In Italy, as in many other contemporary capitalist societies, the school system is under pressure. This fact is due to institutional reforms - mainly to accountability mechanisms introduced in a “new public management” perspective - but it is also a consequence of main changes occurred in society. Several research topics connected to those changes emerged in the last decade and shaped sociological research in Italy. Moreover, it seems plausible that they will shape even future research in education. In our chapter, we describe those themes and the main findings established by previous research: • the relevance assumed by the notion of competence lead to realize that a key role in education is played by several social institutions formally and explicitly not devoted to education aims (i.e. firm); at the same time, it became evident that non cognitive skills are crucial and should be developed also within schools. This fact reinforces a vision where schools are institutions devoted to socialize and not only instruct students. As a consequence, educating to values and norms is a topic re-assuming relevance in sociological research; • the other side of this story is that, nowadays, several education agencies contribute to the same task, but they are not connected and integrated and several tensions could arise (i.e. integrating the Web in formal education is still an issue in Italian schools). Schools, universities and firms are not adequately connected and the economic crisis worsened two Italian long term problems - youth unemployment and early leavers – leading to an extremely high rate of NEETs (not in employment and not in education) among recent cohorts; • at the same time, even schools are more complex organizations than in the past. Schools autonomization led to heterogeneous interactions among teachers, school leaders, parents and students and sociological research is paying more and more attention to decision making processes in schools; • not surprisingly, we detect a renewed attention to research focused on teachers. Educational economists introduced the concept of teacher effectiveness and developed a conspicuous amount of evidence on this topic. At the same time, among Italian sociologists, teachers are considered more than in the past as an occupational group displaying peculiar conditions, needs and reflexivity; • also the other side of school classes, namely students, is investigated by sociological research more than in the past. On one side, we observe that the category of youth became a stabilized framework to interpret students’ behaviors and attitudes; on the other side, students population is becoming more heterogeneous than in the past; • even a traditional sociological topic, social stratification and the role played by education in its reproduction, is evolving. Less attention is paid to quantifying inequality persistence and more effort is invested to investigate the relevance of horizontal stratification (school tracking and university fields of study) and differences in quality (among institutions and curricula). Moreover other forms of inequality are assuming higher relevance: gender, multicultural backgrounds, religions and secularism. Some other themes emerged recently in Italian sociological research, but it seems plausible that they will be central in the future debate, as it happened in other countries: • the consequences of students with migratory background in schools and how this phenomenon will be faced by teachers and schools; • more generally, we detect that more differentiated students special needs are emerging, forcing more in the past teachers to personalize education; • the increasing relevance in education of Technology of Information and Communication (TIC) and the digital skills required to take advantage from them; • the role played by technologies, spaces setting and ecology in shaping education; • the possibility for schools to learn from education internalization and europeization. This is a a general trend in education, already displaying an influence on the governance of schools and universities; • one of the key consequence of internalization is the relevance assumed by accountability also in our country. National assessment and standardization in the evaluation processes imply opportunities and risks that will be at the center of future sociological debate and research. The Italian system is moving in the direction of enhanced competition among schools and the risks of increasing inequality connected to this shift will be exploited by sociological research in the next years; • the relevance assumed by the assessment of schools and universities will generate new tensions within these organizations and in the public debate: it will be crucial investigating how the traditional autonomy of professionals will be combined with accountability mechanisms; • an interesting byproduct of national assessment is the production of large sclae datasets on Italian school and universities. Step by step the amount of available data increases and, in a near future, this large amount of information will be a relevant resource for actors operating inside the education system (i.e. families and students choosing schools and universities). Investigating how information will be used would be helpful in explaining actors’ choices and mechanisms underlying educational inequalities. Morover the sociological discourse will be helpful in avoiding governing by numbers in education. Generally, a major shift for sociological research in the net years will be the combination of large scale datasets and the increased complexity of institutions operating in the field of education. The traditional methodological divide between quantitative and qualitative research will be affected by those shifts and will be less meaningful then in the past. At the same time, sociological research will be more driven by empirical evidence, also because sociological theories are weaker than in the past and because boundaries among disciplines are increasingly permeable. Sociologists in order to be competitive will need stronger skills and refined methods both on qualitative and quantitative research. At the same time, the competition among disciplines will be played also on their contribution to the policy making process. Being relevant outside academia and in the public debate will be a major challenge for Italian sociology of education. Participating to the production of evidence based education, through randomized controlled trials and action-research, seems promising also in order to reinforce a bottom up perspective, whit actors contributing not only to policy making, but also to the definition of sociological agenda.

