The quality of teaching arises from broad visions and small details, equally important. There is a lot of talk about innovative benches with wheels in recent weeks because the ministry of education has issued a banto buy a million and a half, and another million and a half of “equipped seats of an innovative type”. The fact that these equipped seats cost three times as much as normal desks, are entirely made of plastic and therefore not very ecological, have small folding tops suitable for hosting tablets or laptops but no more than two notebooks and books and, above all, they cannot be joined together. them to work in groups by sharing materials, has aroused controversy accompanied by jokes, cartoons and sarcasms, due to the fragile wheels on which this questionable innovation rests. Many have rebelled against this discussion, arguing that it is not serious to talk about chairs when the future of the school is at stake.
I disagree, because the way in which the space is furnished and organized influences mutual relations and configures working methods. Maria Montessori knew it well, who in designing furniture suitable for the research of girls and boys free to move independently, found that help me do it alone, which is the basis of her pedagogical revolution. The hundreds of schools that in recent years have joined the “school without backpack” movement, which started in Tuscany, know this. To join, we ask to replace the table with the school desk around which children, girls and boys organize their activities, creating communities and building responsibilities, in a school project that has the ambition to host and take care of every difference.
Therefore space is truly the third educator and the question of furniture must be approached with caution and discernment. It would be crazy, for example, to scrape hundreds of thousands of desks in the name of the emergency that, temporarily, asks schools to keep one meter away.
There is nothing more boring and not very stimulating than living in a class that is always the same as itself
Moving desks and chairs, continually reshaping the space according to the activities and research in which one is committed is an essential condition for an active school.
Having school desks available in high schools could be a good thing to move learning spaces, were it not for the one and a half million “innovative desks” provided for by a clumsy and ill-conceived ban from the beginning, prefigures not very versatile, because they are equipped with folding tables too small to hold more than one book or notebook and, above all, designed so that they cannot be joined together now or in the future. And given that there are two million and 635 thousand high school, technical and professional students, and one and a half million innovative benches ordered, this purchase is destined to radically change the furniture in over half of the high school classes, preventing, in the future, the study on tables suitable for group work,
Imagining innovation by tying it only to digital is misleading and dangerous
Imagining innovation by tying it only to diffusion and total immersion in digital is misleading and dangerous, because girls and boys already spend hours and hours in front of screens of all sizes. On the contrary, and to rebalance the virtual methods widely used, in the school the body, direct encounter and dialogue should prevail, capable of making alive a relationship with knowledge that enhances the multiple and possible relationships to be established in a hand-to-hand with cultural objects, capable of involving everyone.