Hygienic medicine in Achille Sclavo’s thought and educational reforms

Giambattista Bufalino

Abstract


The detailed analysis that is the subject of present contribution was inspired by various historical writings, particularly the epistolary exchange between the Sicilian educator Michele Crimi (1875-1963) and Achille Sclavo (1861-1930), a Sienese hygienist of international fame and inventor of the antianthrax immune serum. Research that has been carried out on the philosophy and career of Crimi – an important figure in Sicilian pedagogical experimentation in the early 1900s – has shed light on lesser known aspects of the versatile, polymathic Sienese scientist, including his significant contributions to the fields of education and social service.
Sclavo’s research and work in the field of hygienics can be contextualized within a new and growing awareness at the turn of the 19th century that fomented a culture of hygiene and an increasing synergy among social hygiene, preventive medicine and pedagogy. While not intended as an exhaustive study, the following contribution seeks to reconstruct the key developments in Sclavo’s scientific, institutional and social endeavours, paying special attention to his pedagogical thought, his model of the “open air” school, his conviction in the value of physical education, his campaign in favour of hygiene and health education, and the network of educational alliances that he developed with teachers and doctors working at elementary schools to achieve the common goal of safeguarding children’s health.

Keywords


childhood; sanitary education; school; Achille Sclavo

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