The Bloggers in the Attic ||Social issue and required reads in Italy

 

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Hello, dear bookish folks! Today, in the second day of February, it’s time to celebrate. And you know why? Because a new amazing project is now officially on!

I’m soon going to explain the event and their participants in a little intro. The initiative was put on quite fast. I admit that maybe I should have taken a little more time to make everything more comfortable for the other participants, but I’m really happy people decided to hop in.

And now, time for explanations!

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The Bloggers in the Attic is a discussion chain. And what is a discussion chain? Well, it’s pretty simple and with few steps.

Me and other eleven bloggers united together to discuss a common topic, covering the whole arc of February, and sharing our unique perspective. I created the initiative with the wish to create a discussion space that could explore a normal topic for different part of the world.

The rules to participate are pretty simple. So, if you ever wish to take part in the future discussion, please just comment under this introduction and first post. Every topic will be discussed bi-monthly, so the next round will be up in April. There’s plenty of time to join in, but the best option is always to enter early. Also, take a look to the group banner 💖

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Jere’s a link to all the participants. Right now their post are still unpublished, so I’ll update the current blog link with the discussion post, when time comes. But for now, you could totally go and give them a follow and your support! On the right side of their names, you can find:

4th –  Kal @Reader Voracious

6th – Lara @Naija Book Bae

8th – Isabelle @Bookwyrm Bites 

10th – Sam @Fictionally Sam

12th – Dany @Dany’s Book Blog

14th – Ben @Ben’s Reads

16th – Kerys @The Everlasting Library

18th – Clo @Book Dragons

20th – Lauren @Northern Plunder

22nd   – Nora @Papertea and Bookflower

24th – Lili @Lili Star Reads

On Twitter, do not forget to check the general tag of #DiscussionAttic and #DAFebruary for our monthly topic.

The month topic is about required reading. I can totally go on and telling you how we should try out to read more diverse, but this time I want to talk about it on different terms: how Italian teens are crushed into a situation and how little they’re required to think critically.
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When we touch the topic of required reading in schools, my country has a long history of failing.

I could point the finger to the teens and say: oh, see! See how ignorant they’re? But no. I can definitely point the finger at my peers, watching them perpetuate the same ignorant pattern that many teens are accused to be the only representative. I can point even at the adults, whom somehow manage to be worst.

Italy is currently passing a long and repetitive history of failure in term of politics, culture, social. And how is that related to required reading in school? In my country’s case, well, the answer is: it can be and a lot.

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THE ITALIAN CHAIN OF ISSUE. NOTHING ESCAPE

It may seem a little thing, but it’s not. Let’s me make some example of required reading in my country. It’s usual for students to memorize poetry by italian authors. It’s also use to read the Divine Comedy by Dante, Ilyad and OdisseyThe Betrothed by Manzoni. Common is to pick some italian author or what we consider to be a classic and shove it to the students. The only thing they will ever get back, it’s a grade and the doing of a resume in most of the cases. Some rarer cases, they will be captivated by the reads.

And while I remember the one time in which my classmate where deeply into Fu Mattia Pascal, I also don’t remember much of trying to inspire a deep conversation out of it. And if you want to inspire a conversation, it’s almost sure that good number of students would do that for grade only. This is part of Italian mindset: doing something only if their usefulness in return. But that’s a deeper issue that will not explored here.

One problematic point is also getting the teens into a free required reading. For example, in many classes I was in, we got the chances to read our own book and get a resume. The result was that some people did a resume, but of the book’s film and wrote down only half of it. Me and my classmate got an experience equal to zero.

MY INTERNAL REACTION A THE END OF EVERY REQUIRED READ

I remember when the class had to read a book no one was passionate about. No one incited us be. It was a story far away from us, even if set in our own country, written in dialect and also difficult to understand. We could had a comprehensive reading group in  class, but never happened. I ended up resuming the book to some classmate because they wanted to get a good grade, despite non having read it.

