Information

Italians in Britain School Activities


During the Second World War the British government was constantly monitoring the success of its various policies concerning the Home Front. The government was also aware of the possibility that it might be necessary to introduce legislation to deal with any emerging problems.

It is December 1941. You have been asked to write a report on Italians in Britain. This is to be divided into two sections.

Italians in Britain: Main article

Things you should consider include:

(a) Why were Italian restaurants and ice-cream parlours attacked in May 1940?

(b) What type of Italians were interned during the Second World War?

(c) Why did people in Britain become more hostile to foreigners during the summer of 1940?

(d) What were conditions like in Britain's internment camps?

Things you should consider include:

(a) Was the government's internment policy fair and sensible?

(b) Was it morally right to deport Italian internees to Canada and Australia?

(c) Would you make any changes to the government's internment policy?


Roman life and culture

The ancient Romans lived in a city called Rome. Rome still exists today, and it is the capital of Italy.

The Romans and their culture had a big impact on how we live our lives today, and gave us things like ways to get clean water, ways to build roads and even the basis of our language. Britain was part of the Roman Empire for amost 400 years, so a lot of the things that Romans did stuck with us and influenced modern life.


Contents

Birth and family Edit

Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. Her father, Alessandro Montessori, age 33, was an official of the Ministry of Finance working in the local state-run tobacco factory. Her mother, Renilde Stoppani, 25 years old, was well-educated for the times and was the great-niece of Italian geologist and paleontologist Antonio Stoppani. [1] [2] While she did not have any particular mentor, she was very close to her mother who readily encouraged her. She also had a loving relationship with her father, although he disagreed with her choice to continue her education. [3]

1883–1896: Education Edit

Early education Edit

The Montessori family moved to Florence in 1873, then to Rome in 1875 because of her father's work. Montessori entered a public elementary school at the age of 6 in 1876. Her early school record was "not particularly noteworthy", [4] although she was awarded certificates for good behavior in the 1st grade and for "lavori donneschi", or "women's work", the next year. [5]

Secondary school Edit

In 1883 [6] or 1884, [7] at the age of 13, Montessori entered a secondary, technical school, Regia Scuola Tecnica Michelangelo Buonarroti, where she studied Italian, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, accounting, history, geography, and sciences. She graduated in 1886 with good grades and examination results. That year, at the age of 16, she continued at the technical institute Regio Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci, studying Italian, mathematics, history, geography, geometric and ornate drawing, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, and two foreign languages. She did well in the sciences and especially in mathematics.

She initially intended to pursue the study of engineering upon graduation, then an unusual aspiration for a woman. By the time she graduated in 1890 at the age of 20, with a certificate in physics–mathematics, she had decided to study medicine, a more unlikely pursuit given cultural norms at the time. [8]

University of Rome—Medical school Edit

Montessori moved forward with her intention to study medicine. She appealed to Guido Baccelli, the professor of clinical medicine at the University of Rome, but was strongly discouraged. In 1890, she enrolled in the University of Rome in a degree course in natural sciences, passing examinations in botany, zoology, experimental physics, histology, anatomy, and general and organic chemistry, and earning her diploma di licenza in 1892. This degree, along with additional studies in Italian and Latin, qualified her for entrance into the medical program at the University in 1893. [9]

She was met with hostility and harassment from some medical students and professors because of her gender. Because her attendance of classes with men in the presence of a naked body was deemed inappropriate, she was required to perform her dissections of cadavers alone, after hours. She resorted to smoking tobacco to mask the offensive odor of formaldehyde. [10] Montessori won an academic prize in her first year, and in 1895 secured a position as a hospital assistant, gaining early clinical experience. In her last two years, she studied pediatrics and psychiatry, and worked in the pediatric consulting room and emergency service, becoming an expert in pediatric medicine. Montessori graduated from the University of Rome in 1896 as a doctor of medicine. Her thesis was published in 1897 in the journal Policlinico. She found employment as an assistant at the University hospital and started a private practice. [11] [12]

1896–1901: Early career and family Edit

From 1896 to 1901, Montessori worked with and researched so-called "phrenasthenic" children—in modern terms, children experiencing some form of cognitive delay, illness, or disability. She also began to travel, study, speak, and publish nationally and internationally, coming to prominence as an advocate for women's rights and education for mentally disabled children. [13]

On March 31, 1898, her only child – a son named Mario Montessori (March 31, 1898 – 1982) was born. [14] Mario Montessori was born out of her love affair with Giuseppe Montesano, a fellow doctor who was co-director with her of the Orthophrenic School of Rome. If Montessori married, she would be expected to cease working professionally. Instead of marriage, Montessori decided to continue her work and studies. Montessori wanted to keep the relationship with her child's father secret under the condition that neither of them would marry anyone else. When the father of her child was pressured by family to make a more advantageous social connection and subsequently married, Montessori was left feeling betrayed and decided to leave the university hospital. She was forced to place her son in the care of a wet nurse living in the countryside, distraught to miss the first few years of his life. She would later be reunited with her son in his teenage years, where he proved to be a great assistant in her research. [3] [15] [16]

Work with mentally disabled children Edit

After graduating from the University of Rome in 1896, Montessori continued with her research at the University's psychiatric clinic. In 1897 she was accepted as a voluntary assistant there. As part of her work, she visited asylums in Rome where she observed children with mental disabilities, observations that were fundamental to her future educational work. She also read and studied the works of 19th-century physicians and educators Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Édouard Séguin, who greatly influenced her work. Montessori was intrigued by Itard's ideas and created a far more specific and organized system for applying them to the everyday education of children with disabilities. When she discovered the works of Jean Itard and Édouard Séguin they gave her a new direction in thinking and influenced her to focus on children with learning difficulties. Also in 1897, Montessori audited the University courses in pedagogy and read "all the major works on educational theory of the past two hundred years". [17]

Public advocacy Edit

In 1897 Montessori spoke on societal responsibility for juvenile delinquency at the National Congress of Medicine in Turin. In 1898, she wrote several articles and spoke again at the First Pedagogical Conference of Turin, urging the creation of special classes and institutions for mentally disabled children, as well as teacher training for their instructors. [18] In 1899 Montessori was appointed a councilor to the newly formed National League for the Protection of Retarded Children, and was invited to lecture on special methods of education for children with intellectual disabilities at the teacher training school of the College of Rome. That year Montessori undertook a two-week national lecture tour to capacity audiences before prominent public figures. [19] She joined the board of the National League and was appointed as a lecturer in hygiene and anthropology at one of the two teacher-training colleges for women in Italy. [20]

