There’s one thing that excites me about working within the school network: with students you never get bored! You continuously live wondering what will happen later on, and especially, who are going to be today’s kids, what they expect from life and, particularly, from school, who may lead them along the path.
I think we can leave to the sociologists, psychology experts, education experts and teachers, the task to answer these questions. I shall confine myself to narrating highly creative episodes happened to me, that utterly amaze parents, teachers and principals. This happens because, on the one hand you perceive how naively students and, especially, teenagers, face life. On the other hand, instead you understand what a fundamental role the school plays in reducing the public debt.
Indeed, because criminals mean expenditure of several public resources, whereas young people educated as good citizens and whose mistakes are corrected in time, are able to be part of the society without any trouble, making the most of the teachings learned at school.
I’m going to tenderly call Luca the protagonist of this story, which represents what educators should always bear in mind while doing their job: disciplinary penalties are the other side of love.
Luca is a lively and fanciful kid, who knows how to engage his mates. He is a grade-8 student already showing that he knows what he’s about. He’s continuously involved in incidents where he is the main or the second lead — he tends to never act alone. He always tries to attract attention on himself.
Luca is both smug and self-confident, but also fragile and needy. Life was hard on him, leading him to lose his father too soon. Daddy is not here anymore! He looks how lucky their mates are — they are growing up with their dad, and he is instead living his teens alone.
Luca shows his discomfort in his own way: “Why me? Why do my mates live with their dad and I cannot? Why mum doesn’t understand me?” His mum struggles in managing the family and suffers in seeing her son feeling unfairly deprived of such an important educational relationship like that of a father.
“Enough mum! I don’t care about school anymore. It’s a waste of time! What is it useful for, in such a condition! Let me work instead.”
His hopeless feeling is shown in different ways: Luca doesn’t miss fantasy for sure.
Then, during a lazy afternoon, not willing at all to finish his homework and after a disastrous beginning of after-school activities, Luca makes a suggestion: “Luigi, your father has just bought the new color copier. After school, let’s go to the firm and try it”.
Luca, Enrico and Luigi of course, meet in the office of Luigi’s father to try the new device. Initially, it’s just a series of technical tests. Big sheets, smaller sheets, B/W, colors. Copies of book pages, magazines and then…the idea!
“But this copier is super: why don’t we test it on a banknote?” Luca says, in a stroke of genius full of satisfaction.
“Enrico, take a 10€ banknote and we then we’ll make a copy of it: thick white paper like those of bills and we go, print!”
“Cool, but how can we print in duplex?” Enrico asks Luigi. “Who cares!” Luca replies.
A satisfied Luigi replies: “We cut it with daddy’s cutter that I saw on that desk, we bend it and tomorrow we can test if it works out well. Apart from the paper quality which is a bit too rough, it seems perfect”.
“Tomorrow we’re going to test it at school!” Answers back an excited Enrico.
The following day, the director records the school-bar manager’s testimony of what happened: it was a crowded school break and the raised hands holding cash to ask for snacks and sandwiches were several. The temporary chaos and confusion didn’t allow to clearly distinguish whether the notes were authentic or not. Therefore, finding the guilty was impossible! The only certain thing was that inside the register there was the fake bill — only one-side copied, bent and with the 10-euro perfect picture printed on one side.
A sort of proficiency only partially shown, comparable to the manager’s one, that realised the problem only at the end of the messy break.
Only few hours are needed to get to the bottom of that day fake heroes. Clearly, such a resounding event worries all students so much that in the end the culprits “voluntarily” come out.
The teachers manage the event really well and succeed in obtaining the needed admissions to take the guilty part to the director.
There may be several kinds of dialogues in this situation. I reached the experience to go for human relationships, as this is what events connected to school offences always are. They can be sketched inside a table of principles thus summarised: awareness of the crime, love for the human being.
Neither neglect nor condemn a student: take the mistakes made as opportunities to raise civic awareness, instead.
Finally, this is an opportunity to disclose one of the several sides through which the school enters human business: education to become good citizens.
Don’t miss the next story, that will deal more about the definition of citizenship that should inspire school institutions.
Head of GSO School