One time only we had to told about out summer’s read. One girl belittled another for reading a fantasy book. Looks like it wasn’t cultural enough. The girl got a little warning, but the amazing occasion to reflect on society, cultural standers, different genres and their impacts got away.

Also, let’s take into examination The Hate You Give. Many young readers, teens included,  read it on their own. They loved it deeply but were also surprised by what is happening in America. Which not only isn’t great on terms of global knowledge, but also show a great ignorance about our own country. Racism and police brutality against black people happens here too. Young readers got some awareness that challenged their views, but not enough to analyze their own society, draws parallels, take action.

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MY GENERAL REACTION WHEN I SEE PEOPLE BEING LIKE: OH, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING

While this can be up to debate, a good number of choices that could change the course of things, happen inside the school walls. Schools are supposed to give teens culture and a way to face the world, including a good dose of their own personal skills. But schools right now, in Italy, aren’t doing the right job. How much of the lessons and the reading culture is actually challenging oppression and hate? How much of those involve the teen to shake up their ideas and see a problem? Or that the world is shouldn’t be settled like it’s now?

While some teens are able to find their own way up, it can’t be said the same of everyone. How are they supposed to find their path? Where they do get critical sense? Because another common thing, is the general lack of education many teens display, and not only on cultural terms but also about: choices, political responsibility, civic duty, respect of other people, consent in sexual situation, human rights… You would be alarmed by the big number of young girls that do not realized to have been abused or even raped, because it’s inculcated into them that is normal. Even in schools.

Italian society is pretty much set on allo cis hetero and white default. It’s not a ground that challenge you to understand what is right or wrong, when a law is right or is discriminatory. Italy has a history of recycle old society norms, rejecting and getting outraged when fought back.

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THE GIF SAID IT. NOT ME.

Right now my country is passing a period of darkness in terms of culture, politics and social. Let’s take teens in analysis again. It’s pretty easy to spot a teen sprouting racism around. It’s also pretty easy to notice how what they say is the same thing that their parents keep repeating over and over. There also great issue about bullying, of teens against teachers, of teens against teens. The scale goes from vulgarity, to aggressive behaviour, to actual act of violence and threat of life. There’s also entitlement.

The line between making a teen feel safe  to express their opinion and create a discourse in Italy is pretty much thin. It’s very easy to pass from normal argumentation to getting an angry parents coming towards you because you rightly confronted their child. On the other part, it’s pretty common to see a medium Italian adult degrade a teen to stupid and useless, to young to know even the most little things, someone who should submit to an authority even if it’s ill intentioned or abusive.

It’s a cycle that I’ve seen over and over in my country. There’s a huge lack of creating a ground in which people can debate.  There’s the lack of taking teen accountable for their behaviours. At the same time Italian adults  posses a strong superiority complex and white privilege. Any teen that confront them, is seen as a menace. You would probably remain surprised of the great number of adults ready to send teens to military school. The government would be also up to reintroduce forced lever.

How a school system that is based on an old society can work? It can’t. Italian general culture doesn’t support expanding to new books outside the classic. But proposing old concepts, very white an un-diverse views on the world is not the solution. Italian schools usually adopts the way of explaining how something is bad without making the actual effort to reaching an ampler view. For example, they will teach that racism is bad, but they will go further, exploring the different history of the world, teaching a less white history? No, they won’t. It’s very appalling, since the growing number of young Italian. Same things for books.

good morning help GIF by Satisfied Customer

SENDING HELP SIGNAL MOOD IN A GIF

While teachers, the adults, are supposed to help the youths reaching out to new horizons, is equally true and maybe more realistic for teens to be the start of a change. On the less bright side, the people young teens may reach for choosing a book are equally unaware of important issue.

Required reading in school  can become a powerful weapon for young readers to organize creative class. The first obstacle, more than the collaboration of the actual teens, would be fitting such class inside the school program. Many school probably don’t have money for that. Also, the class should be arranged to the student weight of study, or the whole purpose of being engaged to the read would go wasted.

