Build curricula, train people and build educating communities

Image: Lars Englund


Preface of the book, recently released by Luiz Roberto Alves

Almost a century ago, a group of leading Brazilian educators and intellectuals launched a manifesto “to the Brazilian people and government”, aiming at “educational reconstruction in Brazil”. Entitled Manifesto of the Pioneers of New Education, the document, dated 1932 and signed by twenty-six pioneers, including Anísio Teixeira, Armanda Álvaro Alberto, Cecília Meireles, Fernando de Azevedo, Lourenço Filho, Noemy M. da Silveira, stated that “after 43 years of regime republican, if you take a look at the current state of public education in Brazil” the educational reforms “have not yet managed to create a system of school organization, up to the standards of modern needs and the needs of the country”.

Professor Luiz Roberto Alves, author of this book, right in its opening pages refers to the The Manifest to, in addition to paying homage to the signatories' gesture and commitment, to establish a position in favor of the country's educational memory in what is most expressive of it: the commitment to the formation of emancipated citizens and committed to the common good, respect for the differences and diversity, a fundamental characteristic of effectively democratic societies.

In this sense, this work starts from the alignment and recognition of a humanist and humanizing tradition in Brazilian education that, however, after so many years of The Manifest, has not yet been able to create “a system of school organization, at the height of modern needs and the needs of the country” and its population. Thus, concerns, reflections and pregnant questions that the most lucid Brazilian educators and thinkers have brought to the fore over time are resumed and reaffirmed here, always drawing attention to new and necessary aspects that are being added to the accumulated ills since the colony and that have not yet been effectively faced and overcome in the XNUMXst century.

By enrolling in this rich critical tradition, Luiz Roberto Alves recovers, therefore, the best we have produced in the area, adding new elements, using history as a starting point, but not to repeat it. It intends to offer elements that would help to create conditions for concrete confrontation of the serious questions that remain pending in the education of contemporary Brazil, a country that intended to carry out a modernization project without being modern, that has an education system that is structurally exclusionary, discriminatory, that wastes scandalous lives, talents and human capital, as pointed out in the 1932 document. Assuming the critical tradition is, in this sense, a crucial issue, an indispensable starting point for anyone wishing to point to paths that the country and official policies have only occasionally followed, in isolated and discontinuous moments and experiences.

If Luiz Roberto Alves could not fail to return to serious and historical denunciations, his text is, in the best Freirean sense, an announcement, an indication of systematically neglected paths, but which represent concrete and necessary possibilities for overcoming a small, instrumentalized and uprooted education. Perhaps the greatest importance of this book lies in this dialectic. It x-rays fractures, but brings possible possibilities for a healthy life, by reestablishing links between education and the world in its natural and cultural fullness, both in its immediate, palpable and concrete aspects, as well as immaterial, impalpable and invisible, but inextricable aspects.

Simplistic or dualistic thinking does not fit into the understanding presented here, always focused on complexity, permanent, dynamic clashes, generated and generators of differences and tensions, but also of creations and beauties that cannot be neglected. Nothing, therefore, of positivism, of given and finished models, but education as a gesture of invention, construction in dialogue with the windings and uncertainties of the world and history, but subject to conscious human intervention, consistent and committed to living together .

As a result, the position on which this work is based is that educating is acting, it is taking a theoretical and practical position in the face of conflicts, it is a permanent clash and confrontation of regressive forces that, eliminated here, reappear there, putting at risk both individual and social life, both matter and what goes beyond it. Due to this bond with existence in all its extension, the act of educating is taken in this work as it should be, that is, a loving act, of commitment to the multiple aspects that constitute us individually and collectively: political, cultural, economic, ethical, aesthetic.

This work's approach to various basic education documents, produced collectively, with the participation of different sectors of organized society, after the 1988 Constitution, is therefore not a discussion of only technical-specialized interest, or even a formal one. On the contrary, the tangle of acronyms, official, normative, legal texts, referred to throughout the book and admirably mastered and discussed by the author in their recesses, does not target formal, legal or administrative aspects of educational processes, but scrutinizes mainly ideas, ideals and possibilities of concrete actions, political acts to be objectified in innovative practices, at different levels of Brazilian education.

For some years, Luiz Roberto Alves was a qualified and distinguished member of the Federal Council of Education. As such, it is in a privileged position to offer us a happy opportunity to understand the importance of the dynamics between general “guidelines” and “bases”, inspired by democratic designs inscribed in the so-called citizen Constitution, and the development of “educational communities”, responsible for “ full curricula” attentive to the contextual demands and specificities of the territories and school units, in the different regions of the country.

