Children to the state

Premise: I am happy to have attended a kindergarten and to have made my children attend it. My peers are too, albeit with few but respectable and motivated exceptions. Should I therefore rejoice that our government is proposing to make attendance compulsory these days? No, on the contrary. The news hurt me, as it hurts to witness disproportionate and gratuitous violence . Because the obligation is a violence: in some cases necessary, but still such. And in the tide of new obligations, obligations and sanctions that has been rising in recent years, the plot of a society that is increasingly violent in its method seems to be unveiling. Which, not knowing how to offer anymore, forces. And not knowing how to convince, it imposes. Why, I asked myself, should a service to citizens become a duty? Why should one right deny another right ? Why make an opportunity for growth that is well received by all hateful and threatening? Why make it an excuse to shorten the leash?

As I sought answers to these questions, my malaise grew. In a tweet of 16 February , the Deputy Minister for Education Anna Ascani explained that "extending the obligation to kindergarten means giving all children and their families more opportunities ". A few days later, the Corriere della Sera gave the news of "compulsory asylum from three years" adding in the title: "today only 12% of children attend". In both cases, one must not be malicious to understand that there is a big problem: both in representing an obligation as its opposite (an "opportunity"), and in suggesting its urgency by placing an inapplicable and irrelevant data side by side with it. . In fact, "12% of children" is the rate of attendance at nursery schools, ie children up to three years of age, while the kindergartens covered by the proposal are already attended by 92.60% of children in our country , which thus ranks ninth in Europe (source Openpolis ). And you don't have to be conspiracy theorists to understand that if you prefer to torture logic and statistics instead of exposing the real reasons – shareable or not – for such a drastic choice, those reasons could be hardly presentable to the public .

In trying to deepen the genesis and the motives of this idea (already introduced two years ago in Macron's France, with the same dialectical fumes), I recovered another article from the Corriere della primavera in which the proposals made by the Treellle association were illustrated to reform the Italian school system. Before dwelling on the identity of the proposers, an advance that in that case the national newspaper explained in very different terms the choice to make asylum mandatory. «A compulsory school with early entry (at 3 years)», wrote the journalist, «… would serve not only and not so much to relieve families but to reduce the burden of environmental and family conditioning ». Oh, here it is. Other than "opportunities" and creative statistics: the problem would be "just" the families, that is, the " weight " of the education they impart to their creatures. A " weight ", that of the values ​​handed down from parents to children, evidently so terrible as to make the state decide to save the little ones by entrusting them to the care of strangers.


Who is it, what does the Treellle association do ? For some time object of the attention of the researcher Pietro Ratto ( here his comment on the story dealt with in this article), he presents himself on his website as "a real think tank " that "aims to promote quality improvement of education (education, instruction, training) in the various sectors and in the phases in which it is articulated ". Founded in 2001, it is based in Genoa, is chaired by Attilio Oliva , former president of Confindustria and member of various international agencies, and boasts among its advisors and experts important names of journalists, academics and politicians from all sides. The founding members' assembly is a showcase for the gotha industrial-financial Italian: from Fedele Confalonieri (Mediaset) to Luigi Maramotti (Max Mara), from Pietro Marzotto to Marco Tronchetti Provera , coordinated by the secretary Guido Alpa , former teacher and mentor of Giuseppe Conte . Supporters include the Compagnia di San Paolo di Torino and other banks and industrial and banking foundations.

According to Ratto and others , Treellle has for years carried out the role of privileged consultant to the Ministry of Education, to which it would anticipate the objectives and guidelines to be implemented in subsequent reforms. This would have happened, for example, with Law 107/2015 (Renzi's "Good School") whose innovations, Salvatore Cannavò wrote in the pages of Fatto Quotidiano on 3 June 2015, would have been dictated "by the Treellle association, a think tank close to industrialists and Communion and Liberation ». Since, at least to my knowledge, no other institution in Italy has formalized the proposal to make nursery school compulsory, it is plausible to assume that the current political proponents have been inspired by the analyzes and recommendations of the Genoese think tank.

