In the Italian parliament this week a bill was proposed and a plan debated. This could be a news story in itself considering the reputation of this notoriously lazy bunch of pollies. However the story continues, as the bill is about teaching children as young as six lessons about wine.
The proposal centres around schools in Bresnia in northern Italy and was initiated by local growers and tasters. It is hoped children will learn about the culture and history of wine.
Dario Stefano, the senator who introduced the bill, said “Italy is now the biggest wine producer in the world. It is our history and we should be happy and proud to teach our children about it”.
While there’s been more than one reproachful mutter about children tasting wine, those behind the plan insist “there will be no tasting, since we believe the body cannot metabolise alcohol before 17 years of age”.
However one teaching organisation, headed by Aretta Luxfordori, has mentioned that perhaps some teachers would need to consume wine in the lesson “for demonstrative purposes only”.
Professor Attilio Scienza of the University of Milan chimed in, saying that one important aspect of the course is to educate people about alcohol abuse. He believes wine drinking in a family setting is on the wane. In this setting people drink socially and responsibly, because “you don’t drink to get drunk”.
The proposal has been looked at by many in Australia, as here we have a terrible record of alcohol abuse in all age groups. So the question being asked is, can these lessons work well for Australia children?
Ralph McBarf, who heads the Canberra based think-tank Sensible Lessons on Beer (SLOB), has been drawing up proposals for schooling on beer. He described how beer education is taught haphazardly in 88% of Australian households.
“We desperately need some uniform education on the role of beer in Australian family life. In many homes it is always ‘happy hour’, but this is not the case in the real world”, he said.
When we contacted McBarf he was very talkative and even delighted to discuss the matter. He continued, “I’ll just knock off this tinnie and tell you about our long term plans to educate kids about other substances”.
“But we must do more research, as the statistics on substance use and abuse and how to teach it are unavailable to us. This will be an especially difficult task, as the people we need to interview have terrible memories”.
McBarf then played us a recording of Slim Dusty’s timeless hit “A Pub With No Beer”, then he began to cry. He was having ‘a moment’, so we said we’d call him back later…