Continuous learning

Image: Stuart Pritchards


Considerations about the Common National Curriculum Base

History teaching is dedicated to a specific field of knowledge: history; explanations of men's and women's social experiences over time; overcoming dates, events and characters in the abstract as the supposed core of historical studies; understanding of the human construction of these references.

Professionals in that universe, historians and history teachers, receive specialized training. Teaching history, therefore, means reflexively receiving, mastering and transmitting historical knowledge, according to a specialized training in the time of those professionals and, also, with the interpretive options of such men and women. Each generation of history professionals receives and transmits their own training at the time of their studies and needs to be able, intellectually and socially, to continue that training and modify some of its results, when necessary, from the reading of new books and articles. , as well as monitoring the periodic activities of exhibitions and congresses, interfering critically in them – the history professional is not a mere reproducer of ready-made packages of books, courses and other practices. School culture establishes bridges between the state of historical knowledge and the reality of teaching and learning units (teachers, public, facilities, available materials). Permanent learning is valid for both students and professors.

Teaching and learning are social activities, they depend on the time available for the preparation and correction of materials and activities by the Teachers, execution of and reflection on the activities planned by them, time available for the preparation of and reflection on those activities by the students, general operating conditions of schools (teaching and administrative bodies, students, preservation of school environments and equipment, etc.). Salaries, associative practices, food and hygiene of people and equipment, therefore, are part of the materiality of that process, in addition to resources such as computers, books and others.

Training is continuous for teachers (new publications, new activities, new institutions) and for students (new content, other interpretations), it does not end with a school grade or with a level of study, it continues throughout the life of teachers and those who are or were his students. This occurs, after school training, evidently, without the explicit presence of those teachers.

Given this, teaching and learning of history, as well as other curricular components, deserve permanent continuities and critical reformulations. Concrete teachers and concrete students have specific experiences, which are not simply replaced, much less previously resolved by curricula or didactic materials, rather they can demand that these instruments are always questioned and redefined by the human beings involved in these processes.

A starting point in our debate, apparently obvious but often misunderstood, concerns: which stories to learn and teach?

Every story is the story of…[I] We learn from the best Historians that Stories concern any human experience and that each human experience is worthy of attention as History, articulated with other experiences – Paul Veyne uses the metaphors of threads and fabrics to characterize History as a weave, evoking the image narrative of what happened. Strictly speaking, all history deserves to be taught and learned critically.

Now, it is not possible to teach everything or talk about everything, a vast and endless task, alien to the intellectually accessible Knowledge. The Historian and the Professor of History establish choices of experiences, themes and subjects, based on methodological criteria of their area of ​​Knowledge and, also, having as references their general interpretations of the world – Philosophy, religiosities, politics, cultural paths. In different societies and at different historical moments, even in the same society and at the same time, these criteria can be diversified and legitimate, as long as they are methodologically justified.

A criterion present in most of the world concerns the study of the national history of the country where one teaches and learns and of universal history, an expanded panorama of other countries and the relationships between them, sometimes separated, on other occasions mixed, with different explanations, possibilities and risks. That criterion manifests itself at different levels of Teaching and Learning.[ii]

Faced with these possibilities, a question arises: what is a nation, what is a universe?

The nation appears contemporaneously as a set of traditions, identity unit, which encompasses social hierarchies. During the Brazilian dictatorship of 1964/1985, some government representatives denied the existence of indigenous nations, arguing that Brazil was formed by only one nation – the Brazilian one… It was, therefore, a strongly homogenizing and excluding concept, ignoring pluralities and powers – social classes, ethnicities, genders, age groups, etc. Different countries in the Americas are home to similar indigenous nations, without forgetting that other countries in the world recognize multiple nationalities in their territorial frameworks – nation is not to be confused with national state.

The critical historical study of nations points out exactly these tensions, complemented by the impossibility of a nation existing in isolation from others and by the permanent formation of nations – new human groups, changes in previously existing groups, etc. Instead of reinforcing xenophobia, therefore, it is necessary to emphasize the continuous and reciprocal constitution of nations, even more so in a world that has announced itself to be globalized.

