A VILLAGE IN A METROPOLIS: SOCIOLOGICAL ISSUES AROUND A CHILDREN’S EDITORIAL INITIATIVE IN A SUBURBAN AREA
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (PhD), Paris, France
An anthropological analysis of a “real world” behind a youngsters’ editorial work, as regards to its social background. The “Gazzetta Olimpica” project – a periodical paper magazine entirely written by primary school children of a small institute in a suburban area of Rome – filled in and unveiled a sum of paradoxes: the existence of a sort of “village society” in a district (“Villaggio Olimpico”) within a metropolitan city, Rome; its homogenous and well-defined urbanistic context, which facilitates social interaction but, at the same time, tends to raise sensitive issues of “neighbourhood”; the efforts to create and restore an ”identity” and an “all-involving” representation within it, and their failure, following also the attempts of manipulation by party politics; the persisting interest of local authorities in a dialogue with “formal” groupings and, at the same time, the difficulty of the latter in cementing individuals’ sense of belonging and collective action, beyond their massive participation in specific events; the tendency to “fragmentation” within the so-called “civil society”, even in the steps of effective stories of social aggregation.
The territorial setting of this “Village” is particularly relevant. Not far from the centre of Rome, it has a recent origin, built in 1960 on a swamp area to host the athletes of the Olympic Games. The project was signed by relevant architects and widely considered as an urbanistic “success story”, thanks to the abundance of greenery, low population density, proximity with many sport facilities. Its social composition rapidly and dramatically changed over the decades. After the Games, apartments were allocated as “public housing”, but many of them were later sold in the free markets, attracting lots of “newcomers” of different geographical and professional origins. The subsequent interplay was not a relevant issue, the district was furtherly redeveloped by the building of important arts institutions, and social integration was enforced by an “associative process”, relaunched ten years ago.
This process, however, still meets severe challenges, as introduced above. “Villaggio Olimpico”, far from reaching the ideal of a strong, self-reliant social system, rather matches Louis Dumont’s criticism on “village studies” which were very popular some decades ago, namely in India: the “village” identity remains hierarchically weaker than other non-territorial identities, such as kinship, friendship, political sympathies, professional “castes”.
The social impact of the “Gazzetta Olimpica” largely stems from on the fact that children – as well as their school – stand out of those dividing categories and, moreover, “reconstructed” the territory, whose “institutional” actors (bars, shops, sport centres etc.) were well glad to be actively involved. Interestingly, the process was fully replicated in the 2020 edition: in the middle of pandemic and its “lockdown” context of digital/distant learning and living, it was a substantial act of “reconquest” of real/physical elements, paper and space.
- L. Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. Paris, Gallimard 1966
- B. Bei, J. Brouwer, B. Das, V. Parthasarathi, G. Poitevin (eds.), Media and Mediation. New Delhi, Sage 2005
- S. Fogli, Parioli e Flaminio, la storia. Roma, Palombi 2016
BORDERS, INVOLVEMENTS, ALLIANCES. THE PANDEMIC EFFECT ON LEARNING SPACES
DAStU - Politecnico di Milano, Italy
The health emergency has produced some changes in and around the school that have dramatically changed not only the daily lives of millions of students, teachers, educational staff and families, but also the ways of thinking about school.
We have wondered how school autonomies have coped with the emergency and how local authorities have managed and supported the reopening at different scales. We carried out several interviews with headteachers and civil servants in different Italian cities discussing the renewed role of school-spaces, inside and outside the school building towards the city: the importance of the physical space of schools concerning conditions, times and ways of use has never been so evident than today. Different contexts produced different answers. The 2021 School Plan calls for the identification of "other" spaces for school "through suitable conventional acts" (Patti educativi di comunità), with reference to parks, theatres, libraries, archives, cinemas, museums, where to carry out educational activities. However, concrete cases are limited and reveal how "going outside the school" requires complex procedures. The paper will deal with this topic, comparing some critical and successful experiences in Reggio Emilia, Torino, Milano, Bologna, Napoli and Palermo.
The public debates, the estimation of the spaces available to welcome students back into the classroom have shown the relevance of issues that deal with space daily, mixing three decisive variables for the school functioning.
