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From Prescribed to Narrative Curriculum - An Attempt to Understand Educational Change in Portugal

Written By

Elsa Estrela

Submitted: December 7th, 2011 Published: August 17th, 2012

DOI: 10.5772/50072

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1. Introduction

In liquid times when the social institutions have difficulties in adapting themselves to changes at the same time they happen [1] one of the visible effects of the various processes of globalization has been the conduct of society in a more individualized way, which has a dual effect on education. On the one hand, the need to listen their actors and understand through this listening how to build educational processes. On the other hand, to identify the social consequences that this individualization has on knowledge worked on school and how does school react to these changes.

We assume curriculum knowledge as a social process, produced by multiple actors in different fields or levels, as well as curriculum construction, which has been taken as prescription, as the reproduction of inequality and social exclusion because it is based on existing models of power and symbolic and cultural capital.

In this work knowledge is understood in two ways: on the one hand, the selected knowledge to be worked on education and training of students and, on the other hand, the professional knowledge of teachers. In this sense, it is relevant to the study of curriculum knowledge reconstruction and the experience of teachers in the schools context.

In this context, we understand the life histories of teachers as a key tool for understanding educational change, as we look at their life histories as a refraction of curriculum history, as well as social, political and economic changes [2].

Based on policy cycle approach and assuming a socio-historical methodological approach, we aim at describing and analysing both the effects of change forces in teachers’ life and work, whether the effects of teachers’ life histories in curriculum construction and the relationship established between them over the last four decades in Portugal. We can say that the existence of an alignment between change forces and teachers’ life and work is crucial to the framing of teacher professional knowledge. On the other hand, there is a closed link between teachers’ life and work, as their life politics and all their social knowledge is embodied in their work. This work also tries to show that the methodological triangulation between a socio-historical approach, methodological cosmopolitanism and the life histories of teachers may be considered a challenging contribution in the deconstruction of educational change in Portugal.

In the first section we analize the effects of globalization in society, policies and knowledge, arguing that the kind of globalization that is becoming hegemonic, the neoliberal globalization, is turning the society more individualized, competitive and flexible. These features have consequences in policies and education, as this social area is taken as the centre of development for competitive states.

The second section presents a short methodological analysis, where we justify the methods and procedures in this work.

In the third section we analyse four decades of curriculum policies in Portugal, taken Ball’s proposal of policy cycles and using both the contexts of influence and text production in each cycle to understand changes education.

In the following section we use the approach of life histories to analyse the context of practice and to understand how teachers build their professional knowledge.

In the last section we introduce some findings and hilight the need of making educational research under these qualitative approches in order to show the action of different patterns of change, as well as to understand the link between life and work of the main actors in education.


2. Society, policies and knowledge: The effects of globalization

We are living in a time of institutionalization of a new way of knowing, new ways of living and thinking those same experiences. Different authors present different summaries, but we are interested in referring the synthesis by Santos [3] when he identifies the emerging paradigm as "the paradigm of prudent knowledge for a decent life". In fact, this sociologist intended to show that the nature of scientific revolution we now go through is structurally different from that which occurred in the sixteenth century, since the scientific paradigm must also be a social paradigm.

The paradigm of modern science lies in the basic concepts which now assumed a keen critical sense: subject, object, its relationship as a basis of knowledge and truth. The emerging paradigm in articulating "the theory of the object and the theory of justification of knowledge" [3] leads the discourse on the scientific knowledge to a postmodern condition, since the absence of founding narratives refers to the discussion of true to its place in the practice of its own construction, which is social.

In fact, the society moves towards a post-industrial era and post-modern, encompassing what Hargreaves [4] called the seven dimensions of Postmodernity, namely flexible economies, the paradox of globalization, certainties killed, the fluid mosaic, the self without limits, safe simulation and compression of time and space. This postmodern situation, which many consider in transition, is complex, paradoxical and contested. Bell [5] considers that "the sense of (...) living in a gap can not be better symbolized than by the widespread use of the prefix post."

In effect, as suggested by Giddens [6], some elements of post-modernity are radicalized and universalized forms of the exact elements that constituted the modern condition and their own potential. If modernity compresses and collapses time and space, postmodernity makes it even more. The first assists the development of monopoly capitalism. The time now attends its expansion and proliferation throughout the world. In this sense, that which is called post-modernity can only be an extension and intensification of the conditions that preceded it and not something profoundly new

These are the factors that led Giddens to reject the terms post-modernism and post-modernity as "we didn’t go beyond modernity, but we are experiencing a phase of its radicalization" [6].


However, Hargreaves [4] argues that some dissimilarities can be found between these two times, once in the time we live in information is organized differently processed more quickly and both disseminated and available more widely, with appropriate implications for patterns of communication and economic and organizational control. Another key aspect in postmodern society is the domain of image and visual culture that instant, together with the other, indicate deep changes in economic organization, political, organizational and personal.

With regard to economic activities, post-modern economies are characterized by technologies and more flexible work processes. Flexibility is often described positively as a way to create a more meaningful and holistic approach to individuals and is often presented as a central purpose of education and its restructuring. Thus, the flexible economies place enormous challenges in terms of teaching and learning, as well as the level of skills to develop in students. The creation of structures and patterns of flexible organization in the work of teachers cannot be neglected so that they objectives can be achieved. However, these savings can jeopardize the school purposes when limit what teachers teach to the enterprises agendas. In this sense, and according to Hargreaves [4], "it is important that teachers and those working with them can face the 'flexibility' as an open democratic opportunity that requires critical engagement and commitment, and not as a closed corporate duty that requires a submission without question."

On the other hand, the more flexible economies are also ensured through new patterns of regulation and control that compress and conquer the boundaries of the geographic area that is economically flexible, meeting the economic flexibility above the national identity. By establishing a relationship between education proposals and this context, Ball [7] showed, in the analysis of speech counterparts in the English context, that the insistence on concepts such as flexibility, motivation, market rules and an entry based management of the processes of schooling "the principles that provide organization and social control within the economy". Thus, the economy performs, as a mode of regulation, the instance-based matching, ie, the one that builds educational processes at the level of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and management “in [8]”.

This mode of regulation has its correspondence in the dominant discourse on education in Portugal and in the 1980s or the 1990s we have assisted to a change of educational ideology, from democratizing ideology, to democratic one, to modernization ideology and, in the 1990s, the ideology of inclusion. We can say that the mandate

According to Roger Dale, the concept of mandate matches with "the provisions that contain the concepts of what is desirable and legitimate for the education system to produce or generate" [9].

addressed to the Portuguese education system has been based since the 80s on its relationship with the world of production and market.

Like most researchers in education defend at the heart of this transition is the globalization of economic activity, political relations, information, communications and technology. These trends are not entirely consistent, with consequences even deeply ironic, paradoxical and perverse.

The present society is characterized by cultural, ethnic and linguistic pluralism that is inevitably reflected at the school for all [10]. The postmodern society is fast, compressed, complex and uncertain that lives in the transition from a solid state to a fluid state of modernity [1], which implies as challenge to education the resolution of those uncertainties and dilemmas.

A central paradox of postmodernity is that of anonymity, complexity and uncertainty produced by globalization express themselves in the ironic search for meaning and certainty embodied in local identities, which, when put in danger, are being rebuilt at crazy beat. The main educational response to the social crisis caused by globalization

According to Giddens, globalization is understood as "the intensification of worldwide social relations, relations which link distant localities in such a way that local events are shaped by events that take place many miles away and vice versa. This process is dialectical because these local events can go in a reverse direction of the far relationships that have haped them” [6].

has been to wake up old cultural certainties or to impose new certainties, through centralized control of curriculum and assessment requirements [4].

However, the postmodern condition is not solely defined by the national and cultural uncertainties created by globalization. In this society, increasing economic diversity, in parallel with the revival of local identities, causes profound changes in the systems of knowledge and belief, as well as in specialized knowledge based on them. The change of cultures of certain to cultures of uncertainty arises from a number of factors: a global broadcast information, the compression of space and time lead to a more rapid change rhythm, which makes the knowledge fragile and temporary, and the emerging multiculturalism, putting in contact different cultures and beliefs [4]. According to Santos [11], the emerging of a new paradigm of knowledge, which can also be read as a radicalization of knowledge structured by the paradigm of modern science, should lead to a "double break" at the time that turns into common sense, translating into self-knowledge and wisdom of life that will uncover alienating mechanisms of social structure and, to this end, be followed by exploiting the emancipatory potential of the institutions of contemporary societies [8].

According to Carneiro [12], we live in a transition phase between industrial Clockwork Orange and the age of boundless knowledge and competences, which progressively move from a paradigm of bureaucratic domination to a paradigm of economic domination. We are left with a third phase of organization of educational services, that the author calls as the Learning Society, customized, based on the communities and determined by the rhythm of forms of learning and by the search for knowledge.

The argues to consider nowadays a set of knowledge that comprises the traditional one and the other knowledge that have been excluded from school can be found both on social and economic fields. What we are saying is that social justice depends on cognitive one, which demands the recognition of diverse knowledge systems [13].

On the other hand, and according to Goodson [14], the triumph of a new world order based on an individualised society transfers the locus of social opposition to the policy of individual life, which changes the focus of analysis of changes in schooling or in the curriculum, which were focused on social collective movements and today define a strategy based on the policy of life of the individuals.

As is the case in other countries, the school in Portugal is experiencing a crisis related to the change of values, rules and objectives that was the basis of the construction of school for all. This school, with new audiences, is not easily understood by everyone, from policy makers to teachers, parents and students, which has exacerbated a double crisis that has developed: of regulation, because school does not effectively fulfil its role of social integration and training for the latest requirements of the "economy of knowledge”, and of emancipation, as it does not produce the desired and designed social mobility by the different social classes [15].

This crisis, which includes both low student achievement, and weak professional integration or weak socialization ability, or "indifference to differences" [16], leads to the production of new social inequalities and leads the policy makers to the implementation of successive educational reforms, what Ball [17] calls the "epidemic policy”.

Without debate, at least in Portugal, the purposes of education, which include not only the objectives to be achieved, but also shape the values that should be achieved [18], national governments adopt a reformist discourse characterized by competitiveness, performativity and accountability [19], as well as an evidence-based policy, having as its origin the projects of different global agents being the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation Development ) considered as the the most meaningful world think tank on world education “see in [20, 22]”.

These activities and reformist speeches integrate the aim to build a "knowledge society" [23], which implies a reformulation of the knowledge, although absent from discussions about this new society and its educational implications [24], became the main force of the economy and a new factor of production.