Colombo, M., Argentin, G., Pandolfini, V., LA SOCIOLOGIA DELL’EDUCAZIONE IN ITALIA:PROSPETTIVE DI RICERCA DI FRONTE ALLA“RIFORMABILITÀ” DEI SISTEMI EDUCATIVI, in Corbisiero, F., Ruspini, E. (ed.), Sociologia del futuro. Studiare la società del ventunesimo secolo, CEDAM, PADOVA -- ITA 2016: 197- 222 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/73572]

LA SOCIOLOGIA DELL’EDUCAZIONE IN ITALIA: PROSPETTIVE DI RICERCA DI FRONTE ALLA “RIFORMABILITÀ” DEI SISTEMI EDUCATIVI

Colombo, Maddalena
Secondo
;
Argentin, Gianluca
Primo
;
2016

Abstract

In Italy, as in many other contemporary capitalist societies, the school system is under pressure. This fact is due to institutional reforms - mainly to accountability mechanisms introduced in a “new public management” perspective - but it is also a consequence of main changes occurred in society. Several research topics connected to those changes emerged in the last decade and shaped sociological research in Italy. Moreover, it seems plausible that they will shape even future research in education. In our chapter, we describe those themes and the main findings established by previous research: • the relevance assumed by the notion of competence lead to realize that a key role in education is played by several social institutions formally and explicitly not devoted to education aims (i.e. firm); at the same time, it became evident that non cognitive skills are crucial and should be developed also within schools. This fact reinforces a vision where schools are institutions devoted to socialize and not only instruct students. As a consequence, educating to values and norms is a topic re-assuming relevance in sociological research; • the other side of this story is that, nowadays, several education agencies contribute to the same task, but they are not connected and integrated and several tensions could arise (i.e. integrating the Web in formal education is still an issue in Italian schools). Schools, universities and firms are not adequately connected and the economic crisis worsened two Italian long term problems - youth unemployment and early leavers – leading to an extremely high rate of NEETs (not in employment and not in education) among recent cohorts; • at the same time, even schools are more complex organizations than in the past. Schools autonomization led to heterogeneous interactions among teachers, school leaders, parents and students and sociological research is paying more and more attention to decision making processes in schools; • not surprisingly, we detect a renewed attention to research focused on teachers. Educational economists introduced the concept of teacher effectiveness and developed a conspicuous amount of evidence on this topic. At the same time, among Italian sociologists, teachers are considered more than in the past as an occupational group displaying peculiar conditions, needs and reflexivity; • also the other side of school classes, namely students, is investigated by sociological research more than in the past. On one side, we observe that the category of youth became a stabilized framework to interpret students’ behaviors and attitudes; on the other side, students population is becoming more heterogeneous than in the past; • even a traditional sociological topic, social stratification and the role played by education in its reproduction, is evolving. Less attention is paid to quantifying inequality persistence and more effort is invested to investigate the relevance of horizontal stratification (school tracking and university fields of study) and differences in quality (among institutions and curricula). Moreover other forms of inequality are assuming higher relevance: gender, multicultural backgrounds, religions and secularism. Some other themes emerged recently in Italian sociological research, but it seems plausible that they will be central in the future debate, as it happened in other countries: • the consequences of students with migratory background in schools and how this phenomenon will be faced by teachers and schools; • more generally, we detect that more differentiated students special needs are emerging, forcing more in the past teachers to personalize education; • the increasing relevance in education of Technology of Information and Communication (TIC) and the digital skills required to take advantage from them; • the role played by technologies, spaces setting and ecology in shaping education; • the possibility for schools to learn from education internalization and europeization. This is a a general trend in education, already displaying an influence on the governance of schools and universities; • one of the key consequence of internalization is the relevance assumed by accountability also in our country. National assessment and standardization in the evaluation processes imply opportunities and risks that will be at the center of future sociological debate and research. The Italian system is moving in the direction of enhanced competition among schools and the risks of increasing inequality connected to this shift will be exploited by sociological research in the next years; • the relevance assumed by the assessment of schools and universities will generate new tensions within these organizations and in the public debate: it will be crucial investigating how the traditional autonomy of professionals will be combined with accountability mechanisms; • an interesting byproduct of national assessment is the production of large sclae datasets on Italian school and universities. Step by step the amount of available data increases and, in a near future, this large amount of information will be a relevant resource for actors operating inside the education system (i.e. families and students choosing schools and universities). Investigating how information will be used would be helpful in explaining actors’ choices and mechanisms underlying educational inequalities. Morover the sociological discourse will be helpful in avoiding governing by numbers in education. Generally, a major shift for sociological research in the net years will be the combination of large scale datasets and the increased complexity of institutions operating in the field of education. The traditional methodological divide between quantitative and qualitative research will be affected by those shifts and will be less meaningful then in the past. At the same time, sociological research will be more driven by empirical evidence, also because sociological theories are weaker than in the past and because boundaries among disciplines are increasingly permeable. Sociologists in order to be competitive will need stronger skills and refined methods both on qualitative and quantitative research. At the same time, the competition among disciplines will be played also on their contribution to the policy making process. Being relevant outside academia and in the public debate will be a major challenge for Italian sociology of education. Participating to the production of evidence based education, through randomized controlled trials and action-research, seems promising also in order to reinforce a bottom up perspective, whit actors contributing not only to policy making, but also to the definition of sociological agenda.
Italiano
Sociologia del futuro. Studiare la società del ventunesimo secolo
978-88-13-35929-4
CEDAM
Colombo, M., Argentin, G., Pandolfini, V., LA SOCIOLOGIA DELL’EDUCAZIONE IN ITALIA:PROSPETTIVE DI RICERCA DI FRONTE ALLA“RIFORMABILITÀ” DEI SISTEMI EDUCATIVI, in Corbisiero, F., Ruspini, E. (ed.), Sociologia del futuro. Studiare la società del ventunesimo secolo, CEDAM, PADOVA -- ITA 2016: 197- 222 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/73572]
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10807/73572
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact