Schoolchildren and adolescents are not ‘educated’ by schools only. Families, churches, friends, and the media are also sources of educational influence which impact on the teaching and learning processes. These social influences end up adding to the student’s educational background.
In this sense, The Brazilian National Curriculum Parameters (1997) state that ‘all communication stuff renders a source of information’. Information can be spread through print, electronic or digital means. Regarding their massive social use, information and communication channels aim to make public information content related to people’s day-to-day social contexts.
The general media play their part in the schooling setting, above all, in materials traditionally addressed to ‘didactic” use, also known as ‘teaching resources’. Among these materials, there are those which are produced for specific purposes. They are oriented and designed by following their own criteria with theoretical and pedagogical grounds. They are organized into work units aimed at a particular area of knowledge in order to allow for educational work in schools.
Textbooks are considered the most influential media in Brazilian schools and it is up to teachers and schooling institutions to check out the factors that correspond to such predominance. According to Brazilian education philosopher Saviani (1997), textbooks can be a significant support for teachers’ actions as long as they are not taken as the ‘great instructor’ in the classroom.
Saviani remarks that teaching support materials are very important. However, they are resources, they are instruments and they do not replace educational agents; ‘instruments are, since the origin of humanity, sought in the sense of maximizing, potentializing human actions’. Hence, the original definition of an ‘instrument’: ‘the extension of human arms’ (SAVIANI, 1997, p. 68). In terms of pedagogical methods, contents and practices, instruments cannot serve educators as their ‘private’ educational formula for promoting teaching and learning.
Unlike to that, the use of textbooks in the classroom implies regular critical work analysis by both teachers and students. Teachers must often engage their students in discussions, and have them analyze every piece of information brought by any teaching materials. In this way, students will be capable of relating any information to their own settings as well as to the real conditions of the society they belong to. North-American critical educator Giroux (1997) assumes that the print and audiovisual media foster readers to criticize, analyze, infer and interpret the (un)veiled reality.
In sum, it is important that teachers’ practices engage properly in the media use – both those with specific purposes and those of general use – with well-defined purposes and objectives. The educational use of the general media in teaching needs to go beyond the common-sense notion that they sort of play the role of ‘facilitators’ in education. It is quite the opposite since integrating the media into teaching and learning it is needed, more than ever, to work within students’ mental faculties of reason and criticality.
BRASIL. Secretaria de Educação Fundamental. Parâmetros curriculares nacionais: introdução aos parâmetros curriculares nacionais. Brasília, DF: MEC; SEF, 1997.
GIROUX, H. Os professores como intelectuais. Porto Alegre: Artmed, 1997.
SAVIANI, D. Brasil: educação para a elite e exclusão para a maioria. Comunicação e Educação, São Paulo, v. 8, p. 63-77. jan./abr. 1997.
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