Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - H.1.2 Reinventing education in and through artistic languages
Friday, 04/June/2021:
1:15pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Antonietta De Feo
Session Chair: Anna Lisa Tota
Location: Room 9

Session Panels:
H.1. Reinventing education in and through artistic languages

External Resource:


Anna Lisa Tota

University Rome III, Italy

Is music education a necessary resource only for becoming a musician or for all future generations of citizens? Usually, in many countries a training in music is reserved to those who are willing to become music teachers or musicians. However, according to Rudolf Steiner music education plays a very fundamental role in the development of democratic competencies, independently on how and to what extent a child has musical talent. According to him music education represents a fundamental way to change the quality of life and shape the future of the world. The child of today will be the citizen of tomorrow. This is the reason why he suggests substituting the power of fear and ambition with that of beauty in all educational practices: “There are three effective ways of educating: with fear, with ambition, with love. We give up on the first two." (Calgren and Klinborg, 2009).

In Waldorf schools the artistic languages are considered as tools for developing a different gaze on reality since childhood. In particular, music is viewed as a necessary resource for educating future generations of citizens. Therefore, music education is not relevant just for future musicians, but it is a crucial part for educating every child.

This paper is based on the results of an autoethnography carried out by the author for eleven years in a Waldorf School located in Lombardy (2005-2016). The research aims at investigating the role of different artistic languages in a Steiner kindergarten, primary and middle school. During these years the author took part also to all the conferences and social activities organized by and for the families of that community and inspired by anthroposophical perspective. This specific contribution focuses on the musical education and the ways in which the children’s “musical ear” is shaped through everyday musical activities in kindergarten and school. According to Steiner music is a fundamental language that literally shapes the soul and the mind of every child. This is the reason why from kindergarten until middle school singing and playing music are considered fundamental activities along with all other disciplines.

The sociology of music represents a very consolidated field of study and research. Several studies have underlined the role of music in constructing social meanings, shaping public memories, changing social perception of time and space (DeNora 2000; DeNora 2003; DeNora, Ansdell 2017). Moreover, the relation between music and social identities has been extensively investigated (for example, in relation to minority groups and migrants). However, the sociology of music education is a relatively new field of study focusing on the role of music as tool for shaping pupils’ identities. Steiner’s pedagogy is here conceived a key to better understand how music education in kindergarten and primary school can affect and literally shape children’s emotional and cognitive skills. This paper aims at contributing to the sociological debate on the impact of alternative pedagogies on education and it focuses on the specificities of music as tool for educating all future citizens, not just future musicians.


Franca Zuccoli, Elisabetta Biffi

Università Milano Bicocca, Italy

Recent decades have seen growing recognition of the role of artistic languages in educational and research settings. What was once an exclusive focus on the expressive production of children has now expanded to include far greater use of artistic languages in the domain of education, including with younger and older adults. Artistic production itself has become a key tool for interpreting society, and has thus been accepted into mainstream research as a language that it is no longer possible to do without. Proponents of arts-based research (ABR) and art-informed research are currently calling for a focus on "systematic use of the artistic process…as a primary way of understanding and examining experience…" (McNiff, 2008, p.29). These methods are alternative means of exploring aspects of reality that are inaccessible to traditional forms of knowledge and more conventional methods of inquiry. In a contemporary era that is different to the past and characterized by greater uncertainty, ABR offers a strategy based on a form of observation that is complex and wide-ranging, and thus more appropriate than exclusively linear and causal approaches.

This paper presents a post-graduate course in ABR that takes the form of a virtual international classroom entitled Global Classroom in Arts-Based Research. This programme involves – in addition to the Human Sciences and Education Department at Milano-Bicocca University – Florida State University, Drexel University, University of Leuven, FLAMES, and Northern Illinois University. It is offered to PhD students in education, with a view to familiarizing them with the potential of artistic languages, getting them to constantly compare notes concerning their practices and documentation, and helping them to design research actions that include the use of these languages.


