Pruneri, Fabio (2009) How “beneficial” virus of popular education “contaminated” Sardinia island, in the first half of the 19th century. In: Educating the people, the history of popular education: 31th Session of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education, 26-29 August 2009, Utrecht, Netherlands. p. 8. Conference or Workshop Item.
Popular education has played an important role in order to build the national Italian identity. Many researchers show that, after unification of Italy (1861), the government paid attention to primary schools: teachers not only taught reading, writing and calculating but also spread new values such as patriotism, positivism, rationalism. The aim of my paper is to study this kind of schools in the first half of 19th century, when Italy was shared in many States, everyone with different education policies. I’m going to concentrate my attention on an independent and isolated region: Sardinia. In natural history, islands are quite interesting because scientists can study autochthon species and understand when local environment keeps in contact with outside ecosystems. I think historians can do what scientists do, if they want to investigate the beginning of popular school in Sardinia. After four centuries of Spanish domination, in 1720, the island passed under the rule of Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoia, prince of Piemonte, member of the Sabaudi dynasty. Only after a century of Savoia domination, the kings Carlo Felice and Carlo Alberto could begin a systematic program of reforms that was continued after the unification of Italy in 1861. The popular school called “scuola normale” arrived in Sardinia with the school reforms in 1822-1824. The aim of my paper is to show how and when models, coming from abroad, mixed with the presence of congregations of teachers, not only Jesuits, who were very active in the education of the ruling classes, but also Piarists who settled in many villages, giving life to an efficient school system made up of boarding schools, seminaries and private teaching posts. My research is founded on letters sent between: Francesco Cherubini and Antonio Manunta in the early XIX century. The first translated education books coming from Austria into Italian and tried to use simultaneous education methodology in a popular school that he founded in Milan; the second learnt from Cherubini new didactic models to instruct a maximum number of pupils at the same time and made many efforts to import them to the island. My study case is interesting such as a laboratory test: according to me, Sardinia - set in the middle of Mediterran - is a good point of view to analyze the impact of the “beneficial” virus (popular education) that “contaminated” all Europe from the end of 18th century.
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