1.Expanding Borders. A different spatial organization of school activities can become an opportunity to redefine educational styles and the role assigned to learning environments, inside and outside the classrooms;
2. Shifting Involvements. Expanding the spaces of the school implies a "trespassing" in terms of responsibility, competencies, and spaces. This sort of shift became an obstacle, solved in some cases with good pacts of co-responsibility between schools, parents and third parties, i.e. parishes or other public facilities. Furthermore, expanding the spaces outside the school requires the availability of teaching, educational, administrative, technical and auxiliary staff
3. Building Alliances. The reflection on subjects, roles, and skills is fundamental in school and must be accompanied by network ability and the definition of a more general framework, a future project capable of proposing a strategic vision for weaving long-term collaborations.
The critical issues raised by the pandemic confirmed the importance of intervention on school buildings and prefigured a renewed role of schools regarding organizations, public institutions, and essential parts of civil society. Some local experiences reveal elements of strength and margins for action in constructing new "social contracts" and integrated projects. It is thus essential to work on a double course of action. On the one hand, schools must be connected to nearby spaces to create a continuous system of public places and services. On the other hand, necessary coordination of education, mobility, social, cultural and urban policies is required both in the design of educational projects and in the planning and organization of the spaces in which these policies can be developed.
REINVENTING EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: “LA GAZZETTA OLIMPICA , NEWSPAPER OF THE SCHOOL AND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD”
Sapienza, Università di Roma, Italia
The global health emergency due to the spread of Covid-19 and the consequent measures to contain the pandemic have forced the populations of the world in redefinining the many aspects of everyday life in an unexpected and sudden way, first of all questioning the relational dynamics. In the present context, even the school has been forced to question some of the already consolidated work tools by adopting the emerging digital education methods (Giancola et al, 2019 ; Gui M. 2019; Falcinelli, 2005). The situation has brought in several limitations but also some opportunities, which may vary according to the different circumstances.
With the present work, which is based on the evaluation of the project "La Gazzetta Olimpica - newspaper of the school and the neighborhood", we aim to stimulate reflections about the following topics: the limits and the opportunities of digital education at the time of Covid-19; the impact that digitalisation of teaching has had on the relationships between children, between children and teachers and between the school organisation and the rest of the community and the role of the families in digital education.
The project was born in order to support the editorial board of the newspaper "La Gazzetta Olimpica" made by the teachers and pupils of the “Villaggio Olimpico” primary school in Rome during Covid-19 lockdown. Our technical support was directed across all the spectrum of the various distance education activities put in place by the teachers.
The observation (Aureli, 2002; Corsaro, 1985) of the educational activities, the interviews (through digital platforms) and the analysis of children’s laboratory products were the principal observational tools, that we used to evaluate the development of the children’s ability to represent reality and translate it into communication products (aimed to be disseminated around the neighborhood).
Compared to previous years school projects, the production of the actual copy of “Gazzetta Olimpica” suffered from a lower possibility of social interaction within the community, however, the magazine has offerered a privileged perspective (that of the children) to reflect on the way in which the global health emergency has changed our interactions, starting from the educational context par excellence - "the primary school".
The children’s point of view drives the school and the families to reflect on the implications that the digital education and more generally the modalities of digital interaction can have on the relational level. This has stimulated themselves to realise what alternative modalities can be activated in order to avoid the development of “social traumas" if such situations of emergency would arise again.
Aureli T. (2002). L’osservazione del comportamento del bambino. Bologna: Il Mulino.
Corsaro W. (1985). Friendship and peer culture in the early years. Hillisdale, NJ: Ablex.
Falcinelli F., a cura di (2005). E-learning. Aspetti pedagogici e didattici. Perugia: Morlacchi.
Giancola O., Grimaldi E., Romito M., (2019). La digitalizzazione della scuola. Temi, teorie e metodi di ricerca. Scuola Democratica, 10: 461-479.Gui M. (2019). Il digitale a scuola. Rivoluzione o obbligo. Il Mulino: Bologna.
