a few more reflections on civic education

A recent article published in this newspaper by the lawyer Stefano Fioramontiprepared and careful lover of environmental law, with a number of interesting considerations on Relationship between environmental education and citizenship educationprompted me to reflect once again on this topic, and try to deepen the didactic situation of civic education.

A few considerations have arisen, about which further debate could arise. The subject is actually not only very important, but also concerns a fundamental segment of the school, as he well understood Aldo Morowhen in 1958 as Minister of Education he introduced this subject as a subject for schools of all origins and levels.

Civic: the meaning of an expression

Already the expression “Civil war“Deserves a memory and reflection. So let’s start with two terms.

Education comes from the verb to educatea term that in Latin – to educate– it also indicates the action to grow, to develop. The term is essentially clear and refers to an activity that requires a lot of care and attention in its exercise. Problems arise when you examine the adjective “Street number“That, again from Latin, has the same root as”civil“, What does it mean “citizens“.

Reflecting on the word citizen, we discover that the term, both from a historical point of view and from a political point of view, takes on different tones and contents. If you look at the Roman world, for example, it turns out that the civil – citizen – of archaic Rome has a number of connotations that bind him to the world of agriculture; then examine the description of the civil of the republican age, the one that precedes the empire, we notice a substantial diversity, the new civil pays much attention to social relations and culture.

The investigation could be continued by examining the different definitions given by political doctrines in the different eras. However, it seems useful to make a final reference to the contemporary political culture, which basically has two visions of the citizen: the citizen with inalienable rightsbecause they belong to his nature, and the subject citizens, which receives a number of prerogatives courtesy of the state, which comes before the citizens. Obviously in the western world, to which we belong by tradition and history, the citizen comes before the state and must consider the latter as an institution that contributes to the citizen’s life, to put him in the condition to carry out his personality, to him to do live in accordance with his natural inclinations.

Without these indispensable accents, one can say that civic education is a didactic activity that puts the person in a position to develop harmoniously with his rights and duties, bearing in mind that both the rights and the rights of the citizen’s duties have the same importance.

A risk associated with civic education

Among the various subjects – and therefore not the only one – called upon to contribute to civic education there is also the school. I just said that it is not the only issue, because it is not only educational institutions that participate and contribute to civic education. In fact, in addition to the school, the family, social organizations, cultural structures, religious institutions and bodies that deal with leisure also contribute to this formation. A significant role is certainly reserved for the school, which also derives from the professional skills it has or should have due to its characteristics.

This presence of different subjects, which intervened in the realization of the civil war modules, serves, in my opinion, not only to offer new complementary hypotheses of the educational work, but also to take away from the state an educational monopoly, which from certain points of view , it can be dangerous. A civic education activity entrusted only to the state, which implements it with its school structures, would in the end create a citizen who is not educated according to his inclinations, but generates a subject that the choices made by the state, his own makes. It is no accident that totalitarian regimes place citizen education under the direct control of the government. In the light of these considerations, it becomes important to build a way of civic education that knows how to take into account the freedom and inclinations of individuals.

The Italian experience and its (almost) failure

Civic education, as Fioramonti well pointed out in his article, was introduced into the school curriculum with a provision that was wanted by the then minister Aldo Moro in 1958. The minister, a man with a profound civil culture and guided by solid Catholic convictions, feels the need to contribute to the education of the citizen during the school course, and to reflect the students with civic education. If the design idea is certainly shared, it must also be pointed out that the result of this decision by Moro is not considered successful due to at least two types of problems.

The first: according to ministerial directives, civic education is not an autonomous school subjectbut it is the modular segment of another subject, history, and indeed, for the evaluation, the words “History and Civic Education“. The consequence of this approach is self-evident. The teaching of citizenship is reduced to a minimum and ultimately aims for the assessment of the student’s preparation in history. Among other things, the belief also arises among the students that citizenship a “non-subject” is what is in the didactic plan, no one knows why.

Concretely, in the first decades of the application of the Moro provision, it proceeded like this: a few minutes were dedicated to this matter and a few minutes, if everything went well, to the Slavic reading of the constitution. All this generated the opportunity to write in the class register and in that of the teacher – history section – that the ministerial directive was respected.

But if this is the first problem, there is a much more serious second to register. Civic education, when incorporated as a didactic module, is considered in some institutions as a matter of competence of the literature professor, in other institutions, especially in high schools, it is considered as a matter of competence of the teachers of history and history. philosophy. If the latter are excluded, the other teachers often do not have the opportunity to deepen the topics that are being treated.

A quick and superficial reference to the period in which it was incorporated, the teachers just left the universities, which have no ways in their curriculum to train them on these subjects. Therefore, those who are called for such lectures are looking for solutions that allow the respect and application of the ministerial provision formally, of course without thinking about the achievement of the goals proposed by the minister. Basically, it can be said that the first one who did not believe in the value of education was the educational institution as a whole, obviously excluding the minister in this case.

The period that has passed from 1958 to the present, with alternating events that saw the suppression and restoration of the cause, did not improve the situation much.


Rethinking Civil War

Even in the light of contemporary research and work, I am of the opinion that citizenship education should be reconsideredwith some fundamental points in mind.

First, there must be an interdisciplinary module. In fact, if the education of the citizen means that a person grows so that he can carry out his activity as a protagonist in the community, all teachers must set up their work to contribute to the preparation of students for social life.

After all, today we often talk – and this is the reason that led me to this reflection to read the interesting article by Fioramonti – of the environment and environmental education as a segment of the wider sector of civic education, then not only the teachers history or literature spoken. must bear the burden of dealing with these issues, but also other teachers must take a synergistic action to contribute to the teaching of the subject.

All of this obviously requires an articulated preparation, and therefore the Ministry must favor these updates and look more closely, other institutions, I am thinking specifically of the banking foundations, must intervene to finance the training of teachers, perhaps also to introduce a depth. Segment.about the financial culture, which represents a new but very important sector, in order to prevent the citizens from major fraud also on the financial market. This would open up a reflection on the method and on the comparison between methods and content. We will talk about this in a future reflection.

Prof. Franco Peretti
Training methodology expert

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