SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY, AND CHANGE:
THE ROLE OF EDUCATORS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MUITASPEDRAS
LINDA HAHN MILLER
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
My interest in Brazil was stimulated when I accompanied my
husband to the Amazon region in 1974. There, Lynn Buschman introduced
me to frontier primary schools, and Emilio Moran and Millicent Fleming-
Moran provided a role model of the husband and wife research team.
My graduate career in anthropology began later that year with a
course in anthropology and education taught by Dr. Elizabeth M. Eddy.
Dr. Eddy encouraged me to enter graduate school full time. I doubt
that I would have completed the Ph.D. without her gentle prodding to
set deadlines and her continued support, which haw been invaluable.
Having settled on Brazil as the place and frontier schools as
the focus, I was very fortunate to be able to take anthropology courses
offered by Dr. Charles Wagley, Dr. Solon T. Kimball, Dr. Allan'F. Burns,
Dr. Henry Dobyns, and Dr. Eddy. In addition, courses in the Portuguese
language and literature given by Dr. Alfred Hower were very helpful.
In December, 1976, I began field research for this dissertation
with a fellowship from the Tropical South American Program at the
University of Florida. Subsequently, a Title VI Fellowship in Portuguese
made completion of coursework possible in the 1977-78 and 1978-79
I would especially like to thank fellow graduate students, Drs.
Samuel and Eliza Sa for their personal and professional introductions
to their family and colleagues in Belem, Part. There, the personnel
of the Goeldi Museum, the Federal University of Para, and the State
Planning Agency were more than helpful.
In Muitaspedras, my research depended on the cooperation of the
educators of the State Education Division and the County Education
Secretariat. From superintendents to classroom teachers, they
generously tolerated my presence and endless questions with unfailing
goodwill. In particular, I would like to thank Irma Heloisa, Marize,
Soccoro, and Tia Freira. In addition, the director of Project Rondon's
Extension Campus must be singled out for thanks, as well as the mayor
and the vicar.
In the preparation of this manuscript, I would like to thank
Dr. Eddy, Dr. Wagley, Dr. Burns, and my husband for their many thought-
ful suggestions for the revision of earlier drafts. Dr. Hower and
Dr. Kimball helped screen errors in the final version. Mrs. Vita
Zamorano did an able job of typing the final draft, and Tony Gregg
prepared the county map.
Through the final weeks of work, my friend and fellow teacher,
Lisa Wilson,provided shelter and southern hospitality.
Over the last ten years, my husband, Darrel L. Miller, and I
have shared our work as teachers, graduate students, researchers, and
parents. I cannot begin to thank him for all the support and help he
has given. Special thanks to my son, Steven, for taking long naps so
I could write, and for being a delightful diversion.
Many thanks to all the people who have helped in so many ways..
I assume the responsibility for any errors or faults in the work.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . ii
ABSTRACT . . . . .. . . . . . . vii
ONE INTRODUCTION: A STUDY OF EDUCATIONAL CHANGE IN A
DEVELOPING COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . 1
The Researcher's Role: Visiting Teacher and Student
of Brazilian Culture . . . . . . . . 5
Techniques of Data Collection and Analysis . . . 14
Theoretical Orientation: Four Assumptions . . .. 28
Notes ... . . . . . . . . . 36
TWO THE IMPACT OF GROWTH ON TRADITIONAL PATTERNS IN THE
COMMUNITY AND ITS SCHOOLS . . . . . .... 37
The Traditional Amazon Town . . . . . .. 38
Post-Highway Muitaspedras . . ... . . . 40
The School System . . . ... . . . . . 53
New Variations in Traditional Patterns . ... . . 63
Notes . . . . . . . . . * 68
THREE TEACHER TRAINING AT SANTANA MIDDLE SCHOOL . . .. 69
Vocational and Academic School Models in Brazilian
Educational History . . . . .... ... . 70
The Santana Middle School . . . . . . .. 79
Notes . . . .... .. . . . . . . 106
FOUR TEACHER TRAINING IN INSERVICE COURSES ....... 107
Ritual and Education . . . .. . . . . 113
Inservice as Rites of Passage: Programs to Raise the
Educational Level of Teachers . . . ... . 114
Rites of Intensification: Courses to Improve Teacher
Performance .. . . . . . . . . 128
Training for a New Bureaucracy: A Conference and a
Course for Administrators . . .... . . 149
Conclusions: Teacher Inservice Training and Coopera-
tion . . . . . . . . . . . 151
Notes . . . . . . . . . . 157
FIVE THE CULTURAL ROLE OF TEACHERS: THREE MODELS OF
SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS . . . . . . . .
The Rural School . . . . . . . ... ..
The Academy: The Teacher as a Bearer of Tradition and
Culture . . . . . . . . .
The City School and the Cultural Role of "Industrial
Trainer" . . . . . . . . . . .
Conclusions . . . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . .
SIX EDUCATORS AND BUREAUCRATS . . . . . . .
A Directors' Meeting . . . . . . . .
Principles of Bureaucracy in Muitaspedras' School
System . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bureaucratic Socialization of Teachers . . . .
Bureaucratic Influences in Classroom and School . .
Bureaucrats as Gatekeepers . . . . . . .
Bureaucrats as Vanguards of the Middle Class Revolution
Conclusions . . . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . . . . .
SEVEN EDUCATORS AS COMMUNITY LEADERS . . . . . .
The County Power Structure .. . . .......
Common Characteristics of Educators .....
Subgroups of Educators ......................
Entertainment in Muitaspedras . . . . .
School Sponsorship of June Festivals ..... ......
Educators and Patrons in River Villages ....
Problems of Patronage on the Highways ....
Community Socialization at School June Festivals . .
Conclusions . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . .
EIGHT THE PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION IN A FRONTIER COMMUNITY
Change and Expansion in the Role of Educators .
Educators and Development .......
An Educational Dilemma . . . . ..... ..
I. ORGANIZATIONAL ACRONYMS . . . . . .
II. AGENCIES IN MUITASPEDRAS, 1970-1977 ....
III. EDUCATOR QUESTIONNAIRE .. . . . ........
IV. EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE .. . .....
V. SCHOOL CALENDAR, 1977 ................. 328
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .... . . 344
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY, AND CHANGE:
THE ROLE OF EDUCATORS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MUITASPEDRAS
Linda Hahn Miller
Chairperson: Elizabeth M. Eddy
Major Department: Anthropology
This is a study of the school system of a frontier community
in the Amazon region of Brazil. Between 1971 and 1974, construc-
tion of two federal highways through Muitaspedras County altered
previous riverine orientation and stimulated rapid population growth,
leading to the increased importance of the county seat as an adminis-
trative and commercial center. Growth and change in the community
was matched by growth and change in the school system.
The research focus is on educators who staff the school system.
The research problem is stated in two questions. How are changes in
the school system related to the changing community context in which
educators now find themselves? Can any of the changes in the school
system be considered development?
Findings are that some changes in school and community are new
variations of the traditional patterns of a generally low educational
level, educational control by outsiders, and migration for education.
The principal change in the community is the creation of a new
middle class from a fusion of the old local elite with the outsiders
who came to staff new agencies or to start businesses. Educators are
an important segment of the new middle class. The expanded social
system is paralleled by an expanded role for educators, who reach more
students, may keep them in school longer, and attempt to involve the
larger community in entertainment events. Furthermore, the old formal
role of educators as transmitters of a frontier approximation of
national, urban, elite, academic culture to children has changed with
the dilution of the aristocratic ideal by a more middle class ideal of
education for work.
These changes had an impact on three types of development:
community, human resources, and economic development. Educators promote
national integration and community solidarity. They develop human
resources by teaching literacy and socializing students to bureaucracy.
This indirectly aids economic development, but the migration of the
best students hinders it.
INTRODUCTION: A STUDY OF EDUCATIONAL CHANGE
IN A DEVELOPING COMMUNITY
This is a study of the school system of a frontier community in
the Amazon region of Brazil. Muitaspedras (a pseudonym) is a county
(municipio) in the southwest corner of the state of Para (Figure
1-1). Between 1971 and 1974, the construction of two federal highways
through the county altered its previous riverine orientation and
stimulated rapid population growth, leading to the increased importance
of the county seat(also called Muitaspedras) as an administrative and
commercial center for the upper Tapaj6s River Valley (Figure 1-2).
Growth and change in the community were matched by growth and change in
the school system.
The focus of the research to be reported here is on educators--
the teachers, supervisors, directors, and administrators who staff the
school system, which encompasses Muitaspedras County as well as seg-
ments of the new highways extending outside the county. The term
"school system" is used as if it were a single entity, even though
administration and sponsorship of schools is multiple and overlapping,
with the county, church organizations, the state, and the national
Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC)1 all sponsoring schools. How-
ever, the school system shares a commonality of personnel, who work
for different schools and education agencies as if the system was a
single entity, and also shares a common center of administration and
other activities--the county seat.
