Physical Education for Italian School Children during the Totalitarian Fascist Regime

Paolo Alfieri*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent general and educational historiography suggests that, under Mussolini, physical training was viewed as a key instrument for disciplining children’s ideas and values as well as their bodies, and thus for inoculating them with fascist ideology. In this essay, I trace the evolution of the regime’s totalitarian educational project in relation to the teaching of physical education in primary schools, a novel topic and heuristic perspective that has been typically overlooked by historiographers. To this end, I analyse national legislation, school curricula, ministerial circulars, and teachers’ manuals and journals, examining developments in physical education for school-age children in terms of both its pedagogical or ideological meanings and the teaching methods adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-84
Number of pages14
JournalHistoria Scholastica
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 20th century
  • Childhood
  • Educazione fisica
  • Fascismo
  • Infanzia
  • Italian fascism
  • Italian schooling
  • Physical education
  • Storia della scuola
  • XX secolo


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