These recommendations can be read in the latest Quaderno published by the association, number 15 of 2019 signed by Oliva and Antonino Petrolino , in which some proposals are made to reform the national school system because, as explained in the introduction, "c 'a different school is needed to face the challenges of the 21st century. And time is running out ”(page 11). The text does not disappoint. There is everything, absolutely everything, what one would expect to find in a proposal conforming to the most glossy spirit of the times: the aforementioned " hurry up " of the Turboriformist brand , the act of faith in Europe ("our home natural: less and less a second home and by now of necessity it is on the way to becoming the only possible one ", p. 50), the" framework of global competition "(p. 13), the meritocracy that however clashes with" strong resistance " obviously from below. "Rooted above all in … trade union representation" (p. 156), the indispensability of a "serious spending review, which reviews all the points from which it is possible to obtain resources" (p. 173), the "digital" which must be "for all and ordinary" (p. 186), plus some oddities such as the alleged superiority of the " Protestant school " which, I discover by reading, "arises [?] from the rejection of the priestly magisterium: every man is a priest of himself »And therefore« the students are not afraid to think independently and to say how they think »(page 112). A bizarre all the more bizarre because the scientific bodies of the association include a large representation of Catholics, including an archbishop and secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Msgr. Vincenzo Zani .

Upstream cannot miss the #facemocome , awareness of the "socio-cultural lag [of Italy] compared to the more advanced countries" (page 25). By adopting the sources, indicators and samples selected by the authors, we discover that we are last in everything : in the rate of education, in "literacy", in "numeracy", in "functional skills", in trust in institutions and more. From these analyzes, on whose rigor someone has expressed more than one perplexity in the past and on whose neutrality the drafters themselves seem to be questioning themselves (p. 164), the "historical backwardness of human capital" (p. 26) of the our country and therefore the urgent need to radically rethink its education system.


The proposal to make school attendance compulsory for everyone from the age of three, for eight hours a day, is illustrated in chapter 6 and in other passages of the text that confirm beyond all doubt the summary of the Corriere journalist, making it appear rather bland. euphemism. The provision is presented from the outset as a tool to "promptly remove any negative social conditioning in a phase in which the emotional and cognitive aspects of the individual take shape, starting with language, and its judgment criteria (right, beautiful, true) "(p. 21). The "negative social conditionings" are primarily those of Italian families, on which the authors project their idea of ​​the average Italian, so ignorant as to constitute a dangerous example for his own children:

… it should be borne in mind that the adult Italian population (25-64 years old) has particularly low levels of literacy and numeracy skills: in a third of cases, at the level of functional illiteracy. Leaving children, in such a crucial phase for the development of their future potential, in a culturally deprived context weighs them down with an initial disadvantage that may never be completely filled (p. 94).

The concept is reaffirmed almost everywhere: "the important thing is that the weight of a disadvantaged environment does not have too much time to mark the personality" (page 127); "The anticipation of schooling and the long time … are designed … also to free children from the influence of those family environments that, due to ignorance, do not exercise their educational action or do it in a negative way" (p. . 128); the long time serves to "maximize the influence of school education and minimize external socio-economic constraints" (page 95). It's still:

When schooling begins at six, the differences induced by the family and social environment of origin are now firmly rooted. Even at the age of three, when kindergarten starts, it is probably late … However problematic it may be, one should take care of the children earlier [!], If possible not later than two years, and immerse them for good part of the day in a training environment that tends to counteract any negative family conditions (page 124).

«Of course», the writers of the document admit, «special attention will be needed to avoid the risks of state indoctrination». But anyway,

those of a conditioning of ignorance, of amoral familism [could it be missing?], of the scarcity of community spirit and sense of the State and, for too many sections of our population, even of the tolerance of the underworld are already now, and for a long time, more serious and concrete (page 128).

How much love, right? Still on the subject of indoctrinations to avoid, on p. 39 affirm that the school, compared to a past in which it would have been "a function of the sovereign state", should today have the student as its only "goal" rather than propagating the political projects of the moment. It is therefore intriguing to read among the "new missions" also that of educating to "global citizenship" (p. 47). A fresh gloss follows:

The European Union has favored an economic development that seemed unattainable sixty years ago; it has guaranteed us the longest period of peace in our history, after centuries and centuries in which sovereign states have bled to death with each generation. Already today – and more and more in the years to come – our young people of the age group between twenty and thirty belong to what is called the Erasmus generation, who grew up without a passport and without borders, who feel at home in Barcelona. no less than in London or Berlin, which gave birth to thousands of transnational families. How can you think of going back? above all, while the thrust of migration pushes us, if ever in the opposite direction, towards ever greater integration with even more different peoples and peoples? (page 50)

As we try to determine to what degree these thoughts should be placed on the scale of "state indoctrination risks", let us enjoy the prodigy of a nationalist rhetoric that ceases to be nationalist if the borders of the nation are extended to the continent .