M A Z s, N A}
S' AA 'C i U M S
:(_- N O R'T H H -,
"ATO Go E A S T (SEPE
SA TO y -SAH *
W E S /T
; GROSSO ,0 'sra ror,
Figure 1 1i
States and Regions of Brazil
Source: J.M.G. Kleipenning, The Integration and Colonization of
the Brazilian Portion of the Amazon Basin, p. 8.
0 25 5 0 71 o00
Muitaspedras town is the center of community life as well as the
center of the school system. Since Muitaspedras is the largest county
in Brazil (165,578 square kilometers) and one of the least densely
populated (16,143 in 1977, or less than one-tenth person per kilometer)
(DNER 1977), the operational definition of the community as the whole
county should be explained. In Brazil, the typical community comprises
a central urban area or town and various micro-areas or neighborhoods,
homogeneous in terms of the specific subsistence activity determined
by the area's ecological conditions (Wagley 1971). This means that
the community of Muitaspedras includes the town, the riverine villages,
highway neighborhoods, gold mining settlements, and the Mundurucd and
Kayaby Indian Reservations. The community, therefore, is coterminous
with the municfpio boundaries (and also, roughly, with the school
system). The Brazilian pattern is comparable to the Southern county
in the United States, which is also considered a community unit
(Arensberg and Kimball 1972).
The research problem can be stated in two questions. How are
the changes in the school system related to the changing community con-
text in which educators now find themselves? Can any of the changes
in the school system be considered development?
The answers to these questions are important to educational plan-
ners and to policy makers. If educators perform a positive role in
development, further support from government sources would be valuable
in any continuing efforts to develop the Brazilian Amazon. Moreover,
specifying the nature of the role educators perform may help planners
to make better informed decisions on the kind of support which will
produce the most benefits in development.
The relationship of educators to the changes produced by highway
construction and population growth is complex. Educators are both
initiators and recipients of change. They respond to change as indivi-
duals and as group members. They are members of the local community
but also representatives of the state and nation in the community.
It was immediately apparent during the research that changes were
occurring and educators were involved with them in a complex way, but
it was an open question whether developmental change was occurring or
whether "the more things changed the more they stayed the same." To
answer the question, I observed what educators did in the schools and
in the community; what they did was act as teachers, students, bureau-
crats, and community leaders. Each of these role components is analyzed
according to whether or not development occurred as a result.
With the research subjects, problem, and site established as the
role of educators in the development of Muitaspedras, the following
section will describe the role of the researcher entering the community,
establishing a relationship with educators, and operationalizing the
research problem. The use of participant observation, event analysis,
the community study method, and the sampling procedure employed will
next be described. Finally, four theoretical assumptions from the
anthropological studies of communities, change processes, and education
which underlie my approach to this study will be presented.
The Researcher's Role:
Visiting Teacher and Student of Brazilian Culture
Educators in Muitaspedras often asked me one question in particular
during my visits to their schools. It was, "Do you have any children?"
My standard answer was, "No, but I have two cats and a dog." This was
considered a rather successful joke by educators. However, as a
researcher, thejoke has another meaning. The educators' question was
about my status and role. They usually already knew that I was a
married, schoolteacher-researcher from the United States. The presence
or absence of children would further define my position, life style,
and interaction with others of similar positions and life styles. It
is no accident that educators' interactions with othersare shaped by
their sex, occupation, education, social status, birthplace, place of
residence, and their positions within their respective families(i.e.,
as wives, daughters, mothers, etc.). This is true of everyone in
Muitaspedras County, and it divides the community into many different,
sometimes overlapping, subgroups.
Before embarking on fieldwork, I had to translate my own role of
researcher into one which people in the community would, hopefully,
understand and accept. The process of establishing my own status and
role began before entering the field, and my role underwent some
changes as fieldwork progressed. My status, on the other hand, remained
more constant: that of a female, married, middle class, university-
The establishment of my role in Muitaspedras began back in the
United States, at the University of Florida. My husband (also a
researcher) and I brought letters of introduction (in English and in
Portuguese) from the president of the University. We had a more
personal link, through a fellow graduate student who was also a profes-
sor at the Center for Graduate Studies of the Amazon (NAEA), Federal
University of Parn. Through this and other personal links, we paid
social calls after arriving in Bel6m, state capital of Pars, to the
rector of the Federal University of Pard, the director of NAEA, and
the director of the Pars State Planning Agency. From each of these
agency heads, we asked for and received letters of introduction to
the mayor of Muitaspedras (the chief local government official of both
the town and county, or municipio).
Upon arrival in Muitaspedras, we again utilized official links
through the letters of introduction and personal links established by
my husband during an earlier visit in 1974 and during a colleague's
work in a nearby highway neighborhood (Poats 1975). Through the efforts
of a Catholic nun, we were given temporary housing at Project Rondon's
Extension Campus. Project Rondon is a national program in which
individual universities operate extension campuses in regions different
from the host university. The purposes are to expose students to a
region different from their own, promote national integration, and per-
form community service. The University for the Development of the
State of Santa Catarina (UDESC) sponsored the program in Muitaspedras.
Santa Catarina is a southern Brazilian state and one which has a large
Italian immigrant population. Student teams come for a month at a time.
Since many of the students are taller and lighter in skin and hair color
than many Muitaspedras residents, it was natural for the latter to
assume that I was another Project Rondon student. Even after new
accommodations were at last rented, this first impression persisted.
This was a fortuitous association in many ways. First, towns-
people were accustomed to these young strangers who did a lot of walking
around town, became involved in the town's entertainment life, and
worked in various community agencies (in town and in river villages)
for brief periods. Second, townspeople found the Santa Catarina
dialect different enough from their own Portuguese that they often
assumed that my own imperfect, American-accented Portuguese was a
southern dialect. Third, the Project Rondon staff had good contacts
with other agency personnel in town and provided important introduc-
tions. Fourth, Project Rondon is above all an education agency, and
had strong ties to the other local education agencies. Project Rondon
sponsors teacher inservice short courses, among other services to the
school system. Also, like other school staffs, Project Rondon's staff
sponsors many entertainment events in the community. In summary,
Project Rondon personnel were accepted outsiders in Muitaspedras, and
their activities bore enough similarity to my activities to provide
a ready-made status and role. The association with Project Rondon
legitimate my participant-observation to Muitaspedras residents,
especially early in the fieldwork.
The only drawback to my being thoughtof as one of the Project
Rondon students was their marital status (most were single) and their
short stay. We lived in their dormitory through one team's visit, at
a time when other university students had returned to Muitaspedras for
Christmas vacation. In the evenings, we accompanied the students on
their entertainment rounds. We learned about the lives of middle and
upper class "singles" in Muitaspedras, but no married couple became
our friends during this early period. Also, all of the university
students were in town only for a short period of time, until vacation
or the internship (est gio) on the Extension Campus ended. It took
more time to establish contact with the more stable elements of the
community, such as married couples and other permanent residents.
It was through observation of and interaction with Project Rondon
students that I became aware of male attitudes about women. Local men
had a predatory attitude toward female Project Rondon students which
could easily be observed whenever a new team arrived at the airport
where the local males gathered to size them up and exchange evaluations.
This was a more extreme version of a stereotype of women as either
respectable family women (some man's wife, daughter, or sister) or
prostitutes. Project Rondon females were targets because they were only
in town for a month, they were single, and they were active in enter-
Male attitudes toward women were made even clearer when I inadver-
tently broke a cultural rule. Paulo, a male Project Rondon student
(the only married one we met--and he left his wife home for his month's
stay) invited me to accompany him on an overnight trip to a river
village, where he would do a county equipment inventory for the mayor
and I would do my questionnaire and classroom observations. When we
traveled by boat, a steward, who knew me from previous trips with my
husband, asked, "What happened to that other man?" When we arrived in
the village, Paulo initiated changes in the usual overnight arrange-
ments by which Project Rondon students slept in hammocks in a county
office. He asked the female school director whether I could stay with
her, and he accepted the invitation of a company director to stay at
his quarters. As he explained to the school director, "Her husband
is my friend," it became clear that men might protect the honor of
their friends' wives, but single women--especially outsiders (without
family protection)--were fair game.
To begin work on the research problem I first secured the per-
mission of the superintendent of the State Education Division to do
classroom observations. She accompanied me to my first school and
introduced me to the educators there. After that, I was free to visit
town schools at will, and was eventually invited by supervisors from
the State Education Division to accompany them on overnight visits to
river village schools and highway schools (I served as a chaperone;
respectable women do not travel alone, or with a nonrelated man).
Late in the fieldwork period, when I was ready to administer a question-
naire, I again asked for and received permission from the superintendent.
