A comment left anonymously on this entry:
"that's ridiculous... maybe that's why Italians don't feel they can be held accountable for their actions. I think that's a very ineffective way to "discipline" kids. they'll never learn about being responsible for their actions within a group/class/community!"
I recently received an email from my son’s class representative (mother) stating:
“I professori, con l’eccezione della prof.ssa R. e della supplente di Italiano, continuano a lamentarsi del comportamento della classe che, in generale, rende difficoltose e faticose le lezioni, comportamento che evidenzia un certo disinteresse nei confronti delle materie insegnate nonché una scarsa propensione allo studio. L’insegnante di scienze ha riferito un certo miglioramento. Manca uno studio sistematico di tutte le discipline e in genere lo studio è superficiale."
Basically that “the class” was being disruptive and not studying enough etc.. The math teacher is one of those on the rampage, but when I saw him the other day, he seemed quite surprised that I might think “the class” behavior might pertain my son – “of course not”, he exclaimed. Actually I hadn’t imagined so, but I was just checking, since “the class” had been indicted.
Back to the comment. In school, Italians develop a different way to be held accountable for their actions – not the Anglo-American way that stresses the individual – but a much more subtle “group” way, peer pressure. The WHOLE class gets indicted, and therefore the same group of 25 odd students is forced into finding its own equilibrium during long, endless hours in the same classroom for years on end (five hours a day x 6 days a week x 37 weeks a year x five years). They have to figure it out, work it out, find a balance and get on with it, and they often do --- a true lesson in group dynamics, compromise, consensus building, the power of peers. Discipline often comes from within the group instead of from above. Is that less effective in the long run? Boh. They certainly are accountable to their group.
Until very recently, youth drinking wasn’t an Italian problem. We all know how effective “rules” are in this area. Instead, the concept of the bella figura and the fact that you had to face your peers the day after (and after and after and after) made for a much more effective deterrent to getting wasted and making a fool of yourself.
To each culture, its approach to discipline.