I can bet my head that if teens are asked to bring a book to their class, a good number could bring well know problematic books, portraying them as romantic and right, instead of using those novels as a way to discuss issue in literature. Also, it’s responsibility of the teacher to check those books, but what if the teacher is equally misinformed? One solution could be to reach out for book blogger, but I can even name the very famous and prominent bloggers that actively promote such books.

And how would be possible a discourse about a harmful book if the student get over protective about it? It’s not the first time that a problematic book was contested by more aware book blogger and book tubers, only to get very insulting and aggressive replies.

A major issue would touch marginalized teens. Not only the misinformed ones but also the ones that are nearer to certain knowledge. How can they freely talk about issue dear to them in required reads, or express their hurt if a hostile environment? Why do teachers never take this into consideration?

The system of required reading in Italy doesn’t really offer much of a space to young readers. While some older books can still work as a piece of our culture, creating a key to understand our time, delineate what we approve or dislike, there is a long process currently going on.

The possibility to obtain a true and free discussion with a classic required read, or the chance to discuss a book picked by the student, are pretty scarce. In Italy, as we say, it’s another issue that is like a snake that keeps going in circle, biting its own tail.  I doubt I can propose a solution, just a series of thoughts and a wall, that may fall down one brick at time only if a student or a teacher decided to make a step forward.  And smash the block with a book.

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The first post discussion of the chain is over. I’m not sure how I’ve handled the discussion, this being the first I ever made in such terms.

But don’t forget to go and check the upcoming post of Kal@Reader Voracious that will be up the fourth of this same month!

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tell.

HOW IS THE REQUIRED READING SYSTEM IN YOUR COUNTRY? WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT SHOULD RESOLVE THE ISSUE? WHAT’S THE BEST APPROACH FOR YOU?

61 thoughts on “The Bloggers in the Attic ||Social issue and required reads in Italy

  1. *waddles in* sooooo although you’ll get to hear my thoughts on this topic, your post actually made me realise something. Even though in England (since I can’t speak for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) our required reading sucks in terms of book choices, there’s still wiggle room for debate. Yes there’s often an answer they want to see in the exam but generally speaking, if you can analyse the texts, draw your own conclusions etc and you can justify your points, you can throw out whatever theory you want about what the book’s trying to say.

    I think our problem is more, we have the opportunity to discuss, to learn but they pick crappy books which can’t help push teens further. They don’t pick books that will make us think, oh damn I relate to that or wait that happens? They pick classics, and sure they’re classics but my god are they problematic and we’re sat in this cycle. Of forcing kids to read books, which make them want too snooze if not just down to them being classics.

    But most importantly, because the classics use Old English. Ahem, so considering most of my generation struggle with modern day English it’s no wonder they struggle reading Classics if they can’t even understand the words they’re reading.

    Hmmmm maybe I should mention this in my post xD Anyhoo awesome post Cami, I am so excited to see everyone else’s responses on this topic eeeeek

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, I’m glad you liked it! When I was writing it, I wasn’t 100% sure of where I was going. I eneded up re-writing it so many times.

      That’s interesting. Despite the general result it’s still a good way to debunk certain book. I cannot wait to read your post because I feel like it’s going to be glorious

      Like

      • Hey!

        So I would like to join your little group for April 🙂

        As for a reply… without going off the handle (I was an ELA specialist for 15 years) the issue with required reading *mostly* came.down to Agency and choice. Cannon books don’t work with students anymore, especially in urban environments. Once they were given a set of books to choose from different genres, life lenses and cultural voices, it changed everything. We had sophomores and juniors going to the principal saying it was the first time they had ever finished a book. Period. It was the first time a whole class was silent and excited to discuss a book in their book Clubs. Students who were in remedial classes, who were thought of as not being able to read were now reading high school books.