The significance of these uses of formal, official channels of
communication (letters of introduction, official social calls) and
informal, personal channels of communication (friendship and profes-
sional networks) is that this is the appropriate way to initiate a
study of Brazilian bureaucracies--i.e., the schools and other educa-
tional agencies of Muitaspedras. Bureaucracies are characterized by
unidirectional communication, from the top down (Hummel 1977). For
this reason, I started at the top. Bureaucracies are also characterized
by paperwork, or as Wolcott interprets it, "The crest of the technocrat
is the report. . Technocrats are oriented to things rather than
to people" (1977:184). For this reason, I started by using written
letters of introduction, papers which symbolized my membership in
educational bureaucracies, and therefore validated my proposed role.
Brazilians are not stifled by their bureaucracies. In order to
survive as an urban, middle class Brazilian, it is necessary to learn
how to dar um jeito (find a way). The Brazilian journalist, Paulo
Mendes Campos, wrote a humorous column in which he depicted a merchant's
plan to dar um jeito for a foreigner by seeing whom he knowswho got
along well with a foreign minister (Campos 1971:66-67). Through a
humorous exaggeration, Campos illustrated the principle of solving
problems and cutting bureaucratic red tape by utilizing an informal,
personal network of people who do favors for people they know.
As Muitaspedras has urbanized during the 1970s and as a middle
class has formed from the commercial and government agency (bureau-
cratic) sectors, the ability to dar um jeito has become a necessary
part of community life. The only educators I heard actually use
the phrase in Muitaspedras were outsiders from larger urban centers.
However, socialization to dar um jeito (without calling it that) did
take place in the schools, both for educators and for students.
In other words, to study a bureaucratic occupational group, I had
to gain access by displaying the bureaucrat's symbol of identity
(papers) and then associate with educators long enough to observe their
more personal networks, how they solved problems through their ability
to dar um jeito, and to become accepted on a more personal basis.
A number of small events during the early fieldwork period demonstrate
how these two approaches slowly helped me enter the world of the educa-
tor in Muitaspedras. There were both formal and informal signs of
Formal signs of acceptance were the superintendent's manner of
dressing when she took me to my first school, formal introductions to
teachers and students, and the director'a making a space in the staff
book for me to sign in and out. Much later, after hundreds of hours
of classroom observations, I classified three visible signs of bureau-
cratic influence in schools: formal behaviors, dress and decoration,
and paperwork. They all appeared in my notes from the first day, but
it took much longer to place them in a pattern.
Informal signs of acceptance were the school servant who refuted
a mother's rumor that I was a child stealer, and my peer status during
teacher inservice courses. The school servant, Dona Rosa, refuted the
rumor because she knew me personally: her daughter washed our clothes,
and her son ran errands for us in the morning before school (the
relationship was one of friendship but also a patron-client relation-
ship, signalled by our calling each other Dona Rosa and Dona Linda,
whereas I was on a first-name basis with educators). During the teacher
inservice courses, classroom teachers and supervisors all interacted as
peers by temporarily resuming the student role. The Project Rondon
student who served as teacher trainer in the first course I attended had
an egalitarian approach and stressed friendship among educators,
especially during a secret friend gift exchange, a ritual which united
all of us in a chain of givingand receiving gifts (see Chapter 4).
I met all the town teachers of grades one and two in this course.
Invited to teach them a song, my Portuguese version of "The Eensy Weensy
Spider," with hand movements, was from that time on requested at every
inservice course. Educators came to regard me as a visiting teacher
who taught primary school in the United States. In their hierarchy,
I was informally placed at the level of a supervisor; these were the
educators who initiated most often to me, along with the middle school
teachers with whom I spent more time later in the fieldwork.
The ambiguity of my status was that of being a highly educated
person with connections in the state capital, but also an ignoramus of
local custom who could barely speak the language when I arrived.
To start, I asked to sit in classrooms to listen to Portuguese and
learn. As the director of the first school I visited explained to
each class in turn, "she is not a Brazilian and does not speak
Portuguese correctly, like you students do." The key to acceptance
by local educators was a ritual of status reversal, humbling myself by
entering the classroom as a student of the language and culture.
Several months later, the Project Rondon teacher trainer could identify
me to other teachers with the riddle, "Sometimes she talks; sometimes
she does not." Later, teachers occasionally commented on how hard it
was in the beginning for people to understand me, and how hard it must
have been for me. At an Indian Day assembly at the State middle school,
the Indian Post director made a speech about national integration in
this frontier area. He startled me by pointing me out in the audience
as an example, a "Brazilian-American." I was becoming as much a part
of the community as all the other outsiders from all over Brazil.
In short, after presenting credentials claiming I was better
educated and connected than anyone in town, I had to be humbled to gain
acceptance. Assuming the student role was acceptable because educators
often resume this role during inservice courses. After becoming a
student of the language and culture, I was promoted to peer during
inservice courses and even allowed to teach a song. The supervisors,
in particular, took me under their wing and allowed me to travel with
Techniques of Data Collection and Analysis
To find out what role educators played in the development of
Muitaspedras, I became a participant-observer in the schools and in
the community. After a period of time, a pattern of events emerged,
and these were studied by event analysis. The context within which
educators played their roles was analyzed through the community study
Participant-observation is the traditional method of conducting
research in social and cultural anthropology. Despite the method-
ological diversity that now characterizes sociocultural anthropology,
the professional rite of passage remains the lengthy participant-
observation of a society or group.
The duality expressed in the term participant-observation means
that the researcher must do two things at once: become involved with
other people by participating in the things they do, and remain aloof
enough during this involvement to observe and record behavior. I
focused on educators and observed and participated in their activities.
Observations were made of educators in their teaching role in town,
highway, and river village schools, in classrooms covering the nursery
through middle school levels. Here my role was usually that of a
passive observer, sitting among students and taking notes. Active
participation was required when I observed teacher training classes
and when traveling with supervisors. A more balanced mixture of par-
ticipation and observation characterized school-related entertainment
events I attended.
There is some contradiction in this duality of participant-
observation. The researcher does not observe experimental subjects
through one-way glass, acting on them by manipulating variables without
being acted upon in return. In participant-observation, the researcher
interacts with the people being studied, so that they can and do react
to the researcher's presence. In experimental studies such interference
has negative value. The situation is different in participant-observa-
tion. The disturbance created by the arrival of the researcher in the
community dissipates as the researcher is assigned a place and estab-
lishes relationships. The researcher's role shifts during fieldwork
(Kimball and Partridge 1979), but it is possible to collect and analyze
accurate data throughout fieldwork. However, the researcher must be
aware of this assigned place in the community and how it affects inter-
actions with others.
In considering event analysis, the focus in methodology shifts
from the role of the researcher as a participant-observer to the
activities which the researcher participates in and observes. Over
time, it becomes possible to abstract patterns from the activities,
to isolate segments of activities as events, and to analyze their
characteristics. Three types of event analysis are utilized in this
study: 1) analysis of current social events, 2) ethnohistory, or
analysis of past events, 3) analysis of current symbolic, ritual
events. The three types of event analysis differ from each other in
two ways: 1) time, either current or past events, and 2) emphasis on
social, or symbolic aspects of events.
The analysis of current social events is an invaluable tool in
field observation. The researcher selects an event which is repetitive
in place, personnel,activity, and schedule of meeting. Next, five
aspects of the event are recorded: 1) spatial arrangements, 2) dis-
tribution of personnel in space, 3) order of actions in terms of
personnel, 4) activity, space, and time--or, who does what with or to
whom or what, where when and how--and, 5) initiations and terminations.
Finally, the researcher reports on the above aspects by summarizing
the procedure and results, reporting insights and drawing conclusions,
and noting whether additional information is needed (Kimball 1976:
class notes). In other words, event analysis examines an event or
genre of events in terms of its participants, their interaction patterns,
and the event's content (Eddy 1975:class notes).
In Muitaspedras, I focused on events initiated by or attended by
educators. These events fall into four broad categories: 1) classroom
events, characterized by teacher and student interactions, 2) teacher
training courses, also in classrooms, 3) staff meetings, both formal
and informal, held in offices, and 4) entertainment events, both school-
related and other events attended by some educators. The third category
includes both formally scheduled events and informal but repetitive
events, such as evening gatherings in someone's front yard or at a bar.
Time is the key difference between event analysis as described
above and ethnohistory. The observer also changes. Ethnohistory uses
event analysis of past events observed by others instead of current
events observed by the anthropologist. The time frame is important,
and the researcher's task is to establish a chronology of events. It
is also important to cross-check or to do comparative checking of
sources, or in other words, to confront one kind of evidence with
another. The chronology is not an end in itself, but serves as raw
material for social science analysis. For this reason, ethnohistory
helps us understand facts as a narrative or chronicle cannot. Ethno-
history contributes to the study of cultural dynamics. An important
concern in ethnohistory is ethnic group contact, or population inter-
action. Two (or more) ethnic groups are seen as a product of one
indivisible social process, with the history of one inseparable from
the experiences of the other (Dobyns 1978: class notes).