SCHOOL, FAMILY AND DISTANCE LEARNING AT THE TIME OF COVID-19: THE CASE OF THE "GAZZETTA OLIMPICA"
1Sapienza Università di Roma, Italia; 2Istituto Comprensivo Via "P.A. Micheli" Roma
The project “La Gazzetta Olimpica” is part of the more general context of distance learning activities of the " Olympic Village "elementary school.In the past years the school had organized the project in person through the involvement of the children of all the primary school classes of the plexus (from I to V) in a journalism laboratory.The aim of the project is to make pupils live an educational experience in which to experiment with a division of roles, tasks, responsibilities and collaboration aimed at achieving a common goal, a result that is the fruit of everyone's work.The main objective of the magazine was to encourage children to reflect and share the experiences that had remained most etched in their minds during the school year, in order to enhance the daily life of the neighborhood community and therefore encourage, in the long term, also the local development of all the realities active in the area (primarily the school). The project was therefore not new, but the situation that occurred with the health emergency had caused a necessary readjustment to the "remote" school context and a general restructuring of the project's activities. Even the contents were necessarily distorted. Forced isolation made it impossible to conduct interviews or venture into the neighborhood to catch some "scoop". The children, therefore, had to draw on personal experiences and experiences to a greater extent, also giving voice to their thoughts.The objective of this reflection (which concerned only classes IV and V) is to illustrate, through the reflection and direct experience of a teacher involved in the project, the strategies for adapting to the complexity of the changed school situation " forced ”to reinvent all its ordinary virtual activities.Following the Covid-19 emergency, in 2020, the teachers of the classes involved in the project found themselves in the need to readjust it and make it functional to the lifestyle and new teaching methods of children, who in the emergency phase have concretely experienced together with their teachers, the “digital school” in a context of generalized confusion in Italy due to the disruption of the daily life of families engaged in disentangling between smart working and management of domestic life in the lockdown. It was for everyone, teachers and children, the first experience of distance learning. Although the use of computer media as a support to teaching was not new, it was never necessary to use information media for teaching purposes. Nobody was ready!The school therefore had to completely transform a workshop activity that has always been carried out in the presence and based on the stimulation of children to re-elaborate concrete events and activities, situations of daily life experienced in a context of "normality". The period of forced closure at home following the emergency led to a creative review of the project and a group of Coris researchers was involved in the evaluation of this project in progress. V. Lo Presti, 2020, The Use of Positive Thinking Research in Evaluation, Milano, Angeli. Stame N., 2016, Pluralistic Evaluation, Angeli.
THE ROLE OF JOURNALISM IN AN EXPERIMENTAL LEARNING SESSION IN PRIMARY SCHOOL
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy
This work aims to analyse the activities of “distance” design and editing held in April-May 2020 by the teachers and pupils of the “Villaggio Olimpico” primary school in Rome to realize “La Gazzetta Olimpica”. The project, now in its fourth year, aims at introducing the children to decode the basic concepts of journalism and, in the same time, at involving them in a journalism workshop, drafting of a newspaper based on their personal experiences, life at school and in the “Villaggio Olimpico” neighbourhood. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshop needed to adapt this “experiential learning” activity to the distance learning methods. As an unexpected and interesting result, this has made the final product a way to observe the months of lockdown from the pupils’ direct point of view. The research involves two phases, linked to the participant observation of the journalism workshop and to the analysis of the children's final products in a comparative perspective with the previous issues, in order to identify similarities and differences between what has been produced in the traditional teaching mode and in the distance learning mode.
WHO GETS THE RIGHT TO GO TO SCHOOL? THE ITALIAN CRITICAL WORKERS’ AFFAIR
University of Bologna, Italy
This paper aims to provide a map of the public debate that unfolded in Italy following the decision to close all schools and education facilities in medium to high-risk areas for COVID-19 during the spring 2021 breakout. By analyzing news media accounts and institutional communications of that period, it will be argued that the lack of a socially shared agreement and of a proper institutional definition of whom and what should be considered “essential” in the COVID-19 pandemic, initiated a fierce controversy over who should be entitled to the right to in-person education. In particular, this paper will examine three relevant aspects of what has been here defined as the Italian critical workers’ affair (Boltanski, 2012): 1) the use of the institutional crisis done by the movements against distant learning in the attempt to defuse the effects of the closure; 2) the debate surrounding the right to education vs. the right for work-life balance policies; and 3) the role of school in mitigating social inequalities. Results suggest that in Italy, school access emerges as one of the central battlegrounds around which civil rights are currently socially reclaimed and renegotiated amid the state of precariousness dictated by the pandemic.