The Ministry of Merit

It’s been quite a while since I published my last post and it seems that a lot has changed. Most important of all, Mr Run is back to competition and to victory too; another school year has started and we may say that on-line learning is definitely dead; it has been a never ending summer here, no sign of Autumn yet, and  let me think, what else, oh yes, Giorgia Meloni is the new Italian Prime Minister, a woman, would you believe it?  This predictable outcome has been a terrible blow, a shock, for both Italian and foreign press. Since election day, the ghost of fascism has been evoked on papers constantly and the constitution of a new authoritarian regime with it. Well, I would like to tranquilize my readers that there is no such thing, or at least, nothing I am aware of at the moment. You should remember that this is the country of “The Leopard”, hence, everything seems change so that nothing actually changes, and, mark my words, this is one of those cases.

The fact that the press keep reminding us, with ominous tones, that Giorgia Meloni’s election happened  exactly 100 years  after Mussolini’s “ March on Rome”  has had only one consequence so far, that is, making everybody remember an event  nobody cares about at all or it was almost forgotten.  Now, thanks to this continuous bombing, we are able to promptly answer that the above mentioned event happened on October 28th, 1922, displaying the same degree of certainty and precision we may have when we are asked about our birthday.

I have to say that in these first days the new government seems to have been very much more occupied on rephrasing the name of Ministries, rather than organizing black shirt troops waving truncheons or exhuming the old racial laws, if these are the fears. Words are important to define politics, hence, the Ministry of Agriculture has become Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, the Ministry of Economic Development is the Ministry of  “Made in Italy ” too and last but not least the Ministry of Education has become the Ministry of Education and Merit. ” Yes, Merit, here is the rub.

This latter has become the object of a harsh debate as you have to understand that “merit” has been for long, a word just whispered along school alleys and with trusted colleagues only, as “inclusion” has been the only religion to be practiced these years. In this inclusive school, teachers, endowed with super powers, employ any possible strategy so that learning goals can be achieved by EVERYBODY and  NOBODY is left behind. NO ONE is supposed to leave the school system without the necessary skills, thus  making sure that  the  school does not contribute to increase the differences in the perspective of success among individuals.  Of course, all this should be done demanding students the minimum effort at home and in class, without forgetting to be entertaining. Well, all this educational conduct has had a cost, as, to include EVERYBODY, there is only one recipe : lowering learning standards and objectives. There is no other way. There is no magic; and in so doing, we will deliberately exclude those who can aspire to a more solid education and in particular those who belong to the lower classes. 

It is hard to believe that in our competitive society, the importance of promoting merit is denied right in the place deputed to prepare the new generation to the upcoming challenges. Merit has become synonym of unfairness. Hence, the school is just a huge pool where everybody is expected to jump in, but there are no lanes, no rules, no training or coaches only some lifeguards. Just stay in, then, when it’s time to jump out, we will see.

I chose the metaphor of a swimming-pool on purpose, as I used to be a swimmer, and a good one too; but I was not that good at all styles. It was the task of my coach, through the right amount of work, to understand where I was more competitive, where I could have my chances of success and, eventually, after years of hard training it was clear that backstroke would be the answer, actually, I was better at swimming 200 mt  backstroke than 100 mt . That was my natural talent and there I could have found my reward, hence, I had to accept that in all the other styles I was just ok and nothing more. In that pool the lanes were divided according to merit and everybody worked hard in the hope to succeed in being  included in that one with the best swimmers one day. Nobody ever thought that the best ones should have swum a little slower so that anybody could join in, thus avoiding the risk of undermining their self-esteem.

That is why I applaud the choice of word, but this was the easy part. To give consequence to what promised, thus succeeding in reforming an obsolete and gangrenous system would be such an incredible achievement that could make me even vote Giorgia Meloni one day. After all, if she deverves it, why shouldn’t I do it?