Ethnohistorical event analysis was used in Muitaspedras to
delineate patterns in population formation, transportation systems, and
social and economic systems. These patterns interact with the growth
of the school system to produce the current school system. Ethnohistory
provides a time-depth context which makes it possible to place the cur-
rent school system in perspective, both that of education history in
Brazil, and that of community and regional history. Without time-depth,
it is impossible to understand the changes which have occurred in
Events can also be analyzed in terms of their symbolic and ritual
content. Symbols and ritual are important under conditions of rapid
change because they help people adapt to change on both the individual
and the group level. This is because symbols enable people to make
abstractions and communicate their meaning. When symbols are used in
a patterned, formalized, repetitive way, ritual events occur. The
researcher can learn a great deal about the people being studied by
observing ritual. Rituals reveal deep values which make regularities
found in other data intelligible (Turner 1969). In a ritual, some-
thing is named or made visible, and therefore accessible to society
as well as to the researcher. One characteristic of ritual is
particularly well suited to the researcher's role as participant-
observer, i.e., that rituals tend to be performance oriented. For
most rituals, the only possible role is that of a participant (Burns
In Muitaspedras many events had ritual and symbolic content.
Analyzing these events in terms of what was being symbolized and what
this showed about relationships and values was very helpful. The
many rites of intensification (Chapple and Coon 1942) which were
observed emphasized the ways in which Muitaspedras' residents sought
to adjust to rapid change by promoting social cohesion while at the
same time emphasizing the many divisions in the community. Some of
the events which were analyzed in this manner are the school June
festivals, Mother's Day school observances, religious processions,
a debutante ball, a fashion show, graduation, Carnival, sports club
parties, soccer games, and Project Rondon's Open Games.
So far, this description of methodology used in fieldwork has
included the role of the research and how the various events are
analyzed. Although event analysis can reveal a great deal about educa-
tors' activities, values and relationships, the larger question of
whether educators play a role in development cannot be answered without
understanding the context in which educators' activities occur. This
context is not just the schools, but includes the whole community of
Muitaspedras. For this reason, I used the community study method.
The community study method was developed within anthropology, but
has been used in other social sciences. Community study means the
observation and exploration of a problem in human behavior and attitudes
within the community context. It is the study of a problem in a com-
munity rather than the study of a community. The community is viewed
as a sample of the society. This method is naturalistic, comparative,
and inductive (Arensberg and Kimball 1972:29-30).
The research design of a community study follows three steps:
1) the construction of a model of the whole community from broad data,
2) comparison with other similar communities, and 3) fitting the problem
into place in the model (Arensberg and Kimball 1972:34). The goal of
participant observation and other data-collecting techniques is a breadth
of view, so that an accurate model can be constructed and the problem
under study can be put into proper context.
Breadth of view also means that relevant data are collected both
inside and outside the community if extra-community influences (those
from the larger society, whether region, state, nation, or international)
are observed to be affecting some part of the community. Although the
community study method developed out of the ethnographic study of
relatively isolated, primitive societies, researchers who correctly
employ the method never assume that their community is entirely self
sufficient or without connections outside the community.
Use of the community study method in Muitaspedras meant, first of
all, defining the unit of study. Muitaspedras County was defined as
the community, a pattern found both in Brazil and in the United States'
South (Arensberg and Kimball 1972; Wagley 1971). The definition of the
county of Muitaspedras as the community reinforced my opinion that the
question of educators' role in development could not be answered by
doing a school ethnography. The county of Muitaspedras is approximately
the territory included in the school district. Educators travel
within this district for a variety of activities, both school-related
and personal. A study of educators, then, was a study in the school
district and in the community. Both the research problem and the
educators' activities defined the scope of the research site, that is,
the county/community and school district of Muitaspedras.
However, the nature of both the community and the school district
made it clear from the beginning that contexts even larger than these
would have to be considered as well, even if educators' activities
could only be observed at the local level. Several factors are involved.
First, Muitaspedras is a community of migrants in both the short-term
and long-term perspectives. Second, Muitaspedras' administrative and
economic links to the outside society are obvious and very important.
Third, the school system is a bureaucracy, and part of a bureaucratic
hierarchy that extends to the state and nation. It is impossible to
ignore these outside connections, but since the community study method
means studying a problem in a community context rather than studying
a community, it is possible to include the effects of these outside
In addition to participant-observation and event analysis, the
community study method as employed here included the collection of
written information about Muitaspedras, an educator questionnaire, a
student questionnaire, community and neighborhood surveys, and inter-
Step two in community study research design required comparing
Muitaspedras with other similar communities. My husband and I had
restudied Charles Wagley's Amazon Town in 1974, and had found it to be
relatively unchanged (Miller 1976). We had also visited the new
Transamazon communities studied by Moran (1975,1981). In addition,
I visited three small river villages within the county as well as
colonist neighborhoods along both the Transamazon highway and the
new Santar6m-Cuiabg highway. This first-hand opportunity to compare
traditional and recent variations of Brazilian communities was sup-
plemented by the many published community studies of both traditional
(Harris 1971) and changing (Hutchinson 1957; Shirley 1971) communities
elsewhere in Brazil. This comparative community approach, coupled with
the comparison of Muitaspedras over time, provided the context for the
formation of a model of an urbanizing community undergoing the process
of forming a new middle class.
The middle class of Muitaspedras is new, and has developed since
the arrival of the highways. It is estimated to be about 17 percent
of the total population, and is comprised of two main groups: the
bureaucrats and the commercial entrepreneurs (D. Miller, in press).
The middle class of Muitaspedras is similar to the "metropolitan middle
class" described by Wagley and Harris (1955) and the "new urban groups"
described by Ratinoff (1967), and represents an extension of this class
into the smaller towns in frontier areas of Brazil.
Several studies were made of the Brazilian "metropolitan middle
class" in the 1970s. Miller reaffirmed the importance of the extended
family to the middle class as adaptive despite urbanization and indus-
trialization (C. Miller 1976). Maeyama (1975) studied friendship net-
works and participation in voluntary associations, and found that people
forminformal friendship groups which resemble extended families.
Carman (1973) focused on a single middle class family and how it
benefited from industrial development. Finally, Hansen (1977) studied
family histories to show how formerly fluid middle income sectors have
become a middle class.
The process of middle class formation which has occurred in post-
highway Muitaspedras in the 1970s confirms Wagley's definition of this
class in Latin America as having "a distinctive way of life and its own
self-identity" (1968:196), including a preponderance of white-collar,
salaried workers in government and business, urban residence, a value
of education for their own children as well as favoring universal
public education, and a traditionalistic and nationalistic outlook.
Highway-related development has brought in middle class outsiders to
staff agencies and start new commercial ventures. They have overwhelmed
the old local elite and there has been friction between insiders and
outsiders. However, the potential for a merging of the two factions
exists and was in the process of occurring in 1977, since, as Wagley
points out, they are, from a national perspective, members of the same
Latin American middle class.
But in all small towns there is a local elite--
government employees, storekeepers, clergy, and
others who are "white collar"--who, from a national
perspective, can be considered members of the middle
class. Even the middle class living in small towns
has an urban ethos. . (Wagley 1968:198)
As the following chapters will describe, this enlarged middle class
in Muitaspedras has other characteristics noted by Wagley--the necessity
of holding several jobs, working wives, working students, the need to
dress well for work in public places, and an appreciation of the power
of government. Furthermore, they still hold some aristocratic values
and tastes, such as a disdain for manual labor and a preference for
academic over technical education.
It is this changing community model into which the educators fit
(step three in community study design), and they occupy a crucial place
because the educator bureaucracies are among the largest in Muitaspedras.
The State Education Division is one of the three largest bureaucracies
in town, along with the Agricultural Extension Agency (EMATER) and the
army (BIS). Moreover, the State Education Division is the only bureau-
cracy which is headed by a woman and is almost entirely female in
membership. Thus the State Education Division has an important position
in the new middle class of the community because of its size, and also
an important position among women because it is one of the few organized
women's groups (the nuns and the Mother's Club are two others, both
affiliated with the Catholic Church).
Within this model of an urbanizing community with an expanding
class structure, the role of educators in development was found to have
a number of components, which range along a continuum from active to
passive, official to unofficial, and positive to negative. Before
discussing these components, I will first present operational defini-
tions of the terms education, role, and the different kinds of
Education in this research report means formal education or schooling
unless qualified as informal or nonformal education. Although I have
extensive observations of an informal educational institution in Muitas-
pedras (Project Rondon), this information will be used here only in
relation to the formal school system. Following Herzog's typology in
education, I gathered information on official school curricula, school
curricula-as-taught, and the "hidden curriculum" of school and class-
room (Herzog 1979:110-112).
