La lettera sovversiva
Da Don Milani a De Mauro, il potere delle parole
by Vanessa Roghi
The author in conversation with Stefano Albertini (NYU).
“Dear Miss. You won’t remember me or my name. You have failed so many of us. However, I have often thought about you, and the other teachers, and that institution you call ‘school’ and about the children you fail. You fail us right into the fields and factories and then you forget us.”
So began Lettera a una professoressa, translated into English in 1969 as Letter to a Teacher. The collective authors were a group of young students at an alternative school run by Don Lorenzo Milani in Barbiana, a tiny rural community in the hills near Florence.
The book was immediately welcomed in Italy by teachers as a manifesto for a democratic alternative to a school system that reproduced deep divisions of social class, by linguists such as Tullio De Mauro as a revelation and by university students as a little red book for a revolution.
Looking back on it now, fifty years after the upheavals of 1968, Lettera a una professoressa can be seen as the spark that ignited all subsequent attempts to reform education in Italy. Still today, it has the power to divide readers and arouse passionate arguments.