At the end of the reading, I consider the Treellle proposal for a compulsory long-term asylum – leaving out many others on which one could and should dwell – aberrant in merit and in the reasons . Because it makes aggression against the freedom of families to educate their offspring not a tool, but its first and declared goal. Because, in making a service mandatory, it deprives it of the incentives to adapt to the needs of users, while also denying upstream the possibility and value of a plural educational offer. Because it drips ideological contents (globalism, Europeanism) hated by an increasingly large part of the population and pretends to inculcate them early on in everyone with the explicit intention of correcting, not serving the citizens. Because the delicate and fundamental emotional bond between parents and young children, which we would like to reduce to a few hours a day for everyone, is not worthy of the slightest attention. Because it does not take into consideration the needs of minors who experience kindergarten as an unbearable or traumatic experience, and who would therefore require more modulated paths according to the sensitivity and judgment of the parents.

But also, and worst of all, because it is based on an ostensibly elitist, paternalistic and contemptuous vision of the Italian people and their families. If you accept that on average an entire population is unworthy of raising their children, that is, that it cannot even call itself proletarian, one accepts that it can be stripped of any other less valuable asset: that is, everything .


But yet. Yet something still does not add up.

Whoever formulated the proposals in the Notebook insists a lot on the value of equality, "to minimize the weight of a problematic social heritage" and to entrust the school with an equalization function between classes. Compulsory asylum is designed for the weakest: "the effect of such a measure would be all the more positive the more deprived the starting social and economic environment" (page 124) and, therefore, "they will not gain much the children of wealthy and educated parents, but those of deprived and socially marginal families will benefit enormously "(p. 169). Put this way, the idea almost seems to want to balance the extreme elitism of his analyzes with an equally extreme social Jacobinism, where the "wealthy and educated" should spend less time with their children … to give others' children a chance . More than dissolving, this paradox, however, clashes with a basic problem, an elephant in the room that peeps out of the text at one point, in the footnote 94 on which we read that "already today, the frequency of age group 3-6 years at kindergartens (public and private) is very close to 100% ». Let's repeat it: already today the attendance of children in kindergarten is very close to 100% .


Even if we want to take all the analyzes and considerations carried out as true, what need would there be to make mandatory what everyone already does by choice ? It would be like introducing a new crime that no one has ever committed or dreams of committing. This contradiction is all the more enormous as the authors do not attempt to resolve it in their presentation: in the face of long paragraphs with insights, statistical series, full-page histograms and comments to "demonstrate" the backwardness of our country in areas deemed discriminating to educate the offspring, not a single line is spent to qualify the data on the failure to attend kindergarten and thus give a numerical sense to the proposal made. In addition to the question already posed in bold, we would have asked ourselves: how many children do not attend today, and why? And of these, how many would need according to the specified "deprivation" criteria? What is the distribution of non-attending students by income and educational qualification of their parents? How many do not go to kindergarten by choice of families? And how many instead for material impossibility, for example because they are sick or lack of facilities? And how many were rejected due to lack of vaccinations? Only the latter, for example, would touch at least eighty thousand units in power on just over ninety thousand children out of kindergartens, for any reason.

One wonders if there is even the particular case of a family that is destitute and ignorant and, at the same time, keeps their children at home by choice.

In the Treelllino text there is no answer to the doubt, it is not even tried. The initial malaise then becomes restlessness. If qualifying an obligation as an opportunity makes you laugh, if justifying it by throwing mud on the obliged is unpleasant, not justifying it completely is frightening . The image of a theater comes to mind where everyone gladly attends a show, until the actors decide to chain the spectators to the seats and drag the few who may have remained in the hall into the room. How can you not think that the script will soon become unpleasant and terrifying? Outside of metaphor, is there another explanation – I sincerely ask readers – that it is not a preliminary measure to prevent parents from removing children from kindergartens when they consider the programs and activities that are expected to be introduced to be unacceptable?

