Italian popular education between fascism and democracy, 1943-1954 : the work and legacy of the Allied Control Commission Education Subcommission / Steven Finnegan White.
This dissertation examines the efforts of American, British and Italian educators to overcome Italy's authoritarian heritage during the Allied occupation of 1943-1945 and the first decade of the post-war period. American-sponsored initiatives on behalf of a more "democratic" Italian educational system preceded more extensive campaigns in Germany and Japan. In Italy, however, reconstruction was not imposed upon a defeated enemy, but nurtured more gradually in cooperation with a "co-belligerent" government and a defensive and uneasy Catholic Church. During the Allied occupation, the pragmatic philosopher Thomas Smith and the pedagogical reformer Carleton Washburne worked closely with two liberal Ministers of Public Instruction, Adolfo Omodeo and Guido De Ruggiero, in purging Fascists and Fascist principles from Italian schooling. Their collaboration culminated in the "progressive" elementary curriculum of 1945. Beginning in 1946, these reform efforts were reinterpreted by a series of Christian Democratic ministers, beginning with Guido Gonella, a central figure in the cultural counter-reformation led by the Catholic Church in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The documentary base of the dissertation includes the archival record of the Allied Control Commission's Education Subcommission, official Ministry of Public Instruction publications and the memoirs of American and Italian reformers. Newspaper articles, schoolteachers' periodicals, reconstruction textbooks, lesson plans and interviews with retired schoolteachers, conducted by the author in 1981-82, provide evidence of reform at the classroom level. By correlating the perspectives of educational statesmen and ordinary schoolteachers, the dissertation evaluates the coherence and practicality of American progressivism, Italian liberalism and Roman Catholicism as foundations for cultural reconstruction.
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