Italy, UK and America


The introductory lecture of the PgCert has been extremely interesting, showing me the potential of my journey through education.

I particularly appreciate the methodology used in delivering the lesson, the number of activities, and group interaction, have kept me constantly engaged, and the overall experience has resulted both meaningful, and enjoyable. While reading the first suggested chapters of the book by Holmwood, J. (2018) ‘Race and the Neoliberal University: Lessons from the Public University’, I couldn’t help it but found myself a bit lost, and at the same time extremely intrigued by the opportunity of broading my mind, and learning something new. Indeed in Italy, the Country where I was born, and raised, I never had the opportunity of coming across a comparative studies of the Higher Education in America, and UK. This has inevitably started a debate around the reasons why, Italy might be so conservative considering only its own academic heritage. 

However, it’s worth adding that Italy has faced in the past decades similar changes in high education to the ones mentioned in regards to UK and America. This was mainly due to political and economical issues, and the structure of a Country that has always been hard to be defined as united. In the past twenty years the educational system in Italy has been completely reformed from the primer schools to Universities, and post graduate courses. The length, the content, and the kind of certificates gained in each course have been reformed, and today a degree can be achieved in three years, whereas before five was the minimum requirement. New subjects have been introduced, and the offer is now extremely similar to the one provided by most well know international universities. When I took my MA in Applied Imagination in 2002, in Italy there were no courses teaching anything similar, and therefore when I went back to my Country, I had to face the somehow funny, yet almost hard task of teaching people what I had learnt.

Personally, I was trained to become a teacher in an Institute run by the Catholic Church, in which every student had to attend courses for an amount of 36 hours weekly, and learn 18 different subjects from psychology to sociology, philosophy, maths, triple science, law and legislation, latin, Italian, Spanish and English literature, music, and more. While confronting the British schools to the Italian ones, I had to acknowledge that  the average opinion in regards to Italy, it’s that people’s culture is truly limited compared to the one of an English person. I spent time trying to reflect on this matter in the most possible objective way. In the end, when I was almost going to agree on the statement pronounced by the British people with whom I talked to, a sort of epiphany approached my mind, while speaking to a young lady. The socio-political-economical contest of the two Countries is very different, as well as the cultural heritage. Italy is a complex land, with thousands of sub-cultures, and their relatives traditions, history, and patrimony. At the High School I had to study 18 subjects, whereas in England or elsewhere the number is narrowed down to a choice of 4 or a little more. This one, and many other considerations have come to questions through the reading of the chapter by Holmwood, and I believe I will further develop the key concepts arisen during my whole academic year as student, and most probably in my future practice. This is indeed the kind of challenge I was hoping to encounter, the opportunity to absorb new knowledge and discuss the one that I previously owned. The cultural clash can be the most powerful weapon to challenge the status quo, and start a positive “revolution”, spotting the gaps perhaps in academia, as well as in a course. Through confrontation one is able to merge the best solutions adopted into an environment, and discard the weakest ones.

Elena Arzani

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