Something similar occurs in relation to the universe. Apparently, we are facing the whole – Nations, Peoples, Cultures. In practice, including in University Teaching and Learning of History, there are severe cuts that refer to other power relations. “General History” ends up being translated as History of parts of Europe and the USA, with fragile openings to the Near East (there is no way to escape Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Kingdom of Judah…), plus some mentions of parts and periods of Africa and Asia , almost nothing from Oceania… These clippings correspond to international powers – colonialisms, imperialisms – and reduce most of the Histories to virtual disappearance. The very notions of West and East, on the globe, deserve critical reflections because they refer to some center that defines others as East – in the global sphere, everything can be West and East of everything...

In Brazil, this excluding panorama underwent minor changes with the introduction of African (Law 10539, of 2003) and Amerindian (Law 11645, of 2008) content at different levels of schooling[iii], still difficult due to the scarce presence of these contents in the training of History professionals – but it was worse… Along with the broadening of the debate, those contents also contributed to understanding other serious deficiencies in the Teaching and Learning of History among us: Asia continues to be ignored, except as journalistic Presentism; even Europe is reduced to a few national states; and Africa is transformed into stereotypes – rainforest, wild beasts, black people.

Parallel to these issues, it is necessary to reflect on the double scope of Historical Knowledge as access to what is more distant in time and space (the different pasts, different peoples) and to the closer experience of Professors and Students (Recent national Present and Past , social and cultural relations unconsciously practiced and that such knowledge would help to better understand)[iv].

It is not a case of opting for one route or the other, both are necessary and legitimate. For practical reasons of time available for Research and Teaching, selections occur, as long as they make explicit the incompleteness of what is done and the unavoidable continuity of the process of learning History throughout life. When the war between Russia and Ukraine began, most of the world's population discovered that they know almost nothing about these national states, at most they know generalities about the former USSR.

The academic training of History Professionals, therefore, is a fundamental facet of their performance and continues throughout their work. Certainly, university courses among us are qualitatively diversified for different reasons – available resources of facilities and equipment, training of its faculty, social conditions of the student body, etc. This cannot serve as a justification for the preservation of abusive differences or hierarchies between professional training courses, including in the dispute for funds.

A preferable task of more consolidated undergraduate and graduate courses in History is solidarity with other courses, hampered by the rules of productivity and competition of Capitalism and which may deserve special care on the part of associative entities and government agencies. Academic congresses, agreements between institutions and financial support, much more than competition between participants in these relationships, can constitute important supports for that universalization of intellectual and professional excellence.

When Law 10539 (African Content in Teaching) came into being, few graduations in History in Brazil offered disciplines in the area; Along with the euphoria of the Afro-descendant social movements, there was dismay about the inexistence or scarcity of specialists to teach disciplines in that field. Almost two decades later, there was an appreciable growth of academic research on this universe, with specialists working in different states of the federation and the demand by the referred social movements for an expansion of this space of studies.

In the case of Law 11645 (Amerindian Content in Teaching), a universe that previously seemed confined to anthropological studies, something similar happened, with the support of movements for indigenous rights and the expansion of research on these specific historicities.

The growing presence of Latin American and Asian immigrants, as well as Africans, in Brazil contributed to some attention given to the Histories of their universes of origin, still limited. These social sectors suffered serious violence (enslavement, difficulties in accessing schools, etc.), but they have yet to express themselves publicly about it, claiming the attention of Brazilian Historians and History Teachers for their Histories. Meeting those potential demands of society is a research and teaching task in History.[v] but professionals in the area also formulate their knowledge issues from the academic and school debate, they can contemplate the virtual needs of knowledge of those sectors of the population and their contemporaries of other ethnicities and nationalities. Meeting demands for knowledge formulated by social movements (Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, women, immigrants, LGBTQIA+, age groups, etc.) contributes largely to the intellectual and political formation of the entire population, not just of each of those specific sectors

Just as everything is History, everything is didactic material for History: books designated as erudite, films, comics, songs, statistics, buildings, conversations, even so-called textbooks are instruments of this nature, with the condition that they do not try to monopolize this identity. Along with this combat, it is necessary to understand that didactic materials exist within a course project, intermediated by Professors, generating other materials and used critically. They are starting points and not arrival points, either for Professors or for their Students. And they dialogue with knowledge problems, they do not constitute final answers. To claim that textbooks supply the academic training of Professors is to squander this training and reduce Professors to repeaters of syntheses of syntheses.

