Foto-presideI image school as an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a chance for a thrilling experience, of true growth. An experience that helps young people to become aware of their talents, consolidate their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. A rich experience, which demands commitment, but is also stimulating and gratifying. A place that students are happy to come to.
While this idea of school has taken shape only in the past few years, its roots lie way back.
I have often thought of my school years, always with the regret of having wasted an opportunity. We studied hard, but often by rote, without really understanding what we were studying, and above all why.
It seemed like we, the students, were taking part in a ritual, of which the leads were not us but rather the curriculum, the grades, the register. I don’t remember anyone helping us to find out who we were, and what we wanted to do with our lives, or anyone asking us to talk about ourselves, helping us to overcome our weaknesses and our fears.
Initially I thought that there was no alternative to a school so far away from us, and that boredom, and often anxiety, were somehow the price to pay for growing up. Then I had the chance to travel, and I saw that not all schools are like that. So I began to dream of a different school, a school that focused on students, not on the curriculum. But, like others, it was a pipe dream.
Until a few years ago when, many years later, my daughters went through the same schools and the same school system.
An obsolete system, which has never been renewed, further and further away from students, producing results which, perhaps then, were sufficient but which, today, are no longer so. Today the world has changed and we face an increasingly uncertain future: schools must do more, if we want young people to be able to effectively tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
After many reforms have missed the mark, the situation gets every year worse and worse and our children remain further behind their peers in other countries. We can wait no longer: it is time to turn a new leaf, taking concrete steps to change things.
This is our challenge, and we have welcomed it in the only way we know: by coming up with a project and striving passionately and patiently to implement it.
A project born from the dream of creating a school that looks to the future, not to the past, a school that can really make a difference for its students. A school with a rich, stimulating curriculum, an environment that fosters learning, placing teachers in the best possible condition to teach and students in the best possible condition to learn.
We have innovated the curriculum, the teaching methods and the assessment system.
We have invested in new technologies, research and teacher training.
We have rethought the role of the teachers, who have become an active part of a close-knit team sharing a common objective, rediscovering the passion for teaching in an environment that recognises commitment and rewards merit.
We have redefined the role of the students, who are the central focus and the true stars of our educational project.
It has been a long journey, that required hard work, but there is still much to do. This is why we need the trust and cooperation of the families who, like us, believe in a different school and share our fundamental commitment of working together, enthusiastically and passionately, on a project which offers our students the best possible opportunities and an authentic contribution to improving their lives.
A project that has certainly changed and given meaning to my own.
Ugo Barilli