Crucifix In Schools: Can You Spot The Issue?

Cruxifixes and nativity scenes will be present in schools as mandated by the Minister of Education, Marco Bussetti, reviewing what it means in Italy to be religious and what this can mean for younger minds.

Minister of Education, Marco Bussetti has mandated that crucifixes and nativity scenes will be present in schools as the symbols “…of Italian history, culture and traditions: I do not see where the concern may be to place crucifixes in our classrooms, contrary it can only help reflect.” However, history moves forward and schools are environments where children shape their minds. Thus, setting specific examples or limiting what they see may influence their worldview.

The Vatican and education

We cannot deny that the presence of the Vatican — namely, the Roman Catholic Church — has (had) an impact on the Italian culture. In Naples, we see statues of Madonna on every corner and all over Italy we can admire the beauty of thousands of churches. Mass can be listened live every Sunday on the main Italian public channel RAI 1 and what the Pope says is on the news on a daily basis. The line between the Vatican and religion blurs too often: each is an entity of its own. One can be religious and yet not place its trust in the Vatican. We should not forget that the Vatican remains a state on itself and thus, should not speak for Italy or our culture. Defined by article 7 of the Italian Constitution stating that the Catholic Church and the State remain independent on their own. Surely, traditionally we can build all nativity scenes and, considering that in Italy over 74 percent are Christians, religion is important – as in other countries too – but schools are a delicate environment.

It is in a young mind that we should be teaching all cultures, religions, and that the world is not limited to what is placed before them. That is why it is extremely important that children are given the options and all the material to form an opinion. It will not only teach them that there is more to what stands before them but, since the world is so diverse, there is nothing wrong with others way of life. Show them historical Italian traditions, but explain that other traditions do also exist.

Children who are able to rationally and factually, with strong emotional intelligence, form an opinion will make possibly future adults who will know to respect and be kind to any being, regardless of their faith, culture, or ethnicity. And yes, even of their sexuality and/or sexual orientation. Thus, if we choose to place a crucifix in schools, we should add other religious symbols, teach world religion, show how other cultures live, and expand sexual education. This will only add to the whole understanding of what it means to respect someone who may express the wish to live in a way that does not resemble theirs.

Municipality of Codroipo will eliminate dolls that are not white in primary schools

The municipality of Codroipo, a town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the north of Italy, has recently decided to eliminate any reference to a “different” culture to avoid making “obvious differences among students to improve inclusion”. Schools will eliminate dolls that are not white or throw away musical instruments that does not conform to the “common” ones present in Italy.

The term “common” here remains ambiguous and limited to what the local municipality has agreed it means. Quite sadly, it seems that these people have not understood how inclusion works. Expanding the spectrum indeed can only help.

Is there difference for a child if their doll is black or white? If we place into their minds that there is, then there will be. Rather if we tell the child that is does not matter or we make it natural in their growth the (non-existent) problem will not even be raised. Furthermore, the absence of a difference will be reflected in their social interactions, improving a future adult’s interaction with people with other worldviews.

So, adding crucifixes in school will raise many questions (and consequences) because this argument will bring forward discussions that go beyond religion. There comes the hope that if crucifixes will be really added in all schools, teachers will be brilliant enough to explain that it is due to a limited mind-set of some adults that this religious symbol, that should always be respected regardless, is not the only existing one.

In conclusion, in 2018 this article should not be written. We live in a diverse world, but globalization is an opportunity to learn about and from other cultures and faiths, while equally learning and living our own, whatever faith or culture that may be.