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Article

Marta Brunelli and Juri Meda

The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution and use of the school desk in unified Italy as a multifunctional and highly efficient tool, which was required not…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution and use of the school desk in unified Italy as a multifunctional and highly efficient tool, which was required not only to efficiently support in-class activities, to facilitate the classroom management and finally to maintain a correct body posture in order to preserve pupils’ health, but also to accomplish the additional task of working as real “gymnastic equipment”, i.e. suitable for performing various gymnastic exercises inside the classroom.

Design/methodology/approach

The assumption upon which this paper rests is that school desks have always been signifiers charged with multiple meanings related to the evolution of curriculum, pedagogic ideas and daily school practices, which have often been forgotten, abandoned or, for some reasons, underrepresented in the official history of education as well as in the collective memory of school. In order to rebuild this forgotten history, and retrace the possible theoretical-pedagogical basis underlying such practice, the authors have systematically reviewed the Italian manuals on gymnastics between desks from the 1870s to the 1970s, retraced sources documenting this practice in the daily school life (government rules, school programmes, school hygiene prescriptions, iconographic sources, teachers and school managers’ testimonies) and finally, compared with other foreign practices (such as “calisthenics”).

Findings

The convergence between many differentiated sources has demonstrated the longevity of this school practice, which was not only the fruit of educational theories of gymnastic teachers but was also determined by the backwardness and logistic inadequacies of many Italian schools. The paper reveals how this gymnastic practice, after establishing itself in the post-Unification Italian schools, continued almost uninterrupted until the Second World War and even until the 1970s, evidencing how gymnastic teachers, hygienists, educationalists and lawmakers continued, over almost a century, to scientifically legitimise (from the top downwards) an educational practice that was actually driven from the bottom upwards, i.e. determined by an endemic lack of adequate spaces and tools for physical education in Italian schools.

Originality/value

For the very first time, the special source of Italian manuals and booklets on gymnastics between desks has been located, analysed and systematically reviewed for the period 1870s-1970s, and then cross-checked against differentiated sources. This study actually represents the first step of a research which must be still further developed. Undoubtedly, the “new” source represented by the manuals of “gymnastics between school desks” offered a first original perspective from which to explore the use of this furniture in the school of the past, thereby enabling historians of education to shed the first light on a school practice that has been overlooked or forgotten, and still hidden within the “black box of schooling”.

Details

History of Education Review, vol. 46 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0819-8691

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

History of Education Review, vol. 45 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0819-8691

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the pathological, biochemical and redox state parameters of liver tissue in Wistar rats treated from birth to adulthood (119 days) with cafeteria diet.

Design/methodology/approach

During the lactation, 6 liters of Wistar rats (dam + 8 pups each) were fed one of two diets: control (CTRL; n = 3) or cafeteria (CAF; n = 3) diets and water ad libitum. After weaning, the males were placed in individual cages, receiving the same diet offered to their respective dams (CTRL or CAF; n = 18) until adulthood. The following parameters were evaluated: absolute and relative liver weight; blood, liver and feces biochemistry; liver histology; and redox state of the liver.

Findings

When assessing the relative and absolute organ weight, no significant differences were found between the groups. The Cafeteria group exhibited higher values of serum LDL-c (p = 0.008), VLDL-c (p = 0.03) and triglycerides (p = 0.01), as well as several micro and macrovacuoles of fat accumulation, higher hepatic lipid (p = 0.03) and cholesterol (p = 0.0001) levels regarding Control group. Cafeteria group showed greater expression of glutathione-s-transferase (p = 0.03) and superoxide dismutase (p = 0.005) enzymes compared to the control group. In the case of the markers of oxidative stress, there was no difference between the groups.

Originality/value

A simple and standardized cafeteria diet caused an accumulation of fatty acids in liver tissue, inducing a state of hepatic steatosis besides an increased expression of antioxidant enzymes.

Details

Nutrition & Food Science , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0034-6659

Keywords

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