        It wasn’t everyone and it isn’t a fairytale story but it is a huge part of the equation that districts, society and parents want to stick their heads in the sand about and it boggles my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very beautiful to hear! And also quite resume my view on it. Sometimes students get books imposed on instead of bein part of the processes. It would improve things much more and seems like it did!

        I’m gonna send you an invite on Twitter, so keep an eye on your DM 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cam, I always love it when you talk about social issues because you’re so passionate and very well-informed.
    Personally I think all required reading should be revised (okay, not every year) but at least every other year and I think now and then the students should be consulted – to ask them if they would be interested in the book or not. Because if the students aren’t interested in the books, why force them to read it? And for a measly amount of points which doesn’t really show their intelligence. And why is most of required reading have to be classics? Who said classics have everything a student needs?

    And it’s definitely an issue – with teens reading problematic books – that they don’t see it is problematic – like an abuser, they think it as romance; and I think that’s also due to the mainstream media romanticising bad behaviours – something that I don’t think will be phased out soon.

    I think you made a fantastic discussion! Back in high school we had to read a few (I think maybe 2?) books set in South Africa (they were boring – there, I said it); but I do look after a girl who goes to my old school who there’s been changes to the required reading – which I’m happy for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oof, there’s nothing worst than making someone read a book they don’t care about. It happened to me in the past and I tended to get very petty at it, reason why I didn’t enjoyed it in the end.

      Yeah, not noticing any problematic is one of the things I think more about. Because yes, teens, should also face more difficult situation but if they don’t have certain key to discern it… the result can be integrating something hateful inside them.

      I’m so glad you liked it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right? Like if we don’t like the book in the beginning, it’s rare that we will in the end.

        And I definitely agree with teens – if they only hear from the one side about a topic, they’ll end up believing only in that side.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “This is part of Italian mindset: doing something only if their usefulness in return.”

    I definitely think that this is a mentality here in the US as well. It sounds like the required reading in Italy is very similar to what it was like for me in the United States. A bunch of classics that have little relevance to society today with language that is difficult to read, written by a bunch of white people. Which doesn’t do much for progress; or even for fostering a culture of reading for pleasure! Teens shouldn’t feel like reading genre fiction is any less valid or valuable than literary fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, well, is that required reading mood across the nations? 😂

      I think that things changes a bit but not enought to make a big diffrence. To be honest, I never felt like the language code to bepart of the problem.

      I just wish the teachers would also change approach. For some reasons I feel like it would encourage the students or condition a bit them (even if it’s maybe not the ideal way things should go).

      Like

  4. I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts about required reading in Italy. In America, I think we tend to get tunnel vision and only really see what it’s like for us. Growing up here, and beginning to read more diversely and really think actively about discrimination, I kind of assumed that America was the worst when it comes to racism. But this is exactly why I feel all students should be required to read books from other cultures! Like you said, though, I’m not sure what the solution is. Here, our teachers have to follow a specific curriculum, assigning books that have been deemed “classics” without regard to other, contemporary books that tackle important topics. There’s little room for diversity, and little room for kids to actually choose books for themselves. As someone who wants to teach high school literature one day, I hope to at least do my part in challenging this system, but it’s obviously not going to be enough to change the whole system.

    I’m relatively new to blogging (I had a blog years ago that I ended up giving up on) but I would love to participate in this discussion chain at some point! I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else thinks on this topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get what you mean with the need of teachers to respect a schedule. That’s also one of the point, because in the middle of all these, teachers must also fit in general classes!

      Well, if you want to try it out, I’ll sent to you (maybe on Twitter?) and invite to the Discord server where we organize the thing?

      Like

  5. I love this idea and would love to take part in the next one!

    I hadn’t thought about how students would be shaped by required reading before I saw your post and Kaleena’s Post about it. I also had never considered how by letting required reading being chosen by older generations, we instill a snobbishness about the new and exciting things that are happening.

