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The right to roots – The prospect of “generation” is opposed to that of “production”. The right of the other as a parent is based on the reflection according to which persons are “generated”, while objects are “produced”. Any exchange between these two levels involves an alteration of values and criteria of respect. To be even more straightforward, one is entitled to the right to family and a right to history, or the right to family as history, that is, the right to one’s entire physiological, symbolic and moral roots.

The right to be assertive – The possibility of taking on a passive position is now extremely widespread. Only a few conceivers/experts/programmers enjoy a direct relationship with technologies, while an increasing number of people take on a passive-dependent type of position. Hence the need to distinguish between “literacy” tasks and deviations towards this kind of passive attitude. Although teaching people to become literate continues to be the primary duty, what seems to be emerging in an equally evident way is the need for training and experience in the forms, ways and languages characterizing immediate action and expression. The recovery of the human dimension in education thus requires a definite playing down of the hype around the artificial dimension.

The right to a daily life – The issue at stake is the process of “estrangement” from the immediate world of relations, opportunities and problems. People tend to continuously and spectacularly immerse themselves in visions, impressions, vicissitudes and landscapes that are remote from and discontinuous with respect to the actual reality in which they live, and especially in which they have to learn to exist. In essence, we are referring to that sphere of the exotic which is a substitute for reality, which may be criticized when it is invoked too frequently and monopolizes attention.

The right to an alternative – The world of media consumption has been under excessive attack and has been somewhat abused. And yet, there is a general and widespread lack of alternatives in educational activities, starting with the family and going as far as school itself and social life in broader terms. It is thus necessary to help adults find a way to recover their imagination and their ability to play. School education programs should be based on a different approach, the patterns and structure of leisure time should be profoundly reviewed, and educators who are “alternative” in terms of their capacity to propose new ideas should be trained. This would be a way to counter the great channels of show business and commercialized entertainment, and would lead to a new way of considering the world of sport and tourism.

The right to identity – Given the current “multiplication of cultural codes and models” (L.Sciolla), the approach to education should not expose itself to the risk of a koinè devoid of all meaning and critical foundations. It should avoid treading down the perilous path of total standardization, where all differences are wiped out. As regards interpersonal relationships, for example, obviously one should relate to the other in his or her “reality” as a person facing another equally personal reality. This without giving up one’s values and meanings; one can indeed express his or her identity in freedom, but that identity cannot be suspended in a vacuum.

The right to authority – We should leave behind the wrongful concept which

The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments

Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004

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