Orthophrenic School Edit

In 1900 the National League opened the Scuola Magistrale Ortofrenica, or Orthophrenic School, a "medico-pedagogical institute" for training teachers in educating mentally disabled children with an attached laboratory classroom. Montessori was appointed co-director. [21] 64 teachers enrolled in the first class, studying psychology, anatomy, and physiology of the nervous system, anthropological measurements, causes and characteristics of mental disability, and special methods of instruction. During her two years at the school, Montessori developed methods and materials which she later adapted to use with mainstream children. [22]

The school was an immediate success, attracting the attention of government officials from the departments of education and health, civic leaders, and prominent figures in the fields of education, psychiatry, and anthropology from the University of Rome. [23] The children in the model classroom were drawn from the asylum and ordinary schools but considered "uneducable" due to their deficiencies. Some of these children later passed public examinations given to so-called "normal" children. [24]

1901–1906: Further studies Edit

In 1901, Montessori left the Orthophrenic School and her private practice, and in 1902 she enrolled in the philosophy degree course at the University of Rome. (Philosophy at the time included much of what is now considered psychology.) She studied theoretical and moral philosophy, history of philosophy, and psychology as such, but she did not graduate. She also pursued independent study in anthropology and educational philosophy, conducted observations and experimental research in elementary schools, and revisited the work of Itard and Séguin, translating their books into handwritten Italian. During this time she began to consider adapting her methods of educating mentally disabled children to mainstream education. [25]

Montessori's work developing what she would later call "scientific pedagogy" continued over the next few years. In 1902, Montessori presented a report at a second national pedagogical congress in Naples. She published two articles on pedagogy in 1903, and two more the following year. In 1903 and 1904, she conducted anthropological research with Italian schoolchildren, and in 1904 she was qualified as a free lecturer in anthropology for the University of Rome. She was appointed to lecture in the Pedagogic School at the University and continued in the position until 1908. Her lectures were printed as a book titled Pedagogical Anthropology in 1910. [26]

1906–1911: Casa dei Bambini and the spread of Montessori's ideas Edit

The first Casa Edit

In 1906 Montessori was invited to oversee the care and education of a group of children of working parents in a new apartment building for low-income families in the San Lorenzo district in Rome. Montessori was interested in applying her work and methods to children without mental disabilities, and she accepted. [27] The name Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House, was suggested to Montessori, and the first Casa opened on January 6, 1907, enrolling 50 or 60 children between the ages of two or three and six or seven. [28]

At first, the classroom was equipped with a teacher's table and blackboard, a stove, small chairs, armchairs, and group tables for the children, and a locked cabinet for the materials that Montessori had developed at the Orthophrenic School. Activities for the children included personal care such as dressing and undressing, care of the environment such as dusting and sweeping, and caring for the garden. The children were also shown the use of the materials Montessori had developed. [29] Montessori, occupied with teaching, research, and other professional activities, oversaw and observed the classroom work, but did not teach the children directly. Day-to-day teaching and care were provided, under Montessori's guidance, by the building porter's daughter. [30]

In this first classroom, Montessori observed behaviors in these young children which formed the foundation of her educational method. She noted episodes of deep attention and concentration, multiple repetitions of activity, and a sensitivity to order in the environment. Given a free choice of activity, the children showed more interest in practical activities and Montessori's materials than in toys provided for them and were surprisingly unmotivated by sweets and other rewards. Over time, she saw a spontaneous self-discipline emerge. [31]

Based on her observations, Montessori implemented a number of practices that became hallmarks of her educational philosophy and method. She replaced the heavy furniture with child-sized tables and chairs light enough for the children to move, and placed child-sized materials on low, accessible shelves. She expanded the range of practical activities such as sweeping and personal care to include a wide variety of exercises for the care of the environment and the self, including flower arranging, hand washing, gymnastics, care of pets, and cooking. [32] She also included large open-air sections in the classroom encouraging children to come and go as they please in the room's different areas and lessons. In her book [33] she outlines a typical winter's day of lessons, starting at 09:00 am and finishing at 04:00 pm:

  • 9–10. Entrance. Greeting. Inspection as to personal cleanliness. Exercises of practical life helping one another to take off and put on the aprons. Going over the room to see that everything is dusted and in order. Language: Conversation period: Children give an account of the events of the day before. Religious exercises.
  • 10–11. Intellectual exercises. Objective lessons interrupted by short rest periods. Nomenclature, Sense exercises.
  • 11–11:30. Simple gymnastics: Ordinary movements done gracefully, normal position of the body, walking, marching in line, salutations, movements for attention, placing of objects gracefully.
  • 11:30–12. Luncheon: Short prayer.
  • 12–1. Free games.
  • 1–2. Directed games, if possible, in the open air. During this period the older children in turn go through with the exercises of practical life, cleaning the room, dusting, putting the material in order. General inspection for cleanliness: Conversation.
  • 2–3. Manual work. Clay modelling, design, etc.
  • 3–4. Collective gymnastics and songs, if possible in the open air. Exercises to develop forethought: Visiting, and caring for, the plants and animals.

She felt by working independently children could reach new levels of autonomy and become self-motivated to reach new levels of understanding. Montessori also came to believe that acknowledging all children as individuals and treating them as such would yield better learning and fulfilled potential in each particular child. [33]

She continued to adapt and refine the materials she had developed earlier, altering or removing exercises which were chosen less frequently by the children. Based on her observations, Montessori experimented with allowing children free choice of the materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment. She began to see independence as the aim of education, and the role of the teacher as an observer and director of children's innate psychological development. [32]

Spread of Montessori education in Italy Edit

The first Casa dei Bambini was a success, and a second was opened on April 7, 1907. The children in her programs continued to exhibit concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline, and the classrooms began to attract the attention of prominent educators, journalists, and public figures. [34] In the fall of 1907, Montessori began to experiment with teaching materials for writing and reading—letters cut from sandpaper and mounted on boards, moveable cutout letters, and picture cards with labels. Four- and five-year-old children engaged spontaneously with the materials and quickly gained a proficiency in writing and reading far beyond what was expected for their age. This attracted further public attention to Montessori's work. [35] Three more Case dei Bambini opened in 1908, and in 1909 Italian Switzerland began to replace Froebellian methods with Montessori in orphanages and kindergartens. [36]

In 1909, Montessori held the first teacher training course in her new method in Città di Castello, Italy. In the same year, she described her observations and methods in a book titled Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica Applicato All'Educazione Infantile Nelle Case Dei Bambini (The Method of Scientific Pedagogy Applied to the Education of Children in the Children's Houses). [37] Two more training courses were held in Rome in 1910, and a third in Milan in 1911. Montessori's reputation and work began to spread internationally. Around that time she gave up her medical practice to devote more time to her educational work, developing her methods, and training teachers. [38] In 1919 she resigned from her position at the University of Rome, as her educational work was increasingly absorbing all her time and interest.

