Lettera a una Professoressa, don Lorenzo Milani
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This was probably his first real contact with Christianity, since his family had never been religious, if not explicitly anti-clerical. The Milanis had baptized their children for fear of repercussions during the Fascist era, since Alice was Jewish.
In June 1943, Lorenzo converted and on 9 November 1943 entered the Cestello in Oltrarno seminary. The seminar years were quite hard, since very soon he began to collide with the Church views of the time: he could not understand the reasons of behaviours that he believed were far away from the Gospel.
In December 1954, due to disagreements with the Florentine Curia, he was sent to Barbiana, a remote mountain hamlet in the municipality of Vicchio, in Tuscany, where he began a first attempt of full-time schooling, explicitly addressed to the working classes, where, among other things, he experimented a method of collective writing.
His school was housed in a couple of rooms in the rectory, adjacent to the small church of Barbiana, a few houses around the church and many others scattered on the slopes of Mount Giovi: in good weather he made outdoor lessons. The Barbiana school was a real collective where they worked together, and the main rule was that anyone who knew more helped and supported those who knew less, 365 days a year.
A fundamental achievement of the Barbiana school was Lettera a una professoressa (May 1967, translated by Nora Rossi and Tom Cole as Letter to a Teacher), where the kids of the school (along with Don Milani) denounced the school system and the teaching method which favored the education of wealthier classes.
Capisco, e Lei, a che cosa attribuisce questa scarsa preparazione dei bambini che arrivano dal Sud?
I understand, and you, to what do you attribute this lack of preparation of children who come from the South?
...quasi per liberarsi, ecco!
Yes, yes !
... almost to get rid of them, that's it!
Cari ragazzi, non tutti i professori sono come quella signora.
Dear kids, not all teachers are like that lady.
Il nostro indirizzo è: Scuola di Barbiana, Vicchio Mugello, Firenze.
Our address is : School of Barbiana, Vicchio Mugello, Florence.
"Devo confessare che io stesso gli dissi: don Lorenzo, però son convinta che l'ha scritta Lei, le confesso".
"I must confess that I myself told him: Don Lorenzo, but I am convinced that you wrote it yourself, I must confess."