Good evening, and welcome to our daily meeting about the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This Calla Wahlquist brings you the main story on Friday April 24.
An old care provider notifies the restrictions
Scott Morrison has warned elderly care providers to relax restrictions or face stronger regulations that will prevent them from locking down citizens without commonwealth approval. The prime minister said that elderly service providers had previously notified not to limit occupants beyond the actions recommended by the Australian Head of Health Protection Committee, but despite warnings that some houses do not allow visitors and limit occupants to their rooms even when no outbreak occurs. ‘
Morrison said there were reasonable circumstances – like the plague in Newmarch House, a nursing home in NSW, where five people were killed – Where to impose stronger restrictions to protect the population. “But more broadly, people are trapped in their rooms, can’t be visited by their loved ones and caregivers and other supporters, that’s okay,” he said.
Testing is expanded nationally
Each state and territory has now expanded its testing criteria, which is the first three steps what Morrison said must be before the national cabinet considers lifting restrictions on social distance. The other two steps are enhanced contact tracing and enhanced local response capabilities. Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, said arrangements to test asymptomatic people in frontline work were under way.
It seems that sports and recreation restrictions will be lifted first. The national cabinet on Friday began working on a set of national principles in which professional and community sports clubs, and individual recreational activities, were allowed to continue. The AFL says it will announce the season return date next week, while the NRL is still aiming for May 28.
The death toll rose to 79
Australia recorded only 13 new cases overnight, while the national death rate rose to 79. A 79-year-old woman, who was part of a group of cases in northwest Tasmania, died overnight; a passenger from an Artania cruise ship dies at a hospital in Western Australia; and a fifth resident in Sydney’s old Newmarch House nursing home died on Friday. Health Authorities in Victoria, where six new cases were recorded overnight, are investigating a new cluster at a private inpatient psychiatric facility in Melbourne. So far 14 people, including five patients, have tested positive for Covid-19 in connection with this outbreak.
Concerns about US access to tracking data
It is illegal to access data collected by a proposed contact tracking application for any purpose other than contact tracking, the federal government said. The data will be placed on the Amazon Web Services server, located in Australia, raising concerns that the US government will be able to access the data because of laws that allow it to access data held by US companies. The minister of government services, Stuart Robert, said security would be guaranteed by the Biosafety Act, where it would be a criminal offense to transfer data to countries other than Australia.
Virgin Australia’s plane was blocked at Perth airport
Virgin Australia owed $ 6.8 billion to 120,000 creditors went to administration on Monday, citing the impact of coronavirus. Federal court judge John Middleton, who gave the administrator until next Thursday to hold a creditor meeting, noted that he might be a creditor, because he had booked flights with the airline for July and was a member of his lounge club. Meanwhile at Perth airport, Virgin’s aircraft have been parked because the airline owes $ 16 million in fees for using airfields and terminals. The airport said blocking aircraft was “standard practice”.
The struggle for school continues
The federal government is encouraging schools to reopen, with Morrison stressing that there are no requirements under national health advice for classrooms to ensure students are 1.5m apart, with four square meters per child, at all times. But all countries have adopted different positions. Public schools in Western Australia will offer face-to-face teaching starting Monday, and WA prime minister Mark McGowan says independent and Catholic school parents who do not continue face-to-face teaching must ask for discounts on their school fees.
What you need to know: get the most important information from some of our key explainers
But how much has fallen of Castle been his own fault? How much is a product of a dysfunctional governance structure, which has never really made the full transition from the amateur era to the professional game?
When the former Canterbury Bulldogs CEO took control of the RA three years ago, he inherited chaos. Australia’s professional team – the Wallabies and four Super Rugby teams – can barely win a match between them. Television ratings and crowd fell and there was boiling tension because of the Western Force ax.
What’s more, all RAs are heading towards the end of a lucrative broadcasting deal with longtime partner Fox Sports, worth $ 57 million a year. Castle’s job is to fix Australia’s deepest rugby problem and then renegotiate a richer broadcasting agreement. In retrospect, he never had a chance. Or is she?
