New School in Brazil
New School is an expression that usually means ideas and practical principles identified with renovation of mentality and pedagogical practices of educators. To make a more accurated definition, with cronological limits, we must remember that there were projects like this since the beggining of Brazilian Republic; but our researchers consider that New School was introduced in Brazil through School Reforms made in some States in 1920s. In that period, the new educational ideas grew up; they became solid in 1930s, when other important Reforms were made (Nagle 1974).
Relevant facts in this process were the foundation of Associaçăo Brasileira de Educaçăo (Brazilian Association of Education) in 1924 and the IV Conferęncia Nacional de Educaçăo (IV National Conference of Education) in 1931, when there was the dissidence between liberal and catholics leaders. The first group, in which Fernando de Azevedo, Lourenço Filho, Anísio Teixeira, and others were, published in 1932 a document with their political, social, philosophical, and educational ideas – the Manifesto dos Pioneiros da Educaçăo Nova (Manifesto of the Pioners of the New School) (Cury 1988).
A definition of New School must consider it was a movement, whose dinamyc nature do not let us make any final characterization, just like some New School leaders admitted. According to Lourenço Filho, New School is not “an only kind of school or method of teaching but a whole principles against the traditional school.” It arises in Europe and EUA in the end of XIX century, under the influence of scientific progress in biology and psychology that revealed “a new comprehension of the childhood.” These knowledges were increased by a lot of principles about “the functions of school in face of the new social demands” (Lourenço Filho 1974, p. 17).
According to Fernando de Azevedo, New School – or New Education – includes “a whole projects and experiences with new ideas and techniques (like active methods, psychological and pedagogical tests, adjustment of pedagogy to individual development and variance) or new plans to remodel the school administration.” The expression New School is “vague and inexact” because it can include any “modern pedagogy based on the child development.” In this variety, it is possible to delineate two tendencies, at least: the first was “inspired by the new biological and psychological ideas about children and by the new functional education” and put the student in the center of school and the second, “linked to the evolution of social theories and to the definition of school like a social institution,” put the society requirements above the individual freedom (Azevedo 1958).
In Brazil, the New School ideas were grouped in this last tendency. The history of Brazilian New School was developed inside projects that included modernization, democratization, industrialization, and urbanization of society. Individual would be inserted in the rising society process by school. Knowledges about individual and society, resulting from various fields, especially from psychology an social sciences, were transposed to pedagogical practices. The New School common ideas emphasized intensive use of the scientific and rationality resources in school administration and in pedagogy. Their goals were to increase the efficience of teachers’ work, to disciplinate, and to normalize the school physical space (Cunha 1995; Mate1988).
Meanwhile, in this history there was a great variety of discourse. Side by side the trend above, there was a mentality in which the situation of man in society was considered and the socialization means was discussed too. These ideas look out for the relevance of individual in the social order – not the individual like a psychological and abstract being but the individual like a colective and participative one. In this tendency, the moral and social problems were put in order to guide the modernization of society (Cunha 1995; Cunha 1988).
So, the era of New School can be characterized like the one in which these two orders of questions were present: to insert individual in a modern society and, at the same time, to respect the individual singularities. On the one hand, functionality ideas predominated; the school was inspired in an industrial efficiency model. On the other hand, the society was considered like a building process; the school was guided by democratic and free experiences.
This era finished in the end of 1950s, beggining of 1960s, when the pedagogic ideas resigned the conciliation of this two poles and the planning theories predominated (Horta 1982).
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