Italian Language Blog

Back To School – Part 1 Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in Culture

If someone had told me, as I joyfully walked out of the school gates for the last time way back in 1974, that I’d one day be teaching creative workshops in a village school in Italy, well I’d probably have thought them crazy!

But life, as we all know, is full of many strange twists, turns and unexpected discoveries.
Io, a scuola, ho fatto schifo! (I was really useless at school). Well that, at least, is what I was led to believe. As I grew up I began to realise that it was actually school which was useless for me. I’m an inveterate lateral thinker, and the schools which I attended were designed to shut down lateral thinking and encourage unquestioning, linear thinking.

Espulso da scuola! – Kicked out of school!
Kicked out of Grammar school at the age of 14, I then spent three years in an institution for ragazzi disadattati (‘socially maladjusted’ boys, a label which I’m now proud to bear) before eventually finding liberation at art school.

Me as a young art student with a couple of classmates circa 1975. I’m the one in the middle!

Skip forward another decade and a half, and many jobs later I’m leaving University with a 1st class honours degree in Early Years Education and Art

Long story short, I worked as a teacher and art coordinator in inner city Kindergartens, Primary Schools, and Teacher Training Institutions for the next sixteen years.
Poi basta, non ce la facevo più! (Then, enough, I couldn’t do it any more!) The bureaucracy, constant pressure from all sides, and added stresses of the inner city environment had caused me to loose sight of what was important: nurturing creativity, the ability to solve problems and to use independent thought. I was exhausted and in need of a change, time to quit!

Fast forward once again to l’anno scorso (last year). I’d been living in Lunigiana for eleven years, the stress and fury of life and teaching in the city is long behind me, but something was missing. I have an ability and a wealth of experience to share, and nothing to do with it. Quindi, mando un messaggio alla mia amica Simona che è maestra di scuola elementare:

Ciao Simona, mi piacerebbe offrire i miei servizi come volontario in una scuola primaria. Sapevi che ho fatto il maestro di Kindergarten e scuola primaria per tanti anni in Inghilterra?
Posso offrire (ovviamente) l’inglese, ma anche attività creative perché sono specializzato in arte, innanzitutto lo sviluppo della creatività nei bambini.
Sei l’unica insegnate di quell’età che conosco. Mi puoi aiutare?
Grazie!” 🙂
“Hi Simona, I’d like to offer my services as a volunteer in a primary school. Did you know that I was a Kindergarten and primary school teacher for many years in England?
I can offer English (obviously), but also creative development classes because I’m a specialist in Art, primarily the development of creativity in children.
You’re the only teacher of that age group that I know. Can you help me? Thank you!”🙂

Simona replies:

“Ciao Geoff.. ti ringrazio per la proposta…ti faccio un po’ di pubblicità…e penso a che cosa si può fare insieme….😊😊😊..ti faccio sapere presto…grazie a te!!!Ciao” ☺️☺️
“Hi Geoff.. thank you for the offer…I’ll spread the word…and have a think about what we can do together….😊😊😊..I’ll let you know soon…thank you!!!Bye!☺️☺️

Then, a bit later:

Ciao Geoff.. mi piacerebbe sentirti per organizzare delle attività nella mia scuola nel mese di febbraio…legate al libro ed alla lettura…che rientrerebbero all’interno di un progetto che si chiama Cantiere del leggere… se mi vuoi mandare per favore il tuo numero così ci sentiamo…
“Hi Geoff..I’d like to talk to you about organizing some activities in my school in February…linked to books and reading…they would be part of a project called Cantiere del leggere…could you send me your number please so that I can get in touch with you…”

In part two, I’ll tell you about my incredible experience of going back to school … but this time in Italy!

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  1. Joan Engelhaupt:

    Wonderful to learn this information about your past! No wonder Serena loves you!

  2. Jane:

    Grazie. Questa è una storia molto interessante e, come al solito, alcune espressioni nuove e utili.

  3. Linzi:

    I’m so pleased you are doing these workshops. You are so talented and great with young people … I’m glad your creative skills are being recognised. Love that photo of you too, big bro. 😁

    • Geoff:

      @Linzi Ciao Sorellina!

      It’s partly thanks to you!
      I’d been toying with this idea for a while, but it was working with you at your school of rock that really inspired me to get on with it.

      Tanti abbracci! 😍

  4. Dorina:

    Hi, it’s so nice to hear that lateral and creative thinking does have a way to enter the establishment.
    It gives hope, and a smile.

    • Geoff:

      @Dorina Yes, it’s Geoff the subversive at work again! 😉
      P.S. I edited your comment to include the ‘a’.

  5. Vicki:

    Non vedo l’ora! 😊


    I am looking forward to hearing about your new experience at the Italian school.
    A presto

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