RA is Australia’s main rugby force, but its ability to create a cohesive and collaborative national administration is hampered by the federal game model. Castle, a Kiwi, crept towards a more centralized system, similar to the one in New Zealand, but this was unpopular, especially in the states of NSW and Queensland.
Instead of unifying the code, the Australian Super Rugby team who were not content to discuss among themselves the possibility of breaking away from RA and creating their own competition and negotiating their own broadcast agreement. Maybe it’s just talk, but it reflects the growing dissatisfaction with headquarters in Moore Park.
Stakeholders found fault with Castle dealing with key issues such as the Israeli Folau saga and the unsatisfactory performance of the Wallabies at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. The loss of $ 9.4 million reported did not cause trust.
Even when the coronavirus pandemic closed rugby last month, there seemed to be little sympathy for Castle in certain circles. It is clear that he must provide a bumper broadcast agreement to secure his position. In the highest irony, Castle’s greatest achievement as the CEO of RA also marked the beginning of the end of his reign.
It will hardly surprise Fox Sports executives when Castle rejects their initial low offer of $ 20 million per year for broadcast rights, but what Castle does next will surprise them. For the first time, Castle took the broadcasting rights to open a tender, hoping to create competitive tension between Fox Sports and other bidders, which was expected to be Optus.
Castle’s bold move encouraged Fox Sports to make a far better revision offer, but Castle did not seem to fully appreciate the magnitude of his victory and refused. Understood Fox Sports executives heaved a sigh of relief and then resigned from the bidding process. Pressure on the Castle has increased since then, reaching the breaking point with the captain’s call for change.
RA boards become increasingly erratic Castle can provide the results of the game needed to survive, especially in these difficult times. In his resignation statement, Castle said that it was clear to him that his departure would provide “clear air” to the council which they said was needed.
This is a selfless job, CEO of RA. Just ask John O’Neill, Gary Flowers, Bill Pulver and now Castle. Too bad Castle is left before the new Wallabies coach team Dave Rennie, Scott Wistemantel and Matt Taylor have to train the game. If the team succeeds, it will be Castle’s eternal legacy.
Who or what will replace the castle? There is a lot of talk about reforming the government system, but Australian rugby has more pressing matters to pay attention to, especially securing a new broadcast deal and continuing the game after restrictions have been locked down.
It might take RA six months to find a new CEO. Some names that have been bound include Phil Kearns, David Gallop and Todd Greenberg.
There has been speculation recently that board members appointed Peter Wiggs will act as temporary CEO. Archer Capital’s founder and chairman of Supercars, Wiggs has the business acumen needed to steer the game through renegotiation of broadcasts and the resumption of the game.
And after that? Maybe Wiggs can be persuaded to take on the role of chief executive permanently, becoming an Australian rugby equivalent to Peter Vlandland NRL. But unless there is meaningful reform about the way Australian rugby is regulated and managed, any new leader has the potential to place himself – as himself – as a failure in a broken system.
Private health companies whose profits were driven by Covid-19 which led to a decrease in health claims have committed to returning the money to customers, because consumer groups argue that premiums should be reduced during a pandemic.
The chief executive of Australia’s top private Healthcare agency, Dr Rachel David, said health funds would be very long to offer financial assistance to their members.
Roy Harvey and Rod Campbell argue in the modeling of the institution: “Commonwealth and use of state private hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, combined with social distance measures, can cut payment of benefits to people insured by Australian private health insurance by 30% to 50 %, or $ 3.5 billion to $ 5.5 billion. Regulators must implement a similar reduction in premium payments. “
“From an ethical point of view, this savings must be returned to private health insurance policy holders, which will also help post-crisis economic recovery. The funds will still have the same reserves at the end of the crisis as they are today. “
Any reduction in premiums to consumers can also save the federal government money – more than $ 1 billion, Harvey and Campbell argue, by reducing public health insurance rebate subsidies.
The federal government canceled all elective operations in March to free beds for Covid-19 patients, and to preserve limited personal protective equipment for health professionals.
Some operations will resume next week, health minister Greg Hunt has announced, “using a phased and controlled process” balances the ongoing need for Covid-19 capacity and the resumption of the most pressing elective operations.
“Low-risk and high-value” procedures, patients with a low risk of postoperative complications, and children who have been waiting for surgery will be prioritized.
