THE EDUCATIONAL DISTRICT - AN EXPERIMENTATION OF JOYFUL AND DIFFUSED EDUCATION IN THE LOWER SECONDARY SCHOOL
In our society school is one of the most exclusive places to educate the new generations, so we put trust and many expectations on it. As institution, it has a particular organization of spaces, times, rules, roles and its practices are based on rigorous hierarchies, discipline and authority, training children and young people to become suitable for the society in which they live. School reflects the dominant educational culture and spreads ideas that even if unconsciously internalized, they have an in-depth action on students. Its spaces are often detached and devoid of beauty and sensibility; inside school everything is under control and quantified, making learning and knowledge influenced by the market laws of our society. It rather focuses the attention on profit and results than on every student’s personal path and makes culture something to get close to in a bored attitude and without any interest and passion. That is why in these years Paolo Mottana, a professor of Milan-Bicocca University, elaborated a theoretical reflection called “joyful and diffused education” to think about education again and to create educational experiences out of the school as we know it; in this new way of thinking about education the entire society and not only the school is the best context in which children and young people can learn and live rich, deep and exciting experiences. The town becomes an important experience place, in which young people can be real actors and not only spectators of their learning activities and of the city life. But town has to change its spaces, times and rhythms to welcome young generations, to pay them attention, to take care of them and to set their vitality, creativity and competences off. Starting from the joyful and diffused education reflection, Paolo Mottana and his research group elaborated the “Educational District”, an experimental project in collaboration with some lower secondary schools of a district in Milan. It wants to foster a more inductive way of learning, which starts from the students’ curiosity and the experiences lived out of the school, building real and diversified ways of discovering, far from the simulations and simplified experiences lived in the traditional school system. It also wants to satisfy young people’s need for independence and involvement, promoting their attitudes, making them co-planners and letting them play a main role in their schooling, which needs to be more individual and personalized. The school needs to become a more open and flexible place, a “hole”, a base, a meeting point to go and come back to talk, discuss and rework the experiences lived in the town. In this way school could get closer to young people’s life and create strong links with the territory, being not the only educational institution and recognizing the importance of sharing this responsibility, this task with the territory and the entire society, trying to make a real cultural revolution.