The novel “Padre Padrone” has always remained in my mind years after years. I read it in high school. It is a short, light book, less of 100 pages. The style is simple, bland, and unpretentious. The writer is a Sardinian. The story, in short, autobiographical: a shepherd boy who, after suffering the violence of ignorance, manages to learn to write and become a teacher. The book has been translated into 40 languages.
I recently read another similar text: Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins.
What do a Sardinian, an American and I have in common?
We share the experience of “poverty” (relative, at different levels); the absence of family interest in the school education process (at different levels); the feeling of shame/inferiority embedded in the social experiences of the working family; and the careful observation of an educational and social system that does not have a great desire to admit the “non-members”.
And then a process of redemption, of social mobility, a full-completed process of schooling that allowed us to enter in a different social and cultural system. An integration made with vigilance to the traps.
The beautiful thing about this path is the “after” of the story — exactly where the two books stop. The after is a process of integration, appreciation, enhancement of the past and the culture of origin.
Gavino Ledda for example, regarding his father, who had heavily beaten him in childhood, says:
«I am like him; our relationship with pastoralism has remained the same. Dad has a strong character He started working when he was six, he learned not to ask anyone for anything. Some shepherds are princes, kings. They are absolute masters of their space and their life” (Wikipedia)
Goggins values his past as a resource, with the metaphor of the “cookie jar”: every pain becomes a resource to draw on.
I have re-evaluated over time, after an enchanting phase of the school form, the value of knowing how to make a graft, of growing plants in the right season, of knowing how to make preserves at home, fresh pasta, of knowing how to prepare meat of an animal after slaughter. A hidden, implicit, delicate culture to which it is nice to return after an “éblouissement” (glare in English — more beautiful the French version of this world).
Schooling for me was a glare: “the difficulty in seeing in the presence of bright light, such as exposure to sunlight (direct or indirect) or strong artificial light, such as the headlights of a car at night”.
Happy, like Gavino and Goddins, to have entered and left this path of schooling — necessary because of transformation but of whose value is true only in the light of a final integration with one’s own culture, values, people and contexts.