Meeting 1 – Presenting the project and getting to know each other


Meeting 1 was successful, in that my collaborator, Annalisa* and I met 40 members of staff at the school in Magenta, via google meet. We had prepared, using Mentimeter, some questions that would help us to contextualize our work:

  • were the teachers from the same school (level)?
  • did the like the materials used in class?
  • Had they thought about how these materials were representing identity aspects?
  • Was there something that they wanted to change?

From the very beginning, we understood that the focus had to be on how teachers were interacting with the texts they were given or had chosen. We know that it is never only the texts but also how teachers can engage with them and how students are guided to engage with them. Social media posts recurrently present sexist and misogynistic examples of texts in Italian school books, and we have seen occurrences of that. Annalisa, for instance, teaches Italian and is actively attempting to problematize the materials with the students, starting from the language but also deconstructing images. It did happen to me too! When I was teaching Italian in a language school in Manchester, I noticed that one unit (introducing the subjunctive) presented a sexist event. In brief, a guy sitting on a train  saw a woman looking for a seat and, feeling attracted to her, he checked where she was going to sit so that he could sit there too!

In going through two power point presentations (one to introduce the project and the other presenting the main themes, i.e. educazione interculturale/intercultural education, educazione di genere/gendered education, educazione inclusiva/inclusive education), the school staff seemed to have enjoyed the first meeting. One recurring aspect in events such this one is the interest of those attending into how they should behave. It is not the first time that I/we get asked about what’s the best course of action in specific situations. Teachers and more broadly people, seem to be interested in a manual that could help them to navigate a newer society. More specifically, they want to know how to answer some questions posed by students. It seemed that students, who are possibly embracing a(n arguably) freer society, seem to ask for validation by their teachers; questions were very relevant to our gender expertise: can male students use nail polish or wear skirts? 

While there are some indications/directions that we are always happy to share, our main aim is to raise awareness on some topics and let people feel they can be in charge of fostering equality and inclusiveness. I felt this is quite an important aspect and even so as we move ahead in this project. We do not want to impose our ideas, we want to share the knowledge we have acquired in studying themes and topics related to gender, race, inclusivity and equality. This also fits into a wider aim of our project. We do not want to have a top-down approach but we wish to keep a dynamic where trust is built and maintained among people who hold the same job. i.e. educating people.


* Anna Lisa Somma obtained her PhD in Italian Studies from the University of Birmingham (UK) in early 2021. She is an academic, a tutor of Italian language as well as a teachers trainer in gender/inclusive education. In 2020, she co-edited a book on sexism in the Italian language (“Il sessismo nella lingua italiana. Trent’anni dopo Alma Sabatini”). Her interests include the history of women; gender, feminist and queer studies; Italian literature from to Middle Ages to the contemporary era; Italian linguistics.

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