Note on the document “General national guidelines for blended learning”

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By MARISA DE OLIVEIRA*

Theory and method that embody the proposal endorse only an individualistic and market-oriented education

The document “General national guidelines for blended learning” [I], prepared by the National Education Council (CNE), was released on November 16, 2021 not as a proposal for strict regulation of this “methodology”, but, as the title indicates, as “general guidelines on the matter” (p. 12) regarding basic and higher education.

the bicameral commission[ii] of the council will soon launch a public consultation on the guidelines and set November 26, 2021 as the deadline for sending comments on the proposal: it gave society ten days to express its opinion on the content of the document, therefore.

The document consists of a report and a draft resolution. Stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the discussion "revisions, investments and incentives for methodological innovations" sought for decades, making room for an unstoppable process that institutes the flexibility not only of the curriculum - which was already in place with the approved BNCC in December 2017 –, but also teaching, through the remote modality.

As for what “hybrid learning” is, the clearest definition of the “method”, in the midst of a rather diffuse argument, is presented on page 8, in the same paragraph in which the commission’s objectives are exposed:

“[…] the proposed proposal aims to make teaching activities more flexible, intentionally and in a planned way mixing or alternating face-to-face and non-face-to-face teaching and learning moments.”

About how this “blending” or “alternation” will be done, there is a brief passage, revealing, on page 10:

“The adoption of this Hybrid Learning implies [sic] incorporating it into the Pedagogical Project of the school institution, changing the prototype of its curricular design, being responsible for establishing for each course and each concrete situation the dosimetry between face-to-face and non-face-to-face activities.” .

The document reinforces that “hybrid learning” would be contemplated in article 23 of the LDB (law no.o 9.394, of December 20, 1996) and that it is a method, not a modality. In this way, it should not be confused with the EaD modality, already regulated and very present, above all, in Higher Education. However, as observed by teacher Zara Figueiredo Tripodi, in an article published in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, “[…] the subtext that needs to be read is: the method was lacking for the modality already created, so that hybrid teaching would be fact thought in its entirety and could thus become a definitive modality.”[iii]

 

The defense of the proposal

The report with which the commission intends to defend the proposal is disconcerting in all aspects, such as the abundant and shallow use of words like “new”, “innovation”, “flexibility”, “dynamic”, “boldness”; in the distorted evaluation of the problems of Brazilian education; in the dishonesty with which he cites the thinking of intellectuals such as Paulo Freire, Lev Vigotski, Emilia Ferreiro, among others. With all this, the document does not hide a vision of education as a means for accommodating the few in an increasingly unsustainable system, nor that, with the proposal, it aims at the physical and symbolic emptying of the school and university. One more step, facilitated by the closure of schools in the pandemic, towards “business education reform”[iv] long desired by privatist institutes and foundations represented in the CNE.

A deleterious proposal that presents itself as a proposal aimed at guaranteeing “better learning outcomes” could only have a set of fallacies in its plot. Without further consideration, he associates face-to-face teaching with “'aulism' based on the student's memory” (p. 11), “meaningful learning” with merely instrumental knowledge, slowness with delay, agility with progress, connectivity with the democratization of knowledge, listening with being passive . On the first point, it appears from the report that in the physical school, “dynamic relationships” between teachers and students, “meaningful learning” or “valuing extracurricular experience” are not possible. These experiences, which configure education in line with “contemporary demands” (which are not discussed, only accepted), would be unrealizable in a process that does not involve “hybrid learning”.

Another noteworthy fallacy is the one that associates digital education with the use of digital resources as mediators in remote teaching. It is stated, on page 3, that “technology enhances agility and helps to organize learning, in addition to offering the opportunity for the student to play an active role in the use of digital resources. In the contemporary school, technology is an important component in pedagogical practice, providing instruments for acting and interacting with the world, which is increasingly connected, expanded, and demanding new learning practices”.

The document does not explain why digital education as an object must necessarily be mediated by digital resources in the remote modality. As if it were not possible or appropriate for these and other contents to be taught in privacy[v] of the physical space of the school, where teachers, students and other participants of the school community interact with each other.

It is also alleged that “hybrid learning” along the lines presented is the counterpoint to the “banking education” against which educator Paulo Freire fought. At no point, however, is it made explicit to what extent the “blend” between face-to-face and remote teaching contributes to a change in this direction, or even why the development of “new dynamics and new forms of relationship” (p. 3) between teachers and students could not take place in the physical space of the school.

Still on the reference to Paulo Freire, an excerpt on page 2 gives food for thought about the “influence” of the thinker on the design of the proposal as a whole:

“Rapid changes demand a repositioning of education, in dealing with new profiles of expanded relationships, forms of flexible use of spaces and times in person and outside, with the use (or not) of information and communication technologies, planning and ways of teach and learn. It is necessary to integrate knowledge from all areas, combining methodologies, activities, projects and other strategies, to understand the movements or events of today's world, in clear contrast with the slowness of traditional schools.”

It is very difficult to maintain that the education for which Paulo Freire worked is the one that prepares people to adapt to the “demands of this new scenario” (p. 3), which is not even briefly described, but which, we know, is characterized by precariousness. living conditions on the planet, hitting the working class in a particularly brutal way. And what about the section in which the authors ask themselves about “how to deal with this hybrid, plural and flexible generation, without generational conflicts and social divergences”, on page 3? An education that admittedly does not prepare for conflict and divergence would not be endorsed by Paulo Freire; even less an education that excludes students from the poor.

