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Minister Cingolani and the importance of studying the Punic wars

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The Minister of Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani says that we should ask ourselves if it still makes sense that in the life of a student one goes through the Punic Wars three or four times or if once is not enough and that the rest of the time we can concentrate on subjects instead. techniques, more useful for finding a job. Let’s ask ourselves. The answer for me is no. What you learn in elementary school is different in depth and complexity from what you learn in high school, knowledge is a process that evolves with our personal growth. Epperò the sentence of the minister should not be taken literally, but rather a provocation, an invitation to have the courage to rethink the school. As we all always tell each other but it never happens.

The school is always the same. Not only the subjects, the teaching methods are almost always the same. With some laudable exceptions, from experimental, courageous and innovative schools, in the others we learn more or less what our grandparents learned and in the same way. Is it good? Don’t you need a more technical and scientific preparation given the jobs that the kids will do in the future? Of course yes. Let’s change then, but how? On this it is good to ask the right questions.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, grew up as children in a school that adopted the method of the Italian pedagogist Maria Montessori; and so did Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Is it just a coincidence? Does that method tell us anything? Didn’t we put it aside too quickly?

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Second question: technical-scientific subjects are fundamental for the professions of tomorrow, it is true, but for example the head of the Quantum Computing division of Amazon Web Services is a graduate in philosophy (in Italy, however: his name is Simone Severini, and only after degree did a doctorate in physics). Is it a coincidence? And was his training as a philosopher an obstacle or rather “opened his mind” as they say in these cases?
The third issue concerns climate change, an increasingly pressing issue that will pave the way for new professions, says the minister. True. But in recent months a historic podcast on the Late Bronze Age (about four thousand years ago) has explained the consequences of climate change on humanity better than many numbers. Are you sure that history is of no use? And that the Punic wars cannot teach us something about today’s world too?

In short, as you can see, the question we have before us is complex; the merit of what the minister said is to invite us to rethink what our children study: are they still the right subjects? for example, is it still necessary to know how to translate both Latin and Greek into classical? And is it not possible to make teaching more interactive and participatory, also by making better use of the digital tools that even teachers now know well, due to DAD?

Finally: Minister Patrizio Bianchi on every occasion – the last time on Tuesday at a conference – that the school must above all be affectionate. It is a beautiful omen, but affection does not impose itself, it is not that tomorrow someone sends a circular and the school becomes affectionate. Instead, what can be stimulated is a reform that makes it engaging, participatory, interesting. Exciting even.
Here is the only thing we must not do is stall. It is true that with this attitude Quintus Fabius Maximus collected some fundamentals during the Punic wars. But the time for change is now that we have the financial resources to do it without leaving anyone behind.

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