1909–1915: International recognition and growth of Montessori education Edit

As early as 1909, Montessori's work began to attract the attention of international observers and visitors. Her work was widely published internationally and spread rapidly. By the end of 1911, Montessori education had been officially adopted in public schools in Italy and Switzerland and was planned for the UK. [39] By 1912, Montessori schools had opened in Paris and many other Western European cities, and were planned for Argentina, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Syria, the US and New Zealand. Public programs in London, Johannesburg, Rome, and Stockholm had adopted the method in their school systems. [40] Montessori societies were founded in the United States (the Montessori American Committee) and the United Kingdom (the Montessori Society for the United Kingdom). [41] In 1913 the first International Training Course was held in Rome, with a second in 1914. [42]

Montessori's work was widely translated and published during this period. Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica was published in the US as The Montessori Method: Scientific Pedagogy as Applied to Child Education in the Children's Houses, where it became a best seller. [43] British and Swiss editions followed. A revised Italian edition was published in 1913. Russian and Polish editions came out in 1913, and German, Japanese, and Romanian editions appeared in 1914, followed by Spanish (1915), Dutch (1916), and Danish (1917) editions. Pedagogical Anthropology was published in English in 1913. [44] In 1914, Montessori published, in English, Doctor Montessori's Own Handbook, a practical guide to the didactic materials she had developed. [45]

Montessori in the United States Edit

In 1911 and 1912, Montessori's work was popular and widely publicized in the US, especially in a series of articles in McClure's Magazine. The first North American Montessori school was opened in October 1911, in Tarrytown, New York. The inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his wife became proponents of the method and a second school was opened in their Canadian home. [46] The Montessori Method sold quickly through six editions. [43] The first International Training Course in Rome in 1913 was sponsored by the American Montessori Committee, and 67 of the 83 students were from the US. [47] By 1913 there were more than 100 Montessori schools in the country. [48] Montessori traveled to the United States in December 1913 on a three-week lecture tour which included films of her European classrooms, meeting with large, enthusiastic crowds wherever she traveled. [49]

Montessori returned to the US in 1915, sponsored by the National Education Association, to demonstrate her work at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California, and to give a third international training course. A glass-walled classroom was installed at the Exposition, and thousands of observers came to see a class of 21 students. Montessori's father died in November 1915, and she returned to Italy. [50]

Although Montessori and her educational approach were popular in the US, she was not without opposition and controversy. Influential progressive educator William Heard Kilpatrick, a follower of American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey, wrote a dismissive and critical book titled The Montessori Method Examined, which had a broad impact. The National Kindergarten Association was critical as well. Critics charged that Montessori's method was outdated, overly rigid, overly reliant on sense-training, and left too little scope for imagination, social interaction, and play. [51] In addition, Montessori's insistence on tight control over the elaboration of her method, the training of teachers, the production and use of materials, and the establishment of schools became a source of conflict and controversy. After she left in 1915, the Montessori movement in the US fragmented, and Montessori education was a negligible factor in education in the US until 1952. [52]

1915–1939: Further development of Montessori education Edit

In 1915, Montessori returned to Europe and took up residence in Barcelona, Spain. Over the next 20 years Montessori traveled and lectured widely in Europe and gave numerous teacher training courses. Montessori education experienced significant growth in Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy.

Spain (1915–1936) Edit

On her return from the US, Montessori continued her work in Barcelona, where a small program sponsored by the Catalan government begun in 1915 had developed into the Escola Montessori, serving children from three to ten years old, and the Laboratori i Seminari de Pedagogia, a research, training, and teaching institute. A fourth international course was given there in 1916, including materials and methods, developed over the previous five years, for teaching grammar, arithmetic, and geometry to elementary school children from six to twelve years of age. [53] In 1917 Montessori published her elementary work in L'autoeducazionne nelle Scuole Elementari (Self-Education in Elementary School), which appeared in English as The Advanced Montessori Method. [54] Around 1920, the Catalan independence movement began to demand that Montessori take a political stand and make a public statement favoring Catalan independence, and she refused. Official support was withdrawn from her programs. [55] In 1924, a new military dictatorship closed Montessori's model school in Barcelona, and Montessori education declined in Spain, although Barcelona remained Montessori's home for the next twelve years. In 1933, under the Second Spanish Republic, a new training course was sponsored by the government, and government support was re-established. In 1934, she published two books in Spain, Psicogeometrica and Psicoarithemetica. [56] With the onset of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, political and social conditions drove Montessori to leave Spain permanently. [57]

Netherlands (1917–1936) Edit

In 1917, Montessori lectured in Amsterdam, and the Netherlands Montessori Society was founded. [58] She returned in 1920 to give a series of lectures at the University of Amsterdam. [59] Montessori programs flourished in the Netherlands, and by the mid-1930s there were more than 200 Montessori schools in the country. [60] In 1935 the headquarters of the Association Montessori Internationale, or AMI, moved permanently to Amsterdam. [61]

United Kingdom (1919–1936) Edit

Montessori education was met with enthusiasm and controversy in England between 1912 and 1914. [62] In 1919, Montessori came to England for the first time and gave an international training course which was received with high interest. Montessori education continued to spread in the UK, although the movement experienced some of the struggles over authenticity and fragmentation that took place in the US. [63] Montessori continued to give training courses in England every other year until the beginning of WWII. [64]

