Text books for elementary schools. Models and languages in Italy from the Austro-German Enlightenment to the present day

Simonetta Polenghi, 27258, DI SCIENZE DELLA FORMAZIONE FACOLTA', MILANO - Dipartimento di Pedagogia

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


The first aim of this paper is to show the key moments of a process of long duration in the Italian area, through the direct reading of some of the most famous reading-books and textbooks from the Enlightenment to 1923. The model of a lay book, which was to replace religious books and catechisms, was the famous Kinderfreund (1776-79) by F. E. von Rochow, which started the new didactic model of moral short stories, heavily imbued with rationalism. This model reached the Habsburg Italian areas, thanks to the mediation of J. J. Felbiger, and was developed by F. Soave with his Moral Short Stories, which enjoyed a long success. Fables, on Aesop’s model, were in all primers. The first Italian textbooks, at the beginning of the XIXth century, continued the moral model. The structure of these books will be shown, with examples. After Italian unification, this rationalist model was continued, but with less clever results. Some examples will be provided of some successful books of the end of the century, from the publishing house Vallardi of Milan. The ministerial committee of 1923, chaired by the great educationalist G.Lombardo Radice, abandoned the old rationalist books, and approved authoritatively a different language and new models which depicted real children, their feelings and inner world. The second aim of the paper and its conclusion is to uncover the rationalist language still present in Italian text-books, unveiling how they tend to hark back to some old enlightened models.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteResearching Paradigms of Childhood and Education
Numero di pagine8
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2015


  • Italian text books
  • history of elementary school
  • history of reading books
  • history of school text-books


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