Lia Luchetti

Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy

This paper will investigate the relation between learning practices, artistic productions and public memory in relation to the case of the first Italian terrorist attack happened in Piazza Fontana (Milan, 12 December 1969), where a bomb explosion killed seventeen men. The blast additionally injured 88. The victims were in the National Bank of Agriculture located in Piazza Fontana for the agricultural market held on Fridays after normal business hours. This case is very symbolic in Italy, because it opened the “strategy of tension” and it still divides the city after over 50 years, notwithstanding the recent empowerment of the role of the association of victims’ relatives and new reconciliation policies attempted. What still divides Milan is represented by two deaths that happened after the terrorist attack, Giuseppe Pinelli and Luigi Calabresi. Forty years after the massacre, in 2009, during the celebration of Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism and Massacres, Pinelli was considered by the President of Italian Republic as the eighteenth victim of Piazza Fontana bombing, even more than a victim, because of the way his memory had been treated. The President pronounced these words in front of the widows of Pinelli and Calabresi, in order to formalize an act of reconciliation between the two social groups that had competed for years to assert their own definition of the past. However, Calabresi has not yet been recognized as the nineteenth victim. The paper will illustrate a part of a long research on the public memory of this case. In particular, the paper will explore how and to what extent artistic productions, giving voice to the victims of trauma and mobilising the members of communities, affect the public definition of justice and the collective understanding of what happened. It will take into account different levels of analysis: from the public definition of the event recast through different counter-memories - the theatrical comedy “Morte accidentale di un anarchico” (1970) and the painting “I funerali anarchico Pinelli” (1972 ) - up to more recent artistic productions such as the movie “Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy” (2012) and other cultural forms based on victims. In the last years the association of the victims’ relatives has very often lent their voices to writers, filmmakers, journalists, photographers, dramatists, and graphic novel authors. Moreover, the association organizes, with the agreement of the Italian Ministry of Education, meetings and discussions in schools, in order to disseminate the historical truth that emerged from the 2005 judgment and especially to make young people aware of it. The paper will consider the central role of these artistic productions in educational processes, documenting how they are often used by the association of the victims’ relatives during these meeting with students. They became tools to support and relieve their evidence on the massacre, to produce less pain in young people who listen to their words and to transmit the public memory of the Piazza Fontana massacre.


Francesco Vincenzo Ferraro1, Luigi Aruta2, Ferdinando Ivano Ambra2, Maria Luisa Iavarone2

1Bournemouth Universityq, United Kingdom; 2Dipartimento di Scienze Motorie e del Benessere, Università degli studi di Napoli Parthenope

Before the pandemic, art-based teaching and learning approaches were used to enhance wellness and physio-social skills with adolescents and adults (Stueck & Tofts Paul, 2016). In March 2020, the rise of COVID-19 casualties in Italy required a national lockdown from which, a year later, schools and sports centres are still closed. According to the embodied theories, the body works as a link to both learn and communicate (Iachini et al., 2013), and deprivation in motor-cognitive experiences can leave a gap in adolescents’ learning process (Bertagna, 2020), affecting their everyday social and relation skills (Bourdieu, 1986). The forced new normality re-shaped the between and within student-teachers relationships, and attention should also be upon new languages and novel patter of communication (Tota, 2020). Therefore, we are investigating the effects of a validated dance intervention carried out in distanced learning (DL). Between March and May 2021, 25 adolescents (3 male, 22 females; age range 14-17 years old) were recruited from the same institution. The students are performing 15 lessons of 2 hours each of unstructured, validated dance practice completely in DL, with one trained teacher. Questionnaires are being collected on the 12th of each month (March, April and May) in order to monitor the progression and perception of the intervention. Based on published research, the questionnaires focus on sports practices, movements' skills, eating habits, relationship with peers, use of technologies, and perception of learning in DL (Ferraro, Ambra, Aruta, et al., 2020; Ferraro, Ambra, & Iavarone, 2020). Preliminary data showed that the students reported previous obstacles from DL such as technical difficulties, lack of movement, and lack of social interaction, whilst DL's positive outcomes were the health safety for themself and their teachers. In conclusion, we aim to investigate the effect of a validated dance intervention on five domains (i.e., sports practice, movements' skills, eating habits, relationship with peers and use of technologies) and students' perception of DL. Preliminary data will be presented to facilitate and enhance the debate on research with novel education artistic practices in cross- and post-pandemic scenario.


