The educational dialogue

Image: Antonio A. Costa


The contemporary school as a training space: utopia or possibility?

We live in a time when discussions about education proliferate like never before. Every season, new fashions appear at the fairs for the dissemination of large companies focused on marketing education: bilingual teaching, cognitive development diagrams, proposals for “active methodologies” and “hybrid teaching” and, also, solutions that make use of the loan of foreign terms to give a globalized and cosmopolitan tone, as the maker culture.

What these trends have in common is not just the fact that they do not involve an effective educational dialogue, being currents of thought exclusively focused on the market and developed with the purpose of marketing for the middle class. They also have in common an ideological dissimulation that makes invisible the effort that other sectors apply to critically understand the school as an institution of a fragmented society.

The existence of education as an industry, however, is only one of the factors that makes understanding and analysis of the modern phenomenon of the mass school so difficult. Talking about education nowadays is running the risk of falling into the trap of commonplaces, of being caught in the traps of conservative discourse or, even, of succumbing to one's own resentments and childhood hurts. In an attempt to escape the pitfalls, we try to discuss here whether it is still possible for the contemporary school to exercise the function of a training space, which requires understanding what training is – and even what a training space is – and what it would be to such a contemporary school.

Each new life is a new beginning of the world. The training challenge is to assimilate this beginning to tradition, putting it at its service so that, instead of generational ruptures, we have an impetus for innovation. At first delegated exclusively to the private sphere of life, that is, to the family, education has its guard shifted by modernity. With the dissociation between the public and the private becoming more and more impossible, a public institution (in the political sense of the word) assumes this arduous task: the school. But this displacement does not occur naturally, but at the expense of many successive discourses. From the publication of from puerile, in the Renaissance, to the recent homologation of the National Common Curricular Base, humanity did not cease to produce theories and normative treaties that try to mold formation in an increasingly globalized community.

Few (if any) disagree with the relevance of training in building an individual and the community to which he belongs. This may be an indication of the awareness of the masses, but it may also indicate something more fateful: the emptying of the term. After all, we also live in times of the death of words. Words with historical and philosophical weight that, being so flexible and misunderstood, today have no meaning. Among them we can mention democracy and its younger sister, antagonist, fascism, which had their meanings so inverted and confused that they are already in the morgue awaiting their funeral ceremonies. The term training seems to share the same fate. It remains for us humbly to try to revive it with a brief outline.

Firstly, training can be seen as an effective insertion into the world of knowledge accumulated by humanity, which ends up being inseparable from adapting the behavior of the new human to the customs and values ​​that are already there when they come into the world. The way in which this insertion should be carried out, however, is the main reason for disagreement, since it is in this field that so many conservative and allegedly progressive ideologies come into conflict. We can understand the imposition of training on young people as the implementation of such ideologies in the propagation of the civilizing agenda, but we can also understand the performance of such ideologies as a dissimulation of the real need for training as a right of the new individual to future possibilities.

For now, we choose to follow the latter hypothesis. Therefore, a training space is one that allows the engagement of the young individual in the world that surrounds him, which is already given to him and which is loaded with human artifices. Allowing this engagement is making knowledge present, so that a future horizon exists. Here, knowledge concerns not only the knowledge objectified by written intellectual production, but also that pre-objective, pre-predicative knowledge, which involves, mainly, the recognition of others, which plays the role of opening up to the young person the intersubjective dimension that is the human world.

We must now briefly analyze what the contemporary school is, the institution that we currently have as responsible for training and socialization. The contemporary school is, first and foremost, an institution as a well-defined physical space: a building or group of buildings separated from the rest of the city by walls and/or walls. In addition, it has its own organization and hierarchies: classrooms with geometrically positioned desks to be occupied by students and one or more rooms with exclusive access to teachers and employees who are assigned titles of authority.

It is important to point out that the school's logistics projects its own vision of temporality: the division of classes according to age and of teachers with a significant age difference in relation to students traces and roots the image of the future as a staircase whose steps correspond to the institutionalized levels of training . It is a school that has its own internal dynamics, and even a specific culture of this environment,[1] but which, at the same time, is crossed by the nuances of the society that contains it.

More than that, the school is also an increasingly open and exploited market. The business groups that profit from private education, owners of school networks ranging from kindergarten to higher education and that involve teaching foreign languages ​​and even courses focused on physical activities, are the same ones that profit from the production of didactic material for the state. At least until a few years ago, the PNLD (Programa Nacional do Livro Didático) corresponded to a larger share of the profit of the largest educational conglomerate in Brazil than all the capital generated by private schools, which involves both the consumption of didactic material and monthly fees.

However, even the most pessimistic views about the education industry and the school machinery cannot deny that training is a right. It is a right like food and health, for example, which also suffer from similar commodification processes. Our food is largely in the hands of large companies in the food industry (which, coincidentally, are part of the same conglomerates as some educational groups) and agribusiness. Health, on the other hand, is sunk in the LOBBY of the pharmaceutical industry whose companies, you see, are either the same or are part of those same conglomerates. Even so, we cannot deny that food and health are rights and that, however impaired they may be, the proposal to end their mass reach is more harmful than beneficial.

While food and health are a person's access to the natural world, education is their access to the human world. Asking whether the contemporary school is capable of being a training space is equivalent to questioning whether it is possible to have access to the human world in today's society. For now, we need to believe so.

Our diet based on products from the food industry nourishes us, for now, but compromises our future. The contemporary school forms in the same way. Just as we still don't have a good idea of ​​the impacts that agrochemicals and industrialized medicines can bring to our development and our health, we still don't know how much the rooting of the civilizing ideology implies the failure of the school.

There is an opening of the future and utopia in the training space that is still the school. It remains to be seen if this opening is real or if it exists only as an illusion, if it is not reversed, surreptitiously becoming its own inverse in a dissimulated way, implying the closure of the future by a path of gradual reduction of access to the human world that opens up. undergoes an increase.

*Paula Feijó is a master's student in philosophy at the University of São Paulo.



[1] “The fact is that, somehow, with all the devices mentioned above, the school creates conventions and consensus, in typical school language, to make time and space artifices put under its control. In doing so, the school creates culture. It could, therefore, give a meaning of its own when the term “culture” is accompanied by the adjective that here is substantive in the idea of ​​'school'.” See Boto, Carlota. “School civilization as a political and pedagogical project of modernity: culture in classes, in writing”. In: Cad. Cedes Campinas v. 23 no. 61, p. 378-397, December 2003.

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