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L'ora corrente della Conferenza è: 26. magg. 2022 11:18:02 CEST

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Programma generale
Parallel sessions - A.7.2 The America Syndrome: The Influence of The United States on European Educational Cultures and Policies, Between Myth and Reality
Venerdì, 04.06.2021:
17:15 - 19:30

Chair di sessione: Luana Salvarani
Chair di sessione: Andrea Giacomantonio
Luogo, sala: Room 2
Panel della sessione:
A.7. The America Syndrome: The Influence of The United States on European Educational Cultures And Policies, Between Myth And Reality

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Luca Tedesco

Roma Tre, Italy

Luca Tedesco, Roma Tre University (

Education, Instruction, Teaching, Identity, Enterprise

In the Italian school system there has always been the need to combine generalist and disinterested education with that oriented in a professional sense (Baldacci 2019). Since the 1990s, however, the processes of integration and economic competition on a global level have also increased the pressure in Italy to bend the school system to the demands of the productive world, demands aimed at increasing human capital, that is to say the stock of knowledge and skills possessed by the individual (Baldacci 2019; Cornali 2017; Vittadini 2004; Becker 1993).

This transformation of the school's aims has been stigmatized by those who believe that the excessive emphasis on human capital imposed by the neo-liberalism ordo is marginalizing the main objective of this institution, namely the full deployment of the learner's critical and thinking autonomy (Baldacci 2019, which revised in this key Bartley 1983).

This deployment would be feasible only by an educational system devoted to the formation of democratic citizenship and the conveyance of constitutional freedoms, rights and duties, a system in which the necessary connection with the world of work should be inserted at the end of school pathways, entrusting it to Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore post-secondary courses and to post-university first and second level masters and by reducing and reforming school-work alternation in secondary schools, as it is unable in today's configuration to develop complex skills (Baldacci 2009).

From the statement, however, that the political-institutional regime most suited to the full development of human faculties is the democratic one, it does not follow that participation in the construction of this regime can be presented as an ethical duty of the scientist as such, given that each associative model responds to value tables whose validity cannot be scientifically founded.

Methods and outcome

Retracing a line of thought that distinguishes the moment of instruction from that of (value-based) education (Galli Della Loggia 2019; Zagrebelsky 2019), the aim of the essay is to show how the relatively recent influence of the US market-oriented school system on the European one coexists with the traditional role entrusted to the public teacher.

The latter, in fact, for both historical-political and institutional reasons, cannot fail to represent the republican and constitutional identity topoi as objective and universal data rather than as historically determined and transient experiences, thus lending himself to a work of unscientific mystification completely symmetrical to that of those who want to make school a natural vehicle for entrepreneurial logic.


Baldacci, M. La scuola al bivio, Milano: FrancoAngeli, 2019

Bartley, W.W. Come demarcare la scienza dalla metafisica, Roma: Borla, 1983

Becker, G.S. Human Capital, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994 (expanded edition)

Cornali, F. La ricchezza intangibile, Acireale: Bonanno, 2017

Galli Della Loggia, E. L'aula vuota, Venezia: Marsilio, 2019

Vittadini, G. (ed.) Capitale umano. La ricchezza dell'Europa, Milano: Guerini e Associati Zagrebelsky G. Mai più senza maestri, il Mulino: Bologna, 2019


Dorena Caroli

University of Bologna, Italy

The reception of John Dewey’s conception in the Soviet Union has been extensively studied at internationa level. In fact, his works were already translated into Russian from the beginning of the twentieth century to reform the Tsarist school. Furthermore American activism was the basis of a series of experiments in the reform of the Soviet school. Therefore, this paper consists of three parts. The first introduces Dewey's translations in Russia into the contest of the renewal of the "free education movement" (svobodnoe vospitanie), before the Revolution, since this aspect is less known than the spread of activism in the Soviet school of the 1920s. The second deals with the reforms of the Soviet school in the 1920s and the circulation of American activism within it. In the context of the Soviet labour school, in fact, not only Dewey's conception but also other the methods such as the Projects and the Dalton Plan that were inspired by activism, were introduced to renew the teaching strategies inside the Marxist school intended as a laboratory that united theory and practice. In the third part we will analyze Dewey’s work Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World: Mexico — China — Turkey, and the observations of the Soviet schools he had the opportunity to visit during his trip to the USSR in 1928, in order to understand in which way he observed the realization of his pedagogical conception.


Andrea Giacomantonio

Università telematica Pegaso, Italia

In my previous works, I assumed that competence-based education is probably a neoliberal biopolitical dispositive (Giacomantonio, 2015 and 2016). But Luana Salvarani argues with the use of “neoliberal” from a historical perspective. As Foucault’s work Naissance de la biopolitique (Foucault, 2004) played a pivotal role in my reasoning, I could have naively generalized some among Foucault’s statements.