Regarding this last aspect, it should be noted that Brazilian economic and social inequality is rarely mentioned in the document. With regard to students without access to the necessary resources to participate in activities mediated by digital technologies, such as equipment, internet connection and even adequate space for studies, such “diversity” does not disorient the proponents of the guidelines.

On page 7, in two astonishing paragraphs, it reads: “This mediation of a technological nature, not necessarily mandatory due to the effective difficulty of connecting a large part of the Brazilian population, ends up becoming mandatory, since digital culture is increasingly necessary and essential in the current scenario. However, the context is not fully present, due to the great diversity of the Brazilian population, due to the lack of guarantee of effective equity, although this is a constitutional and legal right.

It is opportune to point out, on the other hand, that all these activities of an educational nature can and should be considered as school and curricular, under the terms defined by paragraph 1 of article 1 of the LDB. These Blended Learning educational activities effectively contribute to the development of the curriculum, as learning environments are not exclusive to those represented by what happens in schools, in their classrooms or in other spaces”.

It appears from the excerpt that students who do not have the technological resources for remote interaction remain in the hybrid method, that is, remote, without interaction, as occurred during the pandemic period. It seems that these students in particular can do without the essential learning provided by interaction with peers and teachers through “information and communication technologies”. To the CNE, it seems reasonable to do so.

By the way, it is also very significant that there is not a single line about students who have special needs.

 

Frequency

The document shows great concern with the creation of mechanisms for recording the frequency of activities carried out remotely. As on pages 7, 8 and 9: “Regarding this frequency, in fact, Hybrid Learning, due to its flexibility in relation to times and spaces, leads to the reinterpretation of its concept, which goes beyond the physical presence of the student in the school environments , generating the need for diversified and appropriate instruments for its measurement and calculation in the course taken by the student to consolidate his learning. […] “With the accelerated development of modernization of current Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), unprecedented and unusual opportunities are created to generate imponderable learning situations. New alternatives of synchronous and asynchronous attendance can be counted as attendance activities outside the school environment, 'whenever the learning process so recommends', reiterating that the legally prescribed attendance for the different courses goes beyond the student's physical presence in the environment of the school, valuing more effective learning outcomes.”

Along with this concern, it is observed to reiterate that extracurricular learning is also important, if not fundamental. References to post-modernity theorists and to the LDB, on this point, serve to justify the emptying of the school and university, this time of their role as transmitters of systematized and legitimized knowledge and as promoters of critical debates about these contents whose transmission it undertakes. This is not to say that what you learn outside of school is worthless. It is just a question of stating that the schooling process involves contact with procedures and knowledge that are typical of this dimension of education.

The “flexibilization” of students' contact with this knowledge deprives them of important learning, not necessarily instrumental, and contributes to the disqualification of educational institutions; by counting extracurricular activity as a school activity, they obtain the workload foreseen in the legislation for completing training without the school and university fulfilling their role – and without “encumbering” public and private sponsors.

 

Professor

Of course, in this scenario, the role of the teacher becomes another one, not one of authority, but of “partner”. It would be up to him to be a kind of mentor of “active learning” in which students would engage by force of their own will. After all, according to the document, knowledge is increasingly available due to increased connectivity, and thus the teacher loses his role as a “transmitter”. It is based on the assumption that the teacher, in the daily life of the school, does nothing more than “transmit information”, and also that people learn on their own, motivated by “autonomy” and a sense of “protagonism”, in which there must be "investment". The teacher becomes an accessory, on the grounds that his expression as holder of teachable knowledge sounds authoritarian. And let us pay attention to the fact that the document does not deal with “blended teaching” but “blended learning”. Nothing less aligned with the historical-cultural theory developed by Lev Vygotsky – quoted here only because he was mentioned, in the document, as a guarantor of what the commission is calling “active methodologies”.

Regardless, the theory and method that embody the proposal endorse only an individualist education based on the idea of ​​self-sufficiency and the illusion of personalization, in order to prepare children and young people for an economic and social order that is increasingly unfeasible. In practice, the proposal that implies the emptying of the school and university – and opens up ample business opportunities to education entrepreneurs –, aggravates the exclusion of students from the poorest strata and makes teachers' working and living conditions even more precarious.

* Marisa de Oliveira is a Portuguese language teacher.

 

Notes


[I] Document available at: http://portal.mec.gov.br/index.php?option=com_docman&view=download&alias=227271-texto-referencia-educacao-hibrida&category_slug=novembro-2021-pdf&Itemid=30192. Accessed on: Nov. 2021.

[ii] Since it brings together the two chambers that make up the council: the Basic Education Chamber (CEB) and the Higher Education Chamber (CES).

[iii] Blended learning and the Black Friday of education. Available in: https://politica.estadao.com.br/blogs/fausto-macedo/ensino-hibrido-e-a-black-friday-da-educacao/.

[iv] The concept is presented and developed in FREITAS, LC Education business reform: new right, old ideas. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2018.

[v] The issue is discussed from this perspective in the article “Hybrid teaching: who controls the algorithms?”, by Luiz Carlos de Freitas, available at: https://avaliacaoeducacional.com/.

 

 

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