In Our Own Flesh

The act of writing is not often that smooth. Sometimes  you don’t have much to say, sometimes you don’t have much time, but it may also happen that even if you don’t have much to say or much time, you feel compelled to write few lines, as now. Nothing exceptional , nothing new,  just the necessity of setting few things right.  The origin of this disquisition has come from the perusal of some papers that my students  wrote for the secondary high school examination on the theme of “progress”. The  following  statement caught my full attention :

“ … this is what we have  experienced just this year, in our own flesh, with the pandemic:

despite the new technologies, the school was not  fully prepared

to change the teaching system…”

Whoever reads my posts may ask: “well, what’s wrong with this? Isn’t  it exactly what you keep on saying?” True, but it has been claimed by somebody else. I mean, I may say, for example,  that a type of skirt does not look good on me because of my large hips and I am fine with it , but  if anybody else asserts  that I have large hips, well, it is annoying.  Hence, reading my same thoughts  from the “pen” of one of my students,  I have to confess , bothered me a little. The point is that I know  that with “ in our own flesh “he meant , actually,  the students’ flesh only and  by using that expression he had  justified  the lack of attention, involvement  and results of an entire school year. You did all this “ in our own flesh”  and you are to be blamed for this. I/we are justified. That’s all.

Well, that is not all. Actually, his words made me ponder about the contribution these teenagers gave to endure these exceptional times in terms of ideas, cooperation, innovation; they are young , after all,  and should able to infuse the “system” with new ideas, but I could find…..none. They have played or have been made play the role of the victims (“in our  own flesh”, in fact), therefore justifying their apathy. I firmly believe, now that my student makes me think of it , that if I should choose a word to define their generational attitude, that word would be:  reactionaries.

Since the very start of this pandemic, with hundreds of dead every day , they have kept waving the “ school only in presence” flag,  without caring  much of  the virus diffusion . Nothing was to be changed. They claimed that the process of learning had to be empathic and it could  happen only if you had  their schoolmates around , and this is one of the reasons why, there will be a remote  secondary-school graduation examination tomorrow  for many, as entire classes and teachers  have been recently infected  by too much empathy.

As for technology, I have already written that this generation is less technological than what we may suspect, unless  we believe sharing  videos, photos  and liking a picture to be a technological skill. The majority of them has no clue of  how to download, save, rename and upload a file and has found tremendously hard to learn it.  Furthermore, if it is true that the remote teaching effort has often been a mechanical pouring of the same things done in the classroom  through a video , it is also true that the students have made any development in teaching , learning and even in empathy, as I believe that even in a remote class there is room for empathy, very difficult . More or less  these were the main activities in which they were mostly involved:

  1. DISTURBING: sound effect , freeze effect
  2. PRETENDING (1) disconnection and  audio problems when necessary;
  3. COPYING entire pages from  most common websites, as if they were not accessible to teachers, who have actually  learnt the great power of  “copy “and “paste” commands to find the original source.
  4. PRETENDING (2) to answer questions, while actually reading something on video (easily detected as their face all of a sudden seemed like being affected by paralysis,  while the eyes move sideways. You may even hear the  gentle clicking of the mouse, if  a change of page is needed sometimes).
  5. DENYING whatever has been written above.

Therefore, we have, actually,  experienced the very same old pattern of teacher/students relationship, that is,  the mice which attempt to fool the cat, remote style of course. I have no other significant contribution to the learning cause to record. Many generations of adolescents have experienced tragedies “ in their own flesh”, worse than this one, that’s part of life.

1300s: I’m dying from the Black Plague

1800s: I’m 9 & work in a coal mine

1900s: I’m off to fight in a war

2020s: Remote teaching and the pandemic are robbing me of my youth (source Twitter)

13 thoughts on “In Our Own Flesh

    • Thank you, Michael. I didn’t mean to write this post, but I could not refrain from doing it, after reading the student’s statements ( and I know him prettty well, which angered me more).

  1. I’m very sorry for all the children affected, especially those who were due to be doing public exams either last year or this year. But I think some people are getting a bit hysterical about it, going on about the “lost generation” and so on. My old school was hit by a bomb during the Blitz (thankfully, no-one was in it at the time!) in 1940, and pupils had to manage in temporary buildings until 1949, but they managed – and that was after the entire school had been evacuated for a time in 1939, as so many schools were. Children have coped with much worse than this!

    • Correct. This is a pampered generation ( at least, a great many of them) and we are not helping them grow, if we keep justifying their attitude. And, despite the vaccinations, I don’t think it will be over soon. I hope I will be proved wrong, of course.

  2. The problem with living in good times is that they do nothing to prepare you for when they end (or, in this case, change). By the way, the “in the flesh” part immediately set to mind a comparison to that poor son of god who had to suffer for a few days after in between being god for eternity. I wonder if there’s a subconscious (or fully aware) parallel being drawn.

    Anyway, their comments also bring to mind “Who moved my cheese” and “The Coddling of the American Mind”, or, in your case, the Italian mind.

    Everyone wants to be two things: a victim and a hero; the first without suffering, the second without the effort . . . but it’s hard to be mad at them since that is all they have been taught.

    . . . yes, I border on cynicism, and often even take a few trips across the border.

    How many more years before you can retire?

      • This too shall pass . . . but if we’re talking about something like kidney stones, it might not be pleasant.

        For the record, you know how some people miss their work? Not me. I presume you might not either, but don’t know.

  3. What an interesting and insightful post. I know that I complain about housework, but goodness, I actually have a house to clean. I’m not living in a hovel or in my car. I think this is a human thing, and every once in a while it’s helpful and humbling to sit back and think about all the people, past and present, who have endured hardships and terrible suffering. I imagine these teenagers will learn over time as they gain a bit more perspective. Let’s hope so!

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