This narrative of globalization, known as Knowledge-based Economy, is the cause of the movement from the centre of public policy for the creation, distribution and management of that knowledge based on skills and perceived as "social overhead investment" [5], and the building of a new narrative for education, now based on the objective of making a new type of worker, a new type of citizen and a new type of individual [25], responsible and in charge of a Lifelong Learning, performed "anywhere, any time, by any provider" [26], while constitutes a completely pedagogical society [27], which gives a new role to the State and creates new forms of training.

Knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, was taken as central to the empowerment of individuals and nations of modernity, and the school was elected as an instrument of its own achievement. In this context, knowledge emerges as a mediator between ignorance and knowledge itself and as the organizer of relationships between nature and society [28], which shows the centrality of knowledge in individual development [29].

The construction of knowledge in the curriculum, which has more than a century of existence, is confused with the construction of epistemic knowledge. Although it seems strange and difficult, we will try to outline some arguments.

Firstly, the curriculum subjects, the way curriculum was organized, did not exactly correspond to the scientific disciplines, although some contain the same name. However, the nature of both is quite different, given the logic that historically compose them, and in the first case, there are some that are not equivalent in any scientific discipline.

The knowledge curriculum structure is indeed based on subjects. Goodson has sought to articulate the history of curriculum with the history of school subjects, questioning the apparent naturalness of curriculum construction and characterizing curriculum and educational materials as a "social construction" [30], far from being a technically rational product, vehicle and carrier of social priorities, built, negotiated and renegotiated in a number of levels and a variety of arenas, which causes a variety of internal conflicts, with social and political nature, which are slowing around the school “see [30, 31]”.

Within its relative autonomy, schools reflect and shift on both the social definitions of culturally valid knowledge. The knowledge that school has given this legitimacy is a mechanism to designate and differentiate students, which is not socially neutral.

The historical construction of the curriculum, in particular the process of becoming a subject, is not the result of merely cultural choices, but are always combined with social and political dimensions [31]. Thus, the historical legitimacy of the curriculum occurred and occurs in a context of disputes by the legitimacy (or the reverse) of certain fields of knowledge, which also happened for the prestige (or status) which is or was assigned and the occupied territory or to occupy in the curriculum arena. This led to the emergence of new school knowledge, but also the eclipse of other positive so far. Examples of English and Biology, in a sense, and Civility and Latin, in another. Some of the curriculum areas that have arisen in the school are not, in fact, even science of reference (Civics), or were built at a later stage of their school creation development (Geography).

In fact, school knowledge is deeply linked to powerful social groups and always was a mechanism of social exclusion because the position of superior social orders depends on it. Goodson [14] gives the example of David Layton’s description in his book Science for the People of the development of a new school subject called Science of Common Things as the first attempt to increase social inclusion relating curriculum science with natural world experience of common students in elementary schools. As this looked like a threat to social hierarchy, this science was withdrawal from curriculum and reappeared twenty years later with a simplified version of pure laboratory science in a differentiated shape.

Secondly, curriculum knowledge is an organizational and historical construction, whose main intention was to organize the institution in accordance with the processes of production, which, at the time, was characterized by Taylorism. That is, the logic governing the construction of curriculum knowledge was functionalist, in the sense of organizing everything that is inherent to the school institution and not the organization of knowledge. Magalhães and Stoer [28] argue that knowledge, assumed as the socio-cultural paradigm of modernity for the emancipation of individuals, is both a powerful form of social regulation, leading to a rationalization process, incorporated into the production process and social organization.

Chervel [32] discusses the idea that the contents of education are a result of imposition of society and culture, specifically refusing to consider them a kind of simplification or popularizing the knowledge of reference produced outside of the school and she transmitted, away from the notion of "didactic transposition" of Chevallard [33]. To Chervel [32], the school subjects are entities that enjoy a relative autonomy within a school culture created by and in school, but in interaction with the broader culture, not the mere result of a process of social reproduction. The subjects appear as a unique cultural creation produced over time by the school, understood here as a self-regulated and relatively autonomous system. The author also stresses theoretical freedom to create a discipline by the teacher, whereas the school is of tremendous complexity, it is not reducible to the explicit teaching and programmed learning.

Popkewitz introduces the concept of "curriculum alchemy ", assuming that the transformation of scientific subjects into school subjects is a process of social production, understanding alchemy as "the process through which disciplinary fields of mathematics, literature, art, and science are transformed into school subjects."The pedagogical knowledge from this" alchemy "considers the conditions at school, such as time, the concepts of childhood, teaching culture and contains a strategy for the “government of souls." The knowledge insert in the curriculum presents a set of rules and standards defining the way we think, act, feel and speak, which becomes, in this way, "a disciplinary technology " and a form of "social regulation" [34].

If historically we can not say that knowledge curriculum is shaped by a logical and rational translation of the fields of scientific knowledge, we have now witnessed a paradigmatic rupture in its construction, recontextualized its logic in contexts of control and regulation [35]. In this sense, the conception of knowledge as representation and reflection of reality, based on a humanist and rationalist model of the subject and of conscience, has been reconfigured, taking into account that the meta-narratives of modernity are questioned.

This third phase of reconfiguration of knowledge, caused by unemployment of graduates, combined with the inability of decision makers to anticipate the need for certain profiles, the value of the individual emerges again. This is, the most important for employers is not mostly the content of education, but the development of the survivability of individuals in situations of competition, making it necessary to develop "procedural skills" based on "learning styles", more than in contents [36].

Magalhães and Stoer [28] argue that knowledge has been reconfigured as an information and communication network and assumed a central role in the production process. This reconfiguration was developed both by OECD, at the global level, and EU, at the regional level, with the PISA and Education and Training projects, which were conceived based on transfereable and segmented knowledge known as competences. As a result, the project of construction of the citizen also has changed in that there is no concern with the building of nation-states, with its own identity, but with the competitive states, able to organize an economy over its competitors.

This change of status of knowledge, but also of its nature, has caused tensions which are reflected in the opposition between education for competences, the result of the mandate of the labor market, and education for the full development of the individual, as consequence of the design of education as a symbiosis between individual emancipation and local aspirations [28].

The concept of competence has therefore emerged and dominated the political agenda in education, as well as the policy options in the curriculum, published and disseminated by international organizations. The introduction of this concept directs the work based on constructivist curriculum, but can be linked to the economy and its demands, as competences “are conceived, above all, as performance-driven and which trend to treat performance and learning as if they were mutually exclusive” [28].

As knowledge became a central factor of production and turned itself into a commodity [37], competences for which the knowledge allows access are reset back and replaced by an "archetype (...) adapted to the demands of the labor market” [28]. Indeed, Bernstein [38] refers to:

A new concept both of knowledge and of its relation to those who create it (…) Knowledge should flow like money to wherever it can create advantage and profit. Indeed, Knowledge is not just like money: it is money. (…) Knowledge, after nearly a thousand years, is divorced from inwardness and is literally dehumanized. Once knowledge is separated from inwardness, commitment and personal dedication, then people may be moved about, substituted for each other, and excluded from the market.

On the other hand, “the knowledge that is susceptible to be translated and to circulate in the form of bytes appears to be precisely the knowledge on which the concept of competencies is based” [28].

However, these authors highlight the fact that we must not fall into dichotomies, establishing an opposition connection between performance and skills and training of individuals and pedagogy. Indeed, it is possible that knowledge as a source of education of individuals and knowledge as information are not located on opposite poles of individual development [28].

According to Boterf [39], competences are related to the know how to act in situation, what is translated in the “mobilization of knowledge that each competence alows to select, integrate and combine”. In this set of knowlege we can distinguish diferente kinds: the theoretical, the processual, the processual know how, the experiencial know how, the experiencial, the social know how and the cognitive know how. To Perrenoud [40], competence is understood as "a capacity to act effectively in a particular type of situation, based on knowledge, but not limited to it”. Roldão [41] extends this concept, understanding it as an integrated construction of knowledge, which is based on three areas: use, means of mobilization, integration, involving diferente kind of knowledge, and context, since the knowledge is transferred from one context into another one.

The emergence of this concept can be explained at three levels: first, as a concern of economic and social utility; secondly, as related to the individual society due to its individual nature; and thirdly, as a concern with a neede rupture with the encyclopedic nature of the curriculum, based on widely inert, dead and sterile school knowledge. Thus, knowledge has also a brainy use as it should to be seen as a platform to build new knowledge.

What we argue is that this new kind of knowldge and its management has to be seen in a context of deep inequalities that still persist in our society so it doesn’t create new inequities, because in an educational system with no cognitive and social balance we will have a meritocratic society with a lack in the distribution of knowledge and social capital.


3. Methodological framework

In this research we intend to establish a relationship between the changes in the global economy, culture and society with educatonal projects in each curriculum policy cycle from 1971 to 2009 in Portugal, as the educational work is subject to a new stratification within the new global labour order, which also causes a repositioning of the agents of change [14].

Globalization and its processes have changed the speed and nature of educational change in a way that the conditions for it have been profoundly transformed and lead us to other analytical theories. So, we take change as a process, not an event [42], as a socio-political process, and look for socio-historical patterns of change. As Goodson [14] points out: “When we understand change as a condition, we see that it integrates a global exhortation and expectation created across nations and then followed local and personally”.

The analysis is based on Goodson’s proposal of taking three kinds of change agents – the internal, the external and the personal – to see what’s their relationship over the past four decades in education policies reforms in Portugal. Internal agents are defined by the author as those who work in schools, trying to begin and promote transformations and acting in an external frame of support. External change is a up-bottom change as it happens in national curriculum changes. The personal change is related to personal beliefs and missions that individuals bring to the process of change itself.

In some projects, see [43, 44], the authors concluded that educational change could be analyzed using three patterns:

  1. Internal patterns of change, used in the 1970s and 1980s, where the educators were responsible for the invention and promotion of new subjects and its establishment with external legitimation was made through the legislation and mythologization, meaning the development of a wide range of activities with the limits that may be a threat to the settled rhetoric and support. As Goodson points out [45], “Educational change was, therefore, defined, instigated and promoted internally, and then went to sustain and win external support in order to ensure establishment and legislation”.

  2. External patterns of change, developed since the 1990s, where change is invented and promoted within external constituencies, like business groups and think-tanks, and internal agents are just responding, becoming conservative, resistant and reluctant. Legislation is the instrument that leads schools to follow externally mandated changes that are finally established when the rhetoric is taken for granted.

  3. Integration patterns of change are the future patterns of change that Goodson [14] proposed, where the internal, external and personal are put together, considered and negotiated, but the main idea is that the mission of change is essentially located in the hands of internal school agents and closely linked to their own projects and personal concerns.

On the proposal of Ball [46], we analyze the construction of curriculum policies, interpreting the various contexts that compete in it, and inter-relate this analysis to the methodology advocated by the annales school to the understanding of historical change, developing a combination of history and sociology.

