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Lorenzo Milani, The School of Barbiana and the Struggle for Social Justice


Federico Batini, Peter Mayo and Alessio Surian

This book sheds light on the work of one of the 20 th century’s foremost critical educators, the Italian Lorenzo Milani (1923–1967), on the 90 th anniversary of his birth. It provides an exposition and critical analysis of the ideas contained in his writings, ideas that emerged from his experiences in two Tuscan localities. The work of Milani and the School of Barbiana that he directed provide signposts for a critically and sociologically engaged pedagogy. Important themes include education and class politics; education and imperialism; education and the culture of militarization; the collective dimensions of learning and writing; peer tutoring; critical media literacy; and reading history against the grain. These ideas are analyzed with reference to similar and contrasting ideas by other international educators, scholars and thinkers. As the book argues, Milani’s oeuvre contains important ingredients for a social justice-oriented critical pedagogy. The spirit for this pedagogical approach is captured in the School of Barbiana’s motto ‘I care.’
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About the Authors

About the Authors


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Federico Batini is a researcher at the University of Perugia. Founder and director of a training and guidance agency Pratika ( and the centre of ideas and cultural productions Nausika (, he is also a senior partner of Thélème ( He has been dealing with stories and narratives in many formats for the past twenty years. He is working on a project of books and audio books of fairy tales and fables rewritten and adapted in collaboration with modern writers and experts. He has written plays and short stories, edited anthologies and written lyrics. He has devised a method of guidance through story telling called narrative guidance (Per un orientamento narrativo, 2000) and has published articles, books, and other materials about this method. His most recent publications include L'orientamento narrativo a scuola. Lavorare sulle competenze per l’orientamento dalla scuola dell’infanzia all’educazione degli adulti (2008); Mettere in circolo. Una ricerca sui circoli di studio: Dalla pratica al metodo (2008); Competenze e diritto all’apprendimento (co-edited with A. Surian, 2008); L’Isola sconosciuta. Un progetto di orientamento narrativo: Metodi e risultati, Storientando: Un progetto e una ricerca con l’orientamento narrativo (with A. Surian, 2008); Storie, futuro e controllo (ed., 2011); Storie e orientamento. Percorsi per l'orientamento narrativo di gruppo (2011), Orientare per non disperdere: le storie siamo noi; Quando i figli scelgono ← 128 | 129 → (2011); Comprendere le differenze; Verso una pedagogia dell'identità sessuale (2011); Storie che crescono (2011).

Peter Mayo is Professor in the Department of Education...

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