Choice said the relaxation of operating restrictions still meant only about a quarter of the usual surgical burden at the hospital.
“This pandemic has highlighted many problems and inequities in private health insurance and the hospital system,” Choice health insurance campaigner Price Price said.
“The operation has been canceled and other services are limited, and currently the health fund is burdening us for services we cannot use.
“Until our health system returns to normal, people need help from their health insurance premiums.”
Private Healthcare Australia says a number of actions are being considered to reward members.
“In the next few months, if it appears that abnormal profits are accumulating, we will look for ways to redistribute the profits back to members,” CEO Rachel David told ABC.
“That can be done in a number of ways, either by deducting cash stored in member bank accounts, or by reducing extra premiums in the future, or by actually turning the profits that people will get this year for next year for next year. “
Sheena Jack, chief executive of the HCF non-profit fund, has promised to return additional profits to members. “We will not keep the windfall profits that may increase with the reduction in claims.
“We are exploring how we are helping members now and also how we can give back each deposit to those obtained from reducing claims due to Covid-19.”
HBF, another non-profit fund, said the same thing would return additional money to members.
“If the current situation continues for a long time, we will certainly consider how we should use the accumulated funds for the benefit of our members,” said chief executive John Van Der Wielen.
And Nib’s managing director, Mark Fitzgibbon, has previously marked a rebate for members if the closure of elective operations temporarily increases profits.
“In the process of sharply reducing all types of treatment, we will see a sharp decrease in claims and a possible increase in profitability. And if we will experience abnormal profitability, how do we compensate our members?” He said.
“The consensus at this stage is that the rebate mechanism might be appropriate, although I need to emphasize that we have not made a decision.”
The private health fund has also postponed the annual premium increase scheduled for April 1.
Choice believes that structural inequalities in the Australian health care system have been exposed to the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“People will again question the value of this product, and they will continue to get out of this market unless the government takes harsh measures to review and improve the system,” Price said.
“The issue of cost and value is not new to this pandemic, even if they are different. The Australian Government needs to conduct a thorough, independent and public review of the private health insurance system. “
Rachel David, from Private Healthcare Australia, said the suggestion to cancel or lower private health insurance is “absolutely irresponsible”.
“Those who perpetuate propaganda about ‘canceling’ private health insurance do a lot of harm to many Australians who need protection for their health now and in the future. Private health continues to play an important and important role in conducting and funding vital health care. “
M.ost we are in Emilia-Romagna, in the north Italy, remember the weekend of February 22 very clearly. To begin with, there were only rumors – phone calls and messages flying between friends – but later it was confirmed: all schools in the area would be closed for a week.
The decision was, in many ways, surprising. At that time, there were only three deaths from Covid-19 in Italy, and only 152 reported infections. It seems strange that education is the first social activity that is sacrificed. I guess that’s because it’s considered to be economically unproductive. Nothing else is closed: soccer fields, bars, shops and ski resorts are still open for business, and no schools in other European countries are closed.
However, for our three children – Benny (15), Emma (13) and Leo (9) – the idea of a week off feels like happiness. We had moved back to Parma from England three years before, and compared to England, education here seemed endless. Many students go to school six days a week and there is no half semester holiday. But my wife, Francesca, who is Italian, and I are both worried. He works with Syrian refugees, which is not a job you can suddenly leave, and I’ve just been offered a 9-to-5 job, after 21 years as a freelance. We, like all our friends, suddenly experience an acute childcare crisis.
The announcement was so sudden that the school had few plans or resources to teach remotely. Italy spends far less on education than almost every other western country. Spending per student (from elementary school to university) is equivalent to $ 8,966 per year, compared to $ 11,028 in the United Kingdom and $ 11,502 in Sweden. The lack of investment is so serious that in December 2019, the minister of education, Lorenzo Fioramonti, resigned in protest.
Many Italian teachers also don’t seem to know how to approach this new world where they find themselves. There is little teacher training in Italy. University graduates are often thrown into classrooms without knowledge of pedagogical theory or practical experience. Inspections almost never occur. The result is that Italian education is, at its worst, especially conservative and degrading: students are seen as empty ships which must be filled with knowledge spit out in exams.
