Pedagogia dei genitori (Pedagogy of parents)
The Methodology "Pedagogy of Parents" carries out the educational agreement among the school, family and health services, while strengthening the weaker institutional subject, so that the skills can be recognized and used by other educational agencies. The implementation consists in creating a social network that has produced social change and involves the municipality of Volpiano (Torino Province), the local public health agency and the professionals working with disabled children, the school and social workers. The parents create booklets to present their children and promote their positive aspects, sometimes also in an ironic way, considering the child as an active (and not passive) subject. This methodology has spread and contributed to training professionals who deal with human relationships: teachers, educators, doctors, judges, social workers, etc.
Narrative, origins and objectives of the initiative
What kind of project is this? Please give a short description (summary) of it.
Pedagogy of parents started in 2014 in the primary school of Volpiano (a municipality near Torino) with a meeting where prof. Zucchi met the parents of disabled students. A group of 5 parents represented the first storytelling group that was using a template given by prof. Zucchi. They created booklets to present their children and promote their child's positive attributes, sometimes also ironic, considering the kid as an active subject, rather than a passive one.
At the end of the school year, the work done by the parents was presented in a plenary session attended by different stakeholders, who afterward have become the project partners (municipality, local health department, social workers, parents and teachers of the institute). The project had such a great impact and it was replicated in the following years. Till nowadays, 22 booklets in reference to the same number of students have been published.
Since 2016, a network has been established, including the neighboring municipalities of Borgaro Torinese, Leinì and Settimo Torinese to carry on the storytelling groups and the pedagogy of the parents’ methodology.
In the Volpiano school, the storytelling group methodology has also been used in low secondary school classes. Settimo Torinese municipality, with the support of the Volpiano school, is implementing inclusive policies on the issues of disability and immigration, using the methodology of the storytelling group.
Please tell us why, in general, this project is considered a successful one?
Pedagogy of Parents is as successful practice as it helped to create good relations, smoothing out the conflicts that statistically develop in class groups inclining disabled students. Moreover, it has allowed to reshape the social relationships that these students can undertake in a specific context; to facilitate the information exchange between all the operators engaged with the disabled children; to create a space of social recognition on the involved partners; to create good practice to be replicated in other inclusive contexts.
And why would you consider it a grass-roots initiative?
The Pedagogy of Parents has begun in 2014, starting from the need of integration expressed by the families with disabled children who aimed at full social citizenship and to be part of the school life as well as the related social network. These families’ attention was focused on the disability and on the problematic issue, not on the children's positive aspects. The parents felt burdened and some of the mothers referred to themselves as "b-series" mothers.
From this need of inclusion, the storytelling group activities and the presentation booklets have developed: in this way perceptions and relationship were transformed. This project has been implemented for 4 years with adaptations and integration, involving a network of schools, applying the methodology also in higher schools and with students that have a migrant background.
What challenges needed to be solved in this project?
This project, through the storytelling groups, faces a relational and social belonging problem. Through this project, the disabled subjects are included in a relational community that welcomes them, get to know them, takes charge of them as active subjects and not only as disabled subjects. It also involves the parents of disabled children as active members of the school community and society. Moreover, the presentation booklets creation solves a communication problem among the several players who interact with the children, focusing not only on the specific diagnosis but also on the person in his entirety and with dignity.
Is this initiative based on any particular theoretical framework? Which one?
The Pedagogy of the Parents was designed by prof. Zucchi and by prof. Moletto from the Pedagogy Department of the University of Torino. The methodology has its origin in the theories of Vygotsky, who considers the school as a complex system of relationships in which all players contribute to achieving the educational objectives for each student.
The Pedagogy of the Parents states that the family is an essential and irreplaceable component of education. The family is often confined in a weak and passive role, which leads to delegate its duties to the so-called experts. Actually, the family possesses skills and resources that must be recognized by other educational agencies. The Methodology highlights the dignity of the parents’ pedagogical action as educational experts, through initiatives aimed at promoting the knowledge and dissemination of the Pedagogy of the Parents. It is accomplished through the following actions:
- Collection, publication, and dissemination of the narratives about the educational paths by parents
- Training of experts and professionals dealing with human relationships (teachers, doctors, educators, judges, social workers, etc.) done by the parents
- Presentation of the Pedagogy of Parents scientific principles through research, studies, conferences, seminars
The Pedagogy of Parents is expressed through:
- The pedagogy of responsibility: the family carries out the education tasks and it is responsible for them in front of the external world
- The pedagogy of identity: the parents’ love develop in the child an awareness that allows the person to recognize himself
- The pedagogy of hope: the parents’ hope is the soul of the child's life project, of self perceived as an adult
- The pedagogy of trust: the family trust gives birth to and sustains the child's potential
- The pedagogy of growth: parents are actors and witnesses of the child’s development path
- The pedagogy of Parents proposes an educational pact among school, family, health system, promoted by the Local Authority, in which the parents take an active role through the recognition of their skills.
