Back to work, which in my case is back to school, of course. Honestly, I can't remember what it meant for me as a student. My memories, influenced by the nostalgic mood typical of the middle-age syndrome, makes me recall my teenage self as longing to go back after an endless boring summer. But, perhaps, I was nothing like that. Maybe I was just like them, my half-resigned, half-bewildered, totally "I'm happy but I mustn't show it" students. Poor kids (they are not exactly kids, but they are to me)! What do we want? Do we want them already alive and kicking after coming back from the summer holidays country, where night is day and day is night? You know, jetlag can be tough to deal with.
Jokes apart, I'm really happy to be back to my beloved job and I hope my enthusiasm can compensate the energies which the passing of time has started to wear out. I'm happy to see my older students again, to meet my new classes (about 100 new students!) and to find my colleagues again, ready and willing for the fight. No weapons, no violence, but indeed a fight.
I'm less happy I'll have to cope with lots of novelties: less money for school projects and regular activities, new school-leaving exams, new assessment for teachers, CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) classes to plan with my Physics colleague (I know nothing of Physics, she knows very little English) and a few others I'm not going to mention to avoid bothering you.
They call it Reform , but you know, Italy is the country of Bills and Decrees. You can't get used to one that there is immediately after a new one. Each time we have financial cuts on Education, we have a Reform announced by our Ministry. Since I started teaching, I've lived and worked through so many grand reforms, so grand I'm now rather confused. They are famous for wishing to get business started on a shoestring budget at the Ministry of Education, so has our educational system improved a little? Nothing has actually changed, not substancially, at least. We only have less and less money each year, more and more students in each class - but less and less on the whole - less weekly lessons for several subjects (for example, students in the final classes will have one lesson of English less each week, respect to last year).
What do I expect from this new school year? Not much, actually, only that it may not be worse than the previous one. Once the classroom door - or the lab door - is closed and I can read poems, pages from novels, magazine articles or other interesting texts with my students or work on songs, movies or videos to improve their English, I'll forget all the rest. That's because I do enjoy spending my time with my students, listening to what they have to say or watching their reactions to my inputs. Well, I enjoy it until the first disappointing feedback comes. Because teenagers and their endless laziness when it comes to school tasks can boycott even the best planned lesson or syllabus. When I can win their reticence to be fully involved in something, I feel like I won a battle.
I promise I'll be patient, I swear I'll try to ignore any temptation to give in. But, please, can someone make those who should improve our school system rest for a while? Can someone distract them from their eagerness to go on and on reforming?
However, happy new school year to students and colleagues. May this year's achievements be satisfying for everyone. May the odds be ever in our favour. (1.) Let's hope we don't have to kill each other to survive!
(1. See The Hunger Games)