Because of lack of money, and because of, according to the OECD, Italy has the oldest teacher in the world – 59% over 50 – Italian schools are very analogous. Children carry a dozen books to and from school every day with big backpacks, like Obelix and his rock, which don’t seem promising for distance learning.
But if Italian schools are not perfect, they are definitely better than nothing. The idea that we now have to re-create formal education inside the narrow walls of a city flat without a garden is frightening. We lack the time, energy or even knowledge to replace their teacher. The children also didn’t explain whether they even wanted us to try it.
Parents and teachers across the country must struggle to design ways of continuing our children’s learning. But slowly – for two months – something rather unexpected happened. When we began to ponder how this home schooling experiment could be delivered properly, he began to feel as if we, parents and teachers, as well as students, were being educated.
Tthe first week of school holidays is calm before the storm. It really feels like a vacation. Being pragmatic and a bit puritanical, we don’t let children watch TV, or ourselves drink alcohol, on weekdays. When it was announced that the school was closed, we revoked the rules. On March 1, one week of school closure was announced, so we went to the mountains, half an hour outside the city, to plant trees and play cards. On March 4, a new government decree announced that every school in Italy would be suspended the next day.
In the early days it was all fun. I leave the children with spelling tests under their plates or pillows, and if they want to watch TV they have to learn elements from the periodic table or human skeleton bones or how to tie a knot. It feels as if we are, finally, the right side of the ancient Roman dichotomy “otium-negotium“, An idea that is sometimes called an Italian. Otium is a creative break when you can freewheel and follow your fantasy – unlike negotium, which is all about business and the practical side of life.
We have some advantages, I think. The age of our children means that there is no tantrums at one end, and no alcohol or boyfriend problems at the other. We enjoyed just hanging out together. I also spent most of my life teaching. I have taught everywhere from elementary schools to prisons and universities. For years, at home, we have mealtime quizzes. One Christmas, Benny even gave the family of three types of bells they had at the hotel reception so we could really have “fingers on the bell”.
Some of the educational theories that I got from British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, who believed that playing was the path to wholeness and well-being of children. Games give children the opportunity to make decisions for themselves and provide opportunities for spontaneity, pleasure, deception and calculation. So for the first two weeks we played nonstop: perudo (“Dice liar”), blackjack, euchre, backgammon, and epic table tennis tournaments with various obstacles (playing left-handed or reducing your age from your score). Children don’t learn much, but at least poor Leo learns to be a good loser.
Being the youngest, he needed fun, and because at the moment the class has no lessons, I asked his teacher if we could make 10-minute English lessons for his classmates. The aim is to entertain them and learn English. We will wear wigs and teach his colleagues English names for body parts by sawing them and using lots of fake blood. We teach grammar through decreasing lavatorial verbs. Emma will edit the video and we will send it to the WhatsApp class group, which, until now, has been a basic tool for school admins and parent gossip.
Despite all those good intentions, it’s hard not to feel inadequate, even anxious. Well-meaning messages circulated among parents about which museum, theater, aquarium and zoo opened their virtual doors. Many posted photos of their well-behaved children and clicked on Guggenheim, while we watched House on Netflix. We quickly felt defeated by the many offers, and felt guilty that we were not sharing this cultural fun with our children.
The following weekend, on March 8, the government announced that all of Emilia-Romagna (plus Lombardy and Veneto) would be placed in lockouts, and that schools would be closed for at least another month. Three days later, on March 11, the whole country was fully locked.
We slowly realize how dark things are becoming. On March 12, we passed 1,000 national deaths, and only four days later passed 2,000. There was rejection and rejection when we sang on the balcony and people hung out on the bed with the wrong-headed slogan “andrà tutto bene” (“everything will be fine”), but the mood changed when the number of deaths continued to increase.
It is at this point that teachers throw a lot of homework on their students. After having two weeks to plan how to teach through crises, many decide that the best way is to send all chapters of the book for children to learn, and hundreds of pages of exercise to complete. After two weeks of freedom, students are now overloaded.
