Today my son J. came home from school and told me that he had to make a shopping list for the stationers. Apart from the normal notebooks and drawing paper, the art teacher wanted colored tracing paper in at least 4 colors. Two weeks ago the art teacher wanted yarn in at least 4 colors, she comes up with all kinds of materials outside the curriculum. I understand she likes to spice up the art lessons and the education system here in Italy has had this year tremendous cutbacks. So the choice is, letting the parents buy extra materials over and over again or just stick to pencil and paper and learn the students the basics of drawing. It frustrates me to buy way too much art materials for quite useless art expressions while I can use that money for better purposes like my basic needs.
Instead of letting all the students buy their own extra materials for art lessons which results often in buying too much due to the packages the materials come in. One group of students could buy one color of a certain material and other groups could buy other colors. In this case the amount of materials would also be more precise and less a waste of money and materials. Another scenario is giving money to the teacher and let her buy the right materials in the right amounts. All not that difficult to come up with just common sense.
Another problem apart from the cutbacks in education and having to buy more school materials yourself then before, is that a lot of parents lost their jobs due to the crisis. So the teacher assumes that every student is always financially capable of buying these extra art materials. Half of the students show up with the materials the others bring nothing, because their parents simply don’t have the money. This art teacher thinks her subject is the most important one of all, but lets say I neither do have the money to buy all the books for my child. Then the child is fucked, the lessons take place with or without a book, you simply flank the subject. There are funds for the people with the lowest income ever, but if you as a parent lose your job after this funding has taken place, then you are left with nothing. So the system is spiting you.
Buying these extra materials is not always a necessary, but I do understand that the teacher wants to teach in an appealing way to the students. Till now it was Middle School I was talking about, already in elementary school the teachers became inventive and lazy after the first cutbacks from the government over the last years. My kids had always gymnastics as part of the school curriculum, all of a sudden the same teachers were no longer capable of teaching sports. So they hired a local physiotherapist to do the job, all students had to pay €10 for 10 lessons and they all had to go to the local stationers to buy a yoga mat for €20, 10 lessons for €30. So all of a sudden my child had only 10 gymnastic lessons over the whole school year period and I had to pay €30 because the teachers were too lazy to do it themselves. It turned out that the local physiotherapist was in need for a small extra job and he did a favor to the local stationers to let her sell the yoga mats. The same happend with music lessons, €10 for 10 lessons. So now I was paying €40 for extra lessons that the teachers could have done themselves, but they gave the job to someone who could use some extra money due to the crisis. All extremely noble, but is it in the best interest of all?
For me this wasn’t going to work out. I spoke to the teachers and parents and nobody saw what my problem was. It’s only €10 euros for 10 lessons, that is cheap they said. Indeed that’s cheap if I compare that with music lessons, sports or art lessons outside of school. I’m talking about money that I have to pay otherwise my child misses out on education. I tried it with the music lessons and asked the teacher where my son had to go when I didn’t pay. He would have gone out of the classroom with his own teacher and do some homework. So he was removed from the system as he wasn’t paying. I paid I didn’t want him to be separated from the group for an idealistic motive that didn’t solve the inequality that played out here.
The point is education how it presents itself now within the current capitalistic system with all the cutbacks the government makes, is like education that equals to education within a third world country. The buildings are old and sometimes even dangerous, the furniture is really old and most educational materials the parents have to buy themselves. By law you have to attend school, but what is the value? The teachers teach still like there is money, even school advise for the students about what to study in a later stadium and what profession to become, are based on the times where work/jobs were still available. So the system runs like always and doesn’t see that the equipement is old and is suffering severe and that it will collapse every moment now. Sounds familiar to me, aren’t we doing the same with our bodies throughout life and isn’t our society playing out the same movie here?