My use of the term role follows Linton (1936:113-114) in em-
phasizing the dynamic aspect, actual behavior, or performance of
educators in schools and in the community. Through observation I
identified four main components of the educator role in Muitaspedras:
teacher, bureaucrat, student, and community leader. These role com-
ponents constitute a role set in Merton's sense of "an array of roles"
which "presupposes . a potential for differing and sometimes con-
flicting expectations of the conduct appropriate to a status occupant
among those in the role-set" (1957:368-370).2 It is these role com-
ponents which will be analyzed in depth to determine the relationship
of educators to development.
Although development has been the subject of investigation by
numerous researchers who have published prolifically, my own use of
the term is tailored to fit the research problem. I am not primarily
concerned with economic development, the subject of most development
literature, except insofar as my evidence will or will not show that
educators contribute to economic development in some way. In general,
this is a negative case where students are concerned, but a positive
onewhere the educators themselves are concerned. I am more interested
in human development, and I use that term in the sense Machado3 means
when he writes, "Without developing the human beings of the region, it
will be impossible to have a lasting development" (1974:327). Machado
insists that the local level society must participate in the develop-
mental process in order for economic progress to be transformed into
real development (1974:316).
In practice, human development can be viewed from an individual
or a group perspective. On the individual level, human development
means improving the lives of people by enabling them to develop the
skills to take advantage of opportunities and therefore better meet
their needs. On a group level, human development means making the
community a better place to live in some way. This can mean strengthening
the sense of community life people share, or their sense of social
cohesiveness and belonging. Human development can therefore include
economic development, but it also includes factors which, while less
amenable to quantitative measure, are nonetheless real and observable.
My use of the term development will usually be qualified by the terms
human, community, regional, and economic development. These terms can
in practice overlap, so the context of development will have to be
specified as the term is used in different chapters.
With these considerations in mind, I will define my use of the
general term development. Development is a type of change. It is
related to growth in that both growth and development imply progression
in one direction. However, development can be distinguished from
growth in that it means a qualitative improvement in addition to
quantitative growth. Development includes growth, but has an additional
qualitative dimension. While growth is quite vulnerable to reversal
caused by changes in conditions (as in boom and bust economic cycles),
development is long term and harder to reverse. Growth allows people
to utilize the skills they have to take advantage of an opportunity
for improvement. Development allows people to improve their skills or
learn new ones so that they stand a better chance of consolidating and
maintaining improvements when opportunities change. In education, an
analogy to growth and development is the distinction between learning
a set of skills--or a body of knowledge--and learning to learn. The
latter has a more profound, long-lasting effect on the individual,
since it gives a person more flexibility and a greater ability to
Who and What to Study: Samoling Procedure
Educators in Muitaspedras County are the population I studied.
I used a judgement sample rather than a probability sample (Plog and
Bates: 1980:51). There are two major reasons for using a judgement
sampling procedure. The first is the vast size of the county, the
difficulty of access to certain areas, time limitations, and the high
cost of living and transportation on the frontier. The sample is
stratified in that I divided educators into types and schools into
zones and levels, and then studied a group of educators within each
type, zone, and level. By the end of the fieldwork period, I had
direct contact with over 77 percent of the educators in Muitaspedras.
For this reason, I am confident that the educators I studied were
representative of educators in Muitaspedras, although it must be
clearly stated that there is no average educator in Muitaspedras.
Instead, there are educators who may serve as models of their subgroup
in exemplifying how certain patterns of behavior are expressed by an
individual, with individual variations.
There is one bias in my sample of educators which I was unable to
overcome due to the limitations cited above. This is that the most
isolated educators are the least represented in my sample. The major-
ity of my field time was spent in Muitaspedras town. There I observed
100 percent of town educators in some type of activity. I also
observed all of the teachers from elsewhere in Muitaspedras County
who came to town for teacher training. A smaller portion of my field
time was spent traveling to riverine villages. I visited three out of
the six larger riverine villages in the county. The smallest portion
of my time was spent traveling on the Transamazon Highway and the
Santargm-Cuiabg Highway. I made two highway trips, one involving
brief visits to all available educators of the south branch of the
Santarem-Cuiaba, and the second involving a visit to a Transamazon
school. I also visited and observed in several Transamazon schools
in the Altamira sector in 1974. The fact that a majority of highway
teachers came to town for the teacher training sessions helped to
compensate for less time spent there. However, it is quite possible
that the educators who did not come to town were different in some
way (access to transportation, motivation) from those who did attend.
I was not able to visit the school on the Munduruc6 and Kayaby Indian
The second major reason for choosing to use a judgement sample
is related to the nature of anthropological fieldwork. The anthro-
pologist is an outsider who must persuade the people who are the sub-
jects of the research to allow access and extend cooperation to the
anthropologist. This is a complex, delicate problem in human rela-
tions which no amount of research time and money can, by themselves,
overcome. The anthropologist initiates to people, and people may
respond by granting a guest status, a temporary license to observe
and participate in the society to some degree.
In this type of human interaction, the anthropologist can press
and prod to a certain extent, but in the end the people under study
make the decision as to whether or not to allow participation. For
this reason, almost all the visits I made to river villages and high-
way schools were at the invitation of educators who knew that I wished
to travel. Once I was known to educators. I had to wait for them to
initiate to me. As time passed, their initiations to me accelerated.
This means that my judgement sample was also their judgement sample.
I determined the structure of the groups I felt should be studied and
initiated contact. Members of those groups decided whether or not
to respond, and to what degree.
There are two reasons why I believe I gained acceptance into the
population of educators. First, I attempted to follow bureaucratic
protocol by using friendship and professional networks to establish
initial contact at the top of Muitaspedras' educational hierarchy.
Second, I stressed the similarity of my background to theirs. I ex-
plained that I had taught elementary school for five years in an
underdeveloped region of the United States. Educators in Muitaspedras
accepted me as another educator, a guest teacher who wanted to learn
about their school system. The degree of acceptance varied, with
several educators becoming friends outside the schools. In general,
I achieved more acceptance from the better educated and the outsiders,
in other words, from people whose backgrounds were closer to my own.
Theoretical Orientation: Four Assumptions
The theoretical orientation which shapes the way I approach the
research problem derives from community study and the anthropological
studies of change and of education. Community study theory assumes
that "each culture possesses its characteristic community" (Arensberg
and Kimball 1972:328), and that the community is the basic unit of
organization and transmission within a culture. Furthermore, it is
a master institution which can be studied as a key to understanding
the link between society and culture. Because the community is the
locus of this link, it is the logical level on which to approach the
problems of sociocultural change.
Anthropologists have usually studied change by focusing on either
its cultural aspects or its social aspects. The concern with accultura-
tion as culture change began in the United States around 1935. Ralph
Linton defined acculturation as the "continuous first hand contact"
of two cultures resulting in "mutual modifications and adaptations which
will enable the two groups to live together" (1940:519). Accultura-
tion studies emphasized the different stages and processes in culture
change. From the 1950s on, anthropologists were increasingly concerned
with the nature of change in community systems, with an emphasis on
social change. However, some anthropologists did not lose sight of
the need to consider both social and cultural aspects of change together.
Clifford Geertz, who is primarily interested in semiotics (the science
of signs), makes the point that cultural and social system must be
examined separately rather than assumed to be mirror images of each
other. He views culture as symbol systems which are models of aid for
society. Since "cultural structure and social structure are .
independent yet interdependent variables" (Geertz 1973:169), inves-
tigating the nature and extent of their linkage is crucial to under-
standing change. The systemic school of applied anthropology is
another example of how anthropologists studying change have sought to
examine both social and cultural variables without assuming one to be
a mirror image of the other (Eddy and Partridge 1978).
To summarize, community study theory and change theory provide
two assumptions crucial to the research problem considered in this
dissertation. Community study theory postulates that society and
culture find their locus and characteristic expression at the community
level (Arensberg and Kimball 1972). Studies of change have shown that
the incongruities between cultural patterns and forms of social organiza-
tion which occur in many cases of change are a key to the better under-
standing of change processes (Gaertz 1973). A third assumption follows
that the community is an optimal level on which to study change. By
studying change-related problems in the community context, the relation-
ship between society and culture can be explored, and the processes of
change can be clarified.
How does a study of educators fit into community study theory and
change theory? The anthropological study of education has included the
relationship of school and community as well as the problem of change
in education as two important research areas. Frequently, these research
areas overlap in specific case studies. Such is true of the research
problem I investigated in Muitaspedras.
The anthropological literature on the problem of change in educa-
tion can be classified according to what levels of sociocultural inte-
gration are considered. The six levels are individual, family,
community, regional, national, and international. At the individual
level, educators are involved with the life cycle, as the student be-
comes a member of society and learns its expected behavior patterns.
Educators are one group among several (family, peers) who socialize
the child (Moore 1973; Doughty 1972). At the family level, educators
are involved with change in two ways. They initiate students into
the wider society at some level above the family, whether tribe,
community, or nation. Frequently, there is conflict over the rights
of the family to the child versus the rights of the larger society
(Hart 1963; Wallace 1973). There is also conflict over which level
of society beyond the family holds these rights, that is, does the
community or the nation take priority? (Modiano 1973). Educators
are involved with change at the family level in a second way as well.