Another thing that changed is that my new work began. For the first time this century, I have a boss, meetings and responsibilities. It suddenly ended my clown’s education. Suddenly no one in the family had much free time and also, it seemed, such excitement.
TThe closure of all schools in Italy means that teachers feel compelled to create new types of classes from scratch. There are no ministerial guidelines or approved websites. “This whole new form of online teaching,” said Daniele Martino, a high school teacher in Turin, “was created by us teachers at the last minute.”
In the beginning, it was chaotic. There is little coordination between different teachers in the same school, especially in different schools, and parents report finding themselves confused by various IT platforms: Meet, Classroom, Zoom, Jitsi, Edmodo. The problem is not only that the site and server are down because nearly 8 million students in the country have all entered. Many children can not be connected at all.
Digital Economy and Community Indexes judge Italy 24 of the 28 European countries are in their “digitization index”, and last year the Italian national statistics agency, Istat, reported that 23.9% of Italian families did not have access to the internet. As one teacher told me: “We have discovered how democratic pencil and paper are.” The effort of many teachers to provide underprivileged students the necessary laptops and internet connections is one of the countless stories of this crisis. On March 19, the education ministry claimed to have distributed 46,152 tablets throughout the country. Since then, the emergency budget has created € 70 million to provide computers for those who don’t. Even if the necessary hardware is distributed, one of the special education needs teachers told me that online classes do not work for children who need pre-ordered lessons: “Those who have performed well in school are now better, but those who struggle only lag far behind. “
At first, I felt that no one really knew how to do what was known as “DAD” – didattica a distanza, or distance learning. When teachers struggle with IT, it is often their students who come to rescue. “I have an outstanding digital consultant,” said Claudio Dionesalvi, a literature teacher in Calabria. “He is 11 years old, and is one of my students. He is like a junior version of Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction.”
Teacher-student balance also shifts. In online classes, if students are not interested or motivated, they can hide more easily. They can fake technology problems, freeze cameras, mute microphones. Around this time, I did some online lessons for various schools and saw the problem getting closer: when students are not involved they will drift away and, not having them in front of you, you cannot bring them back to the circle.
Teachers must learn new ways to pull their students out. “I can no longer do direct classical lessons, passing knowledge,” said Betta Salvini, a history teacher at Parma. “I now engage them all the time, I reverse the lessons so that they are the protagonists, so I hear their voices.”
But schools are also being reinvented because traditional Italian education sticks have been removed. Usually students are given many tests every month and if, at the end of the year, their average grades are insufficient, they are bocciato – failed – and must repeat this year. Now, teachers quickly realize that there is no way to stop students from cheating on exams. When someone is in their room, and all you can see is their face, you don’t know whether they open the book on their lap, or send a message to a friend or look for the answer on Google.
The traditionalist teacher is beside them. One parent in Umbria told me how a teacher stormed out of a virtual classroom when he discovered how many students cheated. Then the new minister of education, Lucia Azzolina, suggested that under these circumstances, no students would be sent back to repeat the year again. Between cheating and automatic promotion to the next school year, teachers who needed a big stick suddenly found themselves stripped.
“Many of my colleagues are really struggling,” said Riccardo Giannitrapani, a mathematics teacher at a secondary school in Udine. These two months, he told me, were more about teacher re-education than students. “Previously, we used to discuss students in meetings by giving them numbers, even to the decimal point – 5.4, 5.5.” These signs, he said, became the end in themselves, creating acute anxiety among not only children, but also their parents.
There has always been a battle in Italy between hardliners and child-centered reformists like Maria Montessori. Now it seems like progressives are superior. Salvatore Giuliano, principal in Brindisi and former deputy minister of education, told me: “A 15-year-old child has far more creativity than we have. Every time you give them freedom and the tools to create something, it will amaze you. “Giuliano described several impressive student-led presentations he had seen in the last few weeks. His favorites were large families – parents, siblings and grandparents – all dressed like planets and moving around the room.
