Inside a classroom on the first day of school at a Rome high school, 12 September 2011. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Inside a classroom on the first day of school at a Rome high school, 12 September 2011. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

Teachers at a Rome high school launched the idea of a "reverse strike", in which the teachers would devote time inside the classroom to talk to their students about current events surrounding the topic of migrants. The initiative was well received and will be replicated in other Italian educational institutes.

The initiative of a "reverse strike", in which teachers don't leave their classrooms but rather devote time in class to the topic of migrants, was launched last week by teachers at Amaldi High School in the Rome neighborhood of Tor Bella Monaca. The reverse strike took place Friday morning in various other classrooms in Rome and beyond. The initiative's promoters issued a public appeal in which they said they were "shocked and worried" about the "hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean, while in Castelnuovo di Porto one of the darkest pages of our recent history is taking place." More than 500 migrants had been forcibly removed from Italy's second-largest refugee center in Castelnuovo di Porto, a small suburb of Rome, two weeks ago.

A strike to 'give a sign of concern' 

In their appeal, the initiative's organizers said, "We're asking the entire educational community to give a sign of concern and reflection by turning the first two hours of lessons on Wednesday, January 30, into a reverse strike: stop teaching to reason and reflect together with students." According to information provided by the organizers, groups of professors or single instructors in nearly 50 institutes took part in the initiative, the majority in Rome and its province, but also beyond. There were also participating professors in Naples, Milan, Parma, and Catanzaro. 

Accounts of the participants 

"In our institution, many teachers participated in the shared didactic and active citizenship initiative," said Alerino Palma, a literature teacher at Amaldi High School in Tor Bella Monaca. "The students responded in various ways but dialogue is always very important. In the first hours of my class I explained the idea of the initiative and then I spoke about migration throughout history. The initiative doesn't have contingent political aims," she said. 

At Socrate High School in Rome's Garbatella neighborhood, about 10 teachers took part, said Prof. Massimo Gargiulo. "Each of us carried out activities related to our own subjects, all aimed at stimulating discussion and information," he said. "I read some articles in class on the migratory phenomenon from newspapers of different orientation, and we started a discussion. We also talked about ancient Rome, where one of the peculiarities and elements of strength was the capacity for integration. At school between the students there have been different orientations over episodes in current events. The important thing is dialogue, discussion, and correct information," he said. "I'm happy that I took part in this mobilization against barbarism," he said. 

The teachers who signed the appeal "reaffirm the reasons for the campaign and relaunch the mobilisation, which won't stop".

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