According to the aims and methodology selected for this paper, taking policy cycle approach to educational policies analysis became very useful because the approach of educational policies process of production and implementation underlines its complex and controversial nature, but also emphasizes micro political processes and professional action on the local level, as well as the need to articulate macro and micro processes in the analysis.

Bowe and Ball [47] proposed political process characterization using the concept of continuous cycle which consists in three main contexts, inter-related, without time dimension or sequentially, and each one presents arenas, places and interests groups that involve disputes and fighting: the context of influence, the context of text production and the context of practice.

Subsequently, Ball [46] proposed the policy cycle expansion, adding the context of effects and the context of political strategy.

We took in this work the first two contexts, considering the context of influence as the one that corresponds to the beginning of public policies and to the construction of political discourses, showing a symbiotic relationship with the context of text production. It’s in these contexts that we can see the disputes between social groups in the definition of social aims in education, their interests and ideologis and where the concepts acquire legitimacy. There are also visible global and international influences in the process of national educational policies.

We also looked to the context of practice, by using life histories approach, which corresponds to the context where the policy is subject to interpretations and recreations, producing effects and consequences that may represent significant changes and transformations in the original policy proposals. Thus, the authors assume that teachers and other professionals working in schools have an active role in the process of interpretation and reinterpretation of educational policies, in social relations constituted and understood in the context of its production, which has implications for the implementation of these policies.

Moreover, assuming the methodological concept of cosmopolitanism “see [48, 49]” which enables us an approach in which the level of analysis is not from the state, but of new spaces at a new level, we will not forget the transnational level, essential to understand the map of educational policies, taking into account its influence on regulation and governance of education, nor the micro level, which corresponds to the schools where the curriculum is developed. We assume that national curriculum policies are spaces of refraction of global and regional educational policies [2].

The triangulation method we want to build will be completed with the model of biographical analysis, because, as Nóvoa [50] underlines, the personal and the professional can’t be separated since the training process is embodied in the life path, which becomes also a training path. This method presents very relevant in the context of individualised society, through which teachers’ life histories will be developed, based on the subjective report of their professional lives with a juxtaposition of the genealogy of contexts. As Roberts points out, “the term life story is commonly applied to the narrated story by the author while life history infers the later interpretative, presentational work of the researcher” [51].

This means the "story" of each teacher's life becomes a life history when is crossed with the political, social, economic and cultural characteristics of each time. The final result is the analysis of teacher trajectory, options and decisions in his professional context based on educational, social, political, cultural and economic history. According to Goodson [14], it is not possible to understand the social without firstly understand the biographical and personal.

However, the approach takes knowledge as knowing about curriculum, establishing close relations with professional knowledge that characterizes or legitimises teachers work. In this sense, teachers’ professional culture becomes central and we apply to the concept of knowledge as narrative, meaning the knowledge that isn’t rooted in a syllabus, but in the building of personal identity and the management of life. It isn’t more a prescriptive knowledge, but a knowledge that is build along with the personal life, at the same time each one builds his own narrative [14].

In section three we will present a short review over historical periods and curriculum history in Portugal and in section four a teacher life history will be introduce.


4. Curriculum history in Portugal (1971-2009)

When we look and analyze educational and curriculum policies in Portugal in the past four decades we identify six different political cycles. These cycles correspond to historical periods when social changes were made and caused restructuring in education policies and teachers work. Along with the French work developed by the Annaliste school, we seek to understand the link between national and individual trajectories which mean different approaches to the centralized policies and can be seen as processes of refraction [52].

In the Profknow Project there was analized the periodization in some countries according to each national context. In Portugal, this project defined four different historical periods [52]:

  1. 1945 - 1974 – Dictatorship

  2. 1974 - 1976 – Revoutionary period

  3. 1977 - 1985 – Normalisation

  4. 1985 - 2007 – Restructuring

We can say that there is a coincidence in the different analysis, because we have the same periodization, although we understand the last period as including three different policy cycles as each one has different policy focus. In this section, we analyse both the context of influence and the context of text production in each cycle, using as well the tool of curriculum changes along these cycles.

4.1. The endogenous modernization cycle (1971-1974)

The last period of dictatorship (1968-1974) had as President Marcelo Caetano, appointed due to physical incapacity of Salazar, and can be divided in what is named by Marcelist Spring and Marcelist Winter [53]. On the Marcelist Spring, characterized by some authors “see [53, 54]” as a time of concern with development based on liberalization and then democratization, some political measures were taken that proved an ideological state opening to exterior, such as the limitation of political police power, publication of a new press law and approval of new trade union legislation. At an economic level, a developmental economical policy was taken, favorable to an European integration and open to foreign investment, and some big economical projects were launched. At the same time, welfare state foundations started to be built.

However, the overseas war

Portugal had since the first half of the 1960s, a colonial war on three fronts: Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.

was leading the country to an unsustainable situation, on economical, political and social areas. The so called Marcelist Winter was a time when the regime got in a fast breakdown process and all the chances of evolution were abandoned. There was a backspace in policy making and citizen freedom was once again threatened by the regime.

It is in the Marcelist Spring that Veiga Simão was appointed as Minister of National Education and we can say that there was an educational raising interest, with development and modernization in the core of Portuguese policies. The aim was to involve all the people to contribute to the modernization of Portugal, one of the last countries in Europe living under a dictatorship. And education was a central instument to get it as Portugal had at the time a huge rate of iliteracy.

In fact, the biggest aim of his governance was educational democratization in access, in a non-democratic political regime. Veiga Simão started to normalize the university situation and to reform compulsory education presenting two important documents, The Project of the School System and General Guidelines for Higher Education Reform, that represented the spine of his reforming project, and the great innovation of his action was the creation of a large public debate about these reforms, which mobilized relevant sectors of Portuguese society.

The Project of the School System was achieved in the Law 5/73, but it was only put into practice through experiences: in 1972/73 the 3rd experimental year (7th grade) in 19 schools was launched and in 1973/74 the 4th experimental year (8th grade) in the same 19 schools was launched too.

Under the slogan democratize education, this Minister of Education proposed a real change in Educational System at that time with a great sense of inclusion of all those who had been excluded from the system. First, this law increased pre-school education and compulsory education to eight years (divided in primary school with four years and preparatory school with another four years), which would cover students from the ages of 13-14. Other measures like the use of TV school, when it was impossible to ensure to all students direct teaching, the creation of social supports, like transport, meals and school material allowance, and co-education regime in Preparatory schools can also be seen as a step towards inclusion and equity. On the other hand, the 7th and 8th grades, which just worked experimentally, contained innovative objectives of cognitive, psychomotor, affective and civic nature. There was the substitution of traditional History and Geography subject by Introduction to Human Sciences, which had as objectives “the formation of a national consciousness (…) in a perspective of an universalist humanism and international comprehension” [55].

In secondary school the creation of general courses and complementary courses in technical education contributed to the equalization of social and cultural status of both ways of concluding this education level, which constituted discriminatory situations based on socio-economic family status. The diversification of higher education was another achieved goal.

Internationally, these educational changes were driven by the support of OECD to measures related to compulsory educational expansion, educational planning, administrative modernization, creation of new university and higher education reform, in continuing the collaboration established in the 1960s under the Mediterranean Regional Plan

This Project included Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Yugoslavia and was settled after an exam to the educational policies in each country. In Portugal started in the beginning of 1962 and two reports were produced: one describing Portuguese educational reality in 1963 and the second making a prospective study about Portuguese society evolution between 1962 and 1975.

, which contributed undoubtedly to the consolidation of the turning of educational policies in Portugal in the sixties and seventies.

These projects were taken by political opposition as very contradictory, because it was not possible to have democratic education in a non-democratic society. On the other hand, this reform had a strong link to “the demand for specialized labor necessary to economic expansion“ [56], showing its instrumental value. What these reforms showed was that Portuguese society couldn’t live anymore in the political organization of Estado Novo as it came to an end with a hegemony and legitimization crisis.

4.2. The “revolutionary” cycle (1974-1975)

After the military revolution in 1974, named Carnation Revolution, Portugal came into a social and political process of revolutionary crisis “see [57, 21] between 25th April 1974 and 25th November 1975

Military movement which ended the military influence of the radical left in the revolutionary period in Portugal that started with the 25th April 1974.

. This State crisis was caused by the fracture of 25th of April 1974 and had two main features: a strong popular movement, almost in all social sectors, which busted many changes in Portuguese society and a paralysis of state structures that resulted of a huge struggle for state political control [21]. It was a contradictory political process at this time and there was a conflict between two models of society and state: the democratic-socializing parliamentary basis and the socialist-revolutionary popular basis under a military head, which ended with the success of the first.

In what concerns educational policies, social movements in schools and academic life started to require a new educational reform that had to move away from the previous one for three reasons, according to Hespanha: firstly, Veiga Simão reform was very close to the proposed models of international organizations such as OECD which subordinated education to economy; secondly, that reform had a meritocratic orientation and the new political orientations tend to adopt positive discrimination measures in order to achieve substantive equality of opportunity; at last, Veiga Simão policies were still engaged in a repressive frame [58].

In this period UNESCO supported educational measures that developed democratic education, citizenship in a socialist perspective, educational success democratization and Adult Education. In its report, Eléments pour une politique de l’éducation au Portugal [59], this organization legitimized Portuguese policies centered in education-democracy-citizenship [60].

The rupture with the previous reform started peripherally in the schools management and continued with some political measures based on the concept of school as an agent of transformation and with the respect of students’ different needs and interests, such as ensuring the compliance of compulsory education of six years, ending compulsory exams on Primary Education, changing elementary and secondary school programs under a humanistic and democratic educational philosophy [55], changing curriculum plans in lower secondary school due to the creation of the secondary unified course, the implementation of a system of two stages in elementary school, introducing the concept of interdisciplinary through the creation of a non-disciplinary curriculum area, preparation of legislation for the schools governance based on autonomy and democracy and the revision of higher education expansion program.

As Stoer [56] argues, revolution enabled the remobilization of Veiga Simão reform in its contends and in democratic action, which was enlarged in new dimensions of democratic participation, equal success opportunities in education and linked educational purposes to society [21] in a context of optimistic search of education, meaning that education was seeing as the way for social mobility “see [61, 62]”.

Despite not having done any global education reform, the introduced changes were also based on teachers action and proposals and came from schools. Nevertheless we can say that there are two movements: one, bottom-up, led by teachers and other actors in the periphery of the system, with the aim of democratizing the structures of leadership and schools’ management; the second from the political-administrative power, to democratize education structures, while ensuring not only the access but also and especially, democratizing the school success, fighting a highly selective system.