(Appendix) Is your intervention standing on its own or is it a part of a bigger and more holistic approach?
Pedagogy of Parents' is not a stand-alone initiative since it the project intervenes in the policies of the school and its community - including different stakeholders - but it does not force its implementation; the proposal is made to all the users, but the membership is free and participation is voluntary. In so sensitive topic as “diverse-ability”, this feature is of fundamental importance: free membership to guarantee a space of awareness.
Please describe the group(s) intended as beneficiaries of this initiative
Why has this group (have these groups) been chosen?
The main group refers to students with disabilities (or “diversabilities”), as recognized by the Italian Law 104/92, which ensures full respect for human dignity and the rights of freedom and individual autonomy of persons with disabilities - thus fostering full inclusion in the family, the educational system, the labor market, and the society. A secondary stream has developed with the creation of thematic storytelling groups, using the methodology to re-read some social relations.
Could you please tell us something about the relative size of the (of each) target group, within the school/university population, region and/or country?
In the first phase, the project was addressed to the Primary and Low Secondary Education School of Volpiano, which gathers about 1400 students, of which 49 with disabilities acknowledged as in 104/92 Law, with a rate of about 35%. The rate of students with disabilities recognized by the Law 104/92 is about 33% at national level, with a higher percentage in South of Italy (38,3%) and a lower in the North West (26%). In the following phase, the project addressed the whole population of the Volpiano population (15.400 inhabitants).
Which social characteristics are taken into account and what is the geographical area covered?
The methodology of Pedagogy of Parents is primarily addressed to families with disabled children acknowledged for the 104/42 law and it fostered the creation of a network of municipalities near Torino city, gathering Leinì (16.300 inhabitants), Volpiano (15.400 inhabitants) and Settimo Torinese (47.200 inhabitants).
On which level is the project implemented?
Please describe the political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative
Did the initiative have political support?
The involvement of the several stakeholders as the local municipalities and local health services demonstrated the political support to the project.
How did it fit with local, regional or national policies?
The project is consistent with the Italian regulations about inclusion in the school. It originates from the national Constitution principles, in particular from Article 3, which states “equality between citizens”, Article 34 stating “right to study”, Article 32 stating “right to health”, Article 38 stating the “right to assistance and vocational training”, Articles 30 and 28 stating the “right to education”. In addition, the Note by the MIUR (National Ministry of Education and Scientific Research) no. 4274 August 4, 2009 - “Guidelines for school integration of students with disabilities” and the Note by MIUR no. 4798 25 July 2015, reinforce the need for involvement of all the teaching staff.
Who are the stakeholders supporting the initiative?
The project is supported by the municipality of Volpiano, the local health department, the local education associations and the School of Volpiano. Moreover, prof. Zucchi still supports the project from a scientific point of view: he is in charge of pedagogical coordination and methodological support.
Are there particular demographic changes present that are influencing the project?
What is the institutional strategy and culture of the (educational) organization?
To what extent does the initiative have an influence on institutional policy (or potential influence) of the (educational) organization?
The project has redesigned the institute's approach to inclusion: this has enabled the teachers to share the approach to inclusion: in fact, in the current school year, the methodology of the storytelling groups are implemented within the activities of the day-by-day classes, so that good practices are shared among all the students and not only for disabled students. This is particularly interesting in the classes that begin a new cycle of studies.
(Appendix) Is there public support for your initiative and the issue it addresses?
The main source of the success of the initiative is linked to the strong involvement of partners to create a network of intent and development of the groups of narration and of the booklets of the presentation. Only through the creation of these regional networks, it is possible to recognize oneself in a territory and to restore identity and citizenship to users with diverse abilities.
(Appendix) What other factors do you think have been important for the success of this initiative?
Please describe the overall initiative design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals
Please describe the specific activities carried out.
The project has its origin in 2014/2015 when the school had to manage 9 children with disabilities in nursery schools and 34 in primary schools. That is quite a significant percentage: there was a strong need to find a strategy for supporting parenting and mothers in their difficult task of care and education.
The first step was the approval of the project by the board of teachers, then parents were then invited, by calling them each individually and by sending them a written invitation, delivered at the time of the evaluation boards of the first school quarter. During the first days of March 2015, the first meeting with prof. Riziero Zucchi and Augusta Moletto took place and they explained the Methology to the parents who attended in a simple and welcoming way.
In subsequent meetings (total of three), the professors guided the mothers to write a short booklet in which they spoke of their children in a positive way, making sure that the reader knew what the child was capable of doing and not focusing on their disabilities. They were asked to attach a few significant pictures of the child so that the reader could visually perceive that it was not describing a clinical case, but a child of flesh and bone, with a name, a history, and family relationships.