His defense in favor of a proposal for articulation and synthesis between the singular and the plural, the particular and the general, the common and the diversified, in addition to revealing a concern in overcoming authoritarian centralism and its tendencies towards homogenization and decontextualization, reveals, also, the same order of concerns vis-à-vis local bossism, a historical phenomenon that is still alive in Brazilian society, with its tendencies to frame and deny what is not the same.

The notion of “educational community” or “educator”, the master key and leverage to give cohesion to the rich diversity of themes addressed here, is conceived, therefore, in the documents that form the basis for the renewal of education in the country, as dynamic and open training, with a decisive role in the direction to be taken by education in the country. Already in its presupposition, the text warns: “The configuration of an educating community, in the course of the pages of the text, will gain meanings and values ​​in the interlocution between author and readers, work and public, text and daily life of schools in Brazil”. With this, the dialogical perspective appears as a defining criterion of educational and enunciative acts, in their various dimensions and forms, throughout the book.

The matrix notion is not casual. It is dictated by the commitment to education in the democratic and full sense of the term, since in this perspective, it is necessarily made up of plural voices, that is, it is polyphonic: “All this will not have to be done in the official language of centralizing governments; worse, non-democratic, because outside democracy there is no education but obedient training”.

The work presented here brings, therefore, reflections on basic and fundamental educational policies and practices in truly democratic, that is, participatory, contexts. In these terms, it should be noted that the apparent simplicity of his proposals is, in fact, highly sophisticated, as is the case with the textual care that gives them life. These are rich in colors, lights and images that try to apprehend the right and wrong involved in educational acts. The enunciation is proposed, then, as an act open to the reader's imagination, taken by the emission as a co-participant in the production of meanings, and not merely as a passive receptacle of ideas. The style there is not a rhetorical game, but an effort at non-impositional or normative communication, without ceasing to be propositional.

The positions defended in this work, therefore, bring together form and content in a broad project of approximation between education and democracy, without proselytizing facilitations, however, a condition that sometimes blurs more than contributes to the practical realization of such approximation. Valuing existing links between community life and curriculum, school and context, knowledge and concrete and everyday existence is an inclusive political-pedagogical option, born from within the educational act and its own dynamics, in a continuous and incessant dialogue that permeates all spheres of social life and work itself. Experienced, the author knows that democracy is not a phenomenon that can be granted.

It is construction to be patiently, collectively and collaboratively built, cultivated and protected by interacting subjects. No wonder the centrality given to the community in the shared construction of democratic education; one does not admire the care taken with an instigating, provocative text, but one that avoids the normative and the imposition of language.

In this scenario, it is worth emphasizing the emphasis given to the problem of the curriculum, its conception, definition and mode of elaboration and development: “Since the realization of the curriculum of studies and experiences is the heart of the school project, it follows that in its construction, implementation, monitoring and evaluation lies the certainty that the talents of the new generations can be fully realized”.

A quotation clearly defines the understanding of curriculum adopted in the work and which will be explored by the author in different parts: “The curriculum is not to be confused with the list of disciplines”. According to this starting point, more than a collection of knowledge to be transmitted unilaterally and fragmentarily, the curriculum in the framework of democratic education “is a record of life, explanation of teaching and learning paths, of who educates and who is educated” .

Given such understanding, “it is evident that the curriculum is placed in the field of power relations in society”. And it is, therefore, in political and educational terms that it will be treated as a “route”, a living process in permanent elaboration resulting from energies and general and specific demands that are always renewed. The curriculum in democratic education puts in a dynamic and critical relationship knowledge coming from close and circumscribed territories with knowledge coming from distant times and spaces, producing games of gestures and signs with the potential to generate the new, but avoiding a phenomenon so common in the education offered to young people. social categories belonging to cultures that have historically been treated as subaltern: their submission to the culture of the “other”, at the same time as the aforementioned imprisonment within themselves.

The proposal of a dynamic curriculum, built in dialogue between the local, the national and the universal, allows the recognition of the singular in the plural and vice versa, in a movement that takes the subjects as participants of their environment, of their territories and culture, but , at the same time, open to other means, to knowledge that connects us both as members of a local and circumscribed community, and to the vast expanses of the world and the species.

