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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Batini, Federico. Lorenzo Milani, the School of Barbiana, and the struggle for social justice / Federico Batini, Peter Mayo, Alessio Surian. pages cm. — (Education and struggle: narrative, dialogue, and the political production of meaning; vol. 1) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Catholic Church—Education—Italy—History—20th century. 2. Milani, Lorenzo. 3. Poor children—Education—Italy—History—20th century. 4. Popular education—Italy—History—20th century. 5. Scuola di Barbiana (Barbiana, Italy)—History. 6. Social justice—Italy. I. Mayo, Peter. II. Surian, Alessio. III. Title. LC506.I8B38 371.071’20945—dc23 2013024567 ISBN 978-1-4331-2153-1 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4331-2152-4 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-4539-1194-5 (e-book) ISSN 2168-6432

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at

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