University of Oulu

Obstacles to moral education in a private school: a qualitative case study in Brazil

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Author: Leal Terra Silva, Fabiana1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Pages: 106
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : F. Leal Terra Silva, 2014
Publish Date: 2014-01-17
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Räsänen, Rauni
Reviewer: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Räsänen, Rauni
This research intends to investigate obstacles to moral education in a private school in Brazil, based on teachers’ views, which were gathered through interviews, questionnaires and discussions during workshops. It is a qualitative case study conducted in a country where neoliberal values increasingly influence education, and where high rates of socio economic inequalities are easily observed. Similarly to other emerging economies, Brazil faces increasing privatisation in education, mainly in higher education but also in basic education levels. Although the majority of students attend public schools, the relevance and representativeness of private schools in the country go beyond these numbers. Historical and political circumstances have favoured their establishment, expansion and influence in the Brazilian society. As a general rule, private schools tend to work under little scrutiny of the Ministry of Education, and little attention is given to the values they promote. Concern for moral education and collective wellbeing, although part of national education policies, still need great efforts to be included in school practices on a daily basis in Brazil. Moral education holds potential to raise awareness of social injustices and to improve concern for collective wellbeing. Its relevance seems even stronger in the so-called developing countries, such as Brazil, where high rates of corruption and little concern for the common good reinforce existing inequalities in society. In this thesis, moral education is disconnected from more traditional or religious practices, while progressive approaches, such as values clarification (VC), are understood as an important contribution to the practice of moral education in schools. The main argument underpinning this research is the need to recognise education as a moral enterprise, and to develop moral education in schools as a response to contemporary challenges and the need for justice in society. In this sense, this thesis supports moral education and concern for collective wellbeing as essential components of schooling — which is increasingly viewed as a synonym of education — as well as their potential to assist in developing a more holistic conception of education, and deemphasising its instrumental value, which is dominant nowadays. This qualitative case study was developed with five teachers working in a private school in Brazil, and qualitative content analysis was applied to analyse the primary set of data (interviews). The results derived from the combination of this analysis and the secondary set of data (questionnaires and notes from a research diary from observations made during the workshops with teachers). They indicate that teachers consider students’ parents as the main obstacle to moral education in the school, particularly the conflict of values between teachers and parents. Teachers also mentioned neoliberal influences as an obstacle to moral education, e.g. overloaded school curriculum and little time for extra initiatives, great pressure and concern from parents and school administration in relation to the use of books and students’ performance. The school conduct, interests and decisions were pointed out as an obstacle to moral education as well, with emphasis on the lack of support for teachers on conflict situations with parents. Results suggest that teachers view moral education as an essential part of their job but also as a burden when developed without support from parents and school administration. Additionally, the study identified that teachers lack knowledge and practical training in moral education during their studies to become teachers, which could also constitute an obstacle to its development in the school. Finally, the suggestions mentioned to improve moral education in the school included more support for teachers, more communication between teachers, parents and school administration, and real engagement from the institution on matters of moral education. Although a qualitative case study without aims of generalisation, this research offers data and results relevant to numerous cases in Brazil and in other countries facing similar challenges, particularly in contexts of increasing privatisation in education and neoliberal values in society. It offers contributions to comparative studies in education, and it provides empirical data that could contribute to restrain existing hindrances to the inclusion of moral education in school practices in Brazil.
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Copyright information: © Fabiana Leal Terra Silva, 2014. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.