Anthropological and epistemic subjects will emerge from this framework open to varied possibilities. Unlike the monological and crystallized models, they should not constitute themselves as fractured beings, forced to choose in their formation processes between “their” culture and the culture of the other(s). The proposed democratic education is not based on uprooting, forgetting one's origins as a condition for embracing the new; nor is it bound by the shackles of localism, as subjects will not be led to avoid or fear the distant, the unknown, ultimately the other. In the game of identities and differences, textures, plots, connections are made, in a process of reciprocal enrichment of individuals and cultures.

In this scenario, the instances of mediation, the mediators and the tools used gain a central role and not just an accessory or instrumental one. More than anodyne channels of transmission, retransmission or transfer of codes and values, they are active, indispensable participants, endowed with an effectively educational, democratic intention. They act, participate, engage as an essential part of the processes of creation and production of meanings, of meaningful experiences that lead to paths towards a life of superior quality.

Redirected in these terms, the school and other educational institutions such as libraries, for example, will tend to redefine themselves and gain a new and privileged place in the social order, recognized as an essential force “for the exact understanding of the meanings of nature and their connections with the accumulation of of human culture”. Therefore, they are no longer an instrument of “training” and coercion to become spaces of freedom, adventure, beauty, discovery of oneself and the world.

Technological issues could not be absent from the reflections and propositions of this book, far from salvationist and reductive perspectives that intend to assign and demand from machines functions that do not belong to them and that they cannot perform. The text is clear in this sense, leaving no room for misunderstandings. Already in the introduction, it associates and puts on the same level, for example, “bureaucratic operations” and “frames of technologies considered educational”. These, more than promoting educational improvements, have been helping different technocracies to take “the place of pedagogy and work strategies”.

Inspired by writings published in 1985 by Durmeval Trigueiro Mendes, “on the way out of the military dictatorship that also violated him”, Luiz Roberto Alves does not hesitate to recognize an important link between the “decline of Pedagogy and the growth of Technocracy”, in Brazil. The centrality given to “educational communities” is not, therefore, a merely functional option, but an educational political position consistent with the affirmation of democratic education, at the same time, it is a position to combat “bureaucratic waves and novelty impositions”. Quoting Durmeval Trigueiro Mendes leaves no room for doubt: there is a target to be defeated: technocratic thinking and actions, because, as Mendes states, for technocrats “education appears without philosophy, without politics, without economics, disconnected from the at the same time its real objectives and values, as well as its historical and socio-cultural conditions”.

Hence, technology can only gain an effectively educational, human and humanizing dimension, when inscribed and considered from this complex plot that, in its multiplicity and diversity, prevents reification, the transformation of the amateur into the loved thing, as declared by the seventeenth-century poet.

Given the importance of the theme, it is worth reproducing here an assertive fragment on the issue of technology: “This work should clarify that it does not carry dazzle, nor opposition to technologies, whether the mimeograph, whether 5G, electronic notebooks and social communication platforms ”. Thus, if there is not – nor should there be – an a priori position, the technologies will be “admitted as educational (if) they are managed by an educational governance (necessarily community) that guarantees decision rights to the different actors of the educational community”. This is the only way “there will be dignity in the absorption and appropriation of technological processes of information and communication considered useful. However, mere frivolous and profitable utilitarianism for some tends to be rejected”.

As in the writings of educators who made history in the country and who appear implicitly or explicitly in this text, as is the case, for example, of the illustrious pioneers, of Freire, Florestan Fernandes, Darcy Ribeiro and many others of varied nuances, Alves does not budge foot of ethos education, at the same time, a vocation and a choice to act in the world. His position does not allow him to embark on the “fads of the hour” which, more than thought, are imperatives that cloud and reduce understanding.

It is in these terms his refusal of cerebrology. Only, here, the tone unmistakably rises, gaining nuances that range from irony to inquisitive admonition. Several examples could be cited in this regard, but only two references are enough to attest to the intention of loud and clear disagreement with the theoretical line of neuroscience works that take the brain as a center for processing information and learning detached from the flesh of the world .

Thus, when referring to the term cerebrology, right at the beginning of the discussion, Luiz Roberto Alves makes use of a classic resource, used by strict language enthusiasts, although he himself cannot be considered a purist. Therefore, the placement sounds ironic, as a strong rhetorical resource of someone who has mastery of the language he uses. The language and literature teacher, who he is, then uses the authority that knowledge of literate culture gives him to deconstruct platitudes that doxa currently intends to establish as a standard. Cerebrology, according to him, is a term “still absent from good Portuguese language dictionaries”. Be careful, because it can already refer to fake news In the same way, beware, as it can denote “expectation that the school will be the place of application. Or experimentation?”

