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What shall I be when I grow up?

Unrelentingly perky, Doris Day used to sing a song called “che sarà, sarà”. I hated it because it’s not my kind of music and anyway I had this idea that what will be will be…..what I want it to be .Total exclusion of fate, good luck, destiny and so on!

Yet here we are, in Italy at least, asking eleven, twelve-year-old kids to map out the rest of their lives! At that tender age they’re asked what school they want to attend! Classics, scientific, arts? That’s right, let’s start slamming a few doors in their faces! We all know that adolescence is a time when our mind is sparking off in so many different directions, we are so full of life that today and tomorrow we hold ideas that may even be opposite to each other, we’re full of the joys of rebellion. So let’s put a straightjacket on them and if they don’t do well because we’ve put them in the wrong place, let’s call them failures, bocciati, ripetenti…..

What we need is a more flexible system, where choices can be made when they are older. Although I don’t go down the path as far as Ilych (who theorised vouchers, spendable with whatever teacher, whatever subject was available) I still think school should start off serving horsd’oevres so the kids can get a better taste of what the main meal of learning really is.

I’m an English teacher, a fabulous job, but I very well could’ve been something else. I sometimes dream of being a cartoonist, making brilliant stories for the late, great “Eternauta” comic! Aiming high of course.

And what about gardening? Hands in the life-giving soil, enjoying those bacteria (!) healing and growing with plants. As the monthly magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society once said “driven by a mixture of energy, love – and a dash of obsession. In short, the epitome of an Englishwoman’s garden”.

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