Italy (1922–1934) Edit

In 1922, Montessori was invited to Italy on behalf of the government to give a course of lectures and later to inspect Italian Montessori schools. Later that year Benito Mussolini's Fascist government came to power in Italy. In December, Montessori returned to Italy to plan a series of annual training courses under government sponsorship, and in 1923, the minister of education Giovanni Gentile expressed his support for Montessori schools and teacher training. [65] In 1924 Montessori met with Mussolini, who extended his official support for Montessori education as part of the national program. [66] A pre-war group of Montessori supporters, the Societa gli Amici del Metodo Montessori (Society of Friends of the Montessori Method) became the Opera Montessori (Montessori Society) with a government charter, and by 1926 Mussolini was made honorary president of the organization. [67] In 1927 Mussolini established a Montessori teacher training college, and by 1929 the Italian government supported a wide range of Montessori institutions. [68] From 1930 on, Montessori and the Italian government came into conflict over financial support and ideological issues, especially after Montessori's lectures on Peace and Education. [69] In 1932 she and her son Mario were placed under political surveillance. [70] In 1933, she resigned from the Opera Montessori, and in 1934 she left Italy. The Italian government ended Montessori activities in the country in 1936. [71]

Other countries Edit

Montessori lectured in Vienna in 1923, and her lectures were published as Il Bambino in Famiglia, published in English in 1936 as The Child in the Family. Between 1913 and 1936 Montessori schools and societies were also established in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Serbia, Canada, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. [72]

The Association Montessori Internationale Edit

In 1929, the first International Montessori Congress was held in Elsinore, Denmark, in conjunction with the Fifth Conference of the New Education Fellowship. At this event, Montessori and her son Mario founded the Association Montessori Internationale or AMI "to oversee the activities of schools and societies all over the world and to supervise the training of teachers." [73] AMI also controlled rights to the publication of Montessori's works and the production of authorized Montessori didactic materials. Early sponsors of the AMI included Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, and Rabindranath Tagore. [74]

Peace Edit

In 1932, Montessori spoke on Peace and Education at the Second International Montessori Congress in Nice, France. This lecture was published by the Bureau International d'Education, Geneva, Switzerland. In 1932, Montessori spoke at the International Peace Club in Geneva, Switzerland, on the theme of Peace and Education. [75] Montessori held peace conferences from 1932 to 1939 in Geneva, Brussels, Copenhagen, and Utrecht, which were later published in Italian as Educazione e Pace, and in English as Education and Peace. [76] In 1949, and again in 1950 and in 1951, Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, receiving a total of six nominations. [77]

Laren, the Netherlands (1936–1939) Edit

In 1936 Montessori and her family left Barcelona for England, and soon moved to Laren, near Amsterdam. Here Montessori and her son Mario continued to develop new materials, including the knobless cylinders, the grammar symbols, and botany nomenclature cards. [78] In the context of rising military tensions in Europe, Montessori increasingly turned her attention to the theme of peace. In 1937, the 6th International Montessori Congress was held on the theme of "Education for Peace", and Montessori called for a "science of peace" and spoke about the role of education of the child as a key to the reform of society. [79] In 1938, Montessori was invited to India by the Theosophical Society to give a training course, and in 1939 she left the Netherlands with her son and collaborator Mario. [80]

1939–1946: Montessori in India Edit

An interest in Montessori had existed in India since 1913 when an Indian student attended the first international course in Rome, and students throughout the 1920s and 1930s had come back to India to start schools and promote Montessori education. The Montessori Society of India was formed in 1926, and Il Metodo was translated into Gujarati and Hindi in 1927. [81] By 1929, Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore had founded many "Tagore-Montessori" schools in India, and Indian interest in Montessori education was strongly represented at the International Congress in 1929. [82] Montessori herself had been personally associated with the Theosophical Society since 1899 when she became a member of the European Section of the Society – though her membership would eventually lapse. [83] The Theosophical movement, motivated to educate India's poor, was drawn to Montessori education as one solution. [84]

Internment in India Edit

Montessori gave a training course at the Theosophical Society in Madras in 1939, and had intended to give a tour of lectures at various universities, and then return to Europe. [85] When Italy entered WWII on the side of Germany in 1940, Britain interned all Italians in the UK and its colonies as enemy aliens. In fact, only Mario Montessori was interned, while Montessori herself was confined to the Theosophical Society compound, and Mario was reunited with his mother after two months. The Montessoris remained in Madras and Kodaikanal until 1946, although they were allowed to travel in connection with lectures and courses.

Elementary material, cosmic education, and birth to three Edit

During her years in India, Montessori and her son Mario continued to develop her educational method. The term "cosmic education" was introduced to describe an approach for children aged from six to twelve years that emphasized the interdependence of all the elements of the natural world. Children worked directly with plants and animals in their natural environments, and the Montessoris developed lessons, illustrations, charts, and models for use with elementary aged children. Material for botany, zoology, and geography was created. Between 1942 and 1944 these elements were incorporated into an advanced course for work with children from six to twelve years old. This work led to two books: Education for a New World and To Educate the Human Potential. [86]

While in India, Montessori observed children and adolescents of all ages and turned to the study of infancy. In 1944 she gave a series of 30 lectures on the first three years of life, and a government-recognized training course in Sri Lanka. These lectures were collected in 1949 in the book What You Should Know About Your Child. [87]

In 1944 the Montessoris were granted some freedom of movement and traveled to Sri Lanka. In 1945 Montessori attended the first All India Montessori Conference in Jaipur, and in 1946, with the war over, she and her family returned to Europe. [88]

1946–1952: Final years Edit

In 1946, at the age of 76, Montessori returned to Amsterdam, and she spent the next six years travelling in Europe and India. She gave a training course in London in 1946, and in 1947 opened a training institute there, the Montessori Centre. After a few years this centre became independent of Montessori and continued as the St. Nicholas Training Centre. Also in 1947, she returned to Italy to re-establish the Opera Nazionale Montessori and gave two more training courses. Later that year she returned to India and gave courses in Adyar and Ahmedabad. These courses led to the first English edition of the book The Absorbent Mind, which was based on notes taken by students during the courses. During these courses, Montessori described the development of the child from birth onwards and presented her concept of the Four Planes of Development. In 1948 Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicato all'educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini was revised again and published in English as The Discovery of the Child. In 1949 she gave a course in Karachi, Pakistan and the Pakistan Montessori Association was founded. [89]