The availability of formal education motivates change when families
choose to make changes in their life styles (Harper 1971) or place
of residence (Shirley 1971) so that children can attend school.
The community level is a particularly critical one because it is
on this level that educators become mediators between the family and
society, no matter whether their school exists in a complex society
or whether it is an initiation school in a primitive society. Because
I accept the proposition that society and culture find their charac-
teristic expression at the community level, the school as an institu-
tion which functions at the community level becomes a crucial locus
of the relationship between society and culture.
There is another reason for the importance of the community level
in an analysis of the role of educators in school and community under
changing conditions. It is at this level that the conflict so frequently
observed between forces for national unity (or dominance) and forces
for either regional, ethnic, minority, or class variation can be ob-
served (Thomas and Wahraftig 1971; Safa 1971; Nash 1961). When a com-
munity and nation are in a state of incongruency, and when the school
as a national agency located in the community bears the brunt of this
discontinuity, turmoil can result. Here the work of Kimball on
community (Arensberg and Kimball 1972) and education (Kimball 1974)
converges. This is why the theoretical perspective of community
study is so important to my analysis of educators in a change situation.
It is at the community level (encompassing the lower levels of
the individual and the family) that anthropologists or others trained
in anthropological fieldwork methods can observe the processes of
change affecting people's daily lives. However, the community study
method includes as variables those forces external to the community
level which impinge on community life. Anthropologists studying
problems of change in education have also studied the regional and
national levels of sociocultural integration, especially the ways in
which these levels affect the family and community. In general, at
the regional level, educators may be expected to transmit both the
national level culture and any regional variation of national culture
which exists in that society. At the national level, educators are
mediators, or bearers of national culture to the lower levels of
sociocultural integration. At the international level, the forces of
change operating through urbanization, industrialization, and bureau-
cratization have differential impact on nations. This is reflected
in the dichotomy between developed and underdeveloped nations, with
implications for formal education in terms of the role of educators
and the availability or allocation of resources (Cochrane 1971; Cole,
et al. 1971; LaBelle 1972).
To summarize, the community level is ideal for the study of socio-
cultural change because at this level society and culture interact
directly in shaping the lives of individuals. Educators have a formal
role in the community as transmitters of some variant of the larger
society's culture to children. This makes educators a particularly
important group to study in a community which, like Muitaspedras, is
experiencing rapid change.
My fourth theoretical assumption is that by studying educators
as an occupational group in the community context, we can better under-
stand change processes and their effects on people. Educators are
involved in three related kinds of development: community development,
human resource development, and economic development.
First, educators are official promoters of patriotic nationalism
and national integration. When they perform this role, they are a
force for community development in the sense of promoting community
solidarity and integration, uniting insiders and outsiders as Brazilians
developing the frontier (see Chapter 7). Second, educators are un-
official but no less forceful proponents of middle class family life.
This role has both positive and negative effects on community development.
In a community whose middle class is just emerging as an important sec-
tor, educators are arbiters of proper behavior and values (not in a
puritanical sense--there is a picture of a naked woman on the calendar
in a primary school office), and therefore play a positive role in
developing a place for this sector in community life. Less positive,
however, is the effect of this middle class bias on lower class members
of the community who are the great majority. This is the problem faced
almost everywhere by educators and those they are supposed to educate.
In order for the problem to exist, lower class students must first be
enrolled in school, as they so often have not been in Brazil. In this
sense, the emergence of a problem may signal progress in community
development, from lower class exclusion from school to inclusion as a
discriminated-against group (see Chapters5 and 6).
Third, educators socialize members of the community to bureaucratic
ways (and new educators are themselves socialized to them). This may
aid human resource development by helping individuals learn how to dar
um jeito in their own dealings with bankers, agricultural extension
agents, and other bureaucrats who can affect the economic well-being of
individuals. Fourth, one of the most important skills educators
officially teach is literacy. Rural people, in particular, value the
acquisition of literacy as a defense against exploitation (U.N. 1968;
Thomas and Wahraftig 1971). Literacy skills and bureaucratic socializa-
tion (or at least the acquisition of important documents--bureaucratic
symbols) have been linked in another Brazilian education study (of
adult literacy programs and industrial employment--see Buschman 1977).
A fifth role of educators concerns economic development and is
positive only for the educators: Along with other members of the
middle class, educators are the unintended recipients of many of the
benefits of the special programs which accompanied highway construction.
Educators gained jobs, special training, the opportunity to gain a
higher level of schooling, salary supplements, and related but less
direct benefits. Similar benefits accrued to other middle class mem-
bers of the community. As far as the middle class is concerned, the
development of human resources did occur, both for locals and for
outsiders who migrated to the community. This is consistent with the
national development policy of Brazil, in which the pie must first be
made bigger before it can be sliced up more equitably (Simonsen 1973).
The middle and upper classes have benefited more from economic
development efforts in Muitaspedras than has the lower class.
Sixth, the role of educators in economic development in general
is indirect. Educators can teach skills and socialize behaviors and
values which can contribute to human resources development, but they
cannot provide the employment opportunities which will keep developed
human resources in the community. Ironically, when educators are most
successful, i.e., when students complete eight years of schooling and
graduate, they may be least successful in terms of local economic
development because of the brain drain. The few students who graduate
from middle school want to continue their schooling and must leave
Muitaspedras to do so. Whatever their attachment to the community,
whether or not they return permanently will probably depend on employ-
ment opportunities. This is beyond the domain of educators.
The most positive role of educators in economic development,
then, should be the two components of human resources development
mentioned above, that is, socialization to bureaucracy, particularly
problem-solving skills, and the teaching of literacy and other basic
skills (the three Rs). These two components would equip the large
lower class to be able to deal with middle class bureaucrats when
necessary (for example, to obtain documents needed for services, work,
or credit) and to defend themselves from exploitation attempts through
literacy. These skills would also provide a foundation for further
training as needed or when made available for employment opportunities.
The effectiveness of educators in this role depends on getting the
lower class enrolled in school, and keeping them in school long enough
to acquire literacy. The barriers are mainly bureaucratic, and are
discussed in Chapter 6.
The chapters that follow trace the role of educators in the schools,
the community, and in development. Chapter 2 describes how growth has
changed the community and its school system, leading to new variations
in traditional patterns. In Chapter 3, the contributions of Santana
Middle School to the community and to the training of local educators
is assessed. In Chapter 4, the plethora of inservice teacher training
courses designed to upgrade educators is presented. Chapter 5 offers
three models for understanding educators in their teaching role, the
role in which most community members think of educators. In reality,
the bureaucratic role dominates the activities of educators; this role
is presented in Chapter 6. An often overlooked role of educators is
that of community leader, which takes place in entertainment events,
or outside the normal sphere of classroom and office activity. Chapter
7 presents this role. The conclusions, Chapter 8, tie these roles
together in their relation to community life and the different types
The Portuguese names of organizations are given in Appendix I.
2Merton uses United States shoolteachers to exemplify the role-set.
The teacher's role-set includes relationships with pupils, colleagues,
the Board of Education, and professional associations.
Paulo de Almeida Machado, then director of the National Institute
for Research in the Amazon (INPA) in Manaus, has a background in
medicine and public health.
THE IMPACT OF GROWTH ON TRADITIONAL PATTERNS
IN THE COMMUNITY AND ITS SCHOOLS
In 1970 Muitaspedras County had 28 primary schools, with 20
teachers and approximately 1000 students. There was also one middle
school, a regional normal school operated by nuns, with 207 students.
By 1977, there were 105 primary schools in the county, with approx-
imately 178 educators and 4000 students. There were two middle schools
(although one was in its final year of operation) with about 35 educa-
tors and over 650 students.1
This growth in the school system occurred because Muitaspedras
County was crossed by two new Federal Highways in the early 1970s:
the Transamazon Highway (BR230) and the Santar6m-Cuiab5 Highway (BR165).
With the highways came rapid growth in population, in business and
commerce, and in government agencies to promote development. New schools,
inservice training for teachers, new education agencies, and a salary
supplement for educators were changes in the school system which were
matched by similar changes in other government agencies located in the
Despite the change in transportation which occurred because of two
federal highways in a community which had previously relied on riverine
(and more recently, air) transportation, other changes were not as
profound, and can be considered new variations in old patterns. Economic
boom and bust cycles, an extractive economic system, high geographical
mobility, and the domination of the county by outsiders are all tradi-
tions which have continued in the face of a decade of growth and change.
Another important change is the expansion of the traditional two-class
system to include a large number of middle class immigrants. However,
this group occupies a position similar to that of the local upper class.