It is not, however, as one might think, to deny the importance of studies of the human brain. If it weren't for many other reasons, we are cognition and emotion, we are the one and the multiple in social life and in the world and, in this way, our brain is our animated body, as are all the signs of life that are continually studied and revealed in the service of art and science of educating. We have already learned, a long time ago, that the human totality contributes to the best education, which results in a great effort against the social processes that fragment the being that grows, learns and educates itself.

In these terms, the criticisms are not directed against the neurosciences as such, but against the reductionisms of the text of the hour and the pretense of explaining learning “via talents of the brain” disembodied from culture, as “not only Dehaene does, of course”. Therefore, the author warns: “Serious for future clashes is the fact that the phenomenon of learning resides in the brain. From now on, therefore, it is expected that when the wave returns, scientific efforts will be mobilized in favor of the entire learning body”. It is there that the memory is kept, waiting for expression and re-elaboration.

The theme of memory was always especially dear to Luiz Roberto Alves. He carried out, for decades, exemplary works, taking it as a starting and ending point. He is not surprised by his refusal to reduce learning and education to a set of procedures, whether simple or complex, to constants and immutable rules that could be programmed by technicians and specialists in artificial intelligence. In his understanding, education faces and forms living and desiring beings, not chatbots.

Unless you give up this dimension that is deeply mobile, changing and in a permanent state of renewal and boiling that is desire, there is no place for subjects devoid of history and significant and generative experiences in the educational project expressed here. The students' memory permeates each new gesture, new perception, new image, in a mobilization that generates energies that trigger open and infinite processes and combinations. The singular and the plural are at work there, in the same way as the individual and the social, the personal and the collective, in a state of permanent re-elaboration.

The special place reserved for Heller in the reflections presented is not fortuitous. The author, according to Luiz Roberto Alves, is a reference, as “she ceases to understand herself as a particularity and sees herself as an individual, a person in a group, in relation to others, who forms with others and can produce beauty, knowledge, knowledge, kindness. This subject-individual is the one capable of questioning, questioning himself, asking questions without fear. Freire would say admiring, understanding oneself as unfinished, curious about the world and life; after all, able to go beyond what is given and established”.

Heller made everyday life an episteme and his glimpses are associated with those of Paulo Freire, reverberating considerations shared by both, when treating the “history of people understood as a possibility”. In this sense, “daily life is not immune from becoming part of praxis from its practical activity. This human-generic moment of consciousness, which is praxis, is capable of building the new” because, for both Freire and Heller, “there is no Chinese wall between everyday life and reality. praxis”, although “this means overcoming everyday life”.

Patiently plotted on a daily basis, the memory lived, elaborated, questioned, re-elaborated in the daily dynamics of educational communities is the founding raw material of democratic and participatory education, the heritage of each and every one, an inheritance to be cultivated and remade by the permanent flow of generations and of the world that offers them a home. Therefore, educating is teaching how to care for the world with due attention and respect, as an existential attitude and primordial and transcendental ethics. For Alves, education is narcissistic overcoming, it is a gesture of love, it is an encounter with the other, that which is not the same. In this movement, she is also discovered by herself. In the difference.

By situating itself and calling our attention to the best Brazilian educational tradition, its productions and producers, its links and bonds, its most significant moments and references, this work is a restorative reading. On the other hand, by defending the knowledge of normative documents of education in the post-1985 country, by highlighting the importance of the mobilization of educators and other sectors of society in its production, by highlighting the centrality of educational communities and territories in the elaboration and redesigning full curricula, expression of contexts and, at the same time, open to the world, to difference, to what is common, Luiz Roberto Alves launches clues that allow us to reconnect frayed or broken threads in our educational history.

By connecting and valuing the ground of schools and territories, the living memory born and cultivated in everyday life and in dialogue and interlocution with other memories and other ways of producing it, the proposals exposed here point to a living, rich, educational culture original and inclusive “to the height of modern (and contemporary) needs and the needs of the country”. In this sense, this publication echoes and points to concrete possibilities, as the great texts of the best Brazilian educators have always done.

*Edmir Perrotti is a retired professor at the School of Communication and Arts at USP.


Luiz Roberto Alves. Build curricula, train people and build educating communities. Pedagogical connections as guidelines for those who educate, teach and educate themselves in diversity. São Paulo, Alameda, 2023, 396 pages (

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