4.3. The “normalization” cycle (1976-1986)

This new cycle in Portuguese history was marked by a new Constitution dominated by socialist ideals that favored political and social normalization until 1986, when another cycle begins due to approval of the Law on the Education (Law 46/86). However, the created parallel state meant that in the constitution was defined the construction of a state and a society in transition to socialism but in political action there was “a constitutional state concerned with the construction of a modern capitalist democracy” [63]. Economically, this reality allowed privatizing capital to free itself from excessive regulation, restoring accumulation conditions. Portugal focused its development strategy on European integration, as an immediate need and as a structural need too of social modernization with external pressure.

On the other hand, this was a period when unemployment grew up, particularly in young people looking for the first job, which led to what Grácio [61] called a disenchanted search of education. This opened the way to interventions by IMF, WB and OECD. Between 1976 and 1978, World Bank supported educational policies normalization with the strengthening of educational central administration power, creation of quotas in access to higher education and creation of higher education of short duration. The period of 1979-1986 was led by OECD concerned with the new vocational education and the training of human resources, supporting the (re)creation of technical and professional education [21].

Politically, we had a new relation of political forces having different coalitions between PS, PSD and CDS-PP

PS is the socialist party, PSD is the social-democratic party (centre-right liberal party) and CDS-PP is the Christian Democrats party.

. The late process of institutionalization of social policies in a welfare state, that just happened in 1974-1975, was replaced by some adjustments due to imbalances in the balance of payments and the traditional model of stabilization programs of International Monetary Fund (IMF) led to a great decrease of social state role similar to what happened in European central states “see [63, 21]”.

The intention of normalization also occurs in education policies, with the aims of reset normalization in schools organization, with the first socialist government trying to do it initially through negative interventions [64]. Nevertheless, European challenge brought the mandate needed to the new legitimation with the orientation of substituting politics for planning [55], which required the reconstruction of centralization paradigm [65]. Two central aims emerged at this time: to give priority to technical training needed for the economic modernization and the importance of the creation of a Law on the Education that represented the starting point for an educational system reform.

In this context, the main educational measures were related with the diversification of education at secondary and higher educational levels, corresponding to what is called new vocational education [9]: the concretization of upper secondary school reform, the creation of Polytechnic Education, the introduction of vocational courses in upper secondary school and the experience of creating professional training in a partnership between companies and schools.

Although the school still had a positive representation in the Portuguese population, it was in this cycle that a disenchanted search of education began and would affect educational professionals, as well as public opinion. Educational and curriculum changes were built by internal forces that developed new curriculum experiences in schools and, on the other hand, occupied some crucial political places in educational administration.

4.4. The exogeneous modernization cycle (1986-1995)

In the period 1989-1995 the first political majority with the PSD had two main concerns: on one hand, turning education into an enterprise, as a response to training needs placed by economic modernization as in rules of internal operation of school organization; on the other hand, the construction of a school of values and based on a project. This meant, in the words of Prime Minister Cavaco Silva, to give to education the status of “indeclinable national priority”.

Speech of presentation and debate of the Program of 11th Government, in Republic Assembly session of 26th August 1987.

Deeply affected by Portugal’s accession to the European Union on 1st January 1986, social policies were convergent with other European countries, being situated in the modernization ideology plan. This means that we had, according to Vasconcelos and Sá [66], a macroeconomic convergence in slow approximation to European conditions, mostly due to receiving funds from European community, the increase of private consumption and the increase of active workers.

Although OECD reinforced the relationship between education and economic competitiveness and management of system effectiveness and focused on results through its statistical projects, like Education at a Glance, EU started to put pressure on national policies in order to achieve economic convergence, which meant the need of positive educational results.

The Law on the Education of 1986 established, among others, two upgrading measures for the future of education in Portugal: compulsory and elementary education of nine years, divided in three cycles: primary school of four grades, second cycle (5th and 6th grades) and third cycle, known as lower secondary school, of three grades (7th, 8th and 9th).

To answer to these changes, a Reform Commission of Educational System was created in 1986 to present a proposal of global reform for all educational system that started in 1989, in which the main curriculum changes were new curriculum plans and new programs for elementary education and the distinction of general courses and technological courses in secondary school. This structure revision brought some new disciplines, as the change of Social and Physical Environment discipline for Environment Study in primary education, the return of Portuguese History and Geography in preparatory education, the introduction of a new discipline called Personal and Social Development, in option with Religious Education, and the creation of a new non-disciplinary area named School Area for all non-tertiary education, which was meant to be a multidisciplinary area but with no specific time class to develop it.

Having started school integration in the early 1970s, Portugal created and regulated the Special Education Teams in 1983 for teachers Special Education (Despacho Conjunto 36/SEAM/SERE of 17/08) and special education for pupils with special educational needs (Decreto-Lei nº319/91, 23 August), two important steps for setting educational policy in this area [67].

The creation of Professional Schools in 1989 also shows the influence of market and the use of diversification as an instrument of achieving equity.

Teodoro and Aníbal [68] underline that at the same time that Prime Minister announced privatization in state sector, the Minister of Education gave a speech based on humanistic aspects concerning democratic and emancipatory values but also stressed the need of seeing education as a “decisive investment for development”, being a challenge with five dimensions: i) democratization of education; ii) quality to promote excellence; iii) education for success; iv) education for an active life; v) to value nation, mother tongue and Portuguese culture

Diário da República nº 006 1987, p.131, V Legislatura, session of 28.08.87.


In the second half of this social-democratic government, the relationship between education and economic competitiveness was reinforced with an oriented management for system effectiveness and was focused on results.

4.5. The hybrid cycle (1995-2002)

The main features of this period can be related to the need of, since 1998, making a route of monetary and financial identification with euro and the stability pact and a process of modernization of different areas based on Operational Programs

Operational Programs are designed to structure theNational Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), which constitutes the framing for the application of the Community’s policy for economic and social cohesion in Portugal.

. In other words, the EU increased the requirements of convergence also at educational level with some international studies that showed that Portugal was far from the other European countries in what concerned literacy rates, for instance.

On the other hand, OECD statistic projects in comparative education continued showing our delay in what concerned public investment in education, learning outcomes and learning environment. These results were confirmed with the first PISA

The PISA studies aim to measure 15-year-olds’ ability to face the challenges of real life. The project is conducted in 3-year cycles: the first data collection took place in 2000 and its main area of assessment was reading literacy. Motivation, attitudes towards learning, familiarity with computers and pupils’ ability to manage and monitor their own learning were also assessed. PISA 2003 looked more closely at mathematical literacy, having also assessed problem-solving skills, and PISA 2006 focused on scientific literacy.

in 2000, where the Portuguese students stayed beneath OECD average in literacy competences.

It is also in these times that we can observe the increase of social diversity and interculturalism due to the fact that Portugal has been transformed into a platform of cultures. In fact, in the second half of the 1990s, particularly after 1997, Portugal has been seen as an immigration destination, not only for people from PALOP’s (Lusophone African Countries), but also for people form Brazil, the Republics from ex-Soviet Union, Romania, Bulgaria, India and China [69].

In education, the Socialist Party (PS) in office tried to abandon the concept of ‘top-down’ reform and to value local innovation and gradual change in schools, which would reinforce the participation of all actors in the process of public education policy-making. Nevertheless, educational system remained very centralized because the autonomy given to the schools and teachers was more rhetoric than real.

The Reorganization of the Compulsory Schooling Curriculum in 2001 took place in a consequence of the implementation of the so called Participated Reflection Project and Flexible Curriculum Management Project, which were developed between 1996 and 2001. In this reorganization, the links between three cycles of elementary education were reinforced with the creation of a National Curriculum for Elementary School, based on competences. The introduction of non-disciplinary curriculum areas, compulsory second foreign language, re-organization of teaching time slots, pre-eminence given to formative assessment

Formative assessment is based on the process rather than on the exams results.

, re-introduction of national exams, creation of alternative learning routes in compulsory schooling (alternative curricula/ 15-18 Courses

15/18 Courses were the vocational route for low secondary education.

) and Creation of the RVCC (Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences)

Coming within the New Opportunities Initiative, the process of Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competencies (RVCC) increases the level of educational and professional qualification of the adult population, through the enhancement of the learning achieved outside the education or training systems.

were the main curriculum measures to point out.

The creation of Education Territories for Priority Intervention, the consolidation of school autonomy, the development of new forms of school administration and management and the increase of investment in education meant an attempt to consolidate democratic school in Portugal, based on inclusion and equality, but also regarding performance, with strong references to development and education prevailed, setting up a logic of homogenization and universal modernization [68].

This hybridization in educational policies can be observed in the re-introduction of national exams in compulsory schooling within the same legal normative framework that formative evaluation had previously been introduced as the main mode of evaluation. In fact, the presence of formative assessment should be understood as a sign of the state intention to implement the ‘consolidation of mass schooling’, while the introduction of national exams may be explained as a consequence of the consciousness that there was a ‘simultaneous crisis’ in that schooling model. The difference, and contradiction, between these two modes of evaluation introduced in compulsory schooling is no doubt an instance of the existing tension in Portugal between democratic and meritocratic schooling [70].

4.6. The “governance-by-numbers” cycle (2002-2009)

Politically, and between 2002 and 2004, while a centre-right government (PSD+CDS-PP) was in office, we observe discourses that value regulation based on results. Thus, it was argued that there was a need for school rankings produced through external assessment, which in fact was later introduced in 2005 with compulsory schooling. We can observe the following policy measures in this period: reform of Secondary Education, creation of Technological Courses in Secondary Education and introduction of national exams in the last year of compulsory schooling (Portuguese Language and Mathematics).

The following governmental period, starting in 2005 and headed by the Socialist Party (PS), is characterized by a discourse that moves in two directions: on the one hand, it promotes public education as a factor of social justice and social mobility as well as of the promotion of equal opportunities; on the other hand, it develops social control through the external assessment of schools and teachers [68]. The second direction of the governmental action is strongly linked to the concept of rationalization, taking into consideration that external assessment serves the purpose of human and material resources management based on excellence. The key words in this period are performance and accountablility.

The main policy measures can be synthesized this way: reinforcement of youth training qualifications Education and Training Courses and Vocational Courses); Introduction of ICT as a subject in 8th and 9th grades ; Full Time School Programme

Full Time School Programme was designed in Primary education to give students non-disciplinary curriculum areas and enrichment activities.

; Introduction to a foreign language in primary education (4th grade); Programme for development of English learning in 3th and 4th grades and other curriculum enrichment activities in primary education; development of English learning in all grades of primary education; Definition of the development, recurrence, results dissemination and analysis of national exams; Mathematics National Plan; Portuguese Language National Plan; Definition of the minimum teaching time for programmes and curriculum development in the areas of Portuguese Language, Mathematics and Environmental Studies (primary education); and change in the number of teaching hours allocated to Sciences in Secondary Education (Experimental Component).

