July 11, 2008

Privacy

The Maturità has come and gone and holidays are on for all. This year held one big novità. For the first time ever, the maturità results were not posted at the school entrance for all to see. Instead, in the name of "privacy"*, each student had to go to the school office and make an official grade request to receive a printed form. So much for my recent post (here) on this public display of private information.

Of course all this change caused havoc, lines, angry students and parents all complaining about this ridiculous new layer of paperwork. One student was interviewed for the newspaper as saying, "what privacy, we have spent the last five years together in the same classroom day after day, of course we will all know each other's final grade anyway."

Another example of cultural roots fighting change.

* Interesting aside: the Italians say "privacy" in English as there is no true translation of the concept as we know it in Italian. So the new "privacy laws" are called "le leggi sulla privacy". Now try applying those, when your language doesn't even recognize the essence of the concept! In true Italian style the laws are very, very thorough, so exacting in their detail that NO ONE could EVER hope to actually adhere to them properly! I know of someone who has set up a consulting business to help offices adhere to the ever changing privacy laws.

a domani,
E

3 comments:

Laura said...

I always found that interesting, that Italians say "privacy" instead of coming up with a translation. It's amazing how language can really reveal the underlying cultural values.

SteveNYC said...

It's interesting how much privacy is emphasized in America. It's also worth noting what subjects people feel especially private about.

Information relating to one's finances for example are guarded zelously. Another is medical history.

But very few realize how easily such "private" information can become public or is already public.

I think the student's comment cuts right to the chase. At times, we set up rules/barriers to make ourselves feel more secure without thinking about why we feel we need them or whether they truly are effective.

Who knows, perhaps displying a student's grades for all to see will provide extra motivation to work harder...

Elizabeth Abbot said...

So true -- language can communicate many things! Thanks for stopping by.