ACLE’s Teaching Principles and the Italian Scholastic System

A bit of background information about the Italian scholastic system will help you understand ACLE’s educational mission, the gaps it helps close within the system, and the reasons for its success with students.

Broadly speaking, the Italian scholastic system ‘functions’ by virtue of teaching methodologies that have long been discredited throughout much of the Western world. These include rote memorisation and an emphasis on theoretical learning with few or no practical components. Opportunities for students to develop and use critical thinking skills are virtually non-existent. They are rarely asked what they think about a topic or issue and just as rarely asked what they feel. As a result, a student’s emotional and rational development is largely disregarded, and the student is left with a body of memorised and mostly forgotten information which does not have any practical bearing on his or her world. It is education for amnesia.

Many Italian teachers serve more as student-sitters rather than educators. Students commonly pass their entire classroom time at their desks, with their quietness and passivity prized above all. Mainstays of more progressive educational methodologies, such as Total Physical Response (TPR), group work, peer education, and hands-on learning have gained little ground within the Italian educational system.

The consequences of this system have been noted by The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a survey of the knowledge and skills of students aged fifteen in several core areas including science, mathematics and reading. The survey analyses a number of factors—individual student achievement, familial circumstances, and institutional quality—in order to explain the differences in performance among a diverse host of countries. In all areas surveyed, Italy scored significantly below the average of other countries affiliated with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organisation which includes the U.S.A., Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia.

For the last several decades, ACLE has sought to counter this discouraging trend. Its educational programmes engage students physically, emotionally, and rationally through its REAL method: Rational Emotional Affective Learning. Student enthusiasm and their progress in language-learning are the most promising signs of our success.

With this introductory background information, do you feel you are prepared to interact with the children and be able to repeat in a clear, energetic and exciting way the correct sentences throughout the camp? This is something Italian teachers don’t do, can’t do, or are not prepared to do. This is what we do with fun. We speak “with” the children and not “to” or “at” them. This is why every year more and more children and parents and teachers think that:

  • ACLE Trainee tutors are great!
  • ACLE’s REAL approach works.
  • A fun, stimulating and caring environment is essential for learning.
  • ACLE camp experience lights up the children’s interest and curiosity.
  • The old system HAS TO BE CHANGED!
  • Only motivated and inspirational teachers should be allowed to teach.

“Motivate and inspire” is what we want you to do at ACLE camps. You will have a great impact on our obsolete educational system and will receive our praise and thanks as well as that of children and ACLE supporters throughout Italy.

Suggested Readings

These books explain the philosophical and biological foundations on which ACLE bases its humanistic, affective student-centred learning approach.

Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error
Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence
Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences