Gianni Rodari

La Grande Storia di RaiPlay incontra Gianni Rodari, il “Profeta della Fantasia”. Ed è davvero un bell’incontro, per festeggiare il centenario della sua nascita. Godetevelo tutto minuto per minuto, calatevi  nella “Fantastica” realtà di questo  innovatore del nostro sistema formativo, conosciuto e apprezzato in tutto il mondo.

Back to the 80s. Any changes in Education?

What has changed in the world of  Education, from 1988 to 2010? After twenty-two years, are  our children  now experiencing  new   creative approaches to Education? Are they offered the chance to use their “Fantasy” effectively?

These crucial questions, are  a sort of  invitation to  the readers to make a comparison between some aspects stated in my review of Rodari’s book[1] and the present state of Education in general, and of Foreign Language Teaching, in particular.

Probably some   problems have been solved, also through the great innovations introduced by new technologies, but many more are still unsolved and, what is worse, no interest seems to inspire  our politicians for a more rspectful approach to the Education of young people.

One more word about  the English style of the  review. It evidently shows some faults. However, it proves how learning a foreign language is a sort of work-in-progress, an ongoing attempt to improve one’s own style. So, some sentences should be rewritten in a more appropriate and  fluent discourse, but let’s take it as it is, coherently with what  said above.

Rodari’s Grammatica della Fantasia and English Teaching (1988)

grammatica della fantasia

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge” A. Einstein It was the end of March and I had just started to read Gianni Rodari’s “Grammatica della Fantasia”[2], a pithy little book that my daughter Patrizia had borrowed from her school library. I was enjoying the humorous and intelligent stories as well as the pleasant and involving style when the first number of “Problems and Experiences” for 1988 arrived.

I quickly skimmed the index to have a general idea of the contents and I was pleasantly surprised by the title of Cuenca and Carmona’s[3] article on their experience with Rodari’s book. I immediately began to  turn over the pages and find what I was mostly interested in at the moment. I was extremely curious.My curiosity went together with a certain satisfaction in having my hypothesis on the possibilities of using Rodari’s suggestions in an English classroom verified and acknowledged in a journal of  such great importance and relevance for English teachers.

But this last statement is a bit restrictive for Rodari has been a “Maestro”. His view of life for anybody whose professional aim has been to “educate”. His view of life has always been fundamental for his teaching behaviour. His great respect for students, for their personalities has been the basic element of his pedagogy. Teachers of “Scuola Superiore” are often obliged to do a large amount of work which the “Scuola Media” and the “Scuola Elementare” have already done, if they do not go over again what should have been the ground of their predecessors, their work will often be unsatisfactory and fragmentary.Students’ minds seem to be organized in watertight compartments. Each subject lies apart  in its own little cell and is strictly separated from the others.

Nothing seems to bring them together, to create any sort of relationship.Teachers seem to fear a more direct contact with their colleagues and, even if they are bright, friendly people and are sincerely interested in doing their work well, they often are not able to establish closer and fruitful relationships capable of creating effective interdisciplinary associations which could help students overcome the rigidity of their cultural preparation.To tell the truth, the task is very difficult, but not always impossible, especially for English teachers who are particularly sensitive to students’ needs, in part because teaching must always be challenging, interesting and motivating in order to make a foreign language in the school context, more appealing.

To this purpose, teachers often appeal to the students’ imagination using an “imaginative approach” to writing, as in the experience of Cuenca and Carmona. In this way they contribute to stimulating student’ creativity in the terms Rodary has stated.This is a way of fostering all creative processes, of making students conscious of their potentialities and of helping them to become more self confident and successful.It is a way of satisfying the “Rights of Fantasy” always neglected in favour of a misunderstood supremacy of reason.

1] Fortuna  O. Gianni Rodari’s  Grammatica della Fantasia: a review, in Problems and Experiences in the Teaching of English, 4//88 La Nuova Italia. Oxford Unversity Press, Firenze 1988.[2] Rodari G.,  Grammatica della Fantasia, Introduzione all’arte di inventare storie, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 1983[3] Cuenca  C.M., Carmona,R.F., Gianni Rodari’s  Grammatica della Fantasia in the English Class, in Problems and Experiences in the teaching of English, 1/88,p. 16,La Nuova Italia. Oxford Unversity Press,Firenze 1988