In order to discuss the mutual legitimation between power and instructional knowledge, we should investigate the genealogy of the competence-based education in European and Italian political and economic system. A very complex field of investigation, which I approach starting from the idea of biopolitics in Giorgio Agamben’s work.

I take into account Homo sacer (Agamben, 1995), Stato di eccezione (Agamben, 2003) and Quel che resta di Auschwitz (Agamben, 1998).

According to Agamben’s historical-theoretical analysis, power turns itself into sovereign power as it proves capable of proclaiming the state of exception. Thus, power is inherently biopolitical, and it holds over bare life. This dynamic banishes, breaks down, dismisses any life-form.

Recently, biopolitics has gained more and more power, and this can be explained only in part through the pandemic issue. Rather, it is an output of the crisis that affects the nation-state as the holder of the sovereign power. In this frame, the figure of the refugee severs any bond between birth and citizenship, that is the nation-state’s very foundation. Camps – refugee camps as well as concentration and extermination camps – reppresents the biopolitics’ paradigm. Nazism was “the first radically biopolitical State” (Agamben, 1995, 158). People attempt to include people into the biopolitical project – this aim has been partially achieved by the industrialized countries; all along the 20th century, it brings together both left and right, communist and capitalist countries.

The paper will question the role and job of education within such a general disposition, with particular attention to the competence-based education, assuming that it is the result of hegemonic instrumental rationality.


Berit Grønn

Østfold University College, Norway

In this presentation, I look at the foreign languages subjects within the Norwegian educational system, in view of the Core Curriculum for primary, lower and upper secondary education, the actual educational policies in Norway, and the 21st skills development.

In Norway, English as a foreign language (L2) is a compulsory subject, which is taught from the 1st grade in primary education. Usually, the students choose a third language (L3) in year 8 (age 13), and Spanish, German, French, and Italian are the most popular languages in upper secondary education. Learning foreign languages gives students the opportunity to come into contact with other people and cultures, and the main purposes of foreign languages subjects are, among others, to increase the students’ understanding of how people live and think, promote greater interaction, understanding and respect among people with different cultural backgrounds and foster democratic commitment and responsible citizenship. The intellectual freedom implies the allowance for other points of view, and the courage to think and act according to one’s own convictions. The competence aims give schools the freedom organize tuition and choose content and the methodology.

During 2018, I conducted a pilot study in which I aimed to explore how teachers’ trust or distrust in different stakeholders in the educational system, such as school leaders, school owners, national educational authorities and lawmakers, influences their lesson planning and execution as they attempt to achieve the teaching goals as described above. I conducted qualitative interviews with six teachers of Spanish. I asked them to describe and reflect on in what ways their selection of teaching and learning resources, choice of pedagogical methods and organization of learning, are conditioned by trust, or distrust, in the stakeholders. I also asked them to describe how they plan and execute learning activities in order to promote collaboration and democratic values and attitudes.

During spring 2021, I further explore selected findings by carrying out qualitative interviews and document analysis concerning the same topic. Since spring 2018, the situation of the foreign languages subjects has changed. The number of pupils studying foreign languages (L3) in Norway has declined, and the national educational authorities are in the process of implementing a new curriculum [1]. At the same time, the Norwegian Government, a three-party minority of the Conservative party, the Centre, Christian Democratic and, Liberal parties, is in process of revising the educational system, specifically in regards to upper secondary education. One of the main goals is to reduce the number of core subjects, making more subjects elective, such as foreign languages (L3), history, geography, and natural sciences. Only the subjects Norwegian, English, and Mathematics will remain compulsory [6]. By June 2021, I will be able to show some preliminary results of the interviews and document analysis, and I will discuss what effects this educational reform will have on the teachers’ trust in government, the interest in and status of foreign languages subjects, the subject content, and the pupils’ possibilities to develop transferable skills.


Emanuela Susca

Università degli studi di Urbino "Carlo Bo", Italia

In his recent study on social inequalities entitled "Capital et idéologie", Thomas Piketty dedicates some interesting observations to the role of philanthropy in financing and directing education both in advanced capitalist countries and in less developed economies. Essentially, according to Piketty, philanthropy paradoxically helps to deepen inequalities in three ways: subtracting large sums of money from the finances of countries; contributing to the strengthening of a meritocratic ideology that celebrates success and blames the losers; financing schools and universities according to the neo-liberal model in a fundamentally undemocratic way.

Starting from this, my contribution intends to offer some further reflections focusing mainly on the following four questions: A) What cultural and ideological vision explains the success of philanthropic foundations established in the United States and often committed to funding educational projects? B) To what extent can or should philanthropic Anglo-Saxon experiences be exported to Europe, in a cultural and regulatory context other than that of the United States? C) How is philanthropic capitalism actually affecting the development of education, both in the United States and in Europe? D) Does the philanthropic model pose a threat to democratic education?

To conclude, a reflection on whether the "America Syndrome" or, more precisely, on whether the mutual influence between US and European or Italian education policies and models in particular, should also pay attention both to the role and possible developments of philanthropic financing.

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