Arena or classroom?

Image: Dora Maurer


“Limiting radical educational change to the self-serving corrective margins of capital means abandoning at once, consciously or not, the goal of quantitative social transformation”

(István Mészáros. Education beyond the capital).


At this point in history, it would be expected that parents and student-clients served by the educational establishment would have already learned the preliminary lesson of someone who examines language: there is no disinterested and apolitical discourse.


The teacher who has been working in the classroom for some time will notice how common sense contaminates the worldview, speech and posture of his students. At least since the mid-1980s, educational institutions in the country began to uncritically align themselves with the neoliberal guidelines, created in North America and Europe during the previous decades.

Taking into account the economic agenda in force in Brazil, it is necessary to situate the place occupied by the country in the international confusion, especially when defending and professing libertarian teaching, that is, when resorting to a method that presupposes dialogue and favors the formation thinking and sensitive, reasonable and solidary beings.

That said, any topic can be studied and reflected on in the classroom. Only a person in bad faith (or very naive) will pretend to believe that the teacher should act like a poorly paid robot, capable of strictly adhering to the contents of the textbook or teaching booklet. This characterization of the purely technical, non-partisan educator, with a neutral and non-ideological discourse, is just a chimera. At this point in history, it would be expected that parents and student-clients served by the educational establishment would have already learned the preliminary lesson of someone who examines language: there is no disinterested and apolitical discourse.

By the way, it was in a classroom, at the age of fifteen, that I learned about this from teacher Wanda Antunes: anti-philosophical discourse has a philosophical matrix. Analogously, the same can be said about the supposed fight against ideology: there is nothing more ideological than denying diversity; ignore the contradictions; alleviate the social, cultural and economic fractures and inequalities in which we are inserted. Those who oppose the teaching of philosophy invent absolutely questionable disciplines, which equate a “life project” with deep reflection, assuming that forming the student citizen is equivalent to preparing the student to submit to the violent rules of the market.

As I said, you can discuss anything in the classroom. In an officially secular country since its first republican constitution (1891), it should be natural to compare religions and discuss the different conformations of their representatives. This does not imply questioning the faith – which is an intimate matter. A similar movement could be reserved for other social institutions, such as the historical origin of marriage and the family as we know it; situate private property and the struggle for land in a country known to be unequal as this one; conceptualize state regimes and government systems; reflect on the maintenance of the rule of law, as well as the content of the laws, regulations and norms that govern us; defend the importance of science, the role of the internet, etc.

Unfortunately, there seems to be confusion between treating the market entity as a classroom topic and seeing the classroom as a marketing appendix. The question is relatively simple. If we accept that the classroom is a forum reserved for the study of theories, formulas, maps, organisms and stars; if it is one of the rare environments conducive to the critical analysis of discourses and the examination of data and situations that favor reflection on old or current practices, it cannot be converted into an arena in which students and teachers learn to fight according to the rules of freedom. competition, in the name of “healthy” competitiveness.

Considering that our daily dialogues are basically divided between Eros e Tanatos, would it not be reasonable to defend that the classroom is a stronghold that allows the discussion of contradictions inherent to social relations, professions and undertakings? When the environment is reduced to a small-world arena business, what place is left to welcome the formation of knowledge and encourage a critical stance – contemplating the varied points of view of students and teachers?

*Jean Pierre Chauvin Professor of Brazilian Culture and Literature at the School of Communication and Arts at USP. Author, among other books by Seven Speeches: essays on discursive typologies.

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