University of Oulu

Respecting the democratic tradition of oral learning : an ethnographic study of Brazil’s public democratic school Amorim Lima

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Author: Hartel, Alyssa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Hartel, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-05-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Reviewer: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Teatini, Sebastiao
Democratic schools are learning institutions where students have a voice in the structure and organization of their learning. This school ethnography is a case study of a Brazilian public democratic elementary and middle school, Amorim Lima, in São Paulo. The purpose of the research was to understand the key elements of Amorim Lima’s innovative educational project. The theoretical framework for this research includes Paulo Freire’s theory of emancipatory education involving a narrative relationship between students and teachers as well as oral tradition scholars Amadou Hampaté-Bâ and Daniel Murunduku’s theories of learning in cultures of oral tradition. The study is also related to research in self-regulated learning and self-efficacy, self-directed learning and agency, and restorative justice in schools. Data was was collected for three months from participant observation at the school and short and long interviews with students, parents, and teachers. A central focus to the case study was the way members of the school community told their narratives. Participants recounted how student engagement and motivation have increased and how student conflict has decreased over the past 10 years as the school community has developed its democratic project. The first unique educational element that emerged from the research was the roteiro system of learning in which students complete all of their learning at their own pace through journals, texts, and an online platform. Through the self-paced tasks that require them to engage with texts and organize their own learning, students exhibited agency, curiosity, and self-efficacy in their learning. The second component of the school was the daily discussion circles called rodas de conversa in which students meet daily to freely discuss issues that impact them. The rodas de conversa are a way of solving conflict and building community in line with Freirian democratic education and the oral tradition. The third essential element of the Amorim Lima project was a set of school-wide community projects including a garden, festivals, and drum and music circles. Through these projects, students learned to value their heritage and community and described increased motivation to attend school. This case study shows that educational reform at the school level is possible within current public education systems and offers a uniquely Brazilian model for an inclusive, participatory school. The findings of this research may be useful for teachers and school leaders interested in innovative forms of learning, discipline, and community engagement in schools.
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Copyright information: © Alyssa Hartel, 2018. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.