Monday, 15 September 2014

Il Primo giorno di Scuola, the first day of school

Today the Italian children went back to school. It was the first item on the News, pushing away all the turmoil and strife and making us realise where it all starts, at school. In Britain children go to school from the age of five till eighteen. In Italy they start at six and hopefully go on till nineteen. there are lots of differences in the two systems but the aim is the same, to equip the young people in the country with the skills necessary to earn a living, follow a profession and hopefully lead a full rich life making the most of their abilities.Most people can remember their first day at school. I remember the feeling of excitement mixed with dread  In the days before Ikea it was a great pleasure to find all the child size furniture and the little play house in the corner of the classroom.  I remember being fascinated by the other children's names. It seemed the first step to having a friend, to be able to call someone by their name. There is so much luck involved at school. A parent can do all the research possible to find the best teacher, the best location but what makes a child happy at school is often the companions or class mates. 
It is much harder to learn to write correct English than Italian. We started off learning to read with Janet and John and we were still doing dictations and getting words wrong when we were fifteen. Italian is much more phonetic and by Christmas most Italian children will be able to write and spell most words correctly. There isn't even a proper Italian word for to spell. The nearest is scandire which means to say something letter by letter. 
When my children were small I looked around for an Italian author of children's books to read along side all the wonderful rich collection of English stories for children The one I liked best was Gianni Rodari (1920 - 1980). He wrote a book called 'Favole al telefono' which was ideal for us. they were short stories and easy to read and written by a father for his children while he was away for work. Gianni Rodari also wrote poems and here is one for the first day of school.

Il Primo Giorno di Scuola 

Suona la campanella   
Scopa scopa la bidella
Viene il bidello ad aprire il portone
Viene il  maestro della stazione
Viene la mamma, o scolaretto
a tirarti giu dal letto
Viene il sole nella stanza
su è finite la vacanza
Metti la penna nell'astuccio
l'assorbente nel quadernuccio
fa la punta alla matita
e corri a scrivere la tua vita
Scrivi bene, senza fretta
Ogni giorno una paginetta
Scrivi, parole diritte e chiare
Amore, lottare, lavorare

The First Day of School

The bell is ringing
The janitor is sweeping sweeping
The porter comes to open the door
The teacher comes from the station
The mother comes, oh  little schoolchild
To get you out of bed
The sun comes into the room
Come on ,the holidays are over
Put your pen in your pencil-case
Blotting paper in your exercise book
Sharpen your pencil
And run to write your life
Write well, with no rush
Every day a page
Write words straight and clear
To love, to fight, to work

Italian children have their national story Pinocchio to warn them of the dangers of not going to school. Pinocchio is lead astray by the Cat and the Wolf. He goes to the Paese dei Balocchi and turns into a donkey. All is well in the end though as we all know.
In Britain they tell you that your school days are the best days of your life.
So good luck to all the children starting school today, may they meet kind and friendly companions, able and fair teachers, and enjoy their school years.


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