Many teachers have to soften their approach, to take into account what their students are experiencing. “Some of them lost grandparents,” said Paola Lante, an elementary school teacher in Milan. “Their parents lost their jobs or fought at home. In the end, a teacher must be a steady influence, social worker and psychologist. “
At the beginning of the lockdown, Giannitrapani, a mathematics teacher at Udine, published an open letter to his students saying that he should not be someone who was burdening them, but rather – they should bombard him with their questions. Sara Scotellaro, in Naples, has 120 students in various classes: “They no longer have a schedule and you must always be available”, he said. “They must be immediately convinced – that their work has been accepted, that it’s okay, that you are happy with them.”
That limit fluidity has advantages and disadvantages. In video lessons some students find it embarrassing to share their personal space – their bedroom and, in the background, even their parents who are embarrassing. Many teachers describe seeing a new side for their students. “There is no more intimidation from the package,” said one teacher, “so they brought out what they really knew. I have a 13-year-old son, the son of two former perpetrators, who has produced several diaries with extraordinary depth.” Lante told me about a very shy student who never spoke in class but who, only now appearing, was exceptional in language. “This makes you understand,” Lante said, “that we need a very varied form of education.”
BIn the third week of March, after a month without school, Francesca and I also began to see our children in a new light. Like most children, they are monosyllabic when describing their days at school – “good” usually does. Now, when lessons are taking place in the kitchen, we are suddenly in class with them. We can see what is happening.
Very painful and funny. We realize that one of our children, happy and confident at home, often freezes when asked questions in class. Others, usually conscientious and honest, were asked by his teacher to show his art. Because the results were not very good, he raised his painting to the window, and held the painting he was supposed to copy behind him, so the painting was visible behind the painting. That little trick made his work look rather sophisticated.
Another consequence of the lessons happening at home is that the biggest problem at school – noisy disturbances – suddenly abates. One of our children has a class that is usually very noisy: children are behaving badly and the teacher is screaming, and soon everyone is shouting at each other. Now, with children subdued by the presence of their parents, and the teacher realizing that parents can listen, there is a newfound calm for learning and, we think, sincere warmth at the meeting.
But there is no schedule for our children’s lessons. There are strange hours here and there, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Our old laptops and wifi are often inadequate, so the only working device is passed over. There is not a lot of rhythm or relaxation for our day. Francesca and I are still trying to take a lot of leeway, but when March turns into April, our initial energy has receded.
We have passed 10,000, then 15,000 deaths from Covid-19. Even though the children have enough free time to get used to being bored, they no longer clean the house or carry out daily learning tasks. Spelling tests and fitness regimes are forgotten. They seem to have become – if not agorafob – definitely “agora-meh”. They won’t even walk around the block. They wake up every day, and even when vertical, it becomes difficult to persuade them to get out of their pajamas.
As often happens when you stop doing something, you suddenly wonder why you did it at first. Benny, who was obsessed with ballet all his life and attended a dance academy, entered a major crisis. He said he wanted to stop dancing altogether. Even Leo, a football fanatic, is hardly mentioned or plays with football anymore. It felt like their passion had evaporated somehow.
It’s hard, as a parent, not to be frustrated, especially if – as a writer – you regret never reading a book. Every time I emerge from my office, I will see everything on their screens, headphones on. Lessons are indistinguishable from down-time. For all the idealism about digital learning, it seems very passive to me.
I try to take things hand in hand. The time is raspy because they have so much energy buried, so I thought “if they won’t read, I’ll read it to them”. I would bring books to the table, not realizing that I became like one of the conservative teachers I always scoffed at, feeding my passion with them and using knowledge to calm and conquer. They will giggle and sneer. “I just don’t get poetry,” Emma grumbled.
Luckily they have wiser mothers. We don’t have a garden, but four balconies, and when spring comes, Francesca plants and weeds. Children are drawn to the garden, perhaps because that is all that their school does not have – outside the home and manuals. Emma spread her succulent and needed more shelf space, and went to the garage to do carpentry work. They began sewing, and cooked cappelletti, croissants, and – British snacks that they missed so much – digestive biscuits.
It’s hard to know how much it has to do with psychology or free time, but they all start to rearrange their bedrooms, move their beds and desks. It is as if they are rearranging their internal and external furniture. Photos, pictures and books were taken over, others were added. They asked for a new haircut. Francesca and I watched it all and tried to find ways to continue to bring them out of their closed bedrooms and their private world.
