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What kind of teacher for what kind of school?
“Special” teachers and the pathways to inclusion in Italy during the 20th Century
Dr. Anna Debè
Department of Education
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan, Italy)
[email protected]
Purposes and context
The research contributes to improve Italian studies in the field of the history of special education, a research area that only recently has started to
be investigated by scholars and academics, i.e.:
‐
R. Sani (full professor, University of Macerata), L’educazione dei sordomuti nell'Italia dell’800. Istituzioni, metodi, proposte formative, SEI, Torino 2008;
‐ S. Polenghi (full professor, Catholic University of Milan), Educating the cripples. The Pious Institute for rickets sufferers of Milan and its transformations
(1874-1937), EUM, Macerata 2009;
‐ M.C. Morandini (associate professor, University of Turin), La conquista della parola: l’educazione dei sordomuti a Torino tra Otto e Novecento, SEI, Torino
2010.
The research reconstructs the history of the School for the special aids and assistants for disabled children between 1926 and 1978.
The School, opened in 1926 at the Catholic University by father Agostino Gemelli, was a two-years School addressed to promote scientific studies
and researches on children with intellectual disability and prepare teachers of special classes and special schools.
Why does the School deserve to be studied?
1. It was one of the very first schools about disabled children teacher training set up in Italy
2. It gives evidence of father Gemelli’s work in the special education area
3. It highlights how teacher training has changed from the Twenties to the Seventies of the last Century
4. It represents the Italian path towards scholastic inclusion for persons with special needs
Metodology
The research was carried out through archival investigation
with the purpose, on one side, of explaining father Gemelli’s
contribution to the special education field and, on the other
side, of shedding light on professors, students and courses of
the School, since the origin until the Seventies.
5 archives indagated
350 letters analysed
300.000 data collected
Study findings, part 1: father Agostino Gemelli
Study findings, part 2: professors
A. Gemellii: one of the most famous psychologists in the 20th
Century Italian framework and the founder of the Catholic
University (1921). Gemelli’s work in disabled children’s teacher
training was related to:
• General teacher training: he organized a lot of activities
for Italian teachers with the aims of improving their
preparation and developing a catholic pedagogy;
• Psychology applied to education: in his Institute of
Psychology he promoted some relevant studies to
contribute to facilitate disabled children education;
• Two concrete initiatives. He joined SIPA, the Italian
association for the disabled children protection, and he
founded an ambulatory and a laboratory at the San
Vincenzo Institute of Milan, to visit and analyse children
with mental disabilities.
His interest towards disability reflects how the contemporary
Catholic world cared about interventions for the weakest
not only driven by a charity feeling but based on scientific
studies.
Father Gemelli called professors of great notoriety in Italy and abroad. He
assigned responsibilities to top experts in the field, not minding about their
ideological thoughts (i.e. Sante De Sanctis, an Italian psychologist; Eugenio Medea,
a neuropsychiatrist; Casimiro Doniselli, an important physiologist; Giuseppe
Corberi, a physicians and psychologist; Ludovico Necchi, a Gemelli’s collaborator at
the Catholic University; Don Angelo Restelli, a priest and San Vincenzo’s director)
1000
967
900
800
700
663
500
600
450
531
526
1° year
500
474
400
338
421
300
278
138
117
68
349
296
310
273
270
245
337
291
217
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
2°
1°
0%
250
200
150
136
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
54‐60
1970/71
1°
2°
0,05
0,02
1971/72
1°
2°
0,05
0,01
1972/73
1°
2°
0,01
0,01
1973/74
1°
2°
0,03
0,03
1974/75
1°
2°
0,02
0,02
1975/76
1°
2°
0,01
0,01
1976/77
1°
2°
0,04
0,00
1977/78
1°
2°
0,00
0,03
61‐70
0,30
0,32
0,45
0,37
0,26
0,23
0,44
0,20
0,30
0,31
0,21
0,21
0,27
0,13
0,00
0,21
71‐80
0,62
0,57
0,49
0,54
0,69
0,52
0,50
0,56
0,59
0,56
0,60
0,55
0,55
0,59
0,00
0,64
81‐90
0,03
0,09
0,01
0,08
0,04
0,24
0,03
0,21
0,09
0,10
0,18
0,23
0,14
0,28
0,00
0,13
100
104
117
50
0
0
1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
The increasing/decreasing numbers of students
depended on the process of disabled children
exclusion and inclusion in Italian mainstream schools.
2°
300
214
183
72
319
350
137
88
100
317
284
197
214
144
420
317
325
200
2° year
393
369
400
Number of students
520
1970/711971/72 1972/731973/74 1974/751975/76 1976/771977/78
Courses focus on medicine and
psychology: only during the Sixties
In the Sixties and the Seventies, students had the
possibility to choose, during the second year, a
specialization
in
mental disabilities,
hearing
disabilities, visual impairments, physical disabilities.
The most part of the students chose the specialization
in mental disabilities.
Study findings, part 4: students
pedagogy started to appear with more
continuity and importance.
Study findings, part 3: courses
→ Pedagogy;
“Special”
pedagogy;
Scholastic legislation; Anatomy and
physiology; Hygiene at school; Child
psychiatry; Experimental psychology;
Infant
psychology;
Applied
psychology; Orthophony.
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
M.D.
0
0
0
142
101
232
200
208
452
241
365
269
206
82
101
96
132
122
H.D.
1960
65
1961
65
55
16
11
22
21
44
37
35
57
88
1972
111
77
76
88
95
83
V.I.
12
4
15
9
4
7
10
9
9
12
22
30
35
26
13
10
17
10
P.D.
31
46
31
14
17
17
14
23
22
22
30
33
41
29
27
22
30
17
Unknown
9
2
3
2
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Teachers found a lot of difficulty to study disciplines like
medicine and psychology. They were not so prepared in
this fields and professors’ requests were very high.
Conclusions
The School of Milan represents a catholic initiative with solid scientific basis. Inside the School, “special”
teachers had to combine medical science with pedagogy, even if prevalence was accorded to the first.
Moreover, the School reflects the Italian path toward the establishment of the SEN teacher figure,
introduced in 1975.
References
M.A. Winzer, The history of special education.
From isolation to integration, Gallaudet University
Press, Washington D.C. 1993;
A. Canevaro (ed.), L’integrazione scolastica degli
alunni con disabilità. Trent’anni di inclusione nella
scuola italiana, Erikson, Trento 2007.
S. Polenghi, “La storia della pedagogia speciale in
Italia e in Europa. A proposito di un recente
volume su l’educazione dei sordomuti nel secolo
XIX”, in History of Education & Children’s
Literature, IV, 1 (2009), pp. 379-384.
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