These changes and continuities in community life have their counter-
parts in the school system. This chapter will provide an overview of
the changing community context within which the school system must be
seen. First, the traditional Amazon town will be described, to set the
stage for the changes which followed. Next, the changes will be described
in their three major areas of impact: population growth, distribution,
and transportation; economic activities, including the extraction of
gold and forest products as well as agriculture; and finally, the pro-
liferation of agencies to promote economic and human resources development.
With the community context established, corresponding patterns in
the school system will next be described. Principal among these are
educational control by outsiders, migration of educators and students,
and the historical importance of the Catholic Church in Amazon education.
Finally, the post-highway growth in the school system will be described,
and the impact of growth on traditional patterns in school and community
The Traditional Amazon Town
The typical Amazon town is a small, quiet river town. Its residents
have an ambivalent attitude about the town. They decry its isolation,
backwardness, and economic stagnation, in the often-heard phrase, "Here
we don't have conditions" ("Aqui nao temos condiSes"). At the same
time, they are proud of living in an official urban center rather than
the rural hinterland. This pride is expressed in the value placed on
movimento, which means movement or the noise of lively social activity.
Towns are rated according to their movimento, but any town is a center
of movimento compared to the country.
The typical Amazon river town has a two-class social system and
an extractive economic system. The small upper class forms the business,
government, religious, and educational leadership of the town. The
large lower class performs day labor for municipal projects, domestic
labor, subsistence farming, and the collection of forest products or
minerals, such as rubber, lumber, Brazil nuts, gold, and the like. Both
classes are linked by fictive kinship and economic ties. The upper
class is also linked to larger urban centers (e.g., Belem, the state
capital) through kinship or business ties, and they may represent extra-
community agencies in the town. The lower class seeks links to the upper
class through fictive kinship and patron-client relationships.
In Wagley's classic community study, Amazon Town (1976), rubber
collection and subsistence agriculture are the principal economic
activities. The rubber trader is a patron to lower class rubber collec-
tor families both economically and socially. The rubber trader advances
food and tools to the rubber collectors, provides a center for socializing
in his store, and forms fictive kinship relationships with rubber collec-
tors. Although he is a powerful patron at the community level, at
state and higher levels the rubber trader himself secures patrons and
is economically dependent upon them.
A restudy of Wagley's Amazon town was made in 1974, and I lived
in that community for several months (Miller 1976). Ita was still
a traditional Amazon riverine town. It was accessible by river boat
and airplane, but was still considered an isolated backwater. A small
lumber boom had replaced rubber for a while as the principal extractive
industry, but a slump had followed in the traditional boom-bust
economic pattern of the region.
It5 today is what Muitaspedras was in 1970, before the Trans-
amazon Highway reached the bank of the Tapaj6s River across from the
town. There are several other traditional Amazon towns in Muitaspedras
county, upriver and downriver from Muitaspedras town. These traditional
Amazon towns provide an important comparative background to post-highway
An ambitious federal government program to build highways, plan
colonization, and promote agricultural development in the Brazilian
Amazon had profound effects on Muitaspedras in the 1970s. The Trans-
amazon highway received world-wide attention as well as concern about
its effects on ecological balance and native populations (Davis 1977;
Goodland and Irwin 1975; Meggers 1971). The highway is an east-west
route, crossing Brazil from Joao Pessoa and Recife on the Atlantic
coast to Cruzeiro do Sul on the Peruvian border. The route is far
south of the Amazon River, and crosses several southern tributaries
of the Amazon. On each of these tributary rivers, once traditional
Amazon riverine towns have been transformed by the coming of the
Transamazon Highway. Researchers have studied various aspects of
this transformation in Marabd on the Tocantins River (Wood and Schmink
1979), near Altamira on the Xing6 River (Moran 1975; 1981), and in
Muitaspedras on the Tapaj6s River (Miller 1979; Poats 1975).
The Santarem-Cuiabg Highway is a north-south route, from the city
of Santar6m at the junction of the Tapaj6s River with the Amazon River,
to the city of Cuiaba in Mato Grosso State. This highway crosses the
Transamazon Highway east of Muitaspedras town but within Muitaspedras
Construction of the Muitaspedras section of the Transamazon High-
way from 1971 until 1973 spurred rapid population growth. People came
to Muitaspedras from other counties along the Tapaj6s River, else-
where in Para State, other states and territories of the Amazon region,
and other regions in Brazil, especially the Northeast and the South.
This influx swelled the town population from 2200 in 1972 to an
estimated 12,000 in 1977. Muitaspedras, once a quiet river town much
like Wagley's Amazon Town (1976), became a booming center of frontier
One of the major differences between the traditional riverine towns
and post-highway Muitaspedras is the change in population distribution
and transportation patterns from a river orientation to a mixed river-
road orientation. The old rubber traders lived along rivers and streams.
Rubber collectors were dispersed, with each family in charge of a rubber
trail. This settlement pattern, called the line community, continued
with the advent of highways. The colonization plan divided land near
the highway into plots and assigned plots to colonists. The plan called
for colonists to live in nucleated villages at intervals along the
highway and cross-roads (travessas), from which they would walk to their
own plots. This settlement plan was operational in the Altamira sec-
tion, but was abandoned in the Muitaspedras section. The result was
a line community settlement pattern along the highways and cross-roads.
As a result, a type of settlement pattern, the line community, persisted
from pre- to post-highway Muitaspedras, but the focus of settlement
shifted from rivers to roads.
In both cases, economic activity determined the settlement pattern,
that is, residence was as close as possible to the work site. Riverine
settlement continues today, either dispersed along rivers and streams
or concentrated in villages. People have also settled along the
Transamazon Highway, the Santarem-Cuiabg Highway, cross-roads on both
highways, and a municipal road west of Muitaspedras town which was
constructed in 1972 to the riverine village of Barreiras. The latter
road is called the Estrada da Colonia (Colony Road), in reference to
small farm plots rented out by the county.
The traditional Amazon town depended on riverine transportation,
that is, canoes and motor boats,2 for personal travel and moving
products. Riverine transportation continues to be important, but now
the road transportation of busses, trucks, and automobiles (jeeps,
vans, pickups, and the Volkswagon "beetle"), is also important.
Personal travel on the Transamazon and the Santarem-Cuiabg is possible
through a bus company, private vehicle, or vans which take passengers
for pay. Store merchandise is brought into Muitaspedras town by motor-
boat and truck. People can also travel by motor boat downriver to
Santarem and beyond on scheduled carriers, and upriver on unscheduled
motor boats to Sao Luis. Boat travel beyond Sao Luis is impeded by
rapids, but small motorboats can travel upriver, especially in the
rainy season when the river level rises. Table 2-1 shows modes of
transportation between Muitaspedras and Santar4m.
This consideration of the difference between traditional Amazon
towns and post-highway Muitaspedras has thus far omitted one factor
which can be considered a subregional variation on the traditional
model, and which also affects population size and distribution, trans-
portation patterns, and economic emphasis. This factor is gold.
A gold boom began in Muitaspedras county and the surrounding
Tapaj6s subregion of the Amazon region in the 1960s. Fluvial gold
deposits are placer mined in camps scattered throughout this area.
Most are accessible only by air. Each gold mining camp has a rudi-
mentary air strip where small single-engine airplanes bring in miners,
prostitutes, store owners, and supplies, and take out people and gold.
Medical, educational, and religious services in the gold mines are
usually nonexistent. The families of the gold miners often live in
Muitaspedras town or the riverine villages.
Gold is another extractive industry, and the social system which
accompanies it (debt peonage) fits into the traditional regional pat-
tern. Thus, the gold boom can be considered a subregional variation
within this tradition. Many men turned from rubber collection to
gold mining, causing a "bust" in the rubber industry, although some
rubber collection continues. There was a change in population dis-
tribution as people settled in the scattered, isolated mining camps.
In transportation, air travel became very important in Muitaspedras,
since it was usually the only way to reach the mines. However, this
was a new transportation niche rather than a replacement for riverine
Modes of Transportation: Muitaspedras-Santarem
Mode of Transportation Frequency of Cost (US Duration of
Service Dollars) Trip
Airplane 3 times/week 40 50 minutes
Bus daily 8 7 hours
Car Notea Note 5 hours
Boat 4 times/week 6 18 hours
aThe National Road Department (DNER) estimates the average
number of cars traveling in the direction of Altamira and
Santarem at fifty per day (DNER 1977:37).
The cost of gasoline in January, 1977, was US$0.62 per liter.
Source: Darrel L. Miller, Transamazon Town: Transformation of
a Brazilian Riverine Community, p. 58.
The gold boom had an impact on Muitaspedras town, but this impact
was not as great as the effects of the highways. Stores opened in
Muitaspedras to supply the mining camps stores. Many pilots operated
their single-engine airplanes out of Muitaspedras. The presence of
many young men with money in town created a demand for restaurants,
social clubs, and other entertainment centers. This growing commercial
sector of the town received an even greater impetus from the population
boom which followed highway construction.
