Journal article Open Access

"The City Is the Best Teacher": A Review of the Educating City in Europe and China

Patrizi, Elisabetta; Xu, Zhuqing; d'Aniello, Fabrizio; Polenta, Stefano

The Athenians thought that a city, understood as a community made up of people with different needs and potential, had the primary task of educating its citizens, in order to favour their harmonious integration in the polis and their active participation in the polis’ life. From this cultural perspective, admirably synthesized by Plutarch through the expression “the city is the best teacher,” we can trace the roots of the current concept of the educating city. This article aims to explore the various dimensions of the educating city concept, by demonstrating, how only cities that are able to activate different educational processes (formal and informal) can be authentic vehicles of social integration. In this direction, the city, on the one hand, can realize every person’s potential, abilities, and rights to the lifelong education; on the other hand, the city can promote the community identity itself, as well as the self-construction of the sense of community. This, also through innovative conceptual proposals for overcoming the relational and aesthetic poverty of the metropolis form of the contemporary city, fosters the perception of the city as a highly complex living organism.

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