Minister of Education here because it happened almost the same here too with a lot of wishes and dreams 😇 to that; we have not so long vacation and the schools had already begun more or less 😎 anyway, your students must be highly lucky to have you as a teacher. Stay safe 💖💖💖🥰😘

  3. Your tragi-comedy of the purblind education ministers leading the hobbled sighted is one I’m sure that is replicated in many countries, no more so than in our benighted land of Inguhland (masquerading as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) where our political masters have not only made of the exam results a fiasco (a fine English word now) or débacle (another fine English word, none of your EU lingo please) but also still hold to the opinion that the purpose of state education is to provide workplace fodder to better the economy while private education is to provide the élite (an English word, of course) that will rule and enjoy all that material wealth.

    I don’t think I’m exaggerating, though I truly wish I was. But you will realise that I completely empathise with the situation in which Italian teachers such as you and your colleagues are placed.

    • You are not exaggerating at all. Once school was the place where to forge minds through the development of thought, reading,writing, creativity etc…now it has become a kindergarden where everybody may join in to be amused and entertained. The outcome is what you see: ignorant masses charmed by populists that amuse and entertain them.

  4. I think you speak for teachers around the world. here in Canada each province is dealing with school in a different fashion. i’ll be thinking of you and sending magic wands to make this work.

  5. Purtroppo quello che descrivi è la tragica realtà (tragicomica se non fosse che alunni e insegnanti ne sono coinvolti), siamo governati da persone che sanno di sapere e non ascoltano nessuno e pur facendo figure meschine vanno avanti per la loro strada più sicuri che mai! Come i primi di luglio RLS ho partecipato alla riunione sulla sicurezza nel mio istituto scolastico insieme ai rappresentanti del Comune, Il Ds aveva allestito un’aula con 24 banchi distanziati di un metro testa a testa, rimaneva appena lo spazio per passare tra i banchi! Ebbene dati alla mano, a parte due classi che superavano il limite di 24 per le quali bisognava trovare spazi adeguati, tutto si è risolto con la promessa di far arrivare banchi monoposto entro il 14 settembre. Oggi sappiamo che il MIUR ha addirittura derogato al limiti già ridicolo di 1 metro testa a testa nei casi dove non ci sono spazi. Ora come insegnante e come genitore mi sento alquanto in difficoltà a partecipare a questa farsa: o il problema coronavirus non esiste più, nel senso che ormai non rappresenta più un pericolo dato che i contagi sono perlopiù asintomatici e con sintomi lievi; allora pretendo che le scuole riaprano in piena normalità. Oppure se il governo ritiene che il pericolo ci sia è doveroso che metta i soldi necessari per far riaprire le scuole in sicurezza; tutti sappiamo che solo con classi di 10 max 15 alunni si avrebbe il giusto distanziamento per limitare i contagi. E le mascherine sono improponibili da tenere per troppe ore, sia per gli insegnanti che spiegano e parlano di continuo, sia per gli alunni. Speriamo davvero che i sindacati una volta tanto facciano un bagno di realtà e vengano incontro alle esigenze di alunni, genitori e docenti mettendo in atto le giuste proteste di fronte a questa situazione surreale

    • Le strategie di cui hai parlato sono esattamente quelle sperimentate da noi, e, immagino, da tutte le scuole d’Italia e non solo. Chiaramente ci sono delle variabili, ma tutti condividiamo gli stessi problemi.

      Cosa fare? Dipende dai numeri. 3 giorni fa nel Lazio i casi erano 45 , ieri più di 90 e oggi 215. La polemica sintomatici, asintomatici, e la costante reinterpretazione dei numeri non mi affascina. Stanno crescendo. Punto.

      Quindi sará solo una questione di numeri e le opzioni possibili per me sono solo due 😮 in presenza o dad. Altre alternative non ne vedo .

      • L’ISS oggi ha precisato che il 63,8% dei positivi sono asintomatici e sono stati trovati solo per l’aumentata attività di screening. Fa fede il dato del 31% dei positivi sintomatici che l’ISS dice rimane stabile dal 30 luglio al 12 agosto con un RT pari a 0,83. E già qui stona con la campagna mediatica di allarmismi continui. Per me la differenza tra sintomatici e asintomatici è sostanziale, sempre oggi è uscita la notizia che 17sanitari in Sardegna presunti contagiati a seguito del tampone fatto in marzo in base all’esame sierologico fatto recentemente risultano non avere mai contratto il virus. Solo il sierogico fatto tramite prelievo permette di sapere con certezza se si è contratto il virus, almeno per noi insegnanti sarebbe opportuno farlo fare in caso di dubbi. Invece faremo il test sierologici rapido che ha una bassissima validità e in caso di positività ci faranno fare il tampone (che ugualmente è poco preciso). Come dici te non credo che ne usciremo, soprattutto perché non c’e’ la volontà di fare chiarezza sull’andamento reale di una malattia di cui oggi sappiamo molte più cose da marzo. Il distanziamento reale da realizzare riducendo il numero degli alunni per classe saarebbe stata l’unica soluzione concreta che avrebbe fra l’altro mostrato la volontà del governo di sanare almeno in parte i danni che i tagli degli ultimi anni hanno fatto alla scuola.

    • È vero che ne sappiamo più di Marzo, ma nel complesso, e di certo, veramente molto poco. Lungi dall’apprezzare da gestione del nostro ministero, mi chiedo: che avrei fatto? Spendere miliardi, perché di questo parliamo, in assunzioni, edilizia etc. per poi scoprire che tutto sarebbe rientrato a Settembre? Forse no. Questo paese ha 2.500 miliardi di debito pubblico e non c’è dubbio che la scuola abbia bisogno di investimenti, ma il piano per il futuro non può essere dettato dall’emergenza. Quindi, si naviga a vista, come stanno facendo in tutto il mondo.

    • Dunque, si potrebbe ridere se fosse un esercizio di stile, ma non è così. Ci è stato effettivamente detto di utilizzare gli scavi di Ostia Antica e una miriade di altre schiocchezze che ho tralasciato, quindi, c’è da piangere. Staremo a vedere. Grazie Luisa.

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