(from 2002...) Italians are deeply concerned about their children’s future and realize that education is the key to a better life. Our parents and grandparents, immigrants or not, also made it clear there was more to life than material success. They “pounded home” that education was not only valued for its practical help but also underscored the importance of being a cultured person. That meant knowing more than just Joe DiMaggio’s batting average... it meant learning about the arts, good manners, and getting along with others.
Our parents saw to it that religious education was an integral part of our lives as well. This we attained at either a parochial school or at CCD classes after school or on Saturday mornings. Mama had the responsibility of making sure we got our schoolwork done and were dressed properly. Papa was the disciplinarian who looked to mama to keep him informed and that usually took place around the dinner table.
Even when young people were not interested in getting a higher education, parents urged them to learn a skill, craft or service and to be good at it. “Be the best you can at what you’re going to do” was a value that was “hammered” home on a clear and consistent basis.
Our parents wanted us to have a better life and provided us with the tools to do so.
The steps to achievement were not only schooling but adherence to basic rules and values that were to be practiced in every facet of our lives. Always honor and obey your parents was one of those tenets. This went “hand and glove” with unconditional love. Also love and fear God and respect the saints. Respect the elders… from them one learns and prospers. And then there was work hard, work always and work honestly. Rest is only on Sunday
and for the lazy.
This issue of La Gazzetta is, in part, a tribute to education. There’s the story of Maria Montessori who had an enormous impact on the educational approach used worldwide, the Columbus Day Scholarship Luncheon hosted by the Italian American Societies of Northern Ohio, the scholarships awarded during the last school year by the Italian American Cultural Foundation, the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation’s support of education, and the educational program offered by PAS Publishing to Ohio high schools and colleges.
Put education in the forefront of your children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Help in whatever way you can to improve their minds. Encourage them to give of themselves and their talents to their family, their fellow human beings and to their community.