by Lorenzo Bernasconi

The ius scholae debate

The issue of ius scholae inflames the Italian political debate, with the Left making it a banner and the Right promising barricades.

Dems, on the one hand, insist on presenting as representative what are in fact borderline cases, that is, situations in which a perfectly integrated young person finds it impossible, for bureaucratic reasons, to acquire Italian citizenship within a reasonable time. On the right, meanwhile, people tend to emphasize the harmful consequences of an almost automatic granting of Italian citizenship to an immense number of first- or second-generation immigrants, not infrequently key actors in crime stories (see the recent group harassment in Peschiera del Garda).

No one, however, seems particularly keen to address the crucial issue of ius scholae, which can be summed up in a simple question: is completing a five-year schooling sufficient to ensure that a person has been integrated and that his or her naturalization results in a benefit to our country?

The school dilemma: to prepare or to educate?

In attempting to answer this question, it is necessary to take a step back and ask ourselves first of all what the function of schooling is in Italy: that is, whether it is primarily to prepare children for a life as conscious citizens, or to educate those who will be tomorrow's citizens.

This is not merely a lexical distinction: in fact, to prepare means to provide tools (in this case, knowledge and skills) that the student will be able to use to elaborate independently his or her own vision of the world and society. Educating, on the contrary, implies transmitting to children, at a stage when they are still receptive and "moldable," a given worldview and a given set of values. to which they are bound in principle to adhere and with respect to which any deviation is judged and sanctioned as, precisely, deviant behavior.

The Italian "preparatory" school

After the shock of the 20-year Mussolini era, in which the school had been turned into a nursery in which to cultivate young fascists, the newly formed Italian republic seemed to be heading toward a different model, reserving for the family the role - to put it in modern terms - of primary educational agency with regard to morals and citizenship education. The Italian school, on the other hand, while retaining some of the traits that had characterized it in previous decades (such as an emphasis on discipline and a certain propensity for notionism), focused on providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce and contribute to the country's economic revival.

Especially since '68, as is well known, schools and universities became more and more places of political debate, even bitter ones; nevertheless, at least formally, teachers still remained obliged to show themselves as neutral as possible toward major political and value issues, making themselves witnesses, this is true, to the fundamental "values" of democracy, but only to the extent that said civic values pertain to how to stand within the democratic debate (respect for freedom of thought and speech, willingness to listen to others' reasons, rejection of violence, etc. ) and not to what is permissible to think or affirm.

In fact, as far as the teaching of so-called moral values was concerned, the family and other educational realities (oratory, scout groups, etc.) continued to be relied upon for the most part: a choice that, on the one hand, certainly entails greater educational inhomogeneity, but on the other, constitutes an effective barrier against the risk of any new forms of mass indoctrination of youngsters.

The Left's plan: "educating" new citizens

Now, it seems clear that, from this point of view, attending an Italian school for 5 years (or even 10) will provide the intellectual tools necessary to disentangle oneself within a society as complex as ours, but it can in no way guarantee that the student has actually integrated in this country, since integration consists largely in spontaneous and convinced adherence to a certain cultural and value framework that is not the object of study, but rather is witnessed and transmitted in the family's daily life.

Can it be that no one on the Left has realized this? Not at all, on the contrary: the project pursued by the Italian Left is certainly objectionable in many respects, but it is far from naive or inconsistent.

For years, in fact, the libdem-affiliated media have been carrying on a campaign of systematic delegitimization of the family, singled out as an outdated institution and a source of backwardness and conflict. At the same time, there is growing pressure to "modernize" schools, transforming them de facto from a place of learning to a place of education, i.e., taking away from the family (no longer considered "reliable") the task of transmitting values and providing role models to the young.

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From this point of view, if we admit that it is feasible and appropriate to shift to the school the task of teaching our children what is good and what is bad, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that, after a certain number of years of school attendance, a kid may have been "educated" enough to become an Italian citizen.

The question, however, is precisely whether giving such a prerogative to schools is really possible, but more importantly, whether it is wise and appropriate.

Indoctrination to purported "shared values"

First of all, one should ask what values and models the school would go on to pass on to the younger generation. Anyone who has children, grandchildren or little cousins of school age will have no difficulty in answering this question. It is evident how the Left has been working for some time now, with some success, to promote in schools, under the guise of "shared values," its talking points: immigrationism, sexual promiscuity and ambiguity, unbridled consumerism, dogmatic liberalism.

More than knowing how to solve an equation or translate Cicero, it seems that in order to pass and become the citizens of tomorrow, it is necessary to wave the rainbow flag and share on Instagram the contents of some pro-government influencer; but, above all, it is essential to never express criticism or doubt on the official versions, never challenge authority, and blindly trust governments and corporations. A very disturbing idea of education, which would have horrified my high school Geography teacher (to whom, incidentally, goes all my gratitude for having made us discover, at a time when in Italy we were not talking about it, the dark and destructive sides of globalization).

The resilience of allogeneic families

Moreover, even in terms of feasibility, such a model is not up to scratch. If in fact Italian families, dumbfounded by years of media campaigns surreptitiously urging them to delegate their children's education to the school, and perhaps fearful of coming into conflict with school authority, tend to step aside and more or less willingly accept this new educational approach, quite the opposite is true for immigrant families.

Especially for those who arrive from non-Western countries characterized by cultures very distant from ours, the idea of not being able to educate their children according to their own values seems simply absurd: Nigerian parents, rather than Egyptian or Pakistani ones, will therefore continue to impart to their children an education based on the values and customs of their country of origin, an education with which the educational "proposal" of the Italian school will be very unlikely to be able to compete.

What we are building, in essence, is a school that will prove incapable of imparting "European" values to young immigrants, but on the other hand will prove adept at indoctrinating native children into docile, submissive adults, completely averse to criticism or rebellion.

Saving the public school

For these reasons, I believe that the stop, at least temporary, to ius scholae is a good thing, but secondary; the real battle is to save the public school, or what remains of it, from the clutches of those who are turning it into the rainbow, politically correct version of the Balilla National Opera. Our children deserve to know Aeschylus, Leopardi and Kant; they deserve a school that opens their horizons beyond the latest Fedez record or the latest Elettra Lamborghini video.

And, naturally, they deserve to know Marx as well: so they can get an idea of what the noble father of the left would think of Letta and the various Calenda, Renzi, Speranza and all the others...

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He graduated in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, where he collaborated with the chair of History of Ancient Philosophy. He spent six years in Brussels working for the European Parliament. Returning to Italy in 2018, he served at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and, later, as a consultant at the Chamber of Deputies.