Publish date 24-04-2023

by Matteo Spicuglia

Nothing is really taken away. The last lesson of a teacher

No one is born learned. No one can "make" himself. We are the sum of our experience, of those who loved us, encouraged us, of those who lovingly wove every step. It's true: it takes a village to raise a child. Laura, my elementary school teacher, had a special place in mine.

She at the time she was a young woman, beautiful in appearance, with blonde hair, a second mother. Volcanic, a pioneer in her own way. She capable of inventing everything to keep the attention and flashes of us schoolchildren alive. It was the eighties, the elementary school in Italy was leaving more traditional educational models, opening up to new experiences. Laura understood it: the basics were very important, but learning shouldn't have to be limited to writing and arithmetic. There was a world to grasp, to experience, to imagine. Signs of barely sketched epochal transformations that deserved to be caught.

Laura was not understood by everyone, but she saw far. For example, it was not easy to get the school to buy the first computers. Or to convince families that it made sense to teach us students the language of comics, advertising and communication in general. I remember when she decided to stage A Midsummer Night's Dream with us little children actors and also set designers. Or when she thought of making a music video and a small film in the local dialect. Laura was a flood of ideas, but without ever failing her institutional duties. If I've learned something about writing it's also thanks to her, to her second grade notebook in which she forced us to write the difficult words, the ones a child doesn't know yet, with the right meaning next to them. And again, the invitation to use different registers and styles because Italian is a wonderful language and like any treasure it simply asks to be discovered, step by step. Laura was a true educator, able to balance sweetness and severity, to be totally involved in her task, but with the wisdom of someone who also knows how to let go in the end. She did it with generations of children, but always remained present. In forty years, we have never lost sight of each other. I am far away, but she is still close, in my conquests, in my efforts, in the results achieved, which she too has enjoyed, because she humbly felt part of it. She was right! I saw her again a few days ago: still her, beautiful, maternal, even if she no longer remembers anything from the past and finds it hard to articulate complete sentences: the unexpected proof of this time, for her and also for her husband who has always been her Neighbor. Today, even more than yesterday.

As soon as I met her, she smiled at me and called me her. "Good evening, pleasure!" She didn't recognize me. Yet, I've never felt so present. At least in me. Because if there was no longer communication in that room, she still throbbed everything we exchanged. There was me as a child and the knowledge she hatched in me. There was affection and gratuitous love that she doesn't need words to express. There was the mystery of fragility that takes your breath away, but does not erase the meaning and dignity of life. There was hope and the certainty that nothing is really taken away. All palpable, all close. She felt in the air. My teacher and I… The aura.

Matteo Spicuglia

NP Febbraio 2023

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