In 1949 Montessori returned to Europe and attended the 8th International Montessori Congress in Sanremo, Italy, where a model classroom was demonstrated. The same year, the first training course for birth to three years of age, called the Scuola Assistenti all'infanzia (Montessori School for Assistants to Infancy) was established. [90] She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Montessori was also awarded the French Legion of Honor, Officer of the Dutch Order of Orange Nassau, and received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Amsterdam. In 1950 she visited Scandinavia, represented Italy at the UNESCO conference in Florence, presented at the 29th international training course in Perugia, gave a national course in Rome, published a fifth edition of Il Metodo with the new title La Scoperta del Bambino (The Discovery of the Child), and was again nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1951 she participated in the 9th International Montessori Congress in London, gave a training course in Innsbruck, was nominated for the third time for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Montessori was directly involved in the development and founding of the UNESCO Institute for Education in 1951. She was present at the first preliminary meeting of the UNESCO Governing Board in Wiesbaden, Germany on June 19, 1951 and delivered a speech. [91] She used the address as an opportunity to redouble her advocacy for the rights of the child – whom she often referred to as the "forgotten citizen" or "neglected citizen" [92] – by declaring:

Remember that people do not start at the age of twenty, at ten or at six, but at birth. In your efforts at solving problems, do not forget that children and young people make up a vast population, a population without rights which is being crucified on school-benches everywhere, which – for all that we talk about democracy, freedom and human rights – is enslaved by a school order, by intellectual rules, which we impose on it. We define the rules which are to be learnt, how they should be learnt and at what age. The child population is the only population without rights. The child is the neglected citizen. Think of this and fear the revenge of this populace. For it is his soul that we are suffocating. It is the lively powers of the mind that we are oppressing, powers which cannot be destroyed without killing the individual, powers which tend either towards violence or destruction, or slip away into the realm of sickness, as Dr. Stern has so well elucidated. [93]

December 10, 1951 was the third anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in observance of this UNESCO held a celebration. Montessori was one of the invited guests who would also deliver a speech to commemorate and memorialize the momentous occasion. As with her speech six months previously – in front of the UNESCO Board of Governors in Wiesbaden – Montessori once again highlighted the lack of any "Declaration of the Rights of the Child" stating in part, "in truth, the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights appears to be exclusively dedicated to adult society." [94]

Death Edit

Montessori died of a cerebral hemorrhage on May 6, 1952, at the age of 81 in Noordwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. [95]


Newspapers

In both sales and reputation the national papers published in London dominate. Within the national newspaper business in the United Kingdom, a distinction has developed between popular papers (often tabloids) with multimillion circulation and quality broadsheet papers with relatively small sales. Generally, British newspapers are not formally tied to specific political parties. However, most display clear political sympathies that are usually determined by their proprietors. The tabloid Daily Mail and the broadsheet The Daily Telegraph have consistently supported the Conservative Party, while the tabloid The Daily Mirror and the broadsheet The Guardian (published in both London and Manchester) have normally supported Labour. The Times of London is one of the world’s oldest newspapers. The Sun—long the United Kingdom’s biggest-selling newspaper, whose popularity since it was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News International company in 1969 has stemmed from a diet of sensational personality-based news stories, show-business gossip, lively sports reporting, and pictures of scantily dressed young women—supported Labour in the early 1970s, switched to the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and switched back again to Labour in the late 1990s only to return to the Conservatives by the early 21st century. Metro, a free paper launched in 1999, now rivals The Sun in terms of circulation. In England there are also several regional dailies and weeklies and national weeklies—some targeting particular ethnic communities.

The Welsh press includes several daily papers (e.g., the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo) as well as a number of weekly English-language, bilingual, or Welsh-language newspapers. Scotland has national daily newspapers based in Edinburgh and Glasgow with wide circulation (e.g., The Scotsman, the Daily Record, and The Herald) and a number of regional weeklies as well. Northern Ireland’s daily papers (e.g., the Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News) are all published in Belfast. There is a large periodical press in the United Kingdom that ranges from such traditional publications as The Economist, The Spectator, and New Statesman to more specialized and, often, more mercurial journals.


The Great Arrival

Most of this generation of Italian immigrants took their first steps on U.S. soil in a place that has now become a legend—Ellis Island. In the 1880s, they numbered 300,000 in the 1890s, 600,000 in the decade after that, more than two million. By 1920, when immigration began to taper off, more than 4 million Italians had come to the United States, and represented more than 10 percent of the nation's foreign-born population.

What brought about this dramatic surge in immigration? The causes are complex, and each hopeful individual or family no doubt had a unique story. By the late 19th century, the peninsula of Italy had finally been brought under one flag, but the land and the people were by no means unified. Decades of internal strife had left a legacy of violence, social chaos, and widespread poverty. The peasants in the primarily poor, mostly rural south of Italy and on the island of Sicily had little hope of improving their lot. Diseases and natural disasters swept through the new nation, but its fledgling government was in no condition to bring aid to the people. As transatlantic transportation became more affordable, and as word of American prosperity came via returning immigrants and U.S. recruiters, Italians found it increasingly difficult to resist the call of "L'America".

This new generation of Italian immigrants was distinctly different in makeup from those that had come before. No longer did the immigrant population consist mostly of Northern Italian artisans and shopkeepers seeking a new market in which to ply their trades. Instead, the vast majority were farmers and laborers looking for a steady source of work—any work. There were a significant number of single men among these immigrants, and many came only to stay a short time. Within five years, between 30 and 50 percent of this generation of immigrants would return home to Italy, where they were known as ritornati.

Those who stayed usually remained in close contact with their family in the old country, and worked hard in order to have money to send back home. In 1896, a government commission on Italian immigration estimated that Italian immigrants sent or took home between $4 million and $30 million each year, and that "the marked increase in the wealth of certain sections of Italy can be traced directly to the money earned in the United States."


Life in Italy from 1900 to 1940

The recently unified country of Italy in the early 1900s faced several issues continuously. Italy had a very large debt, very few natural resources, and almost no transportation or industries. This combined along with a high ratio of poverty, illiteracy, and an uneven tax structure weighed heavily on the Italian people in the country. Regionalism was still strong at the time, and only a small fraction of Italians had voting rights. The Pope was also angry because of the loss of the city of Rome and the Papal States and so refused to recognize the state of Italy. So that’s how life in Italy in the early 1900s begun.

March 1922, Rome, Italy

In the Italian rural areas, banditry and several other problems resulted in repression by the government. The new Italian government was also known to be often brutal. During the 1880s a new movement started developing among the city workers. The already existing differences between the impoverished, rural south of the country and the wealthy, industrialized north increased even more.

