We can not talk about education, referring only to the cultural contents or the educational objectives to be pursued: we educate only where there is a true relationship between people, made of friendliness, attention, trust, authority. The interest of each teaching goes through the credibility of the teachers and through the quality of the relationship that they can establish with the younger ones. They are willing to give credit only to those adults who can show their consideration and above all who know how to listen to them, get in their point of view, accompany them in the effort of their growth in humanity. This is not an easy aspect, this. One of the signs of the education crisis at school lies in the low availability of adults to get involved; it is difficult to listen to young people, whose sensitivity often appears so far from that of adults, when the latter are too busy with their personal efforts. But teachers who escape the relationship and hide themselves in their role, know they lose authority?
Thus, the school regains possession of an educational project, which is within and beyond its Plan of the educational offer , animates each of its initiatives, the qualifications. It implies opening up to high-profile purposes, where values - those on which our living together are founded – come into play to qualify an action that is not satisfied with the transmission of ideas, contents and notions, but tends to growth of the person and in this way helps to build the fabric of a truly civil coexistence.
6. The school-family relationship
There is a decisive alliance for the education of children. It is that between the school and the family.
After the time when the parents had a deferential respect for the school, there was a season – too short indeed – marked by the attempt to give life to institutional and significant forms of parental participation; up to today’s situation, in which attitudes of mistrust and sometimes conflict prevail in parents’ relationships to school.
The relationship between school and family has always tended to be difficult. The school has an attitude of prevailing mistrust towards the family, because it fears the interference in the school life; parents complain about behaviors that they consider unfair to their children. Always considered irreproachable: good, diligent, polite. Thus we see the situation in which parents confuse roles, coming to influence the action of teachers, who end up fearing parents.
Precisely at this time when education has become a real challenge, one can not help but think how much schools and families really need to build a relationship capable of growing and what would be needed if there were not no antagonism, but a true alliance.
The need for a new pact between school and family emerges: a pact no longer founded, as in the past, on the subjection of the family to the authority of the school, but based on reciprocity and solidarity, the fruit of a co-responsible commitment, also made of the comparison between different educational cultures.
7. The question of teachers (and their training)
A school that dares a quality educational project needs a teacher figure rich in educational competence, and at the same time of humanity and culture. In this school there is no place for automatism or repetition: a teacher can live with quality his professional career if he places in it the educational passion and creativity.
The great educators of the past have emerged in difficult and passing times; I think of Maria Montessori, of Don Lorenzo Milani; to Vittorino Chizzolini, to Don Giovanni Bosco. They have invented new paths for education; they have opened new perspectives; they have made them the problems of society and the boys of their time. They undoubtedly had exceptional gifts of intuition and genius; but without the educational passion that animated them they would not have reached any result. Those who can not look at the boys with confidence and openness can hardly be an educator. And a teacher can not be an educator. Once it was called an educational vocation . Today this expression is no longer used, considering it is not adequate: but it remains true that without passioneducational you can not be educators.
If there is a risk today in the exercise of the teaching profession is to lock it up within the rigidity of the roles, or in a so arid technicality that does not contribute to improving the educational and educational quality of the school but rather makes it less exciting, less able of openings, not able to arouse in the boys the curiosities that grow.
The most difficult competence today is relational competence. Even the teacher is a person-in-relationship ; he can not arouse the will to learn if he can not enter into a relationship with the boys, if he can not establish with them the cordial communication that sets in motion the most lively mechanisms of learning and growth.
There can not be a true teaching professionalism where there is no educational passion: it is one of the skills needed to be teachers today in the fullest and highest sense of the word. Sympathy for boys is part of the teaching profession; the interest in the novelty that they express; the ability to accompany their growth, with the authority of the adult, with the master’s knowledge, discreetly and forcefully. Where these professional traits of the teacher’s humanity are lacking, there can hardly be that educational relationship, positive and fruitful, which supports the growth process of children and indirectly their learning.
It seems to me that all this is an integral part of the teaching profession and is not an accessory; indeed, it is precisely through the recovery of the value of the educational passion that it will be possible to give back to the teachers and to the school the authority that they themselves feel they have lost.
Special attention can not be left to the growth of the teacher as a professional and as a person: in addition to the constant commitment to thinking about teaching and school, also the commitment to understand the world. The culture that the teacher brings to the school can not be static and firm, because it is that of the world we are all part of and with which the school can not not be in a dynamic relationship, also to help change it. And then you are teachers because you are committed to know and understand the boys, to listen to their expectations and hard work in depth. After all, the school exists because there are young people who must be helped to grow through it. The sympathy for young people matures in educational competence if there is a commitment to know them better and better, to deepen their familiarity with them, to explore their world,
From an educational point of view, the teacher is also an adult who is constantly busy cultivating his own humanity, its qualifying aspects, its values. In this way he also grows as an adult. And he experiences that actually devoting oneself from educators to the maturation of others means to follow a path that makes his own humanity richer and more intense.