Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: Italian Language Studies

First Advisor

Dario Del Puppo


The Italian school system’s methodology and pedagogy have long been the subject of great controversy. The official Italian school system was born in 1859 with the implementation of the Legge Casati, which was the first organic law establishing a true system of education. During the 20th century the schooling system underwent several reforms, amongst the most important are the Riforma Gentile in 1923 and the legge n.1853. Many consider the latter to have the most impactful change on the system given that it created a unified middle school that was obligatory until the age of 14. The educational system has evolved and grown much since its inauguration, however, many Italians doubted its efficiency, ethics, and teaching methods. Don Milani was among the people who disagreed with the State schooling system, and took it upon himself to start a school of his own “La Scuola di Barbiana”. His school differed in that it accepted pupils from the small Tuscan village town that had been rejected by State schools and offered them a chance to enrich their intellect and culture so that they may eventually better their social and economic standing in society. Don Milani’s book, Lettera a una professoressa, had a great impact on the Italian school system and brought to light many criticisms, some very severe, that changed Italians’ perspective on education. This project will attempt to consolidate these critiques and accusations made by Barbiana’s pupils and compare them to other social attitudes and changes that were occurring during the same period. The purpose of this study are many, but ultimately the aim will be to try and understand the motives driving the social, cultural and educational changes of 1960s Italy.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Italian Language Studies.