In the latest days I have been writing two very different pieces which contain reflections connected to my job. They are about students and teachers, not about methodologies or technicalities. In fact,  what I am most interested in in my job is the chance we have to build relationships, to communicate and interact with young people. 

The bad or ... they say it is because they are bored

My husband comes into the kitchen, sees my laptop on - I'm writing final reports for the end of the school year - and he just drops there: when you have a moment, google "baby doccia" (Italian for "baby shower"). Why? What is it? I ask, but he takes his coffee and goes away without adding one word more. He knows me well. I immediately stop, whatever I'm doing, and google those words apparently meaningless together. I click on the first link and I'm immediately disturbed by the picture. I don't want to see a video of young people having sex in a toilet! But I start reading the article and it announces a TV programme about teens and sex...at school. Ok, now I understand my husband's suggestion.  I work with teens and he knows how interested I am when it comes to school and education.
This is a shocking report from a woman journalist which will be on a Sky Tg 24. It's not the first one, there have been similar ones recently.  It's the story of a few girls (14-year-olds),  going to a private school in Milan and having sex between lessons in the toilets with any boy who asks them via txt messages. Baby prostitutes, not for need but for their own choice, for fun they say, because lessons are too boring. Not enslaved, nor bullied, nor forced.

Shocking as it is, this piece of news doesn't shock me enough. The first thing I rationally think is that teenagers have always persued transgression, risk, rebellion, defiance. I'm not justifying them, only saying that they sadly embody the stereotype of the young adult. My second thought is more maternal and instinctual and I wonder  where all the adults working in that school and supposed to be taking care of those students were. I know teens are smart and teachers or caretakers are overburdened with responsabilities,  but still I wonder where they all were when all that was going on under their noses. My third thought is an attempt to empathy,  I try to relate to those girls: would I ever sell my own dignity away for boredom? Then I immediately realize I really can't do that: I'm not a girl, but a middle-aged woman, I'm not a student but a teacher, it is too difficult, well, it is impossible to feel  even the slightest sympathy. What I feel is only deep sadness.
I dismiss all my attempts to understand with a final question and a final verdict: Do these girls even grasp the real meaning, the tragic seriousness,  of what they say and do? Painfully I have to admit that no, they do not, unfortunately.

The good or... my kids grow up

I'm not talking about my sons, they are grown-up, or quite so. I'm talking about my students and former students. I'm thinking about that today, because another school year is over and this morning I gave my last lesson to a group of nice, intelligent 19-year-old guys, all anxious for their upcoming school-leaving exams and worried for what is next,  ahead. They were also a bit melancholic, because a part of their life is going to end and be left behind, destined to be transformed through the lens of memory. Looking back from the future, they'll remember both themselves and us, their teachers, through lens which will reshape reality into sweet,  good,  old memories. This is what  happens most of the time. 

It's been a good day. A day in which I felt I was going to lose something, to be going to part from someone going to undertake a very important long journey,  but also a day in which I've found someone else, someone who has pleasantly and unexpectedly resurfaced from my past.

Being mortal, we fear oblivion, and there's no special way we teachers can defeat time. We are just human and we are not artists,  nor heads of states, nor generals, neithers inventors, it's quite difficult to leave an indelible mark in history books for us. But if the seeds we sowed  somehow generate  life, love, passion, enthusiasm, talent or simply skills, we may consider ourselves fortunate, because we can deceive oblivion for a while and we can contribute passion or skills to the world.

As I wrote somewhere on this blog in the past few years, they happen to come back and to say thank you, or to write to you. I mean students, even after long they left school.  I have always been and still am grateful because I'm blessed with a very rare gift: I do a job I love. And if, sometimes gratification is not immediate, or frustration seems to be my most faithful companion I can cope with that. Especially when,  from time to time, it happens that I open my door and one of them is there with their graduation or wedding confetti (we use to give confetti to our guests on our baptism, wedding, first communion and graduation here in Italy),  I open facebook or my e-mail box and find touching  or very kind messages. Here they are! My kids have grown up but they are back, they haven't forgotten, they want to say hello or thanks, they have such vivid memories  so my efforts were not vain. 

When this happens, I feel nothing else matters for a while. The Italian Prime Minister is going to pass the umpteenth Education reform which will defraud state schools and debase their main protagonists, students and teachers? Who cares, for a while. He will never be able to take away from me the pleasure of those moments and the awareness of being doing a terrificly important job.
My present students are not very hard-working or properly behaved? I can be very patient or very demanding, I can cope with all that. They will grow up, they will change, they will even remember what now they seem to resist, reject or even despise. 

So thanks to my ex students who have come round, written to me, called me in the latest days. This help immensely, you know? You are very special to me, each one and all. Whether you are nurses or doctors, brilliant engineers or waiters,  computer experts or bus drivers, singers or guitarists, dancers or clerks, teachers or shop assistants  I am really proud of you.  The idea that you still want to tell me something, that you keep good memories or memories at all of our moments together makes me incredibly happy. 

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