VATICAN, May 15, 2014 (CNS) — Pope Francis told about 300,000 Italian students that he loved school as a boy, as a teacher and as a bishop because it was a place where he met different people and where he was challenged to try to understand reality.
Meeting with the students May 10 in St. Peter’s Square — and along the wide boulevard leading to it — the pope said he has never forgotten his first grade teacher. “I love school because that woman taught me to love it.”
“Going to school means opening your mind and heart to reality in all its richness and various dimensions,” he said. “If one learns how to learn — this is the secret, learning to learn — this will stay with you forever.”
The pope, who taught high school literature and psychology as a young Jesuit in Argentina, warned teachers that their students would be able “to smell” it if a teacher lacked the enthusiasm to keep learning.
The evening celebration of “the world of Italian schools,” an event sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference, was designed to promote collaboration between the Italian church, its schools and the government and its schools. Italian comedians, actors, singers and students entertained the crowd in between speeches from the pope, teachers and Stefania Giannini, Italy’s education minister. [Full story]