"The Mafia will be defeated by an army of elementary school teachers", Gesualdo Bufalino said in 1995, while Italy was under attack by the Mafia. Judges, policemen, journalist and citizens committed to fighting crime and promoting the values of justice and democracy were being killed. In that time, there was a growing awareness of the Mafia as disease and the need to find an antidote. New laws were introduced to punish the Mafia and counter criminal activities, but is was not enough. The Mafia is a very strong organization, able to reorganize and adapt to the economy and to offer immediate responses to the needs of the people. Known throughout the world for its criminal activities, the Mafia organization is characterized first and foremost as a social system in which strong values determine the culture and vice versa. Each person develops a way of thinking about reality, known as a "mafia feeling" from an early age. Fallowell, observing the mafia phenomenon in Sicily, said "the mafia grows not by force, but in a natural way, like the prickly pear (...) it thrives in an insidious way rather than in a noisy way" (Lo Verso, 1998: 17). That's why, as Bufalino said, "the intervention of primary teachers would represent a very long-term cure". Not only does the transmission of culture pass through the school, but the school is also an essential engine to educate for change, and educate only if change is produced (Rinaldi, 2001: 38). The political and pedagogical experience of the Italian municipality of Reggio Emilia, more commonly known as the Reggio Emilia Approach (REA), focused on the recognition of children's knowledge and their role as active builders of their own knowledge, can offer a starting point to reflect on the importance of a teacher's role in places where mafia culture is predominant. Starting with the image of the child as a rich value, to recognizing children as knowing resources and the role they play as active builders of new knowledge, the teacher can be a critical part of the solution. Do teachers research the educational strategies for truly practising the guarantee of children's rights? How can they "jump the wall" and move beyond the shadows of a "typical 'mafia pedagogy' that, by appealing to a false community mystique, creates bonds of dependence and loyalty from which it is very difficult to break free" (Francesco, 2020: 28)?
An army of teachers: a pedagogical approach to fight against Mafia’s culture / Rizzo, Faustino. - (2022). (Intervento presentato al convegno SJMS: Social Justice in Multicultural Settings tenutosi a Haifa nel 08/06/2022).