1. Introduction

The doubt that the school has lost the opportunity to educate today is widespread, among school people and also in public opinion. The lack of trust in the scholastic institution, reflected in the more general distrust of all educational realities, accompanies teachers and students and influences their behavior and motivations. The information of the mass media contributes to the lack of authority of the educational institution, every time it shows the impotence or publicizes, often in great detail, those episodes that seem to sanction the ineffectiveness of the school’s action.

It is therefore opportune to question whether the school can still constitute an important reference point for their growth for the new generations.

2. Is there an educational emergency in the school? 

There is an insistence on an educational emergency. Pope Benedict also returned to the topic in the speech made to the bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference on May 28, 2009:

As I have repeatedly stated, this is a constitutive and permanent need (that of education) in the life of the Church. , which today tends to take on the features of urgency and, even, of the emergency.

What is the educational emergency measured by? From the behavior of the boys – bullying, bravado, provocation … -? They would seem to sanction the failure of the educational action, or show an uneasiness and suffering in the face of which the adults seem powerless. The educational emergency can be grasped in the school even in the effort to get in communication with the boys? Their interests, their languages, their cultural categories, their tastes seem to be so far from those of adults, to discourage those who want to understand them. Unless they belong to that kind of adults whose sympathy for the young and whose attention to them makes it possible to grasp in the folds of certain behaviors the glimmers of a positive search that can open the door to dialogue.

When we observe social phenomena we can not help but stop at the objectivity of the facts; but this reading does not allow us to grasp the nuances that open the way to less obvious evaluations of reality.

It seems to me that this is what is happening for the educational emergency: we are content to judge from facts that are not sufficiently understood; not contextualized; not always caught in their changing complexity.

Faced with those events that lead us to talk about an educational emergency, I think it is very appropriate to find out what the real underlying problems are, also in order not to be paralyzed by that defeatism which, in fact, takes responsibility for itself.

We can not make any useful reflection if we do not take into account the social complexity in which the school is immersed and affected, to understand thoughts and choices originating from the climate of widespread uncertainty, identifying drives for change and tracks for reorientation.

It is necessary to take into account these elements from which today the school can not disregard, both to educate the younger generations to grow in it, and to prepare to enter it as protagonists. Boys and young people are immersed in this context: one can not deny it, nor imagine a different one, placing itself in an attitude of sterile conflict.

Society, with its contradictions and its riches, enters the classroom through what children, young people and young people live outside of it. The fragility of families enters the classroom through the emotional fragility of the little ones; the pluralism of cultures enters, through the multiplicity of the origins; enter the cultural and social weight of new media, through the quantity of information – fragmented and without an order, but numerous – of the children …

The company enters the classroom also through the requests that it addresses to the school and whose answer helps to determine the social consideration of the school itself. Enter the classroom through the kind of culture that is developed outside the school and with which it must enter into a relationship.

To stay in the school in a planning way, giving value to the action that it is called to perform, we need to acquire awareness of being in transition from mass society to the planetary one in a process still in progress, in which we are involved and from which not always we have the necessary distance to judge.

3. The answers from the school

The school has been displaced by this new situation. His disorientation is not very different from that of the family, the Christian community or other educational agencies that are struggling to assume their own function, in a full and at the same time renewed way. Even the school often seems to look back on the past: its not a naive regret, but in fact it is a reductive interpretation of its task in the face of today’s complexity, in an attempt to return to school life patterns that have characterized other seasons of the culture of our country. I quote two signs of this attitude:

– first of all the return to the notionism and the refuge in the transmission of cultural contents, that the boys almost always feel as far away from their life, their interests and their curiosity, ineffective in order to help their growth, to open their horizons of meaning and hope;