Qualitative research predominate in Brazilian studies on gender and education. This article points that these methodologies contribute to this field as powerful tools that break the naturalization of gender relations, uncovering the subtle forms of gender inequality in everyday life and highlighting the social construction of gender. The common effort in ethnographies to make strange what is familiar are useful in overcoming these pitfalls. Qualitative methodologies are also important in the construction of contextual analyses that avoid essentialist statements about men and women as fixed universal notions, a frequent bias in gender studies. Latin American research on gender in education has used these principles with good results and this article offers some examples, developed mainly in Brazil. It also suggests researchers use qualitative methodologies to link gender to other social determinations such as class and race, in an intersectional perspective. The challenge of constructing intersectionality finds in qualitative research methods a powerful ally because it allows investigators to understand how each form of inequality combines with the other, creating new meanings. The article also stresses that analysis based on qualitative data may help break the dichotomies between social structures and individual action, fostering the understanding of the simultaneity between actions of the subjects and social determination, between change and permanence, between individuals and society. Finally, the conclusion draws attention to the need for greater dialogue between quantitative and qualitative research in the area of gender and education studies, opening space for issues highlighted in statistical analysis to be explored in qualitative research, which in turn might generate new questions to be investigated in macro-social databases.
Ana Maria F. Almeida and Sandra Ziegler
International comparisons demonstrate considerable educational inequality across Latin America. Since the return of democracy in the region in the mid-1980s, these educational disparities have become an important object of studies and public policies, not least because educational inequality reflects, and entrenches, deep social inequalities across the region. Studies of this phenomenon are multifaceted, with distinctions between qualitative and quantitative approaches corresponding to distinct disciplinary fields (sociology, psychology, history versus economics, notably), university departments (colleges of education, sociology departments versus economics departments), and gender (women versus men). Qualitative approaches examine a limited number of cases, usually using interviews and ethnographies, to examine a circumscribed space of social action, often limited to a small set of institutions within a single national framework. Studies carried out in this perspective support the construction of hypotheses that can then be tested with a larger number of cases. They are particularly suited to identifying multiple, mutually influencing causalities, thus enabling a dense description of the complex dynamics that lead to the reproduction of educational inequality in the region. At the same time, these approaches have not tackled comparative analysis nor have they addressed the global dynamics affecting education in the region.
This article analyzes the relationship between oral history and education in Brazil. First, it addresses changes in theoretical and methodological approaches in some disciplinary fields, a move that increasingly questions production based mainly on quantitative research and favors a renewal of qualitative research. In this context, qualitative research incorporated discussions of life histories and the subjects’ narratives as methods of collecting data. At the same time that shifts in sociology and history drew both disciplines together in research that used the biographical approach and oral reports, qualitative research on educational issues was becoming stronger in the field of education. Questioning routine forms of research in these various fields ended up addressing common themes of interest to all of them. Such an approach allowed for the introduction and development of oral history in Brazil as an interdisciplinary field in which questions flowed from one discipline to another, in which sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and educators took part. Oral history is understood as a methodological approach to research in which the researcher commits to the object of study, approaching it based on the oral reports of the subjects involved along with other written, iconographic, and material sources in order to understand the different representations of the subjects. Oral history brought fundamental changes in education: subjects were incorporated into the production of knowledge about the history of education, social relations in the educational field, the way of looking at the formative processes of educators, discussions regarding curricula aimed at diverse social groups, group cultures, among other aspects; the educational field was no longer analyzed mainly from an educational, pedagogical-methodological approach, but one based on the centrality of the subjects and their demands. This change in perspective, no longer only on the part of the State or supporting institutions, provided a link between school and non-school education, as well as in the processes of participation of social groups. It also encouraged the incorporation of diverse data sources and their preservation. New research topics were also taken up, which has had a strong influence on the process of training historians and educators. Educational issues have been at the fore from the first incursions of oral history in Brazil and, precisely because of the exchange being built, new research paths are now being developed.
In Brazil and around the world, the ideas of Paulo Freire have impacted the field of environmental education, at least since the 1970s. It is possible to observe and associate the influence of Paulo Freire, when environmental education emphasizes the political dimension of any and all pedagogic activity, as he so emphatically stated. Another central aspect of Freirean influence relates in particular to the objective that environmental education should make “participation” possible, as advocated by the first documents produced and disseminated by UNESCO. Although the topic of environmentalism, in its best-known sense and definition of the protection of nature and natural resources, was not initially at the core of his pedagogical thinking, a strong concern with the theme can be seen traversing his work in the 1990s. In this sense, the international academic institutionalization of environmental education and the support that this pedagogic and political movement received after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was crucial for consolidation by means of public policies and projects elaborated by NGOs as well as by the theoretical production and curricular changes that took place in universities around the world, with different thematic priorities, theoretical and methodological focuses, and impact on the population and on the natural and social environment. Since 2009, especially in Brazil and other Latin American countries, dissertations and theses have leaned toward this production, identifying and analyzing the increase of Freirean pedagogy in connection with environmental education, defined as “the political education of citizens.” Political actions in everyday pedagogical practices for social and environmental justice, alongside various other rights (e.g., cultural), are urgent issues to address. The connections between environmental education and Freirean pedagogy have contemporized both, as they clarify the central arguments of Paulo Freire’s political and pedagogic thought, which reaffirmed throughout his extensive production that access to education is a universal right, and that it is by means of education (including the environmental dimension) that political processes for the construction of just, democratic, and sustainable societies are solidified.
Lisiane Celia Palma, Marcelo Trevisan, and Nathália Rigui Trindade
Establishing a balance between the demands of the productive sectors and other societal spheres is one of the greatest challenges in the area of sustainability. Education for Sustainability (EfS) can help educational institutions (EIs), especially technical schools, to overcome this challenge. Therefore, it is important to explore how the theme of EfS is currently being addressed in technical education. Sustainability permeates discussions about technical education, yet it is not yet central to the education process. The integration of aspects of sustainability in education require the restructuring of didactic arrangements. In this vein, experiential learning theory (ELT) can help EIs to improve EfS. ELT is one of the most effective ways to promote positive change in individuals and organizations.
Roseli R. Mello, Marcondy M. de Souza, and Thaís J. Palomino
Self-determination of the original peoples of any nation, preservation of their territories, preservation of traditions, and negotiation of customs facing national cultures are central themes in the debate about and among indigenous peoples in the world. School education is directly linked to such themes as an instrument of acculturation or self-determination and emancipation. As in other countries of the globe, throughout history, what happened and is happening in Brazil is not isolated fact. Current conditions are the product of colonization processes, the development of industrial society, and more recently of globalization. Such historical processes bring struggles, confrontations, transformations, and solidarity. In the legal sphere, international conventions, declarations, and treaties have influenced more or less directly the norms and laws on the subject: from the papal bull and treaties between colonizing kingdoms, to the Declaration of Human Rights, to Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, the Brazilian indigenous issue, like that of many other countries, is also based on, supported by, or held back by actions, debates, and international interests. But what makes the case of Brazil worthy of relevance for thinking about indigenous education? Two elements make up an answer: the specific way the governors establish relations with the original peoples, and the fact that Brazil has the greatest diversity of indigenous communities.