Tuberculosis when children in Venice went to school on the square (and even brought the platform) Photo

There are stories that come back to the surface and are rediscovered thanks to curiosity. For example, it may happen to see one old black and white film shot immediately The post-war period and wondered why at the age of children so small and miserable they went to school does not carry the bag of books and notebooks inside on his shoulders, but the desk directly. ONE foldable and transportable banquet. Basically a bench with braces. “A poet from Este, Maria Luisa Rosina, told me about it, it was she who pushed to reconstruct this unique and in some ways very current story,” says Giacomo Spoladore, artist name James D. Dawson, director and author of the movie. documentary that reconstructed a centennial story that made the characters of the time speak: yesterday’s young children who went to school with the banquet on their backs today are the grandparents who follow their grandchildren in father, distance learning. Yesterday it was there tuberculosistoday is coronavirus.


The big white plague. This is how tuberculosis was called in the eighteenth century, a disease that lasted for centuries and which apparently knew no defeat. Even today, an estimated half a million new TB cases are worldwide. Thus, in the early twentieth century, also as a form of combating infectious diseases, outdoor schools were born: in the face of poverty, malnutrition, lack of hygiene, unhealthy and overcrowded housing and school premises, the idea was to study outside and help the children, especially the weakest of the constitution. Among the cities that see the promotion of outdoor schools, there are in addition to Milan and Bologna Padua. Here is the first experiment dated 1905. A few years later, on May 24, 1922, on the initiative of Professor Mario Cacciavillani, the benches with harnesses arrive in a small town in the province of Este, but they stay here for a long time. .

Maria Luisa Rosina, a former employee now retired, poet, gets to know it almost by chance when she sees a film by Istituto Luce from 1949. Only that the lady does not just smile: she wants to elaborate, learn more, understand why in Este the boys went in school with the desk on his back, and because that experience lasted over time. This is how director Spoladore comes into play. “I too – he says – I’m passionate about it”.
The project to make the documentary was born in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when children no longer went to school because schools were closed due to the health crisis and the study took place with tablets. Father, distance learning. Like a century before, when studying on the lawns.


Driven by Mrs. Rosina’s curiosity, the instructor tracks down some former students at these folding tables: Valter Pieressa, Maria Luisa Rea, Giustino Crivellaro, Mario Rolandi. And gather their testimonies. “A stall to put on the banquets, how many squeeze to the hands”. Memories and smiles: “We learned the first swear words with the benches, there were precise rules, you had to follow, you almost had to squat, put on a brace, then the other. What a pain “. And not just regret:” Was it nice to study outdoors? It depends, because it is true that there are scents of trees in bloom, but there were also many bees. “


On the initiative of Regional Councilor Luciano Sandonà, the documentary entitled The Outdoor Mobile School in Este – One Hundred Years Later was presented yesterday at the Palazzo Ferro Fini, seat of the Veneto Legislative Assembly, for the conference scheduled for Saturday 28th. May in Este with the local Pro Loco. And among the finds was in addition to the films of Istituto Luce also one of the famous banquets with braces (“We found it back in a municipal warehouse”) as well as historical photographs. Like those taken on June 21, 1954 in Venice, when some classes at the Pascoli di Este school held classes in Piazza San Marco. Listening to Maestro Gallana in that context was not easy: “We were distracted by all the architectural beauties, among other things, the teacher did not have a megaphone, there was no other form of sound amplification – the story of a former student – but it was not a trip, that trip to Venice was, if anything, the demonstration of the state school educating its students well, imparting order and discipline. “A century later, what’s left?” The parallel between tuberculosis that plagued the early years of the twentieth century and coronavirus – notes the president of Pro Loco, Riccardo Piva -: both have disrupted the school world but have given the green light to experiment with new education models “.

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