daniela lucangeli

The memories of our school experience

Last night I had the opportunity to attend one of the evenings organized by the Municipality of Caorle as part of the CaorlEducAzione Festival, a one-week meeting where intellectuals and artists reflect on themes useful for the development of an educating community.

The speaker of the evening was  Daniela Lucangeli, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Padua, expert in learning psychology, as well as the president of Mind 4 Children, a spin-off of the University of Padua that forms a community of scientists, researchers, specialists, teachers, and educators in the Service of Human Potential.

The professor engaged a large audience of parents, teachers, operators, and local administrators on the theme: “The School I Would Like”. Among the many points of reflection that Lucangeli offered to the audience, useful for anyone to find the most suitable lever to motivate the child to learn, there is a significant consideration of hers that I would like to highlight.

The teacher expressed a very profound concept regarding school, and she did it with simple words, within everyone’s reach, but at the same time clear and exhaustive. Lucangeli analyzed the school experience of today’s students, comparing it with the past experience of the adults in the room, and highlighting an analogy: the school experience of all of us has been and continues to be based on the same type of logic:

I, as a teacher, teach you a concept, you, as a student, learn it, I, as a teacher, evaluate you.

In school, those who express a concept well explained by the teacher are evaluated positively, while those who do not are evaluated negatively; and that evaluation leaves little room for the student’s other possible abilities and competencies. This inevitably leaves a negative imprint in the student’s memory, who consequently feels less and less capable and therefore less motivated to engage in study.

In fact, this competence, that aimed primarily at effectiveness in formal learning, is only one of the components on which the educational and didactic path of the school should focus.

Learning, socializing, empathizing, communicating, taking initiative, devising and implementing any project independently are the other competencies that the National Guidelines and the European Union require to be valued. Nevertheless, learning is almost always the priority aspect. Lucangeli provocatively proposes to represent this process with different words, namely:

I, as a teacher, teach you a concept, you, as a student, learn it, I, as a teacher, devalue you.

Indeed, the outcome of such a process is that the student feels devalued, perceives themselves as incapable; therefore, that memory will scare them and, as a consequence, will lead them to escape from the school experience rather than seek it out.

For Lucangeli, the pleasure and motivation to learn should instead be reinforced, eliciting them through modalities capable of promoting and evoking positive memories in the student; thus, first and foremost nourishing a positive self-image, which is the indispensable and primary condition for creating the foundations of motivation to learn.

I fully agree that a didactic process, like an educational one, must always start from motivation in order to effectively promote the development of all the child’s competencies.

Congratulations to Professor Lucangeli for the human, as well as technical, quality of the intervention.


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