The government did not do much to solve these problems. Throughout the liberal period from 1870 to 1915, the country was governed by a series of liberal politicians who were not able to form a majority. Despite the fact that a little progress did happen before World War I in social and economic forms, Italy was at the time a nation in crisis.

Development of Italy

Since the Nationalist Movement had begun in the country, leaders dreamed about joining the modern World Powers. In Northern Italy, industrialization and modern infrastructure facilities had begun to be built in the 1890s. The railway lines in the Alpine region connected the country to the rail networks in Austria, Germany, and France. Two other coastal lines were also developed in the southern part of the country.

The larger industries and businesses were first founded with large investments from countries like France, Britain, and Germany. Over the years, the government decided to help start various heavy industries in the country like shipbuilding, steelworks, and car factories. It even adopted a trade policy. Agriculture in the northern part of the country had been modernized, which started bringing larger profits, and were backed by many powerful co-operatives. However, the southern regions of the country remained ignored and undeveloped for a long time.

Early Colonialism in Italy

During the 19th and the early 20th century, the country made several attempts to join the superpowers of the world in an effort to acquire colonies. However, this was difficult for the country because of the large costs and the resistance going on in the country.

Several different colonial projects were started by the Italian government. These projects were undertaken to get the support of the imperialists and the nationalists, who had always dreamt of building a large empire similar to the ancient Roman Empire.

Italy at the time had various sizeable settlements in Tunis, Cairo, and Alexandria. The country first tried to get colonies by making negotiations with the world powers, which failed several times. Another approach tried by Italy was to send missionaries to investigate the areas which had been underdeveloped and uncolonized. The most promising ones were in the desert areas and distant parts of Africa.

Giovanni Giolitti

Giovanni Giolitti was the first Prime Minister of Italy, chosen in 1892. However, during his first term, the government collapsed quite quickly within just a year. He then returned to lead the government in 1903 which lasted till 1914. He had spent his life in the capacity of a civil servant prior to becoming the prime minister. Later he took positions within the Crispi cabinets.

It was believed that Giolitti mastered various practices like bribing, coercing, and manipulating government officials. Fraud in voting was also quite common in those times. Corruption had also been a major problem in the country in the early 1900s.

Southern Italy was in a bad condition before Giolitti’s tenure began in the country. More than half of the inhabitants in the area were still illiterate. There were problems with absentee landlords, rebellion, organized crime, and even starvation in these areas. Thousands of Southern Italians were leaving the new nation of Italy every year during this time, hoping for a better life in America.

Balilla, the Italian youth paramilitary organization
under the Fascist regime. Date circa 1930

The First World War in Italy

At the beginning of the First World War, Italy has stayed neutral. It claimed that the Triple Alliance had just been for defense. However, during the war, the Triple Entente as well as the central nations tried to lure Italy into the war. In April 1915 the government declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The country did so in order to get a few territories like that of Dalmatia, Istria, and Trieste in return.

In 1917, Austria entered the lines at Caporetto after they received help from Germany. However, Italy and its allies stopped them at the Piave River. It was later during the Battle of Vittorio Veneto that Austria-Hungary began negotiating terms with Italy in 1918. The armistice of Villa Giusti had been signed in November 1918, a day later Italian troops occupied Tyrol capturing more than 300,000 soldiers without any problem at all.

World War II in Italy

Like in the First World War, during the Second World War Italy initially remained neutral. In June 1940 the country declared war against Britain and France when it was clear that France could be easily defeated. In the early times of the war, Hitler consented that Italy remains out of the war however this changed later.

Mussolini believed that Britain would also be easily defeated and would ask Italy for mercy, but this proved to be completely wrong. Britain had originally been attacked only so Italy would get a seat on the peace table later, the performance of the Italian army was quite disappointing for both Hitler and Mussolini. Italy constantly needed German help and only the Italian naval forces could be considered successful.

Some pictures of Italy at the beginning of the 20 th Century

Naples, ca. 1900. Source: Library of Congress Courtyard in Venice at the beginning of the 20th Century. Source: Library of Congress Via Roma in Naples, beginning of 20th Century. Source: Library of Congress The market in Piazza delle Erbe, Verona, at the beginning of the 20th Century. Source: Library of Congress

Exporting Fascism: Italian Fascists and Britain's Italians in the 1930s.

Exporting Fascism: Italian Fascists and Britain's Italians in the 1930s. By CLAUDIA BALDOLI. Oxford and New York: Berg. 2003. vi+217 pp. 50 [pounds sterling] (pbk 15.99 [pounds sterling]). ISBN 1-85973-756-0 (pbk 1-85973-761-7).

Claudia Baldoli's book focuses on two main areas: the activities of the Fasci Abroad in London and Great Britain during Dino Grandi's term as Italy's ambassador to London from 1932 to 1939, and Grandi's relationship with the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and the British Right. The book explores several issues: how Italians living in Britain responded to Fascism, the relationship between Fascists in Britain and the British Right, and the implications of British Italophilia during the Fascist years. It is also an enquiry into the project of fascistization of the communities abroad in the 1930s. As Baldoli demonstrates, such a project did not just aim at the fascistization of emigrants, but also at their transformation into new Italians it also included the expansion of Fascism in other countries through the diffusion of Fascist ideology. In this context the Fasci Abroad played an important role and were actively involved in establishing contacts and organizing activities between them and the Fascist movements abroad.

Following a chronological order, the book's six chapters explore several issues related to the activities of the Fasci in Britain. After introducing the Fasci and their relationship with earlier institutions, such as the Dante Alighieri Society, the book analyses the educational activities of the Fasci Abroad (Chapters 1 and 3), in particular the creation of Italian schools, which, by providing an openly Fascist education (details of the curriculum for Italian primary schools in London are provided), participated in the creation of the myth of the new Italian. Baldoli also analyses how the Italian Fascist newspaper in London, Italia Nostra, carried out the ideological mission of creating a sense of national pride through constant references to national roots and traditions, and through the revivification of the myth of imperial Rome, thereby attempting to create a sense of belonging which would reinforce the relationship between the emigrants and the fatherland, even among those who were born in England. The year 1937 was an important one in the activities of the Fasci--as Baldoli accurately charts--as they managed to transform the Italian communities abroad into Fascist corporate entities. The mythical discourse is exemplified by Grandi, who increasingly presented his position as that of someone fighting in a trench.

