Rome (Italy). “From the emergency to a new presence” is the slogan with which, on April 18, 2020, the President of CIOFS/School, Sister Marilisa Miotti accompanied the reflection shared during the meeting of the Regional and Interregional Executive Councils of the CIOFS/School expressing the need to courageously respond to the historical situation we are experiencing.
The President of the Italian Center for Salesian Female Works – C.I.O.F.S., Sister Anna Razionale invited the 53 participants, connected by videoconference, to keep hope alive, to believe that the future is built together by living this time in solidarity. Solidarity can be experienced at various levels: the FMA and lay people of the Institute are asked to think, research, share ‘together’ to give continuity to the FMA SCHOOL in Italy
It cannot be denied that “today we are in a stormy sea, – says Sister Marilisa – the first temptation would be to leave everything; instead it is important to remember how we Daughters of Mary Help of Christians throughout history have faced numerous difficulties, with much courage and innovation, what was proposed to us “.
The FMA Schools have always highlighted attention to:
▪ Teacher formation in line with ministerial legislation
▪ the cultural and political changes of the nation
▪ the active and creative, dynamic and optimistic activity of the FMA regarding scholastic activity
▪ the style attentive to the formation of the person of the students, as a characterizing element of the pedagogy and teaching of the FMA.
A research and innovation laboratory
In the period from 1957 to 1997, Salesian Schools were a research and innovation laboratory and, since then, they have been characterized by their liveliness and ability to experiment.
In 1957, at the Mary Help of Christians Institute in Turin, an innovative didactic ferment came to life, according to the criteria of what was then the Single Middle School (1963), called S.A.S. Center (Salesian Active School), and which led to a reinterpretation of the Preventive System. The choice was prompted by the desire to prepare resources, methods, programs in the Catholic field, with a healthy vision of the student, through a scientifically tested educational proposal, foreseeing that programs and books imbued with secularism would arrive and be imposed. The common denominator was to promote a new school capable of responding to the needs of the times and expectations of the new generations.
The period of experimentation from 1970 to 1997
In the 70s, an innovative methodology was launched in some high schools in the cities of Lecco, Nice, Turin, Acireale, and Torre Annunziata which invested not only the teachers, but also pupils and families with the attempt to re-read the programs, to activate new curricular paths, such as the Liceo of Language, the Brocca experimentation, the Liceo of Communication, and thus grasp the heart of education in view of forming “good Christians and honest citizens” in a cultural horizon that was changing. Conferences for teachers took place in Torre Annunziata, Pacognano, Gualdo Tadino for an action-research whose aim was to stir up ferment in the FMA School, keeping the cultural level high, and above all, the mastery of pedagogy and teaching to meet personally each pupil and allow her to develop her personality in the sign of creative innovation.
Collaboration, training, and research from 1988 to 2019
Today’s training activity has its origin in some particularly significant events and is marked by equally important stages. Four main stages of the itinerary:
– 1988 – 2004: collaboration between SDB and FMA, supported by the Italian Provincial Conference – CII and by the Conference of the Salesian Provinces of Italy – CISI, time for projects and widespread formation;
– 1998 start of the CIOFS / National School Association;
– since 2005, the multiplication of training courses both at national and territorial level. Birth of the European Commission;
– since 2011, research for sustainability among schools, leadership, and relationship between top management.
How will the Salesian School be characterized in 2020?
Today’s situation is an OPPORTUNITY for innovation and the joy of faith, of educational and didactic service, of the salvation they promote. This is the perspective with which to face today’s efforts in continuity with what those who preceded us have done with so much enthusiasm and with so much conviction.
The current situation highlights bewilderment and uncertainties: the change in teaching, the new lesson schedule, the new way of relationships, the different management of employment contracts … and despite all this, the spirit of conservation and adaptation of the school emerges, the management of the present, the unexpected desire for school by the pupils, the community of teachers with an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ … the Covid-19 pandemic has given school back as a precious common good!
The emergency that is being experienced is therefore a favorable time for the CIOFS / Regional and Interregional School Councils to study, think, and research together the common operational guidelines for the educational-didactic, organizational, and sustainability management of the FMA Schools in Italy.
What would Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello do today! It is possible to look at them by imitating their courage, creativity, and prophetic genius that arose from an educational passion and a great resilience in difficulties, in order to see young people smile at the future, culturally equipping them in their present!