The emergence of plans and programs serves the intention of solving all the problems identified in Portuguese educational system, the pressures for lifelong learning and positive results in national and international assessments. In fact, in this period we can talk about the Europeanization of educational policies, which means that OECD is still on the top of educational governance, but EU is reinforcing its influence and Education and Training 2010 Programme, as well as benchmarks and the establishment of educational indicators, are the most effective guides for national policy-making [71].

We can say that all the changes introduced in Portuguese education in this cycle are performance-oriented policies and derived from external inventions, as OECD and EU demands. These changes were also promoted by these organizations, with all their projects and programmes, and schools just had to implement it.

And although Portuguese education has made good progresses in access to education, in failure and early leavers rates, it is true that it still has a long way to run as the percentage of failure and early leaving school in 2007/ 2008 was 7,8% in elementary education and 19,1% in secondary education, very far from the average EU results [72].


5. Life history – Professional knowledge of a teacher of Portuguese language and literature

Building life histories is a complex process that aims to be focused on the individual and personal, while not forgetting the collective. On the other hand, as the history of life itself, there are unpredictable and uncertain processes, which gives it a renewed enthusiasm.

This history comes from a duality of factors: on the one hand, this teacher belonged to the grouped of the schools selected for our broader empirical study; on the other hand, he was our teacher of Portuguese literature in the late 80ies and therefore had a profile which falls within that we draw for our work, taking into account that his life and his work crossed all the historical periods that we previously identified.

We made initial contact via email, contextualizing the interview request and Jorge replied immediately that he would be available for an interview about his personal and work life. There was, later, a telephone call to confirm the interview date and a postponement happened for personal reasons.

At the day and time agreed, we met at the school where the Jorge worked and where I’ve made my last year in high education. It was an initial moment of memories, good memories, a phase of both lives in that, as we said, the dream led the life trajectories. On the other hand, the complicity between the two of us was evident both by the relationship teacher / student in the past or the current working relationship since both embraced the teaching of Portuguese language and literature. For these reasons, the interview was fluid and without any lack of dialogue.

The interview took place in a director's office provided for that purpose and even interruptions made by former colleagues who wanted to greet the teacher served to bring into discussion some issues that could be further erased form the Jorge’s memory. Due to personal issues, the interview was interrupted and continued later, which proved to be very positive because it was possible to listen to the part already performed and identify the issues that could be deepened.

The analysis of the interview is divided into three main themes: life trajectory; professional knowledge and professional life. Within these categories, different themes emerged and were used in the writing of this life history.

5.1. A late and forced vocation

If we want to synthetize in one sentence Jorge’s life trajectory, the technologist teacher, we might say that on his way he has always been privileged to the extent that he sought to engage all his passions, finding the ways and means to combine them. We speak not only of his personal tastes, but also professional, both from the private and public sphere, which he could merge without losing the notion of its limits and achieved a strong and happy professional and personal construction.

Coming from a humble family of Beira Baixa, without economic capacity to support a child to study at the university, Jorge began teaching in 1966 and, despite some interruptions, one for military duty and another to perform a master's degree, he has only abandoned public education in 2004.

Portugal had in the 60's a reality very far from other European realities, characterized essentially by a dictatorial regime, turned to the past and to the rehabilitation of authoritarian state, as Braga da Cruz states:

The Estado Novo of Salazar interlaced a national ideological Catholicism, of a traditional nature, in a civil, police and personal dictatorship of the Head of Government, which was supported on a social enterprise organization, and on expenses of industrial workforces and rural peasantry, served the designs of a week and dependente national burgeoisie [73].

This totalizing, nationalist and authoritarian feature is also visible at the level of education, with brands such as the prohibition of trade union organization of teachers and the students' free association, the governance of schools based on an authoritarian model of government control or the omnipresence of systematic procedures of political and moral indoctrination. The school thus plays a central role in the inculcation, indoctrination in moral and social shaping a society reduced to a basic education (reading, writing and calculation) of its male members.

Salazar's vision of society as an unchanging hierarchical structure led to a different conception of the role of school: school was not intended to serve as agency of professional distribution or intellectual merit, but above of all as the instrument of indoctrination [74].

According to Nóvoa [75], between 1947 and 1961 we witnessed a third phase of national education policies, which seek to combine the educational and economic planning, with strong influence of human capital theories. Thus,the 1950s and the 1960s brought some important changes that are considered a crucial background to the reform that will take place in 1973 and are seeing as a turning point due to the definition of educational priorities concerning with training of human resources qualified to development, specially to industry.

The first turning point occurred with the technical and professional school reform (1948), which was the result, according to Grácio [61, 76], of a certain voluntarism coming from the governmental believe that technical schools could have a positive role in the acceleration of industrial growth.

The second turning point is the publication of the Educational Popular Plan in 1952 that made feasible the principle of compulsory education, of three years at that time, and decreased significantly adult illiteracy rates, through a National Campaign of Adult Education.

The last turning point was the political action of the Minister of Education Leite Pinto who extended compulsory school to four years (in 1956 to the boys and in 1960 to the girls), created some important instruments of scientific policies and gave orientations to the modernization of teachers work and teaching contends, as well as to the revision of pedagogical structures for what would be done latter in the Mediterranean Regional Plan.

It was in this severe environment and with strong limitations that Jorge completed his higher education studies at the University of Coimbra. As he explains, he was one of four students from his village to finish the fourth grade and the only one to pursue university studies.

I am what you might call, perhaps, a late and forced vocation, because at the time it was very difficult to study. There were no universities everywhere, as there are today, my parents were humble people, had no money to pay me a college that required me to move to another city, as I lived near Aveiro.

The decision to opt for a course of humanities can find explanations of various dimensions: the personal and social. At the personal level, Jorge had three clearly distinct passions: music and artistic sensibility to the literature, medicine and mathematics. Clearly it was the socio-economic factor that contributed to the decision to attend humanities, which allowed him to work simultaneously, including playing the wedding march.

What were the courses that could be drawn at the time as a volunteer, without compulsory attending classes? The Humanities and the Law. (...) I started working at the age of 17th to study...

The passion for Classic antiquity led him to enroll in and finish the course of Classic Languages and Literatures at the University of Coimbra.

Well, I'll go to the Classic Languages and Literatures course because I will get the classical heritage that is present in our literature and at the same time, I can do a sort of " snooping " on the latest things.

On the other hand, the teacher admits that the choice for this course and for the teaching profession is related to the apostolate, the figure of "John Week" to be at the service of others, a hallmark of teachers’ professional culture. This social category, solidarity above other interests, provides a strong motivation to embrace the teaching profession and can be linked to the Christian education that Jorge had, as well as to the profile of teachers required at fthe time, taking into account the school function and purpose of education.

After the first experience in a private school, Jorge harmonize until 1972 the military service with teaching in a private school in Almada, where he taught courses after work time to adult people. In 1972 he was placed in the Liceu Nacional of Almada, which he left only for two years: in 1975 to do the traineeship at the Liceu Normal D. João de Castro and a year with a scholarship to finish his master's thesis, under the Multimedia Communication.

Parallel to his professional activity as a professor of Portuguese Language and Literature, in the lower and upper secondary school, with particular emphasis on the latter, he was a teacher trainer, taught classes at the Institute Piaget in Almada and currently still teaches Technologies of Information and Communication at the Higher Institute of Education and Sciencies (ISEC) in Lisbon.

His dedication to music led him to collaborate with music schools and associations, as well as to participate in public events.

Despite leaving the teaching profession in public education, a natural decision, Jorge is still teaching in ISEC and deepened its activities related to music and multimedia communication.

5.2. The teacher as an expert

Jorge's first experience as a teacher was in a private school near Coimbra, at the end of his graduation, where he fell in love for teaching and started building a professional culture based on two pillars: the social and the scientific pillars.

it was an almost family atmosphere, there yes, I liked teaching, but then fell in love with teaching. I think it was the time when I was more teacher because I knew the students completely. I knew in my classes when they did not give any income because they had love problems, had been angry with his girlfriend, I knew when at home parents were back face, so I knew it all. I was simultaneously a teacher and almost a kind of spiritual director of those people, what was very hard for me.

These two pillars are present in the teaching profession, but throughout the history of education in Portugal they have had different roles. By the time that Jorge began teaching we witnessed a strong accent on scientific pillar, with a strong regulation made through national standard national exams at the end of each cycle of education. Nevertheless, and according to Catholic moral protected by the state, this missionary spirit was also required for the role of educator that he played. Basically, what we have is the teacher, as an actor of the Educator State, to be called to fulfill his role that does not end on training.

This paradigm will change with the advent of the April revolution and the political democracy, since the social pillar will be the one in evidence, taking into account the need to democratize access to education, as well as standardize school courses.

The entry of Portugal into the European Community and the establishment of the Law on the Education in 1986, configure the necessity of building a country's image based on Europe, capable of reaching the levels of development and productivity of its counterparts. This was reflected in education and teachers' work, very specifically, with the need of strengthen both the democratization of success and the pillar of the scientific work of its professionals. This is despite the political discourse in the 90s have been shaped by the logic of inclusion in compulsory education, which does not mean, as pointed out by Correia [77], that it is a democratic ideology. It seems, above all, that it was a meritocratic ideology, that didn’t promote social mobility and greatly contributed to enhance the concept of teacher as an instructor and not as an educator.

Jorge assumed his professionalism with this double bias and, despite the ideological changes, tried to remain until the end of his career embedded in the conception of citizenship, of being and of critical spirit.

A teacher cannot be a disciplinarian if is not disciplined, a teacher cannot require to others if he doesn’t is by himself.

The behavior of teachers, not all the teachers, many teachers is bad.

I was responsible for a particular circumstance, without intending to invoke Sartre now, but I was responsible for myself and my circumstance, and my circumstances required that I was ready.

I've known colleagues who have worked here in an excellent way in all areas, and were excellent people, before they were good teachers, they were excellent people.

"Professor, I thank you a lot of what you did for me". What did I do? I was a Teacher!

I think anyone who comes to school - now I'm contradicting my early history, except that mine was a love story, a second love plan, that took me until the end of life! – Regarding Literature and Teaching, when we come in, and come with good intentions, we necessarily fall in love.

Being a teacher is, in his own point of view, being responsible, honest and disciplined. Someone has to like what is doing and must be able of thinking about what and how to do, which implies to have all these features before becoming a teacher. Caria tells us in a study from an ethnographic research with teachers between 1992 and 1996 that teachers build a culture based on knowledge how to be and not based on know who to be, which is part of a peripheral power based on an ethos of negation [78].

Moreover, this dimension of know who to be is related to the pillar of the teacher educator, involving a dedication and knowledge of students that is beyond the simple transmission of knowledge. Indeed, we have seen in the successive educational reforms in Portugal an accent on technical dimension rather than on the educational one on the teaching, which Jorge recognizes and identifies.

