The Institute of Relational Psychotherapy of Naples (from here onward also I.P.R.), leading the European project “R.E.C. at school” (Relational and Emotional Competences at school), has always dealt with training and research topics both in clinical and in social field.
The European project started from the Modello di Articolazione Intersistemica (from here onward also M.A.I.) used by the I.P.R., drawing an innovative methodological approach to teacher training, with the aim of enriching this methodology through a productive exchange with the European partners (Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway).
Since 1990 the I.P.R. has led researches concerning the teacher training and the educational relationship, always focusing on the care of the teacher’s Self (both the personal Self and the professional one) and on the relationship between teacher and pupil.
In this field they have often noticed that the need to encourage pupils to learning meets teachers’ resistance to look for differentiated educational forms adapting them to pupils’ personality characteristics.
However the psycho-pedagogical research recognizes the need for teachers to create a relationship with their pupils, using feelings as a gateway to them.
Feelings in fact represent real relational bridges that connect teacher and pupil and on which teacher can convey the specific contents of the subject s/he wants to teach.
Whatever we want really to teach, whether it is literature, chemistry, mathematics, physics and so on, if we want to reach a pupil and mark him/her inside, we must pass our contents on these relational bridges that connect teacher and pupil in a game which stimulates both of them to creativity and search of personal solutions (Baldascini, Vita da Adolescenti, ed. Angeli, Milano 1993; Sternberg, Stili di pensiero nell’apprendimento e nella soluzione dei problemi, ed. Erickon, Trento 1997).
New didactics has long explained that it is indispensable to diversify teaching methods in order to improve all pupils, even those, who, at first glance, seem not to be very skilled.
Since ever, the ambition is that of making world citizens grow up and there’s no doubt that this should be the vocation of teachers. In this day and age, teaching at school represents a real challenge because school is called not only to teach, but above all to educate pupils. If, on one side, instruction implies teachers transferring contents to pupils, on the other one, to educate means exactly to take care of pupils’ feelings, something that teachers can do only if they themselves are trained to emotional and relational competences. The education of young people to feelings, what once was an almost exclusive task of families, nowadays needs the support of other important social agencies, in particular of the school at its different grades.
Nature has endowed human beings only with impulses and emotions, while feelings must be learned culturally through those relationships with meaningful persons, as teachers are for their pupils. Only an education to feelings can give young people the possibility not to depend exclusively from nature and to fully understand what is good and what is bad. In this way it would be possible to avoid many acts of violence, whether against oneself or against the others: a boy would understand, for example, the difference between courting a girl and raping her, or between arguing vigorously and acting violently. Feelings represent the warp on which the weft of contents we want to pass stands out and for this reason they must be kept in consideration when we communicate. Obviously, the comprehension of the emotional dimension does not ease only the communicational flow, which is useful for the student learning, in fact it is an opportunity also for the teachers to keep contact with those emotional experiences that enrich their inner world. These are the main reasons that encouraged the I.P.R. to address a good part of its strength to the study of the educational relationship and to share as much as possible the outcomes of its research. According to what the National and European guidelines in education and training request, the R.E.C. project target is to train and develop the so called “Soft skills”, which are those cross capabilities (emotional, relational and so on) increasingly required to today’s teachers. As I have already said, the project idea consisted in trying to realize a training on relational and emotional competences for teachers of all school grades, using our M.A.I. model enriched by the integrations of other models potentially used by the European partners.
Our challenge was to reach these results through a methodological approach that, as an innovative element, put the focus on the educational relationship considered as the target to observe for the comprehension of both intra and interpersonal world of the teacher and of the pupil.
In this text, edited by the professor Andreja Istenic Starcic, all the partners of the project, which were the I.P.R. – Institute of Relational Psychotherapy of Naples (Italy), University of Primorska (Slovenia), “Parthenope” University of Naples (Italy), Lenden skole og ressurssenter (Norway), Regional Department of Education – Pazardzhik (Bulgaria) and Bacau County School Inspectorate (Romania), presented the outcomes reached in two years of intense work with groups of teachers selected ad hoc in European schools of different grades.
As it can be deduced from this text, during the final phase, it was possible to gather the outcomes of the whole training process. Of course there are differences and similarities in the work made by the different groups, even if, ultimately, most of the results were satisfying. In short, most of the teachers showed to be, after the training, in a better contact with their own emotional world, stating that there were important consequences on the quality of their relationships and of the teaching approach in class.
The training worked as a “gym of being” for teachers and, beyond their statements, as it appears from the proposed questionnaires, working on the personal Self had positive effects on the professional one.
Many were those teachers who noticed more wellness in class thanks to the emotional climate they were able to create, after the training.
Many teachers expressed the need of a longer training and the need of including a training such as R.E.C. in the obligatory education for all teachers.
Some of them stated explicitly that they reached a deeper self knowledge, a greater empathic capability in all their relationships (with pupils, class, colleagues and pupils’ families) and new methodological instruments necessary to construct a developmental educational relationship.
I am grateful for all the work made and I want to conclude this short introduction thanking the European team for its professionalism and the self-denial it put in carrying this research project on. The success gained by all European partners, as the enthusiasm of the teachers who attended the groups of training shows, makes us hope that similar projects, trusting in a school that will be more and more sensible to young people, our future, can be realized soon.
Dott. Luigi Baldascini