Turin – The “Evening School of Brother Teodoreto”

Turin – The “Evening School of Brother Teodoreto”

Created by Brother Teodoreto in 1951, and it bears his name.

Brother Teodoreto planned it as a school for Italian boys who, for various reasons, had missed out on the chance to obtain a diploma of post-secondary education. The school would give them the opportunity to recover lost time by following a course of study to complete their cultural and technical education. It would also need to motivate them, because most of them were already in work and so the effort to complete a course of study was all the more difficult for them.

In fact, in order to progress in the skills required by their work and have a smoother career in their employment, the students needed to be supported as they returned to the classroom desks. Particular attention was paid to technical drawing, the study of foreign languages, economics, as well as to Italian language and culture. In time and as post-secondary education became more generalised, the school lost its attraction, and it eventually closed in the 1980’s.

A few years later however, when a Signum Fidei group had been set up in the Collegio San Giuseppe in Turin under the spiritual direction of Brother Bruno, the idea of reopening the school was born, preserving its characteristic ideals but turning it to a more diversified use. Those were the days when the streets of our city were starting to fill up with foreigners, mostly from Africa but also from many Asian countries. The Signum Fidei of the Collegio San Giuseppe decided to turn to these foreigners, tirelessly collecting them from the numerous reception centres and also finding them through the parishes and in the local markets. Thus it was that the Evening School of Brother Teodoreto was reborn in 2009.

The classes are made up mostly of students aged between 18 and 30 from Africa (Nigeria, Senegal, Marocco, Ghana), South America and (this year) from Pakistan. They come in great numbers, but although many may register, those who persevere are few. Their rate of attendance is varied, as is also the level of basic preparation possessed by each individual.

There are some who attended schools regularly in their countries of origin, and so they only need to learn Italian. But alongside them there are others who, because of wars and continuing disorders in the places they come from, have had no kind of schooling. In some of our classes we have had university lecturers and French authors alongside people who are totally illiterate.

It is tiring but also inspiring for the teachers, when they find they have to switch from being a primary school teacher to being a university lecturer. Sometimes the harvest is great but the labourers are few. The teaching method has to be invented and reinvented every day, because it is essential to adapt it to the individuals. The fundamental need in this kind of learning is the need to acquire a command of the spoken language. It is obviously needed for communication, but this is precisely the most difficult aspect of language to teach.

In the first place, we need to help our students to overcome their extreme timidity when trying to express themselves. This has to be done by using very simple sentences relating to the various situations of daily life. In this school of Brother Teodoreto, we seem to have developed good, fine-tuned methods of teaching, so much so that, while studying in a state school which allows them to get a secondary school diploma, the students choose to follow parallel courses in Italian in the Collegio Sa Giuseppe in Torino.

Prof. Aida dell’Oglio
Signum Fide

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