    Fantasy and Science Fiction are likely ignored because they were considered pulpy trash at the time that a lot of these classics were being written. Thinking about it, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a true mystery as a required read. Or even Horror which has amazing classics like Dracula. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this discussion topic !
    When I was in school, sometimes french class would have some mendatory read or let us have a choice (either completely free to us, or within 5books let’s say); that was fine and I loved that ! Always being a reader in french, this was my forte ahah. However, where I lacked was the mendatory ones in english class.. from what I remember (2012 and prior..)

    We had mostly classics like The outsiders, Night, the boy who drank too much, animal farm, lord of the flies, Go ask alice.. also had the hamlet & romeo and juliet plays. I was NOT bilingual at that time, my brain just wouldn’t understand how one can see/hear something in english and it making sense… and let’s say it, it was boring. I couldn’t understand AND it wasn’t even my type to begin with .. so I lucked my way out without reading ANY book XD I reached to maybe half of the book, max.
    Don’t ask me how I even passed.. as I come from an all-french city, most of the teachers acted different with me than with the others; as my english was weaker than those in this bilingual town to begin with. We had chapters conversations/games/etc, so I just based myself on that to answer our tests without reading it myself ahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting but for example in my classes we had to read entire books in other languages.

      I think it was a really good way to learn but also made reading less enjoyable and sometimes deeply boring.
      And yeah, sometimes we managed to escape the read, me and the whole class.

      Like

  7. I always felt like they were even able to take a better look at the issues in our society because they’re a little more divorced from it. It can be hard to get away from your biases to see the issues when the setting is close to your everyday life, but sometimes distance can give added perspective.

    I’m into it! I’ll send you a DM now. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a very interesting topic and a brilliant idea to have discussion posts. I’m really looking forward to what you have lined up and will be reading with relish.

    I don’t like the idea of anyone belittling anyone for what they read like you mentioned that someone belittled another for reading a fantasy book. People should be able to read what they like as reading, while an incredibly useful way to learn critical thinking, is also a passion. Sucking the joy out of it for someone else is a joyless pursuit in my eyes.

    I also don’t understand why speculative fiction and fantasy are looked down on in terms of genres as they are just a different way of asking the same questions and trying to find answers. Some speculative and fantasy fiction even answer the questions better than literary fiction has done (in my opinion anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Italy is currently passing a long and repetitive history of failure in term of politics, culture, social” – this reminded me of that saying, “Those who don’t read/learn history are doomed to repeat it.” this is something that required reading could potentially help with, if they could make the students care. unfortunately, the apathy seems to be a universal theme: so many of my classmates would probably also say their required-reading experiences were “equal to zero” 😕 it definitely doesn’t help when teachers try to “police” the books students choose, saying they doesn’t have enough literary value or whatever – that’s how people fall out of love with reading and lose one outlet to learn more about others’ perspectives and societal flaws!

    I think the problem really is systemic – it’s not even a problem with our teachers or our students, but the way our teachers are taught *how* to teach, and the way that teaching impacts the students, and so on and so forth until we find some way to break the cycle. it’s a tough one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, especially to the last part. From one side, if we never try, we’re never getting oanything out of the situation.

      On the other, we also have to fight the idea that the past isn’t messed up in terms of literature choice for students, that what came before wasn’t the right way to treat the situation. For sure this point fingers against people, another reasons why many aren’t that open to discuss it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this discussion! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this issue even if I couldn’t really relate to it. I don’t speak for all schools in the Philippines but in my case, I haven’t really experienced required reading. It’s simply not in our curriculum and I don’t think my school has enough resources for this kind of task.

    Nevertheless, I still understand how required reading can be a challenge. It would be especially infuriating if my teacher were to require me to read a book I have zero interest in.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a great discussion post! I didn’t realize that required reading could be completely different around the world. I stopped have required reading once I reached High School.

    I would also love to join the next discussion if thats fine as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wish my high school had made us read more stories. Also, grammar. This is off topic, but I was hardly taught any grammar. We did not have a very structured Language/Literature class, sadly.
    I would love to join the April discussion, depending on the topic!

    Liked by 1 person

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