Education in Brazil: Beyond Neutrality and Indoctrination

March 05, 2020

Newton Duarte

Thursday, March 5, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 2270, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

In Brazil, there is a right-wing movement that seeks to impose on teachers, school curricula, and educational practices the prohibition of adopting ethical-political positions, on the grounds that such positions would characterize indoctrination. From an educational perspective that is focused on human emancipation, it is not enough to denounce the contradiction of such a discourse that advocates ethical-political neutrality when, in reality, it wants an education dominated by a single political vision consisting of a mix of economic neoliberalism and ethical-political authoritarianism. The effort to bring this debate beyond the rhetorical and emotional limits to which it has been circumscribed, by the right-wing ideology, is indispensable. Denouncing false neutrality in education is not the same as advocating indoctrination. Public and democratic school education, in carrying out the work of diffusion of the most developed forms of knowledge, cannot shy away from debating the alternatives presented to individual and collective subjects in contemporary social practice. The acts of knowing reality and taking a stance on the possibilities contained in that reality are part of the same process. The development of consciousness towards overcoming reified forms of relationship, with society and human life, is an important part of an educational project for human emancipation.


Newton Duarte is a Marxist Brazilian educator with more than three decades of engagement in a national movement named Historical-Critical Pedagogy, which was inspired by the educational ideas of Antonio Gramsci and Lev Vygotsky among others. As a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Humanities (September 2019–June 2020), Duarte is developing a study entitled “Beyond the Choice Between Neutrality and Indoctrination: Epistemological and Ethical Foundations of the Democratic School.”