Bertagna, G. (2020). La scuola al tempo del covid. Tra spazio di esperienza ed orizzonte d’attesa.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). Habitus, code et codification. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 64(1), 40-44.

Ferraro, F. V., Ambra, F. I., Aruta, L., & Iavarone, M. L. (2020). Distance Learning in the COVID-19 Era: Perceptions in Southern Italy. Education Sciences, 10(12), 355.

Ferraro, F. V., Ambra, F. I., & Iavarone, M. L. (2020). Evaluation of Health-Habits with the S.M.A.R.T. Questionnaire: An Observational Study. Education Sciences, 10(10), 285.

Iachini, T., Iavarone, M. L., & Ruotolo, F. (2013). Toward a teaching embodied-centered: perspectives of research and intervention”. REM-Research on Education and Media, 5(1), 57-68.

Stueck, M., & Tofts Paul, S. (2016, 12/01/). Biodanza Effects on Stress Reduction and Well-Being – A Review of Study Quality and Outcome [article]. Signum Temporis: Journal of Research in Pedagogy and Psychology, 8(1), 57-66.

Tota, A. L. (2020). Ecologia della parola. Giulio Einaudi Editore.


Camilla Virginia Barbanti1, Veronica Berni2

1Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca; 2Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca

In this paper, we reflect on artistic languages in the field of education from a new materialism perspective (Hood & Kraehe, 2017). First, we focus on the performing arts, arguing that, read through this lens, they can become resources for re-thinking and enacting educational practice as "affirmative", that is, as having the capacity to generate the desire for an alternative present and prompt a profound metamorphosis of the subject as an embedded and embodied subjectivity (Braidotti, 2012). We examine how adopting a new materialism stance allows scholars and practitioners of education to view the performing arts in education as performative practices: an ongoing intra-activity (Barad, 2003) of material and discursive, human and non-human elements. This perspective also draws attention to the entangled networks of heterogeneous actors that materially refigure educational institutions. Second, we further explore these concepts based on an example of how art has materially come into action at the ‘C. Beccaria’ Youth Detention Center in Milan. Citing the outcomes of a case study on the impact of a theatre laboratory inside the prison, we illustrate how building a door, that is to say, materially opening up the theatre to the outside community, and the performative activity carried out in mixed laboratories (composed of young detainees and peers from the community), have transformed the delivery of education within the institution. The model of re-education emerging from the theatre project is laying the ground for an alternative and more experimental approach: the young detainees are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a system of signs and meanings (Thompson, 2000) that are different to those of prison life, and which, materialized and translated into the here and now (O’ Connor and Mullen, 2011) of everyday life, make it feasible for them to enact new ways of taking part in the world. In sum, we show how the theatre programme subverts the underlying logic of the prison rehabilitation model which, albeit couched in pedagogical rhetoric, continues to rely on a ‘correctional’ approach aimed at inducing socially conforming behaviours, often making solely instrumental use of rehabilitation activities (including prison theatre) (Balfour 2004). Thus, theatre work as a performative practice lays the ground for ‘challenging’ the notion of re-education and developing a broader concept of prison as a place of culture and social inclusion.


Balfour, M. (2004), Theatre in Prison: Theory and Practice. Bristol: Intellect.

Barad K. (2003), “Posthumanist Performativity: Towards an Understanding of How Matter comes to Matter”, Signs. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28, 3: 801-831.

Braidotti R. (2012), Nomadic Theory. The Portable Rosi Braidotti, Columbia University Press.

Hood J. & Kraehe A.M. (2017), Creative Matter: New Materialism in Art Education Research, Teaching and Learning, Art Education, 70, 2: 32-38.

O' Connor, P., Mullen, M. (2011), Prison Theatre: Letting the Light in to Disciplinary Relationships, NJ, 35:1, 133-145.

Thompson, J. (2000), Bewilderment: Preparing prisoners for 'real' work in the fictional world of prison, Community, Work & Family, 3:3, 241-259.