History, therefore, is a field of questions and the search for answers, always provisional and insufficient, which can be expanded with new questions. The subject who asks if he also knows the object of his searches, an uncomfortable situation that has partial understandings as compensation and refers to other explanatory connections.

The legitimacy of teaching materials, with the existence of different qualitative levels of these products, cannot mean their monopoly as a reference for Professors and Students. A good and continuous academic formation guarantees a relationship of criticism and independence of the Professors in relation to those materials, as well as a better formation for their Students.

Teachers and Students can also produce their own teaching materials, which express that criticism and independence, as can be seen, among other supports, in the generation of group videos[vi], resulting from the boldness of teachers and the operating conditions of schools – other word, image and sound supports can also be produced, of course! These are difficult and exhausting activities, with great affirmative possibilities for an expanded training of young students and that computer resources have made increasingly possible, consolidating the understanding that Historical Knowledge is a meeting between different types of human effort, much more than a mechanical list of events , dates and characters. In addition, other materials can be didactic based on the professor's debate and the students' interpretative effort – so-called “erudite” books, films, songs, etc.

The Histories most commonly taught and learned in school spaces, in addition to the cuts indicated above (national/universal, excluding silences, etc.), tend to focus more on the institutional political criterion, from the periodizations to the highlighted events and characters. Even in the field of private life, apparently focused on the social daily life of survival and reproduction (being born, dying, dressing, eating, living, etc.), this can be observed, as can be seen in the “History of private life in the Brazil”, whose titles refer to the Institutional Policy[vii]. The importance of the State (legal armed power, control over public finances, etc.) cannot override other social experiences and the price of this abusive predominance is an ideological interpretation of the Stories, which discards a large number of other social experiences[viii].

This mishap refers to genres of historical writing (Private life, Economy, Society, Arts and others), whose importance grows when they are articulated among themselves, instead of turning against each other – Veyne’s metaphor about History as threads and wefts it helps to overcome these silly disputes, which are part of the aforementioned quest for control over financing resources. Many History Research and Teaching activities, such as trips to Museums and Libraries, as well as excursions to places designated as “historic” (every place is historic!), can involuntarily refer to those segmentations, which the most careful Historian and History Professor know how to get around effectively. If there is no critical voice in those activities, they will be reduced to practices of uncommitted tourism and consumerism, with little knowledge results.

Something similar can be said in relation to criteria for choosing problems, themes and study characters: meeting the demands of different social sectors or just academically combating usual exclusions in research and teaching programs? It is best to be aware of both possibilities.

Periodizations usually derive from European criteria – Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Contemporary… Certainly, the contents covered by these categories are very important and must be treated with care. Two problems, however, are manifested there: what was happening in the rest of the world while that was happening and how to prevent that from becoming a “myth of origins”, despite Marc Bloch's classic critical warnings since the 40s of the XNUMXth century ?[ix]

We learn from Marc Bloch that this myth empties historical experiences, reducing them to unfolding of the past, stifling unpredictable actions of History, standardizing differences in the name of what is designated as “classic” for everything. This leads to the loss of the infinite plurality of periodizations, along with the reduction of specific experiences to generalities. Losses of doings and a retrospective Presentism are added to the silencing – what refers to those supposed “origins” and their contemporary materializations is preserved.

Frequently, this also means the reduction of History to a purely chronological explanation, where what comes before justifies what comes after as a mere unfolding. Hence the conclusion that the former is taught before the later, as if History, as Knowledge, were the voice of History, as experience, without dialogue between the ever-necessary period documents and the ever-necessary inquiring voices of interpreters. It is a History emptied of Historians, a History as a past that magically reveals itself.

History only reveals itself provisionally when questioned based on well-established methodological criteria. This is History taught and learned, preserved and modified. Each period is also taught and learned in other periods: there are classic Antiquities that are objects of Renaissance and Nazi-fascist reflections, for example, and History professionals do not limit themselves to reproducing them, rather reflectively translate them, based on their knowledge.

Teaching and learning History, therefore, is an incessant activity of critical thinking. Against catalogs of events, characters and dates in the abstract, Historical Knowledge seeks to understand and explain the experiences of men and women who build time, search and search to continue searching. Conclusions are provisional not only due to human fallibility, but mainly because they respond to specific questions and more questions and problems of Knowledge arise and will arise.

