Your Summer Homework


An Italian high school teacher has people all around the world completing his latest assignments. Take them on for yourself: You’ll be happy you did!

Cesare Catà, a high school teacher at Don Brasco in Fermo (a small town near the Adriatic Sea), has given his students 15 assignments to complete during their summer break. Think that sounds harsh? Take a look at the translation below and decide for yourself:

1. Sometimes, in the morning, go take a walk along the seashore completely alone: look at the way sunlight is reflected on the water and think about the things you love the most in your life; be happy.

2. Try to use some of the new words we learned together this year: the more things you manage to say, the more things you’ll manage to think; and the more things you think, the freer you’ll be.

*Some of the words Catà is referencing: Philosophy, Agape, Unconscious, Nostalgia, Ontological, Nihilism, Solipsism, Hermeneutics, Humanities
and Absurdism

3. Read as much as you possibly can. But not because you have to. Read because summers inspire adventures and dreams, and when you read you’ll feel like swallows in flight. Read because it’s the best form of rebellion you have (for advice on what to read, come see me).

4. Avoid things, situations and people who make you feel negative or empty: seek out stimulating situations and the companionship of friends who enrich you, who understand you and appreciate you for who you are.

5. If you feel sad or afraid, don’t worry: summer, like every marvelous thing in life, can throw the soul into confusion. Try keeping a diary as a way to talk about how you feel (in September, if you’d like, we’ll read it together).

6. Dance, shamelessly. On a dance floor near your house, or alone in your room. Summer is dance, and it’s foolish not to take part.

7. At least once, watch the sunrise. Stay silent and breathe. Close your eyes, be thankful.

8. Play a lot of sports.

9. If you meet someone you find enchanting, tell him or her as sincerely and gracefully as you can. It doesn’t matter if she or he doesn’t understand. If they don’t, she or he wasn’t meant to be; otherwise, summer 2015 will be a golden time together (if this doesn’t work out, go back to point number 8).

10. Review your notes from our class: Compare the things we read and learned to the things that happen to you.

11. Be as happy as sunlight, as untamable as the sea.

12. Don’t swear. Always be well-mannered and kind.

13. Watch films with heartbreaking dialogue (in English if you can), in order to improve your language skills and your ability to dream. Don’t let the movie end with the final credits: live it again while you’re living and experiencing your summer.

*On the flip side, Americans should try watching more films in Italian.

14. In sparkling sunlight or hot summer nights, dream about how your life could and should be. During the summer, always do everything you can to avoid giving up, and everything you can to pursue your dream.

15. Be good.

Catà, who posted the above assignments on his Facebook Page and has since gone viral, equates his teaching style with that of Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society. He recently told the Huffington Post, “I perfectly remember my summers as a student, some years ago: full of sport, swimming, love affairs, dancing, romances, dreams.” As for summer reading, Catà shared, “The books I read in my past summers enlightened my coming days and gave me a new key to face problems, joys, the person I loved and the ones I hobnobbed with.”

And, just in case you aren’t fully immersed in the magic, consider this one last thought regarding the season’s endless possibilities: “I think that the radiance of summer, especially during adolescence, could have a special spiritual influence.”

Amen. Let’s all do some homework this summer.

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