Intent, mutuality and transcendence in the educational process
Immerse yourself fully while working with students, in the hic et nunc of the lesson time. Do not expect solutions to come from others. It is still possible, by this means, to save the Italian school system. Although this seems “romantic” and despite legislative delays and never-ending reforms, the Italian school system is still operative. It has provided an enviable level of education – especially in the first school years. All thanks to dozens of thousands of teachers and school principals, who keep the whole system up and running in the here and now. This applies to schools but also to universities where many teachers keep students’ learning desire alive.
It may seem “romantic” but after many years of teaching I realised that, if the system has held up, it is thanks to this silent work, which has its only “reward” in inner satisfaction. A satisfaction that arises from the mutuality established between teachers and students in the daily commitment to teaching and researching. Intent is an act that puts the search for mutuality first. An approach that has as its background a constant self-questioning, observation and attention to the slightest changes that may occur within the educational process. An attention in revisiting a situation that is capable of adopting – what Freud would call – a free-floating attitude.
The establishment of mutuality constitutes a fundamental step, without which the educational process is doomed to fail. A professor can talk for hours, but without mutuality his effort could be wasted. Perhaps some students might follow the lesson, and that is a positive thing. But the real success for those who teach is the ability to involve the class group as a whole. Reuven Feuerstein, a dear friend who left us a few years ago, often repeated that intent and mutuality are the conditions necessary for achieving transcendence in the mediation process: That is to say the ability to broaden what you learned in a given situation to others.
Translated by Antonella Losavio and revised by Silvia Bozzo, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.