Although Brazil is one of the greatest economies in the world, it has one of the lowest scores on international exams applied to high school students. In the last edition of PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) Brazil scored so badly that it was placed below 50th in all of the three aspects tested – Mathematics, Science, and Reading.
One can wonder why a country with so much success developing its economy can be at the same time so terrible educating its youth. However, if we think about it, today’s economy is developed mainly by those who are no longer youngsters – the education they’ve received is not the same their sons and daughters are receiving.
In fact, the results of today’s Brazilian education will be only plain when those who are being educated today reach maturity and are responsible for the country. Here we reach the problem – with the education Brazilian youth is receiving today, maybe they will never reach maturity even if they are unfortunately responsible for the country’s future.
Most Brazilian teachers and school directors follow the example of a famous national educator named Paulo Freire. Freire’s approach is very romantic – in a “constructivist classroom” the teacher is not responsible for teaching known facts, but rather to create an environment where teacher and pupil can create a dialogue and original knowledge.
Even if we learn a lot of things about life when we spend time with kids – especially to better enjoy the little moments of daily life – I can bet a kid will never be able to learn and understand the Pythagorean theorem if their teacher doesn’t give them some clues.
Furthermore, why would the kid need to develop all human knowledge on his own? All we know today about nature, mathematics, philosophy and about humanity, is the result of our ancestors’ thoughts and experiences through thousands of years. If we would need to discover it from scratch, it would take at least the same thousands of years.
Unfortunately, this is not clear for most of Brazilian educators, and the results are starting to appear in international exams. Yet, they are only a prediction of what will happen to the country in the next generation, if we don’t change our approach toward youngsters.
Indeed, even if this strange approach hasn’t reached other countries with the same strength it has reached Brazil, it is only a branch of the general ideology that has conquered the West. We live today in an individualistic spirit which dictates “liberation from tradition”. The western individual can’t see that they owe their life to the past and that all the things they think or do are somehow possible thanks to other people, especially their ancestors.
The main advantage youngsters have is not to have a “tabula rasa”, as if humanity needed to restart from scratch. Their advantage is to be able to receive more knowledge than the previous generation has received, without needing to pass through the time and sacrifice the previous generation faced to reach it. Let us never forget it.