Pesky Studenti . . .

October 3, 2008 / Local Interest
Aren’t teenagers supposed to only care about the latest pop-stars and looking cool? Sure enough kids in Italy are no different. At the same time however, Italian teenagers will protest at the drop of a hat if they disagree with proposed reforms in the public education system. And the protests are not just halfhearted “Student Council decides to have a rally that only the geeks and drama kids show up for”, but are instead self-organized networked multi-district schooled “thousands of students take over the streets and march on the capitol” kind of protest. The gall!

Sure enough, the protests always have some crowd control swat-like police present, but fortunately they only ever watch from half a block away as a just in case measure, smoking cigarettes and sitting around looking bored.

Occasionally, if the politici don’t take a first round of student protests seriously, the high school students in the bigger cities will begin their occupazione, (occupation), which essentially means they (nicely) kick all the admin and teachers out of the school, barricade themselves inside and take over 24-7 until an agreement is reached. When this goes on for weeks the students will hold corsi autogestiti (self-managed/organized courses/lessons), teaching each other and studying both traditional and new material together.

The protest in these photos is over the Ministry of Education’s recent proposal to cut some funding and teaching positions in the public education system. While the speeches are schmaltzy the way only a 16 year old can manage, it’s hard to argue with “Hands off my future”. And regardless, it’s indicative that the kids are thinking, have valid ideas, and want to be heard . . . which beats Britney any day.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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