On June 22nd, 2010, for the first time in the history of the Italian educational system, UFOs and extraterrestrials became the topic of an essay requirement for hundreds of thousands students of Italy, asked to express their thoughts on this controversial subject.
The “Maturity Exam” (also known as “Esame di Stato”, State Exam) is the final goal of every student, who wants to continue to study and enter the university world. The Maturity diploma is equivalent to the ACTs or SATs in the U.S., where the students have to pass written and oral tests. The first written exam (“Italian test”) pertains to humanistic culture and the second pertains to scientific culture. The Italian written test is identical nation-wide, regardless of the type of school the student had attended.
Usually, among the humanistic topics proposed by the Italian Educators, the test requires the students to choose from literary, sociological, historical and current life subjects. Last Tuesday 500,694 young candidates were utterly surprised to see the humanistic test dedicated to the subject of extraterrestrial life and UFOs. The test allowed students to choose which topic they wanted to write about among five choices. Each topic begins with introductory references for the students to use to help guide them on their topic.
Four of them considered the possibility of life in the Cosmos, the philosophical implications of such existence and the consequences of a possible Alien/Human contact. These four introductory references were writings of American science historian and astrobiologist Steven J. Dick, great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and contemporary famous scientists, Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies. British astrophysicist, Hawking, focused on the importance of intelligence and of tolerance. He argues that an intelligent human being has to accept the idea of the existence of many different intelligences. Arizona based astrophysicist, Davies, sees the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as a fundamental challenge for our minds and our consciousness.
Remarkably, the fifth choice referred to UFOs, its introduction was written by two experts, scientific journalist Pippo Battaglia, well known author and documentary writer and Walter Ferreri, of the Turin Astronomic Observatory also a science writer. Here is the Battaglia and Ferreri text chosen by the Ministry of Public Education to direct the Italian students:
Subject: Are We Alone?
“UFOs: uninvited guests? In the past years, as a result of public pressure, several studies were conducted primarily by the U.S Air Force to establish the nature of the UFO phenomenon… At the present state of our knowledge, the percentage of the alleged sightings found unexplainable is very low, around 1.5 to 2%. This small percentage could be attributed largely to suggestions and visions, which certainly exist… There are numerous hypotheses that may explain the nature of UFOs. For example, one hypothesis suggests that the origin of a number of sightings is in fact little known geophysical phenomena, another suggests secret experimental aircraft, yet the extraterrestrial origin is not completely excluded. The truth is that we cannot explain it with rationality and knowledge… Apparently, logic and scientific method do not seem effective in the study of UFOs for which any explanation is unsatisfactory and/or too risky”.
According to Televideo (RAI News on-line service) an unexpected 19%, almost one out of five of this young population, has chosen the UFO topic. What could be more refreshing when you are 20 and full of hope than to have a Maturity test about UFOs and life in the Universe. This is unprecedented for the Italian educational system and probably is still unseen worldwide.
Even though the Italian and European educational systems are still lacking when it comes to the UFO/ET life question as part of normal curriculum, something is changing and this initiative will certainly help to open and grow thousands of young minds.
What a difference from forty years ago when it was my turn to deal with the infamous and scary Italian Maturity test. I remember the topic I had to cover, It was the fascinating life of Ugo Foscolo, 18th century revolutionary, writer and poet, whose dark style I actually loved. My essay barely passed the scrutiny of the judging commission. I narrowly made it to university afterwards, although I soon quit. Rock Music and journalism were calling me.