The invention of personal skills: Resources and persuasive effects of a distinctive mechanism of contemporary Italian educational policy
Keywords:skills/competencies, personalized education, Catholicism, curricular politics, individual attitudes
This paper analyzes and deepens the concept of “personal competencies” related to the proposal of the Indicazioni Nazionali (2004), a fundamental document in the complex normative argumentation of contemporary Italian educational policy that defines the curricular framework of the Italian compulsory school system. Within the theoretical framework developed by T.S. Popkewitz, the analysis highlights the resource used by the actors who have generated it based on the Catholic theory of the “persona integral” (“whole person”). This theory is conscientiously used to harmonize social expectations about individual and national competitiveness with the accompanying enhancement of the sacredness of the person. The deepening of this construct of symbiosis allows us to highlight it as a strategic device within an ecosystem of discursive actions that are shown as legitimized by the Church, and linked to the salvific-business dream of the former Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Silvio Berlusconi. In concrete terms, the discursive actions are linked in turn to the economic policy of recent decades, as shown in the curriculum reform of Minister Moratti (2004), together with the latest curriculum proposals (2007 and 2012) by governments of opposing colors. Finally, at a more general sociological level, the analysis we provide manifests the political educational use of a new neo-corporate subjectivity that not only saturates utilitarian qualities. We conclude by arguing that the analysis of all these applications, while highlighting the persuasive force of the analyzed construct, strategically forgets the social and civic complexity to open up the problem of the possible effects of developing in the Italian educational system anti-democratic conservatism and the masking of the economic hegemony that sustains the completely discursive apparatus.
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