During the meetings a very intense bond arose among the mothers (five in all), and they spoke about their hardships and their successes, helped each other with the writing and in selecting photos... Strong bonds were formed and they organized meetings beyond those scheduled to run, only for the pleasure of sharing a journey.
At the end of the school year, a final meeting was organized, this time sitting beside Riziero and Augusta, have in front of them an attentive audience of their books - the ones describing their children, which were, in the meantime, screened, and shown to all. In the audience were other parents and teachers, and also the mayors of the municipality of Volpiano and San Benigno, whose schools at the time were part of the board of education, the councilors at the school, the social workers of the NET, the reference of the local health service: in a short, the social community of the territory, realizing the proverb: “to educate a child you need a village”.
In subsequent school years the College of Teachers decided to continue in promoting the support of parenthood, and the project “With our eyes” was proposed to the parents of pupils with disabilities with great success. These booklets have been very useful in transferring information from primary school to the secondary school and were also used by parents when there is a change in the specialists that assist their child.
The Volpiano school has joined the national network of schools that use the Methodology of Parents' Pedagogy. Usually, the path followed by the teachers includes a presentation of the tool in the first meeting of the class at the beginning of the school year. In general, there are three meetings a year, attended by from 5 to 15 parents per class. At the end of the year, there is the public presentation of the project "With our eyes” including the presentation of the booklets.
In the school year 2016/2017, the Comprehensive school has adopted the cards of continuity proposed by the network “With our eyes”, which contain a brief but important narrative of the children by their parents in addition to a short presentation of themselves and pupils.
In conclusion, the Methodology of Parents' Pedagogy is now recognized as a widespread practice and a value for the territory. A protocol of local coordination was signed, and it takes into account the experiences carried out in the medical field, (medicine of the narratives, that is made by the nursing home service) and in the framework of the social services (trials of narratives with migrant adults are going to be implemented). The coordination aims also to spread the Methodology through training pathways open to operators/teachers and to publicize its various initiatives in this regard.
What were the key roles (teacher, student, management team etc.) within the project?
The project roles are the following:
- School leaders and managers, legal representatives who signed agreements of the network
- Contact persons: in charge of the project logistics and organization (who coordinates the activities of the network, establish storytelling groups, collects the requirements and organizes the activities)
- Teachers coordinating the storytelling groups: in charge to manage and coordinate the narration groups by applying the methodology of Parents' Pedagogy
- Students, either with and without disabilities, are the main players of the storytelling groups and the project beneficiaries
- Prof. Zucchi: pedagogical coordination and methodological support
What ideas, tools, theories, models, methodology (etc.) have been used to reach the goals?
The Vygotsky pedagogical model and the Parents' Pedagogy
What are the final revenues of the project?
Please describe if your project ensured its sustainability
If so, how did you ensure the short-term impact of the project?
Increase the awareness of the relations. To know the positive effect children with disabilities can have on other children.
And how did you ensure the long-term impact of the project?
The project aims to build good relations and to acquire good practice interpersonal skills that may become common in time. In addition, the active involvement and consciousness of students with disabilities ensure that there are shared responsibilities and it requires an awareness of social responsibility and it must be shared in the community where you live.
Has your project been replicated elsewhere?
This project is part of a bigger network called "WITH OUR EYES", which is based on parenting methodology and on the school-family educational pact. It also includes, in addition to the two leading schools IC Ricasoli and IC Peyron of Turin, the following entities:
- 27 schools of all levels and levels of the regional territory;
- the CE.SE.DI. (Didactic Service Center) of the Metropolitan City of Turin,
- the CIDI (Center for the Democratic Initiative of Teachers) of Turin,
- the CIS (Committee for School Integration),
- the House of Teachers Association,
- the Educating Teaching Network,
- the Foundation Pacchiotti di Giaveno
- the Kairòn Volunteer Association.
Please tell us about the resources used in this initiative
What was the budget for the initiative?
How much did the initiative depend on volunteers?
The project provides a salary only for the organizers and coordinators. The teachers and the other participants in the groups of narration do not get any compensation.
How were the costs perceived by the public/the sector/other stakeholders?
To what extent did the initiative achieve its objectives?
Please describe the evidence to support the success of your initiative.
Did the intervention lead to any unintended (positive) outcomes?
What indicators (quantitative and qualitative) have you measured to demonstrate success?
The project proposed some questionnaires and the results of the storytelling from the parents that showed how, through the narration, they changed their perceptions of their own reality, and also have the possibility of sharing their situation.
They demonstrated that, to raise a child, it takes a Village, together with a shared fatherhood and motherhood.