Daniele Manni was one of the 50 finalists of the Teacher Global Prize in 2015. He teaches computer science in the city of Lecce in the south of Italy at the Istituto Galilei-Costa. He encourages creative thinking in his classes setting 25-30% of his lesson time aside to engage his students in long-term projects from a variety of topics, such as social inclusion, pollution and startups.
One of these projects called MABASTA («Movimento Anti Bullismo Animato da Studenti Adolescenti») became a really famous movement in Italy. We talk with Daniele about how the project started, its evolution in time and the main actions proposed by this methodology to stop bullying at schools.
You can see the full transcription of the interview next:
The origins of MABASTA Model
«In this almost 20 years we have had a lot of projects, a lot of start-ups but there is one in particular that it’s very important to talk about.
It was born in 2016 and before 2016 all our students’ startups were business startups, this is startups to make money.
Then there was a class of 14 year old students that we were not finding the right project and then something happened in Italy: a little girl of 12 years old tried to suicide because of buying in her classroom.
The next day I went to my class and I talked about these news telling them “Please be careful I cannot just hear this can happen to young people”. And then they started to react and talking about how important it was this problem.
A girl told me that «We have to help bullies.» and I say “No, we have to help victims of bullies.” and she said “No we have to help bullies because they have serious problems.” So a 14 years old girl taught me (I was 58) a very important lesson, and she was right.
So we started talking about this and the students said “Can we do a project on bullying?” and I said “Yes, we can do it but we cannot get money for this” and they said “It doesn’t matter, we like it too much”.
We started working on this subject and my class invented a movement called Mabasta, in italian means “stop it”. The letters means exactly: “Anti Bullying movement animated by students”. It was a great idea, and the idea became very very strong immediately.
After six months, the students got a medal from the president. After three more months they were at the most important festival in Italy, “San Remo” and at that occasion, 13 million person knew mabasta already.
The students worked so great and they became famous very fast but that doesn’t solve the problem.
So they started to imagine which could be the solutions and it is wonderful that they created some solutions that worked by themselves so they didn’t use adults in anything.
How to stop bullying in six steps: The MABASTA Model
Last February they put on their website the “Mabasta Model” which is a Model that each class and each school in Italy, Spain or wherever because bullying is a universal problem, can freely adopt and it’s something we think that will work because is done by the students themselves.
I think that we have failed as adults in this years because if we are still talking about bullying, and now cyber bullying, is because we failed, so a good solution could be the one from students helping themselves and I think this will work.
My students have been in so many schools all around Italy and now they will start going again to school talking about their model and we think that if every class will adopt this model I think we can really change.
First step: choosing a teacher responsible for bullying
This model in the practice has six different actions.
First action is the one to decide in every class what teacher could be the responsible for bullying. This teacher doesn’t have to do anything, he has to stay there and be present when someone has to tell what is happening.
So students know that as soon as bullying comes around who they can talk too. I can talk to Maths teacher because he is the one responsible for this…
Second step: conduct a survey in your class
The second action is to do a survey with some questions that are very easy to answer and that makes a photograph of the class and it tells you if there is bullying or not.
Third step: choose a bullyceman or bullycewoman
The third action is to find in the class a bullyceman and a bullycewoman, two students responsible for bullying.
They have to pay attention on the class and as soon as there is something that is coming out try to calm down the situation, try to explain to the bullie that he is doing something bad and try to stop what is happening.
If they cannot stop it no problem, they can talk to the teacher who is responsible about this or they can talk to the principal because they are authorised to do it.
Fourth step: create a bully box
The fourth action is to have a bully box which is a normal mailbox in the school where every student can go and put a ticket inside saying that “In my class one student has been suffering bullying by another student”.
We say that these young people help their friends and then they are superheroes and even if they don’t come out but they help who need the help.
Fifth step: the DAD (Antibullying Desk)
Then on the mabasta website they created a DAD: Digital Antibullying Desk, which is a sort of virtual bully box, so you can give information about what is happening in your class even with your phone.
Sixth step: A class without bullying
The sixth and last step is what we call in Italian “debullyzata”, a class without bullying.
When the class arrives to that step they can ask for a group poster which they put on their classroom saying “Our class doesn’t have bullies inside”.
We are still looking for a whole school with posters in every classroom.
Many students who suffered bullying wrote us asking «what can I do?», and my students answered: “Sorry we are only 14, 15 years old, we don’t know how to help you» but absolutely you have to talk to someone, you have to tell your teachers, your parents…
If you cannot do it yourself, tell us who are they and we will do it for you because we are not professionals in solving problems but we know the professionals who can do it.
Tell us which help you need and we will put you in contact with somebody who can solve your problems. It’s very dangerous and easy to give bad advice so it’s better to tell them to talk with the experts.»
If you want to know more about how to apply MABASTA in your class you can visit the official webpage where you will find resources and lots of information.