Who likes the profession can make mistakes, but suddenly stops and says, "Wait, I'm doing stupid things here, they need me in other way," and will always find some way. Now the robots, today there is a certain robotization of teacher’s life, where everything is set.

We observe today a highly regulated teaching profession in all its dimensions, which gives this notion of robotization of teacher's work. Whether the teacher performance assessment that Jorge recognizes as necessary, it is urgent, not that of Maria de Lourdes which is worse than the few that existed, or the assessment of students, which was gradually being more standardized, or at the organization of teaching or even at the school curriculum that has been a highlight of the technocratic bias, based on learning outcomes measured nationally and internationally according to indicators defined in transnational organizations (such as the OECD or the EU), organizations that also define the instruments to overcome poor results.

This teacher notes that it’s not possible to separate education form training since in the end of the career, for some situations I have been through, I was almost afraid of being a teacher, because although I had an easy life, I saw the way we could easily hurt someone, or make a great action, by helping a student. This statement may mean that the teacher is also responsible for building the student's identity, not only in cognitive terms, but also in her/ his personal and social dimensions.

Indeed, Jorge believes that a good teacher is the one who knows students, who have read them, and interprets their needs and manages the work in the classroom according with this knowledge. It is someone who enjoys it, who loves his sweater, and in the case of Portuguese Language teachers it has to be someone who enjoys being a teacher of that, you have to like that. As stated, the lack of authority of the teacher is sometimes related to the lack of scientific authority, meaning that talk about responsibility, requirement and preparation is also to talk about knowledge, passion for knowledge and desire to learn more.

The teacher who is? The teacher is a connoisseur, is a brain. The teacher who does not have sensibility cannot communicate anything on Literature to students.

Plus, if you do not have it, you have to find, if you do not have it available you have to find it.

The teacher, if doesn’t have enthusiasm in what he gives, if doesn’t show love for the texts, the students will never going to get there.

The emphasis on knowledge, not only at the level of abstract knowledge, but also on its use, is key to understand the relationship that Jorge has with professional knowledge, which was build upon many things that academic education and teacher training doesn’t give.

The demand for more knowledge, especially the one that was also useful in his professional practice, led him to do a Master's degree on multimedia, called Fruit Salad, in which he sought to study the relationship between music and literature. Indeed, Jorge worked this way in high school where he taught for over 30 years, where he built the "Center for Studies and Research on Poetry and Music by technological means" to work with his students. Here he developed the taste and sensitivity of students for literature, by working the relationship between the two areas.

You can’t imagine the joy when I listen to the students with the guitar singing poems we have worked by leaving classroom! But, I discuss with them the music. "Let's see. This song is good for a poem, this too, and let's see." And why this? It is a way for them to capture what is abstract.

The use of a more elusive and inscrutable language was a strategy to improve the understanding of scientific knowledge. This transposition and mobilization of his personal knowledge to his professional activity allowed the teacher using other approaches of scientific knowledge that have benefited students. The teacher recognizes that information technology and its languages are useful and necessary, but rejects the concept of a tool since he defines the computer as an extension of our own sensibility, is not a tool.

However, he points out that his role in the classroom was different from the one he played in this Centre - there is a certain hierarchy in the classroom and here the power was distributed between teacher and student and this activity was used as an important addition as it approached him to the students in human terms, because (...) many times this distance between teacher and student is a departure that also will be seen in cognitive terms.

Jorge identifies without any hesitation the need for a teacher, especially in the case of a teacher of mother tongue discipline, to be a good reader continually investing in the knowledge so that the critical eye does not fade. He states, however, that a good system of teacher training, which could help teachers in removing the language would be desirable also to contribute to the elimination of a cubic system in which the teacher begins to collapse, i.e., during the year of teaching practice teachers unfolds in innovation which is, according to Jorge, put into a chest and pulling out whenever is needed. This feature of the professional culture also leads to lack of reflection and restructuring of knowledge, adding the new to the already existed knowledge, similar to what happens with the educational policies in Portugal.

5.3. Mother language as the centre of learning

Considering the school with a low permeability to the knowledge that is not part of the formal curriculum, a reference to what Boaventura Sousa Santos calls "subordinate knowledge" [13], Jorge positively analyzes the evolution of the organization of formal knowledge, when referring to the structure of education in Portugal. He introduces a distinction of three educational phases during which he was linked to education:

  1. Dogmatic and teacher centered education before the revolution, coinciding with the dictatorship in Portugal;

  2. Sociocentrism, which meets the aims of building a socialist society, with strong influences of UNESCO in the 70s;

  3. Student centered education from the mid-80s, coinciding with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1990 that Portugal, with great impact on pedagogical theories in which the teacher is no longer the center of the relationship school triangle but students played that role.

This classification is similar to that made by Correia [77] when analyzing 25 years of educational ideologies in Portugal. The latter can be joined to the individualism that socially emerged. On the other hand, the teacher states that these changes were reflected in the ideological preparation of national exams, particularly in terms of the selection of texts.

When he thinks about the importance of studying the mother language he points that all languages are fundamental and that the school did not follow this approach, although the mother tongue should be the centre of the languages learning, should not be subordinate and the other languages as complementary. In fact, nowadays with the prevailing of the audio-visual, it is essential that students learn to combine text with image, to do integrated readings, but always starting with the mother tongue learning.

I think it's important today to read texts, knowing how to analyze texts, but it is important to read a sequence of images, oral texts that they hear, (…) and the school has never prevented the children to receive this kind of message.

Despite this goal, the teacher finds obstacles in the mother tongue teaching because of the lack of knowledge of students at the end of primary school, which he considers as decisive for decreasing school failure, assuming that this is due to the assumption of the school as a playful, which has prevailed in Portugal since the 1980s.

Jorge considers the Veiga Simão reform on curriculum a breath of fresh air, especially at the preparatory cycle, which corresponds the current 5th and 6th grades. On the level of preparatory cycle things have changed a lot. It was much more opening, more inviting to reasoning, not memorization, so it was interesting.

With regard to the teaching of Portuguese language and literature, before the April 25th, literature was a memorized one, final remark, it's over. I had a range of adjectives that apply at all authors. "He has a fluent style, (…),"it will do for all authors, as in grammar. This can be identified with the inert knowledge, the one that doesn’t produce any action or consequence. Although based on this paradigm, the teacher said that the school had a degree of requirement that was spread through out life.

After the democratization in Portugal, knowledge and its organization of before the revolution were canceled, including the syntax and logical analysis, considered symbols of the past. There was a rejection of an overly mechanical organization of knowledge that could be seen, for instance, on sentences analysis and division.

Someone was saying, quite rightly, that our language is increasingly ugly. Leaving the usual analysis of the writing, going to the oral, our language is increasingly ugly because it is being continuously turned into a consonant language. The vowel is what has the musical spectrum. The consonant is noise, and in fact, our language today is full of consonants. And onomatopoeia: "So dude, bang."

However, Jorge points out that decision as excessive given that language, in fact, language and thought are, say, front and back of one sheet, and this was destroyed, and so now people are chaotic when they write. In this sense, the identification of ideas that make up the text is also situated at the level of transferable knowledge, not only essential to the educational success of students, as well as to the exercise of full a citizenship.

In the New Program of Portuguese Language subject the theme of communication emerges, in a logic of freedom of expression that did not fit into a repressive regime. Regarding literature, this achievement, in fact, values, human values were there, but (how shall I say?) without guidance, I mean, everyone did what they want, the works were not specifically, there wasn’t a schema. Despite all the changes, teachers, by inertia, continued to use a lot of syllabus contents from before the democratization, because the new program was still confused, incidentally, it was not a program but several programs. Even in the late 1970s many teachers had reference to the contents of the program pre-April 25 and Jorge considers this period as a missed opportunity to bring about a change in the subject.

On the other hand, the structuralism paradigm was also introduced, which Jorge sees as positive because sofar what existed was a very impressionistic analysis, and structuralism puted a certain order, although in his opinion, had also contributed to the decline of taste in literature. Too arid schemes and extreme option for this analytical framework led to what the teacher calls the death of literature.

Structuralism would have been good for it had disciplined a little, only became a too arid scheme that killed too many readers. Before April 25 schemes like this didn’t killed readers for a simple reason: people read since the Primary School.

The design of curriculum identified with the syllabus, the only valid, was in force in the Portuguese school at least in official terms until the education reform of 1989. Jorge points out that there is a difference between curriculum and non curriculum disciplines, mentioning to the multiple activities in the school mainly from this reform, but already in the previous period, identified as a period of great innovation with great freedom in schools. However, he points out that everyone had their revolutions, everyone innovated, although some innovations were totally unreal.

The opening happens on the curriculum, or better, is institutionalized in the 1989 reform with a concept of open curriculum and the introduction, for example, of the interdisciplinary field called School Area.

With School Area, in fact, there was a "shake" in the School, that is, it was clearly seen that the teacher had not only an active part in the Classroom, but also outside it.

It is interesting to identify that, along with the training model that is implemented, this area has contributed to some key aspects in the professional culture of teachers: the extension of the concept of curriculum, which definitely crossed the walls of the classroom and allowed the transformation of what is meant by valid knowledge socially accepted. A second key aspect was the establishment of collective work of teachers, since these two instruments accentuated the form of collaborative work. A third aspect was the approach between teacher and student, which has contributed to an improvement of students’ educational outcomes. The fourth point to note is the contribution to create a school culture that continued in subsequent years.

Each group had an intervention in the trainees who, in fact, did some studies sometimes a little complex. So this period showed that school was open to the future.

In some classes, at least, this created an environment of complicity, I saw it with my students. There was a clear complicity because we worked with them outside the classes and they ended up being here longer. It was time that they took some profit, so it was a period very much alive and very interesting, and so strong that created a school spirit for the following years.

However, recent curriculum changes and educational policies developed lead us to agree with the professor when he says: You have to handle when it is curriculum, but when it isn’t curriculum. Artistic Education in this country…?

The disciplinary program was organized according to a spiral logical, which Jorge complains because eventually there is a repetition of content that could cause a disclaimer of teachers. He is very critical on the Portuguese language program of the latest high school (2002) not only by the way it was prepared, but also because its starting point is the lack of students’ knowledge. He also regrets that this same program is one of the causes of academic failure of students, causing a social failure.

5.4. The syllabus as a reference

The curriculum is identified with disciplinary program, syllabus, although Jorge defends a concept of open program - the space outside the classroom is also a space of knowledge, which means also the opening to other knowledge that is not part of the formal curriculum. However, references to new pedagogical strategies are made that consider classroom itself already as a supplement.

For the curriculum management, the teacher explains that this management is done differently according to class of students. Both the strategies of curriculum management and pedagogical ones were defined according to the class that he taught with the aim of meeting the syllabus and developing in students the feel and taste for discipline contents.

