These days at school there is a big ferment among students and teachers of the last-year classes for the debate that started, following the students’ petition, addressed to the minister Patrizio Bianchi, to abolish the writing tests of the final exam. Teaching in a last-year class, I am immediately called into question by the students: “Miss, do you think it’s normal, in mid-November that we still do not know how our exam will look like this year?”
It does not seem normal to me and indeed it forces me to move the axis of the consideration on the meaning of the exam, trying to understand the meaning of the petition, what possible students’ needs it raises and why it produced a protest choir in the school world (with rare exceptions).
I start from the word “maturity”, so terrible and seductive that brings me back to the idea of a path that ends, of a separation from adolescence, from the schoolmates, from the school spaces, from the teachers, from the daily life of a five-year period. It’s crossing a ford to continue to navigate the river of existence and try to soar into the new. The students know this well, they feel it (even when they seem to deal with this in an unconscious way) and for this reason they claim the possibility to face the tests with serenity.
It is true that writing, as a creative act of the human being, cannot be a neglected element in the formation of young people, because the self-conscious expression passes through it, the possibility of deep reflection as a result of research, of an absolutely personal and original re-elaboration of the ego. And it is also true that the teaching approach of recent decades has dangerously underestimated this aspect of training, in the name of the famous “expendable skills”, too often interpreted as storing content and uncritical reproduction of it. It is a wound that has origins since elementary school, if we think that more and more students arrive at upper secondary education without using italics, preferring writing in block letters because “simpler” and easily understandable to those who read and evaluate written production. Perhaps it is on this that we should open a debate and possibly intervene to correct the shot. But what does the State examination have to do with it?
If the exam must be the expression of what each student has “learned”, its specificity, why are they limited to one or more written tests equal for all and an oral exam in which, according to the legislation still in place, they must know all the contents of the individual disciplines, a sea of information on which they must be “questioned”? The teachers have had five years to evaluate every single disciplinary course of the students! Why can’t the test or the tests be an original production of the individual, a meaningful narration of their training and their personal response to the training process? Why must the examination be an investigation, a correction, an interrogation, and not a seeing, a listening to the “history” of a journey?
Perhaps the question presented by the students is not only to “avoid” the writing tests, but to claim the right to a new form of examination, which is truly the self-expression and not the agonizing cumulative repetition, in a few days, an evaluation of an entire five-year period.
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article