How do you choose high school? It seems that it is still identified with an “old” modality, which reflects a vision of class and bourgeois school.

The Italian “Gentile reform”, in 1923, distinguishes secondary schools into four types: the five-year gymnasium, which gave access to the classical or scientific high school; the three-year technical institute, followed by four years of higher technical institute; the seven-year teaching institution for future teachers; the complementary school, at the end of which it was not possible to enrol in any other school.
During the Fascist period, the choice of high school depended on the student’s abilities, as well as on family values. If a pupil did not succeed in school, he had to follow a cruel fate. Today, however, with the variety of secondary schools, the selection criterion should not concern the grades collected in the middle school. Still today, however, there is a common tendency to make your child choose the school on the basis of performance: if it is low, vocational school; if it is medium, technical school and, finally, if it is high, high school.

The automaticity of this mechanism does not consider the dreams, interests or talents of our children.

Suppose that a boy or a girl has an excellent performance in all subjects and that the mother wants the son to do the scientific high school (“because he must become a doctor”); the grandmother, instead, wants the grandson to do the classical high school, as there is conviction (of fascist type) that is the only school to offer a solid preparation, the boy feels deeply confused and disoriented. After 5 meetings I realized that his talent was about language learning. Why not choose a language school? The answer I heard from his mother (a few weeks ago) was: “my son is wasted on a language high school”. There remains the conviction that secondary school must be chosen on the basis of the abilities and will of parents or grandparents, hiding and obscuring the interests and talents of the children.

Today there are plenty of secondary schools (see here) that offer kids a curriculum to develop their skills and fulfill their dreams. I think it is really harmful to keep forcing kids to choose a secondary school on the basis of their parents’ or grandparents’ dreams.

For these reasons I propose a path of identification of inclinations, interests and talent so that the secondary school is identified to fulfill a desire of the boy/girl, in order to avoid early school leaving due to the inconsistency between the inclinations of the child/ a and the expectations of parents or grandparents.

by Martina Brazzolotto

16 January 2021

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