If the class had to perform a final exam, this exam was the main reference and knowledge organization was made up according to the exam typology.

one thing is to prepare students who have to undergo a national exam, another thing are the other students.

Jorge recognizes that the exams are the main regulatory instrument of teaching, but could not be otherwise, since he felt to betray the students if he doesn’t prepare them properly for the exam, as the students wanted to choose a career and could not do that it if I did not cooperate with them. For the terminal year of high secondary school, subject to national exams, he explains that had developed practical lessons based on text analysis in order to obtain a result. He rejects, however, that in the grades where such an exam exists the work of preparing students to it will the only one work to be done.

In the grades that didn’t have a national exam, Jorge used to take different knowledge, with a greater mobilization of knowledge related to the literature. However, the syllabus continues to be the governor of learning, but the teacher did a hierarchy of contents to improve students' learning. In those classes, he also gave priority to the traditional grammar and creativity, developing teaching strategies that allowed the involvement of students and their best learning.

He fully supports the updating of Portuguese linguistic terminology, but he still criticizes the process, which he classifies as fighting sects, similar to what happened with the drafting of disciplinary programs or the introduction of new linguistic paradigms. Jorge is also critique on the way that was chosen to minimize the impact of these changes on students, similar to what was done in the previous period to democracy, which was enrolled in a Taylorist paradigm, as the choice was a pedagogical strategy of mechanization and the increasing number of classes that could lead to good school results.

5.5. The space that distinguishes knowing from not knowing: The school

Jorge defines precisely the school as the space where the differences are established in respect of recognition. In fact, there are today other spaces of knowledge that didn’t exist in Jorge’s childhood, but in some places everything is messed up: knowledge and what is not knowledge. For its use become beneficial to users, they need to manage this distinction that should be developed in and by the school. According to the professor, this is the great advantage of the school compared to the internet or television, the other learning spaces, which is not used by the social institution that in turn closes and does not include in its curriculum new knowledge in its official corpus, not preparing students for the changes that occur outside the school.

School had a reputation, the School was the owner of knowledge and, today, knowledge is not only in school. We go to the Internet and is full of knowledge.

The School has one thing in hand that does not use, is that the school is able to distinguish the knowledge of unknowledge.

It began to have television, the television began to be more important to them than the school, in my point of view school makes a mistake, trying to avoid the computer but it didn’t.

Contrary to what happened before the political democratization, Jorge says that we have now a variety of schools that develop the curriculum differently, but if we look at its organization, we observed that it is almost unchanged, based on classes and subjects with little changes in the nearly forty years. Indeed, Portugal has a single national curriculum, on which were introduced an interdisciplinary area 1989 reform and curricular areas in the Reorganization of Basic Education Curriculum in 2001. However, these areas next year will be completely vanished from compulsory school curriculum, dedicated entirely to the so called nuclear learning.

However, if this distinctive feature of the school wants to have a real impact in the lives of students it would also be essential that all the actors should adopt a responsible attitude, which does not always happen. Teachers do not always respect the institution and its work, since if they are not demanding with themselves, they hardly will be with their students. For the latter, the professor admits a major shift in public schools in recent decades, which makes the schoolwork harder towards the learning of students. But it also saves critical to the parents and their lack of cooperation.

The school is a kind of a wardrobe of students, where parents hang up students.

This disclaimer of all actors decisively contributes to an environment that is not always conducive to learning and there is an increase of school indiscipline, which exacerbates the lack of a rigid hierarchical structure where all roles were defined.

(...) Requires a culture of authority. It isn’t authority to establish authoritarian regimes, but a culture where each one has to know what is his role.

When I started teaching, this did not exist in schools. Because the school is, like it or not, an island, and life is much more.

We underline the teacher's emphasis on two aspects. The first is that as organizations become more flexible the difficulty in defining the roles of each one can contribute to an unhealthy work environment. On the other hand, the recognition that the school is a part of society and cannot do the job alone, but must be integrated and always consider its exterior.

The reference to the work done at the Primary School and the differences between schools in different cycles is interesting since it considers the Primary School as the Gordian knot of all learning, where exists an excess of playful learning and lack of awareness in curriculum management. There is therefore a need to modify the programs to ensure the effective learning. On the other hand, Jorge considers that the worst working conditions in the primary school teachers can lead to a lower commitment to the profession, although the research points to stronger professional and school cultures when difficulties are greatest.

The School is not a garden, there is a place of recreation, is a workplace. Now, it is a workplace where not everyone can be happy, but it is a workplace. And I think the school is failing in this area, especially in basic education, i.e., it is necessary to do I don’t know exactly what for when students reach the final grade in primary school are able to read, write, and know the basic calculation.

On the other hand, the organizational structure of the school has evolved a lot and there can be find many positive aspects. The organizational rigidity gave way to a more flexible period, which the teacher assigns as the floating period, corresponding to the revolutionary period, which was overtaken and brought to the position of Director of Class, very bureaucratic before 1974, a more forward-leaning student after that.

The role of Directors of Class was very bureaucratic, it was more, well, to guide. There was no proper follow-up as there is today. Regarding this there was a great evolution.

Jorge has had many career-long management positions at various levels in school. He was member of the team schedules in 1975, when the school was managed by a General of the Armed Services Committee. In 1976 he was a member of the 1st School Management Committee, serving as vice president in the first democratically elected committee.

And then was, later, I think twice. You know, my experience in the Executive Councils is of mission, fight. but someone has to be there, and when someone is elected should make the sacrifice to go there.

He also had the positions of Director and Deputy of Disciplinary Panel, in addition to traineeship supervisor role. He was also in the emergence of trade unionism in Portugal before the revolution of April.

The teachers had no union, and we made a petition asking for the existence of a Union, and Chairman of the Board said, "you do and go to the street," and me and another colleague here Almada, signed.

According to the teacher, the changes that have taken place at the level of teacher training were the ones that caused the greatest impact on teachers' work. Before the revolution, Jorge classifies his subject group as one composed by young people interested and very receptive, although he says that people with an open mind, maybe they were more in politics than in the teaching practice itself, but what is certain is that people were indeed interested in very simple terms.

The teacher refers to the post-revolution period like that in which prevailed in the blood in the gills, an involved citizenship and intervention, unlike today. After the troubled years of 1974 and 1975 in schools comes a new form of professionalism in service and Jorge understands it as the first great moment in innovative school.

the first time for us to assess, in fact, the innovative spirit, or not, in this school is the onset of professionalism in service with the famous PIT's (Individual Work Project in Training Exercise). The legislation, and all the attachments created by the Directorate-General, were an absolute shambles, because it had been done by people who in fact would be very good in their offices but did not know anything about the schools. That is, they made a kind of training, and above all a kind of assessment that they themselves certainly did not know how it would work. And then what happened? We got it here, we have created a section just for training, even before the law and began studying the documents and to give you, perhaps, a clear sense of what we did here, we were called "the fans" who were the supervisors, checkers criteria.

understand how this could have been an important moment in schools, since it gave them an opportunity to commit to a model of field training in the school environment, adopting it to its reality, its context. Jorge even participated in a committee that prepared a study on the PIT's - Training Exercise - based on national surveys conducted over more than a decade. However, despite all the dynamic movement in school, the teacher assumes that bureaucratic promiscuity in schools is a reality because ultimately pervert processes that turn out to be unrealistic. The schools are, in fact, organizations that are poorly permeable to processes that do not come from inside, and when these processes are too complex and even a little irrational, the institution reacts by protecting their professional, but apparently doing what is asked.

Now look, I had 10 trainees. There were more than 2000 "do not know exactly how many" parameters that I had to apply. There were those who wanted to simplify this. How do you do? In another School they have it done, photocopies, and here it is.

The period that begins with the Law on the Education is a very fertile period and positive with the creation of the Service Teacher Training and Continuing Education Centers. During this period, Jorge fell in love with the proposal and participated actively in two ways: with proposals under its disciplinary group to conduct external training, organized by the Training Centre, but also proposals for internal training. The school had organized training from internal skills, using internal stakeholders and based on training needs of teachers in school. The training offered by the Training Centre concentrated on ICT without any distinction of training that is done outside of school. There is also insufficient supply of training in Portuguese Language and Literature.

Yes! Finally, it was one of the best things I came up today!

And I was in love with it. There are things in the legislation but a bit dangerous. and then even when the Adelaide later took over the office and I met the Training Section, we had a meeting and we felt we should do a Training Course, we should begin by doing that.

… made training courses in the field of ICT, and eventually end up, on top of ICT while ICT, that is, not as educational technology, turned to use in learning activities.

Interestingly, Jorge admits that from this period on, in which the school was very dynamic and anti-routine, there was no more collective or collaborative innovation, only at the individual level.

It is precisely at the level of teacher training that Jorge is more critique and identifies more deficiencies and I think that, in fact, the training did not exist, and there was, say, the fault. the blame is on three levels: it is the Ministry that throws things out but has no idea how the schools work because everything is done by people who stand in the offices, by the staff. Many of them were not teachers, but not only them, also the teachers’ supervisor (...) In the Training Centres, there were serious flaws, because the training centers have become a kind of supermarket of ICT, nothing more than that.

At the highest level of central services, the teacher points out that these are limited to producing legislation without creating conditions for their development, without creating the structure and, like the initial training, with teacher trainers who have never given a lesson in high school, which causes a reproduction of models that are not always the most suitable to the learning process.

On the other hand, the intermediary service of Training Centres, although an useful instrument, had became essentially bureaucratic and external training ended up focusing primarily on ICT, but without the accent on learning how to use computers and the answer to the question of why it is made.

Training courses for the new program were made by people who knew they were not able to make a syntactic analysis and who cannot truly distinguish an adjective from a noun, things like that, but they are genius! Why? Because they knew all the theories.

The identification of liabilities is also at the level of specific training in the subject and responsibilities are notorious for the teachers, who passively accept the training that was offered to them and did not require the training they needed.

This criticism also reaches those who are responsible for Science Education, who the teacher blames for the lack of knowledge that teachers have and excess of appreciation of certificates, the result itself and not the process, to what was effectively promoted in teaching.

Missing, for example, scientific knowledge in the areas they teach, lack of pedagogical training in the areas they teach, because the education sciences, most of them are "aerial view" who does not go down to the ground, and above of all lack one thing: (...) because the curriculum is a normal and necessary, including the curricula must be assessed and in accordance with the assessment people should or should not be rewarded. But it happens that at one point it fell into an excess of certification, i.e., today, and it's not just in school, is also out, and unfortunately the Government has worked terribly for it, today what counts are the certificates.

In this sense, Jorge certifies that the results of the courses he taught in the New Opportunities may point to a lack of credibility of the system, since it seems that its assessment favored the conclusion of grades in what he considers as a race to achieve the rates established in European commitments instead of a race to develop a knowledge citizenship.

