Social issues - Development 2017

Barbiana was a hamlet in Italy. In 1954, a priest Don Milani arrived in this forgotten place. The pupils of the school flunked their end of the year exams every year. Don Milani convinced the families to create an absolutely unique School: Ten school hours every day, 365 days a year.

    • Year of production
    • 2017
    • Genres
    • Social issues, True Story
    • Countries
    • FRANCE
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.6 - 1 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Bernard KLEINDIENST
    • Writer(s)
    • Bernard KLEINDIENST
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • In 1950, Barbiana was a hamlet not far from Florence in Italy. The Elementary school was composed of five classes located in one room. The pupils of the school flunked their end of the year exams. The children used to leave it half illiterate and to go to work timorous and despised.
      In 1954, a priest Don Lorenzo Milani arrived in this forgotten place where it had been decided to send no more priests. Was he a priest whom nobody wanted? And what had this one done to be sent up there to Barbiana? Even if they did not show it, questions could be read in the village people's eyes. Fathers observed listened but hardly talked; children rather unsociable because of their isolation leaved in difficulty in a so-called civilized world: flunked at all levels. History ignores illiterates except when they kill intellectuals.
      Don Lorenzo convinced the families not to employ their children on farm work but to create a school.
      Barbiana School was an absolutely unique School: ten school hours every day, 365 days a year. It was a hard life; one never was allowed to do nothing; such a discipline was enough to make you abandon any desire to come back. But nobody failed at Barbiana.
      The school was nondenominational. After language study there were the usual subjects: mathematics, geography … The school was principally a time and place were children could begin and relate to life: the reading aloud of newspapers, of a part of Don Milani’s mail, then later the reading of books like “The apology of Socrates”,”The life of Gandhi”, lives of men who came into conflict with Law and Order in their time not to shake them but to improve them.
      What they did not understand or what was not obvious, they analyzed it; Don Lorenzo made them react and asked them questions based on concrete observations.
      Then, in School they talked about what they saw, heard and experienced outside; the School became the center of their thoughts.
      This School, so profound and rich in learning, gave it child the passionate desire to return.
      As far as studies were concerned, nobody was hopeless. They took their exams: all successful candidates.
      The successes young of Barbiana achieved in the state exam only confirmed the deficiency of the state School. Don Lorenzo and the children analyzed the problem. The results were published in a book : “Letter to a School Mistress” or “The compulsory School is not allowed to fail its pupils”. For them, a School that makes a selection, destroys culture; it deprives the poor of the means of expression.
      Don Lorenzo died in 1967, on June 26th at 44 of leukaemia. He is buried in Barbiana where the last families who stayed in order that their children could continue to attend the School, have now come down on to the plain. The village is now deserted. In his will he says to the children:
      "I loved you more then I loved God, but I hope that He does not pay attention to these subtleties and He has registered all as His own.. Many kisses, yours affectionately,
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