It is based on questions like these, which are also the result of my continuing education and my professional practice as a Historian and Professor of History, that I place myself in front of the National Common Curriculum/History Base, inviting everyone to follow a parallel trajectory[X].

I do not see that document as a rule to be obeyed. It offers general proposals, in addition to more detailed indications of content, skills and activities, the Historian and the History Teacher dialogue with this and formulate their course and research projects. The BNCC/H is an understanding of History, among many others, and the History professional debates it, in my understanding, to think about their responses in the formation of Students, not to reproduce it.

The National Common Curriculum/History Base characterizes Historical Knowledge as the result of relations between Past and Present, through the speech of the Professional in the area. The document emphasizes the narrations of History based on records made by individuals, without greater emphasis on the social content of this process – they are individuals in class, gender, age group relations, etc., relations that appear in the BNCC/H only as reinterpretations of those records.

It highlights the importance of considering multiple sources and records for accessing Historical Knowledge. He also talks about encouraging a “historian attitude” of Students. And in comparisons between practices from one era and another, preliminarily emphasizing the technical and utilitarian difference.

These are important questions to be evaluated by all History Professionals.

The notion of the individual is more appropriate for the modern and contemporary world of Europe and its areas of influence, which were booming during these periods. The Elizabethan Theater (English) and the Siglo de Oro Theater (Spanish) offer beautiful examples of this becoming individual, as observed, among other texts, in Romeo and Juliet e Fuenteovejuna[xi]. In other societies and other periods, the individual tends to be the reference of the History Professional, not his object...

Comparisons, in turn, only “demonstrate”, tautologically, that different is different! It is not appropriate to prohibit them, but neither do they reach an explanatory level just by that obvious “conclusion”.

Encouraging documentary plurality in accessing History is stimulating and consistent with the Historiography produced in the XNUMXth century (since the XNUMXth century, Michelet, Marx and Engels taught that all traces of human activity and its multiple contexts are historical documents)[xii] but this cannot diminish the importance of the interpretive role of History Professionals and Students, which encompasses theories and human experiences – philosophical, political and social movement reflections (of women, for example), among others. The incentive of the National Common Curriculum/History Base for contextualization and interpretation by the teacher reduces the weight of that risk.

It is also worth mentioning, in the document, the invitation to debate the usual generalities of the Periodical Press and common sense, such as “West” and “East”, lacking a more accurate analysis of power relations in those criteria, mainly in European modernity and European contemporaneity. and American.

It is also commendable the incentive to the formation of Students in the field of autonomy of thought, although the issue is referred by that document more to the individual sphere, failing to explore power relations that usually seriously limit that goal.

The understanding of the social as a collective experience, marked by tensions and contradictions, is often diminished in that document by the emphasis on events and happenings, although “processes of maintenance and transformation of social, political, economic and cultural structures” are recorded.

The document proposes, for the first five grades of Elementary School, the consolidation of notions of I, Other, Us and Places. This suggestion is an invitation to think about the Historicity of the time and space in which the Teaching and Learning of History takes place. Taking into account access to Internet resources, socially differentiated, for example, together with the Students' experience in the class structure (information and other consumption topics), it is necessary to think about those basic notions such as training that is also social and political , encompassing awareness of power and inequality relations, without losing the desirable horizons of equality, defended by sectors of the population. Such a conceptual universe may still be inaccessible to children, but its effects, such as prejudice and marginalization, are already palpable for them and deserve consideration in this learning among the references of History professionals for planning and carrying out their practices.

The detailing of activities in the National Common Curricular/History Base, for each grade of Elementary School, transforms the document into Advance Planning of the curricular component, tends to replace the Teacher in this central educational dimension and metamorphoses the Student into a psychological stereotype. The Teacher's intellectual and political autonomy means reassuming their professional dignity and their power in the School Culture. The opponent of the Professor of Basic, Elementary and Secondary Education is not academic erudition, but rather the omnipresence of the National Common Curriculum Base in his activities.

The National Common Curriculum/History Base presents interpretations that cannot release the Teacher from reflecting on his choices and defending them. In the relations between the Self and the Other, for example, there is more than diversity, there are struggles, cooperation, oppression, consensual changes, imposed persistence, etc. Although these concepts and their practices demand a cautious and well-dosed introduction, they deserve the Professor's consideration in his planning of activities, aiming at training his audience for critical thinking.

