Preface by Roger Dale
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Several years ago, in the middle of a typically stimulating conversation with my good friend, Peter Mayo, he referred to the Letter to a Teacher (Lettera a una Professoressa, henceforth the Lettera), and asked me if I was aware of it. I think he was possibly rather surprised when I told him that not only was I aware of the book, but that, at the beginning of the1970s, I had been part of a UK Open University sociology of education course team that had made it a set text for students. We were both as delighted as we were surprised, and an invitation to write the Preface for this most interesting volume is the latest outcome of that original conversation.
These origins mean that this piece will necessarily reflect that rather partial understanding of many of the themes covered in the volume. However, the richness and significance of the Lettera continue to shine, assisted by the work of the many contributors referred to in the Introduction.
The continuing interest in the Lettera, from a range of points of view, demonstrates that the book has considerable contemporary as well as historical significance. However, I do not mean this in a clichéd, ‘nothing new under the sun’ way. Rather, it is to indicate elements of the importance of the book even when the conditions that had provided such a welcoming context for it on publication have effectively disappeared. Those conditions included vigorous debates around...
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