Since this hypothesis is never made explicit, its development requires the formulation of other hypotheses which integrate the signals of the times. A first critical area can be suggested by the renewed interest of global institutions for the sexual education of the very young . Already ten years ago, the World Health Organization published and disseminated its " Standards for Sex Education in Europe " where we discover that – guess what – «making sex (and relationship) education a compulsory curricular topic is an important aspect for teaching "(page 14, italics mine). If "sex education begins at birth [!]" (P. 27), it is not surprising to find a large list of "main topics or minimum standards that must be present in sex education" (p. 36) of the children already in kindergarten age. Let's read some of those designed for the 0-4 age group (pages 38-39, I quote verbatim):

  • basics of human reproduction (where babies come from)
  • joy and pleasure in touching one's body, early childhood masturbation
  • discovery of one's own body and genitals
  • gender roles

In the next range (4-6 years, pp. 40-41) the same themes are repeated and others are added, such as "consolidating one's gender identity" and " relationships with people of the same sex ". More than the programs, which are generally well structured as they are flattened on current fashions, what could legitimately alarm and indign a parent is the target to which they are addressed: the children of the nursery and kindergarten, or even in swaddling clothes . If we add to the desire to make the teaching compulsory the obligation to attend the kindergartens where they are taught, it is all too easy to glimpse the cage being set up.

Another possible "hot" area is that of the psychophysical health of minors. The context is traced by the apparently incomprehensible tendency to lower the age to access medical examinations and treatments mainly concerning the sexual sphere and, at the same time, to free them from parental consent with the effect of delivering minors to institutional "support" figures unrelated to the family. In the catalog of one or both cases we now find HIV tests , chemotherapy to stop the development of sexually "confused" 12-year-olds , abortion and lately also transplants . In recent years, there has been an increase in diagnoses of specific learning disorders (SLD) and the risk of inflicting unjustified stigma on thousands of children by pathologizing transient delays or simple character traits. A bill of the past government proposed lowering the age of first diagnosis to the last year of asylum, while it seems that the OECD PISA tests and the INVALSI tests are also secretly arriving in kindergartens: "a device of civilization », Writes Rossella Latempa in Roars ,« who uses the hypocritical rhetoric of the prevention of discomfort, the well-being of children, early aid and timely interventions to monitor and monitor the development profile of the "in vitro child". Ready to report and correct any discrepancy or slowdown, any surplus or oddity ». Also in this case, with compulsory asylum and the contextual obligation to introduce similar procedures (with the aforementioned bill we would like economic sanctions for defaulting teachers), no parent could save their children from unwanted and precocious interference.

Even the aforementioned node of mandatory pediatric vaccinations would take on another thickness. Today, children who do not comply with the vaccination schedule are denied the right to attend kindergarten, but how could they be denied a duty? It is logical to foresee that the medical act – which can be extended at will and whim of " independent " government consultants, beyond any democratic controlwould go from compulsory to compulsory . And that in cases of extreme reluctance the wet dream of many would come true, of snatching minors from their families because they are guilty of "educational inadequacy" and school evasion. Many innocent children would come out disturbed and traumatized for life, it is true. But they should no longer fear chickenpox.


The hypotheses elaborated so far exceed the letter and certainly also the intentions of the Treellle Notebook. But compulsory asylum is a container, not a content . It is a device that cannot be abstracted from the historical context nor from the temptation to subject the most receptive and malleable citizens, those in a discriminating age for the subsequent formation of personality and beliefs, to ideological and health experiments whose being indigestible to a a large segment of the population is already inherent in the fact, otherwise inexplicable, of wanting to make them mandatory. Or even in the weakness of the motives administered to the public, all the more unpleasant because they put in the middle the noble demands of rights, social justice and the well-being of children without a logical necessity.

It would be easy to review the despotic regimes that turned their attention to early childhood to root consensus and form devoted subjects. In today's context, despotism is represented by the drive to make everything compulsory for all, while the underlying desire to create "new men" by cultivating them in special social laboratories that interrupt the intergenerational transmission of values ​​and ideas re-proposes an idea of ​​revolution rather than millenary. In the Platonic Republic , Socrates explained that taking children away from families as long as they are "still immune from the customs of their parents" is "the quickest and easiest way to establish" the rule of the wise (Book VII). In the following two thousand four hundred years, many other self-styled scholars have tried the same shortcut of the self-proclaimed scholars of all time, to overpower the masses with agile leap, overcome the old by kidnapping the young and re-found a society that they say is better, sowing havoc in the existing one. Without ever picking up anything, if not the pieces of those who have not been able to stop them.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Il Pedante at the URL on Tue, 03 Mar 2020 08:18:31 PST.