Margot Blog post on Duggan 449-483

“True freedom consisted in the spontaneous fusion of the individual with the collectivity” Mussolini and his Minister of Public Instruction, Giovanni Gentile, held this position. They used this idea to increase “fascistization” in education. Gentile was given the task to restructure Italy’s educational system for a few key reasons. 1. To ensure the universities produced students who were prepared to regenerate the Italian nation. 2. To debar working and lower middle class children from “acquiring ambitions above their station.” 3. Most importantly, that those who graduated from secondary schools and universities would feel bound to the national community.

To do this, secondary schools focused greatly on classical studies, Latin, literature, history, philosophy, and religion, because these subjects were expected to transmit the “spiritual essence of Italy.” This led to the introduction of the state exam for private and public schools and the salute to the flag daily. The ministry had larger control over teachers and curriculum. Laws were put in place to ensure this control. In 1925, teachers were instructed that their teachings should educate Italian youth to understand fascism, and a law was passed that forced the retirement of any public employee who displayed views “incompatible with the general political aims of the government.” Starting in 1929 every primary and secondary school teacher was obligated to take an oath of loyalty to the regime, and by 1933, membership of the Fascist Party was required. The curriculum of theses schools was also regulated. To ensure uniformity, one state textbook was used in all primary schools starting in 1929.

Gentile believed that education was “a process of spiritual interaction between master and pupil” and this relationship required autonomy and spontaneity, so he was operating on the idea that fewer schools of higher quality would do the trick.

When doing research on Giovanni Gentile, I found this article which, if you are interested, explains his philosophy of education.

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