The document achieves appreciable results by defining general objectives, making a mistake, due to its excess, in the definition of contents and activities. From the 6th grade, there is a general chronological routing of History, which favors the European universe, although it introduces elements of Amerindian and African experiences within that logic, from the Great Navigations and Modern Colonization.

In this way, the Base Nacional Comum Curricular/História preserves a Eurocentric view of History and greater emphasis on periodization criteria supported by the Institutional Policy, as observed in the emphasis on 1st and 2nd Reigns in the History of Brazil, 8th grade, and in politics republican, in the following series.

The present observations help to understand that the BNCC/H, in the part dedicated to History, is the result of the work of professionals in the area, who made their legitimate interpretive choices. It is equally legitimate that we, other History professionals, can guarantee our choices, methodologically justified, and exercise our educational task aiming at training for the autonomy of thought of all, practicing it.

It is not, therefore, a question of desiring a Common National Curriculum/History Base in accordance with the methodological options of each one of us, but of ensuring that each one of us exercises his role as a critical thinker and trainer of critical thinkers.

Mark Silva He is a professor at the Department of History at USP.



[I] VEYNE, Paul. How History is Written. Translation by Antonio José da Silva Moreira. Lisbon: Editions 70, 1983.

[ii] FERRO, Marc. The manipulation of History in Teaching and in the Media. Translation by Wladimir Araújo. São Paulo: IBRASA, 1983.

[iii] L10639 – Plateau › leis › l10.639.htm

Amends Law No.o 9.394, of December 20, 1996, which establishes the guidelines and bases of the

Law no. 11.645 and the vision of teachers in Rio de Janeiro …› rbedu

Consulted on May 05, 2022.

[iv] SILVA, Mark. “Between the mirror and the window – Elementary Education and the Right to History”. History Project. São Paulo: PUC/SP, 54: 139/161, Sep/Dec 2015.

IDEM. History – The Pleasure in Teaching and Research. 2nd edition. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 2003.

[v] CHESNEAUX, Jean – We Should Do tabula rasa from past? Translated by Marcos A. da Silva. Sao Paulo: Attica, 1995.

[vi] FARIA E SILVA, Thiago de. School, History and clapper board – School audiovisual production and History Teaching. Curitiba: Appris, 2022.

[vii] SOUZA, Laura de Mello e, Org. Daily life and private life in Portuguese America. Sao Paulo: Cia. of Letters, 1997.

ALENCASTRO, Luiz Felipe de, Org. Empire: the Court and national modernity. Sao Paulo: Cia. of Letters, 1997.

SEVCENKO, Nicolau, Org. Republic: from the Belle Époque to the age of radio. Sao Paulo: Cia. of Letters, 1997.

SCHWARCZ, Lilia, Org. Contrasts of contemporary intimacy. Sao Paulo: Cia. of Letters, 1998.

This periodizing division, despite a different terminology, repeats the traditional Colony, Empire and Republic, classic references of Institutional Politics.

[viii] CLASTRES, Pierre. Society against the state. Translation by Theo Santiago. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1978.

[ix] BLOCH, Marc. Introduction to History (Apologie pour l'Histoire ou Métier d'Historien). Revised edition, enlarged and criticized by Etienne Bloch. Translation by Maria Manuel, Rui Grácio and Vítor Romaneiro. Mira Sintra: Publications Europe-America, 1997.

[X] BNCC_EI_EF_110518_versaofin… – Common National Base… › images › B… PDF

[xi] SHAKESPEARE, William. Cheese and guava. Translation by José Francisco Botelho. Sao Paulo: Cia. of Letters, 2016.

LOPE DE VEGA, Felix. Fuenteovejuna. Mexico DF: Editorial Bruno, 1991.

[xii] MICHELET, Jules. The people. Translation by GCC Souza. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1988.

MARX, Carl. "The Eighteenth Brumaire" in: The Eighteenth Brumaire and Letters to Kugelman. Translation by Leandro Konder and Renato Guimarães. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1997, pp 9/159

ENGELS, Friedrich. Situation of the working class in England. Translated by Anália Torres. Porto: Confrontation, 1975.

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