Regarding the learning results, Jorge was also indignant when they mention the results of the major statistical projects such as PISA, since he sees them with lack of objectivity and manipulation of data, which do not turn them credible. In this sense, the teacher assumes that the school does not reflect on these results. On the other hand, he refers to the injustice when different educational systems, such as Portugal and Finland, are compared, mentioning how classes are built in this country. Nonetheless, Jorge thinks that the educational gap between Portugal and other European countries is not that great, but believes that our education does not meet current requirements.


6. Final remarks

The main results are related to a deep understanding of curriculum policies in Portugal over four decades, paying particular attention to peripheral actors, considered here not only as players but also as policy builders. This work also identifies the processes of change and legitimacy of valid knowledge, as well as the processes of regulation and governance of curriculum policies.

Regarding the effects of globalization on education, we can say that is clear the existence of a strong movement towards curriculum homogeneity and standardization. Although regional and national differences, all educational systems are being under pressure with the results of statistical projects as PISA, which lead them to a similar movement. In curriculum policies this is very evident as we observe the reinforcement of standarts, the introduction of competences or the regulation of teachers’ work.

The great stability that characterizes educational systems that, as social institutions, were invented to last and transfer valid knowledge to the new generations is the base that allows schools to resist to change and to refract educational policies. As the teacher of our research assumed, schools and teachers aren’t just technicians who implement what is built outside school and themselves. They also create, recreate and decreate educational policies. And this is what leads to increasing friction amongst schools and teachers.

The third feature caused by globalization, the fluidity, also contributes to this friction inside institutions and between them as knowledge is something permanently outdated.

These features show the importance of having life histories in educational research along with longitudinal studies, based on historical periodization. In fact, we can see in Jorge’s life and work how and why did Portuguese curriculum was built and the consequences of some choices. This life history also reinforce the meaning of building teacher’s knowledge along with his own life due to the need of having a complementarity between teachers missions and dreams and educational goals. We saw that in the periods that Jorge felt identification with the changes, he incorporated it inside him and they were part of him. In these periods, Jorge work was much more fruitful and the collaborative work arose.

On the other hand, this methodology also showed what’s the professional knowledge and how it is build by tecahers. Jorge’s professional knowledge was built using multiple instruments always seeking to improve learning results. It is set by scientific knowledge, pedagogic knowledge and what we’ve called as social knowledge, related to all the knowledge Jorge got outside his profession, but used it to improve his performance as a teacher.

Also curriculum knowledge can be stressed as the one that comprises not only the contents of syllabyus, but also all the social knowledge needed to raise a self based on whom to be. This only can be made if school curriculum lays on an open paradigm, which is the opposite that we now have in Portugal. In fact, just a curriculum not based on prescription, but placed on the framing of each one narrative could be a curriculum that both respect the social needs and the individual ones.

As we saw, Portuguese curriculum has suffered some changes, but lies on the same framework. There is a need to analyse and reflect on global and regional agendas since curriculum is not being discussed in Portugal, neither about its organization, nor about itself as the schooling grammar didn´t change since the nineteenth century. So is to say that there hasn´t been a paradigmatic change in the curriculum, because new concepts have been add to old curriculum concepts. There hasn’t been any discussion about knowledge, knowledge organization or learning, just about techniques and school organization. Portuguese education has an accountable valid knowledge, based on competences, with a rational based on functionalism, control and regulation, technically built and apparently depoliticized, but still uniform, segmented, hierarchical and sequenced.

And this task is getting more complex as we see a paradigmatic change in those global and regional frameworks for education as we see a shift from a learning process based on inputs to a learning process based on outputs. In Portugal we changed from contends-based curriculum, to competencies-based curriculum and now we are moving towards a learning outcomes-based curriculum. In fact, the concept of learning outcomes is coming into Portuguese education in many ways such as curriculum policies since curriculum-based competences, teachers’ evaluation, the benchmarking in schools and the project of standards that will begin in 2011 are based in students and schools learning outcomes.

Regarding Portuguese Language syllabus, we can say that it they reflect the political and social movements in Portugal and Europe as they really show the progressive openening of the learning contents and the flexibility of curriculum managing according to the students needs and school context. Duarte [79] explains that the biggest changes can be found in the syllabus of 1979 that belongs to the communicative paradigm and curriculum is set as open and related to the society. The study of Portuguese mother language is taken as a scientific study at the same time that its value and respect as a key to national identity is promoted. On the other hand, it is also in this curriculum change that literary foreing authors are introduced and teacher autonomy is declared, although co-respnsability of students in learnig just came later in the 1989 curriculum reform.

The patterns of change in curriculum policies in Portugal over the last four decades moved from internal mandates to external ones and it has been evident that the gap between these two patterns has been growing. We can say that in the first three cycles we had change invented and promoted by educational professionals as their missions and beliefs were aligned with external mandates.

The change process followed in the exogenous modernization cycle, that affected all teachers and educational agents working in schools and universities at that time, as well as other educational agents like unions, shows that there was a strong negotiation taking place in the beginning of the process between internal and external forces. On the other hand, the commission created for the curriculum reform was composed by ex-teachers and professors who worked on education policies for significant time. Although external mandate is stronger, we can say that there is still an alignment between internal and external forces, although the invention of change was made externaly and its promotion by both change forces.

On the hybrid cycle the change process is also a hybrid one: on one hand, we have internal forces inventing and promoting some changes at curriculum level, for instance, in the reorganization of subjects and in the introduction of some curriculum areas, like monitored study, or compulsory subjects as the second foreign language; on the other hand, we can see that external forces have lead all the process and their patterns were at the core of the changes. We are talking about the introduction of curriculum-based competencies concept, that was not even worked by Portuguese scholars at the time. It´s clearly a concept that came out from international organizations and its projects, as OECD, and EU, fundamentally after Lisbon Strategy in 2000. There was no negotiation on this, although the Ministry of Education had developed an innovation process but always centralized and with pre established answers to the problems that were found.

The last cycle shows that the external patterns of change have really established in Portuguese education as we no longer have educational professionals negotiating changes nor their questions, concerns or experiences are included in policy-making. All the changes introduced in Portuguese education derived in this cycle from external inventions, as OECD and EU demands, and were also promoted by them, with all their projects and programmes, and schools just had to implement it.

Educational policies are nowadays in the core of political and economic concerns all over the world, as there is the belief that more educated people generate a more competitive economy, based on human capital theory. In Portugal this belief is central because this country is facing a huge economic crisis with serious social consequences, and politicians hope to get out from it through education

The main challenge for educational policies is that educational actors, either from internal or external arenas, need to define, firstly, what are the goals and purposes of education in Portugal and then negotiate the pathways and the tools to get it, without forgetting to align it with teachers dreams, projects and missions. There is no way to continue changing curriculum without listening the main actors: the teachers who achieve better results and improve their work whenever their work is embody in their life narrative.

The divorce between internal and external mandates came at the same time as educational ideology moved from educational democratizing to educational modernization and inclusion [77]. What we argue is that the integration model of change should be the best way of getting sustainable reforms by involving and engaging those who know how to do it, when, where and why, the teachers and all educators, with global/ regional/ national values and aims. This would be working with people, on people, teachers and learnears, parents and stakeholders, putting the accent simultaneously on teaching and learning, on learning to be and to know, to do and to live with others [80].

School for all was a social conquest achieved by the modern democratic ideals and a major means for the creation of an imagined identity, the national citizen [81]. The massification of schooling - with new populations of students - didn´t just mean only more students; it also meant a change in the quality of the schools themselves, which policy-makers, teachers, students and families have an evident difficulty to deal with.

In this sense, it is urgent to apply to the political system to try to decrease the differences between people building the most fair and inclusive educational system possible. What happens is that educational systems as we know were built based on exclusion and inequity and need to have a huge change in their structure and organization for them to promote equity. And it seems that behind the discourse about the need to have a fair and inclusive educational systems, mostly based on economic arguments, we have a real meritocratic mandate to education because system is not the same for everyone, it has privileged routes for those who have good academic results and some less privileged routes for those who stay behind, have educational failure or leave school before acquiring basic skills. Equity has suffered a semantic variation over the last forty years, changing from equal opportunities of access to equal opportunities of success, which is more rhetoric in the Portuguese case than real. Otherwise, economy is not an equal system and if this is the system that rules the world, social systems, like education, won’t be either.


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  • These are the factors that led Giddens to reject the terms post-modernism and post-modernity as "we didn’t go beyond modernity, but we are experiencing a phase of its radicalization" [6].
  • According to Roger Dale, the concept of mandate matches with "the provisions that contain the concepts of what is desirable and legitimate for the education system to produce or generate" [9].
  • According to Giddens, globalization is understood as "the intensification of worldwide social relations, relations which link distant localities in such a way that local events are shaped by events that take place many miles away and vice versa. This process is dialectical because these local events can go in a reverse direction of the far relationships that have haped them” [6].
  • Portugal had since the first half of the 1960s, a colonial war on three fronts: Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.
  • This Project included Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Yugoslavia and was settled after an exam to the educational policies in each country. In Portugal started in the beginning of 1962 and two reports were produced: one describing Portuguese educational reality in 1963 and the second making a prospective study about Portuguese society evolution between 1962 and 1975.
  • Military movement which ended the military influence of the radical left in the revolutionary period in Portugal that started with the 25th April 1974.
  • PS is the socialist party, PSD is the social-democratic party (centre-right liberal party) and CDS-PP is the Christian Democrats party.
  • Speech of presentation and debate of the Program of 11th Government, in Republic Assembly session of 26th August 1987.
  • Diário da República nº 006 1987, p.131, V Legislatura, session of 28.08.87.
  • Operational Programs are designed to structure theNational Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), which constitutes the framing for the application of the Community’s policy for economic and social cohesion in Portugal.
  • The PISA studies aim to measure 15-year-olds’ ability to face the challenges of real life. The project is conducted in 3-year cycles: the first data collection took place in 2000 and its main area of assessment was reading literacy. Motivation, attitudes towards learning, familiarity with computers and pupils’ ability to manage and monitor their own learning were also assessed. PISA 2003 looked more closely at mathematical literacy, having also assessed problem-solving skills, and PISA 2006 focused on scientific literacy.
  • Formative assessment is based on the process rather than on the exams results.
  • 15/18 Courses were the vocational route for low secondary education.
  • Coming within the New Opportunities Initiative, the process of Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competencies (RVCC) increases the level of educational and professional qualification of the adult population, through the enhancement of the learning achieved outside the education or training systems.
  • Full Time School Programme was designed in Primary education to give students non-disciplinary curriculum areas and enrichment activities.

Written By

Elsa Estrela

Submitted: December 7th, 2011 Published: August 17th, 2012