Student discussion and debate on the guest lecture by Lana Dikanchieva, Director of Zebra Montessori, Astana, Kazakhstan, and Montessori trainer, Kazakhstan.

The Montessori Method: The context to change
– Environment and the whole schooling represses spontaneous expression of children’s personality;
– They are in chains, forced to sit at the desk for more than decade, obeying discipline and having no choice to decide for themselves;
– The system of award and punishment is prevalent.

The school of freedom: Teacher
– The School of Scientific Pedagogy;
– Nurture interest in natural phenomena, the spirit of inquiry and investigation;
– It is impossible to prepare the spirit, if teacher does not possess the love to human being;
– Guide rather than instruct.

The school of freedom: Student
– Allowed to choose and explore whatever is of his/her interest and to learn in own pace;
– Driven by desire to learn either by fear of punishment;
– Self-disciplined;
– Not the subject of comparison until he/she masters skills enough;
– Learns by doing and, as a result, practicing concentration.

The School of Freedom: La Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House)
– Adapted to meet children’s needs to the maximum extent: the size of environment, hygienic norms, and learning materials;
– Mixed age groups allow peer learning and role models for younger children;
– The sight of the really big aim is always present;
– No need to be restricted by the notion of someone’s greatness.

Fascist Education
Stage 1
-The Minister of public education (1922) – G. Gentile (1920):
“Our thoughts cannot be but religious, our actions cannot be but permeated by a sense of the divine. And if our actions are political actions or pertaining to the State, then our State must be governed by a spirit both sincerely and profoundly religious” (as cited in Tarquini, 2015, p. 175);
– Introduced 2 concepts: Catholic religion at primary school and series of celebratory practices;
– The way/how religious schools instill its’ beliefs was of Gentile’s particular attention (vs. secular);
– The saluting of three colored flag in school;
– Choir competition of patriotic hymns;
– Crucifixes and pictures of the king should be in class;
– Commemorative parks to the victims of WWI and later to those fascists who fought against communists;
– Image of unknown soldier was added to the class;
– The worship of the nation, patriotic or civil religion.
Stage 2
– How to turn worship of the nation to worship of the fascist, in other words, how to make it country’s religion?
– 1924-1943 Six ministers introducing truly fascist school;
– The study of the fascism in school curriculum;
– Sporting games and excursions;
– Yong organization “Opera Nazionale Balilla” became a sole allowed organization translating fascism ideology throughout the schooling;
– Initiation rituals celebrating successful completion of the educational stages.
Stage 3
– Mussolini bans the Catholic Action (1931);
– Gioventu` Italiana del Littorio (Gil) – single structure under the rule of PNF (Fascist national party) to coordinate all Italian youth organizations
– ‘Believe, obey and fight’.
– Classes of pre-military instruction in schools;
– In 1939 Bottai (Orani, 1941) introduced a plan of 29 statements: “the integral education of the new Fascist man” (as cited in Tarquini, 2015, p. 182).
– Political essence of schools was emphasized;
– Culture is not viewed as individual’s personal growth;
– Politics and culture from now are tied together.

Questions to answer:

1) What is the purpose of education?
2) Who is education for?
3) Who owns knowledge?
4) What are the developmental stages in Fascist and Montessori education paradigms?

You can use for reference:

Montessori, M. (2013). The Montessori Method. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company
Tarquini, A. (2015). Fascist Educational Policy from 1922 to 1943: A Contribution to the Current Debate on Political Religions. Journal of Contemporary History, 50(2), 168 -187.