I changed my approach. I know that plays sometimes help in teaching, so one night, when I read poetry, I put a shiny little box on the table. They pretended to listen, but everyone watched the box, wondering what the game was. I have chosen to read Seamus Heaney’s Digging. It is a poem about how we look up, and down, our parents. It’s about the difficulty a writer feels worthy of his agricultural ancestors because the pen is nothing compared to the depth of the spade. But this is also about the need for children to go their own way and, perhaps, not feel unworthy. When I was done, I just gave them the box. Inside I have cut all the words of the poem. “Go away,” I said, “write your way.”
Suddenly they are excited about poetry. They snatched each other’s words, tried it here and there. As they laughed, thin pieces of paper flew around the table. With his garden diction – “squelch”, “slap”, “butt” – the poem now feels more understated than learned. Instead of being told to admire the Greek urn, they now have clay in their hands.
When they discover their new hybrid roles as students and teachers, we say that they can mark themselves both for content (letters) and efforts (numbers). That’s really, of course, just a way to show them that the sign isn’t about agreement (external) but honesty (internal).
TThe more you see the educational puzzle in Italy that is locked, the more you see everyone’s vulnerability. Students always feel uneasy because of their weekly exams and the stigma is held for a year. But now many teachers feel insecure too: not only because education seems to be the government’s last priority, but because they are afraid of digital learning and afraid of being replaced by screens.
Even those who like the technology, such as Calabria teacher Claudio Dionesalvi, are concerned: “Distance learning is a strange video game,” he said, “but in the end it is torture. A teacher cannot hide in front of the screen. They risk being two-dimensional – artificial TV personality. “
Many parents are anxious, not only because their children lose months of formative learning, but also because – without these signs – they cannot measure the progress of their offspring. Chiara Esposito, a middle school teacher, told me “parents are the most conservative element in the school ecosystem. They become paranoid if their child is not ‘eight’ or has not completed the specified book. They are what we really need to educate. “
Surprisingly, even educational technology companies that promote digital learning platforms to schools are worried. Lorenzo Benussi is the chief innovation officer for Fondazione per la Scuola della Compagnia in San Paolo, who promotes inclusiveness and creativity in education, and is a former technical advisor to the minister of education. He was concerned that teachers were using new technology to reproduce the same old teaching methods, instead of grasping this opportunity for completely new types of teaching. “When all this talk about digital learning began in March,” he said, “I’m very, very worried, because it’s not about technology. Technology is only a means. Its effectiveness depends entirely on your didactic approach.”
Edoardo Montenegro of Betwyll, which launched a new social reading application with the publisher of Pearson education for Italian schools in September, said something very similar: “WhatsApp video calls or Zoom meetings are not digital learning. The encounter can be as frontal and rhetorical as lessons old style profesorial. “
No one knows when formal school will continue, and everyone feels unsure what their role will be. But uncertainty, according to great educator Loris Malaguzzi, is actually an important element for inclusive university learning. Only “the willingness to question all your own abilities and knowledge,” he said in 1992, two years before his death, led to humility and listening. That, he said, “is how we educate one another.”
Exactly two months since school closed in Emilia-Romagna. And for us, in our city apartment, it felt as if, in the gentle commotion of family life, we had educated one another. Maybe that will happen, but it changes the way we see ourselves. The girl who was destined to become a ballerina seemed to be grieving the end of the dream. Perfectionists have glimpsed deeper goals than the mark of 10. Boys who looked rowdy had been declared studious. The teacher has been our guide and gardener. And with almost five months to go until school (maybe) reopens in mid-September, I’m sure we still have a lot to learn.
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Snow cannon spray disinfectants are being used in villages around the Italian Alps ski slopes by sanitation workers, as a new solution to combat the spread of the corona virus. At Val Gardena, firefighters use their hoses to fill giant tanks with dilute hydrogen peroxide.
When the number of coronavirus infections is just beginning to decline in Italy, the country is preparing for the second phase of locking, when the restrictive steps will decrease and people will, gradually, begin to return to normal activities.
Italy has the highest mortality rate in Europe from coronavirus, with nearly 190,000 people infected and more than 25,000 deaths.