As she follows the project of Fascistization of the Italian communities in the United Kingdom through the activities of the Fasci Abroad, Baldoli conducts a parallel analysis, namely that of the relationship between Grandi and the British Right. Chapter 2 focuses on the relationship between Grandi and the British Fascists between 1932 and 1934, on Grandi's role as a mediator between Italian and British Fascism (a relationship which was complicated by the advent of Nazi Germany), and on his activities meant to transform the Italian community in Britain into a Fascist nation within a foreign society.

The difficulties of Grandi's position are outlined in Chapters 4 and 6, which focus on the contacts between Grandi and the British Right (particularly the BUF and the Conservative Italophiles) in the years following the Ethiopian War and leading to the Second World War both chapters show how Grandi's position became increasingly difficult, as he was trying to maintain good relations with the British Foreign Office and the British Right in the face of Italy's growing and pressing anti-British propaganda and pro-German foreign policy.

Chapter 5 shows how the outbreak of the Second World War did not stop the activities of the Fasci: indeed, the organization of schools, summer camps, dopolavoro, and assistance activities was carried out, as Baldoli points out, 'as if Italy were not going to enter a war that the London Fascio, the consulate and the embassy regarded as solely British' (pp. 129-30). The activities stopped only in 1940.

Baldoli's study is well documented, clearly written, and interestingly presented, despite a slightly intermittent structure. Although it could be considered a piece of micro-history, the book constantly refers to a wider national and international context, shedding light on several aspects of Mussolini's regime, its ideology, myths, and policies, which makes the volume a very interesting read for anyone interested in the history and ideology of Fascism as well as in the history of Italian communities abroad.


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Italian education system, italian schools, schooling in italy, Italian nursery school, primary schools in italy, italian middle school, high school, secondary schools in italy, vocational studies in italy, academic schools, Italian universities

Free state education is available to children of all nationalities who are resident in Italy.

Children attending the Italian education system can start with the Scuola dell'Infanzia also known as Scuola Materna (nursery school), which is non-compulsory, from the age of three. Every child is entitled to a place.

Scuola Primaria (Primary School)

At age six, children start their formal, compulsory education with the Scuola Primaria also known as Scuola Elementare (Primary School). In order to comply with a European standard for school leaving age, it is possible to enter the Scuola Primaria at any time after the age of five and a half. At Scuola Primaria children learn to read and write and study a wide range of subjects including maths, geography, Italian, English and science. They also have music lessons, computer studies and social studies. Religious instruction is optional. Scuola Primaria lasts for five years. Classes are small with between 10 and 25 pupils. Pupils no longer take a leaving exam at the Scuola Primaria. At the age of eleven they begin their Secondary education.

Scuola Media (Middle School

Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado (First Grade Secondary School)

All children aged between eleven and fourteen must attend the Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado (First Grade Secondary School). Students must attend at least thirty hours of formal lessons per week, although many schools provide additional activities in the afternoons such as computer studies, music lessons and sports activities. Formal lessons cover a broad range of subjects following a National Curriculum set by the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, MPI (Ministry of Public Education). At the end of each term, students receive a school report. At the end of the third year, students sit a written exam in the subjects of Italian, mathematics, science and a foreign language. There is an oral examination of the other subjects. Successful students are awarded the Licenza di Scuola Media (Licenza Media). They then move onto the Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado (Second Grade Secondary School)

Scuola Superiore(High School)

Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado (Second Grade Secondary School)

There are two types of Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado in Italy: the Liceo (like a British grammar school), which is more academic in nature, and an Istituto, which is essentially a vocational school. For the first two years all students use the same state-mandated curriculum of Italian language and literature, science, mathematics, foreign language, religion, geography, history, social studies and physical education. Specialised courses, called 'Indirizzi' begin in the third year.

Types of Italian High Schools:

Liceo Classico (Classical High School):

Liceo Scientifico (Scientific High School):

Lasts for five years with an emphasis on physics, chemistry and natural sciences. The student also continues to study Latin and one modern language.

Liceo Artistico (Fine Arts High School):

Studies can last four to five years and prepare for university studies in painting, sculpture or architecture.

Istituto Magistrale (Teacher Training School):

Studies last for five years and prepare future primary school teachers. There is also a three year training course for nursery school teachers, but this diploma does not entitle students to then enrol at a university.

Istituto d'Arte (Artistic Schools):

Studies last three years and prepare for work within an artistic field and leading to an arts qualification (diploma di Maestro d'Arte)

Istituti Tecnici (Technical Institutes):

Studies last five years and prepare for both university studies and for a vocation. There is a majority of students in technical schools that prepare students to work in a technical or administrative capacity in agriculture, industry or commerce.

Istituti Professionali (Professional Institutes):

These studies lead, in three or five years, to achievement of a vocational qualification. In order to received the Diploma di Scuola Superiore also known as the Diploma di Maturità (Secondary school diploma), students must pass written and oral exams. The first written exam requires an essay, written in Italian, on an aspect of literature, history, society or science. Some students may stuck on essay as they need to remember facts to describe ones in their essay. The second written exam requires the student to write a paper relating to their chosen specialisation. The third exam is more general and includes questions regarding contemporary issues and the student's chosen foreign language.

After completing the written exams, students must take an oral exam in front of a board of six teachers. This exams covers aspects of their final year at school. Successful students receive various types of Diploma according to the type of school attended. The Diploma di Scuola Superiore is generally recognised as a university entrance qualification, although some universities have additional entrance requirements.

University is available to all students if they have completed five years of secondary school and received an upper secondary school diploma. It is possible for students who have attended vocational schools to attend university. If a student attended a four-year secondary school program, an additional year of schooling is necessary to qualify for university.

Those attending university after completing their Diploma di Scuola Superiore go for three years (four years for teaching qualifications) to achieve their Laurea (Bachelor's Degree).

Vocational education is called the Formazione Professionale. The first part of this lasts for three years, after which they are awarded the Qualifica Professionale. The second part, which lasts for a further two years, leads to the Licenza professionale also known as the Maturità professionale.

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Pell takes on the Italians

Rome &mdash A choir of voices has begun lauding Cardinal George Pell for cleaning up the Vatican's money management operations. And the strongest notes in this hymn of praise come from the basso profondo of the Australian cardinal himself.

The 73-year-old Pell, who is officially the prefect of the Vatican's recently created Secretariat for the Economy, gave a glowing progress report of his financial reform efforts in an 1,800-word article published last week in Britain's Catholic Herald.

Modern and transparent with checks and balances

He made it clear that Pope Francis was mandated by "an almost unanimous consensus among the cardinals" to carry out financial reform. He said they were "well under way and already past the point where it would be possible to return to the 'bad old days,' " even though much remained to be done. He added that the basic program for reform was drawn up by an "international body of lay experts" that the pope appointed and was based on the following three principles: first, the adoption of "contemporary international financial standards" and "accounting procedures" second, transparency in producing annual financial balance sheets and third, "something akin to a separation of powers" with "multiple sources of authority."

Yet Pell made it clear that his secretariat, above all others, possessed "authority over all economic and administrative activities" in the Vatican, even though its policies would be "determined by the Council for the Economy." That body is headed by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and includes eight other cardinals and seven laymen. "Having decision-making lay members at this level is an innovation in the Vatican," Pell wrote.

His article highlighted several other positive developments in the way the Vatican will manage its financial resources in the future. Indeed, there is much to be praised. But the article has also set off alarm bells and raised concerns over a reform that is deeply unpopular among Vatican employees fearful of ending up on the wrong end of the stick. It also never mentioned why the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide), a virtual empire that has a vast patrimony of investments and prime properties in central Rome and elsewhere, is apparently not subject to the reforms.

Blasting the Italians

Characteristically, the article was blunt. It was also less than flattering toward Italians and even expressed a patronizing attitude toward their business practices. The cardinal said a British parliamentarian had asked him why Vatican authorities had allowed the financial situation "to lurch along, disregarding modern accounting standards, for so many decades." He said the politician's question "was one of the first that would come to our minds as English-speakers." Then he added that it was also "one that might be much lower on the list for people in another culture, such as the Italians."

Of course, Italians have always been the principal managers of the Vatican. And a number of them currently in positions of power are said to have been less than amused by their Australian confrere's not-so-subtle dig. They also did not appreciate this headline-grabbing assertion in his article: "We have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of Euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet."

The implication, of course, was that the Italians were cooking the books. That impression was reinforced a day after Pell's article was published when it was announced that two former managers of the so-called Vatican bank (Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR) and an attorney, all Italians, were under investigation for embezzlement.

An Italian backlash?

Already within hours after the cardinal's piece appeared in the Catholic Herald, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement of clarification.

"It should be noted that Cardinal Pell did not speak of illegal, illicit or badly administrated funds, but of funds that do not appear in the official financial statements of the Holy See or Vatican City State," it said.

"In any case, it was known and has been explained before, even publicly, by the Prefecture of Economic Affairs, that the consolidated budgets of the Holy See and Vatican City which were submitted every year to the Council of 15 Cardinals, did not in any way embrace all the many agencies that depend on the Vatican, but only the principal institutions of the Curia and the State," the brief statement concluded.

It was issued in Italian only, somewhat odd considering that press office statements on Vatican reforms generally have been in multiple languages. But it is also not surprising given that a number of influential Italians in the Curia long have bristled at what they perceive as an Australian cardinal's condescending attitude toward them.

Not all these Italians will go quietly into the night as Pell tries to bust up their longstanding dominance in administrating the hundreds of institutions, bureaus and offices that fall beneath the wide umbrella known as the Holy See and Vatican City State.

If history is any indication, they will try to impede the pace of reform through partial or noncompliance. And some will do what is necessary to make life as difficult for the reformers, especially Pell's closest aides. One is his former business manager from the Sydney archdiocese, a layman named Danny Casey who is known to have close ties to Opus Dei. He effectively runs the secretariat, and even supporters for the cardinal fear that he will be the first casualty if the old guard mounts a backlash.

"I feel sorry for Danny Casey," said a high-ranking Curia official. "The Italians are going to chew him up."

The Scola connection

Another of Pell's close aides, though apparently many in the Vatican are unaware of it, is Msgr. Brian Ferme. He is actually the prelate-secretary of Marx's Council for the Economy. But he is Pell's man. Repeatedly and erroneously identified as British, the monsignor was actually born and raised in south Australia. He was a longtime Salesian of Don Bosco before leaving the order soon after getting his doctorate (in Rome and Oxford). He incardinated into the diocese of Portsmouth, England, though he never served there. Instead, he taught mostly in Rome. He spent the past decade in Venice, where Cardinal Angelo Scola, another of his cardinal-patrons, hired him to run an institute for canon law that the cardinal set up just after becoming patriarch of the historic diocese in 2002.

Casey and Ferme are just two of Pell's various aides likely to feel the heat of any resistance to Pell's financial reorganization at the Vatican. For his part, the cardinal seems impervious to any pushback, obstacles or opposition. He's demonstrated his indomitability many times before, most recently as head of the Vox Clara Committee, the group that bulldozed objections from the majority of world's English-speaking bishops and produced the current translation of the Roman Missal.

Many people, especially in Australia, where Pell has always been a controversial figure, wonder why Pope Francis brought him to the Vatican and why he made him an original member of his special papal advisory group, the Council of Cardinals. After all, he is hardly anyone's idea of a "Francis bishop."

For example, he's one of only a handful of cardinals that fervently supports use of the pre-Vatican II Mass. He's a self-professed climate change skeptic. He's a bricks-and-mortar bishop who spent loads of money on building projects, such as establishing a Catholic university in Australia and turning a former religious convent in Rome into an upscale hotel for Australian "pilgrims." Ironically, he's been accused of lack of transparency in the expenditures.

On top of all this, it is also pretty well understood that he backed Angelo Scola of Milan at the last conclave as the main rival of the Argentine Jesuit named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who emerged as the new bishop of Rome. Scola, 73, is a Vatican outsider, and many Italian bishops mistrust him because his deep roots in the Communion and Liberation movement. They also resent what they believe was his clear ambition to become pope, indicated by his successful effort to get transferred from Venice to Milan in 2011.

So why did Pope Francis bring the Scola-linked George Pell to the Vatican? It's actually a win-win situation for the pope. The cardinals elected him, in part, to reform money management, something he's notorious for criticizing. By handing the task over to those who rivaled his election, he's put the onus on them to get this reform right. If it succeeds, the pope will win the praise. But if it fails, those who carried out the work in his name will bear the blame.

[Robert Mickens is editor-in-chief of Global Pulse. Since 1986, he has lived in Rome, where he studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University before working 11 years at Vatican Radio and then another decade as correspondent for The Tablet of London.]

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Watch the video: What Italian People Think About British People. Easy Italian 90 (January 2022).