Another difference between the traditional Amazon town and post-
highway Muitaspedras is the attempted shift in economic emphasis from
extractive products to agricultural products for export. Government
plans for the highway colonization program included incentives for
small farmers to grow rice as a cash crop. Yields were disappointing
due to a number of factors including poor implementation of plans,
transportation and storage problems, and the poor quality of soils
(Poats 1979). In 1975, the government shifted its economic emphasis
from small farming to mining in the Muitaspedras area (IBGE 1975).
Thus a traditional Amazon pattern of extractive industry continues in
post-highway Muitaspedras. Nonetheless, small farmers were still
growing rice as a cash crop even after the shift in emphasis occurred,
and subsistence agriculture is still practiced along the highways and
in riverine neighborhoods.
A final difference between the traditional Amazon town and post-
highway Muitaspedras is the large increase in national agencies present
in Muitaspedras as a result of two related concerns: national security
The national agencies established in post-highway Muitaspedras
town include an army base, the National Road Department, the Bank of
Brazil, a Federal Savings Bank, the Indian Service, Social Security,
a health agency, a national school lunch program, a federal tax collec-
tor, the telephone company, the agricultural extension service, the
Miners' Assistance Foundation, the State Education Division, and
Project Rondon (see Appendix II). This list demonstrates both the
increased importance of Muitaspedras as a regional business and ad-
ministration center and its closer links to Brazilian national society.
These agencies opened in Muitaspedras to support the federal
government programs which accompanied highway construction, especially
the colonization program. However, the underlying concerns of highway
construction itself were to promote national security and national
integration, two long-time Brazilian goals.
Brazilians have long felt the need to protect their extensive
borders from foreign encroachment (Wagley 1971). One way to accomplish
this goal is to populate the territory near borders with Brazilians.
Another way is to establish a permanent military presence to protect
the frontier from foreign threats. Both of these measures were put
into effect in Muitaspedras. Increased population of the frontier
area was accomplished by building highways and encouraging colonization
along them. A permanent military presence was brought to the area by
making the whole Transamazon a National Security Area and by locating
a new army base in town.
Brazil has been characterized both by a strong sense of national
unity and by a strong regional diversity (Wagley 1971). The use of
the slogan "Integrar para nao entregar" (Integrate in order not to
deliver"--or, in order not to deliver up border lands to foreign control)
on T-shirts distributed to Transamazon colonists by the government
expresses the national desire to integrate the frontier areas into the
national socioeconomic system. National integration is also another
way to promote national security. In the Transamazon Highway, Brazilians
had a project which could simultaneously meet several needs. First,
colonization along the highway would populate Brazil's frontier to pro-
tect it and its resources from foreign encroachment (the need for
national security). Second, highway colonization would provide land for
the landless people of the Northeast and the South. Third, improved
transportation links provided by the highway would serve to better inte-
grate frontier regions into a national socioeconomic system.
It is clear that the national society's expressed needs could not
be met just by constructing highways. Colonization also had to be
promoted. The Transamazon Highway and its planned colonization program
was an attempt by the government to address these national problems.
Without these expressed needs, the national government would not have
invested the publicity, money, and special programs which accompanied
The attempt to plan colonization along the highways was an am-
bitious one, and it is not surprising that many problems developed
during implementation of the plans. The problems faced by the colonists
who settled the Transamazon are described by Moran (1975) and Poats
(1975). However, another set of problems was faced by the residents
of the traditional riverine towns crossed by the Transamazon. These
people were overwhelmed by a population boom and its accompanying com-
mercial and bureaucratic booms.
The problems faced by residents of Muitaspedras town are described
by Miller (1979). Despite the booming growth which occurred in popula-
tion, commerce, and bureaucracy, real economic development did not occur.
However, the national society's expressed needs for national security
and integration were met to some degree. The army base on the town's
edge became a powerful force in many phases of community life. In
addition to protecting national security by their presence, some army
officers believed they were bringing social order to the town. Army
personnel offered various medical, dental, and educational services
to townspeople, both officially and unofficially.
One of the ways in which national integration was promoted was
through the new transportation links which overshadowed the old pattern
of international economic domination with what is sometimes called
"internal colonialism," or the dominance of the relatively poor North
Brazil by the wealthier, industrialized South Brazil. In both cases,
Muitaspedras remained at the bottom of the ladder in terms of economic
The two new highways provided new transportation links to the
outside world, and commercial entrepreneurs advantageously used them
to bring in supplies from Sao Paulo, Brazil's industrial metropolis.
This new highway link differed from the riverine transportation system
which linked Muitaspedras to Bel6m, the state capital of Par5. As
producers of extractive forest products (rubber, wood, Brazil nuts),
the traditional Amazon towns were a low link in an international
economic system (Frank 1967). Fluctuations in the international price
of rubber had dramatic effects on residents of Amazon communities.
This economic pattern is called the metropolis-satellite system by
Frank. Brazil's extractive industries produced products which were
exported to foreign industrial nations, especially the United States.
New York City was the world metropolis and Brazil's Amazon region a
The new transportation link to Sao Paulo by highway meant that
national integration was achieved by making Muitaspedras a satellite
to Sao Paulo. Instead of links to industrialized foreign nations,
Muitaspedras is now linked to the industrialized south of Brazil.
Thus a national metropolis has replaced an international metropolis
for Muitaspedras. While Muitaspedras is better integrated into the
national society as a result, its position is still that of a weak
satellite to a powerful metropolis. In other words, Muitaspetras has
always been integrated into an international economic system. It is
now more directly integrated into the national economic system as well.
In both cases, however, the integration is at the same level--the
bottom. Muitaspedras has never been "marginal" or outside the national
and international economic order (Epstein 1973; Perlman 1976). The
transportation and communication links have changed over the years to
facilitate closer integration.
The commercial sector's use of the new transportation link is not
the only way in which national integration has been promoted. The popula-
tion boom is another powerful force toward national integration in
Muitaspedras. This is because people moved there from all over Brazil.
The planned highway colonization program recruited Brazilians from the
South and from the Northeast. However, many people migrated to the high-
ways from other regions as well. People also migrated from various
regions to Muitaspedras town, and the immigrants quickly outnumbered
Immigrants settled in various neighborhood (bairros) of town
principally according to their occupation. Army personnel settled
in their own new neighborhood, a housing development adjacent to their
base. Another neighborhood of new houses was occupied by various
agency personnel. Project Rondon and the Bank of Brazil also provided
housing compounds for personnel. An older neighborhood where many
fishermen lived became the town headquarters for colonists. A large
new neighborhood, called Alta Vista, became home primarily to North-
eastern immigrants who went to work in the gold mines or on farms
rented from the county on the Colony Road west of town.
There was a severe housing shortage during the population boom.
"Casa aqui 4 dificil" ("It is hard to find a house here") was a
frequently heard comment. Other services were also in short supply,
and the county government, headed by the mayor, was hard-pressed to meet
demands for extension of services into new neighborhoods. Water was
pumped from the Tapaj6s River. Frequently the pump broke, and the
townspeople went to the river to bathe, wash chothes and dishes, and
carry drinking water back to their houses. Water and electricity were
turned off for a period during the night. Alta Vista lacked electricity,
piped-in water, and planned roads during our stay. Residents of this
new neighborhood complained about the mayor's slowness in extending
services. A large water tower was under construction to serve this
neighborhood. Late in our stay a Project Rondon team surveyed Alta
Vista for roads, and one day a bulldozer began straightening and leveling
the roadways. It was discovered that some houses had been built in
the roadways. Electricity arrived in Alta Vista at the end of our stay.
The population boom promoted national integration by bringing
people from all over Brazil into close contact in a frontier community
which was the focus of national concern. People moved into diverse
neighborhoods largely according to their occupations and available
housing at the time of their arrival. The difficulty of finding
housing and services gave people one area of common concern. Other
areas of common concern developed as churches, schools, shopping and
other community services and activities were extended into new or
Many of the immigrants who came to staff the new agencies were
better educated than native Muitaspedrans. They represented either
the metropolitan middle class (Wagley and Harris 1955) or the town
middle and upperclass from other regions. As such they did not fit
into the two-class system of the traditional Amazon town. Thus the
natives were confronted not only by immigrants from other regions,
but also by many newcomers who were different in social class (or sub-
cultural type), education, and employment.
The presence of middle class agency personnel created a demand
for the commercial sector to provide stores and restaurants. Some
agency personnel and their wives found employment in the school system.
This pool of better educated adults was particularly important at the
middle school level.
Although the native population had traditionally included a few
people below the merchant/rubber traders but above the subsistence
farmers, artisans, and rubber collectors, these natives had been
dependents of the former group--people in the middle, not a middle
class (and therefore lumped together with the local upper class as the
town subculture by Wagley and Harris (1955)). The influx of thousands
of outsiders, the growth of other economic sectors such as agriculture
and gold, with the concomitant expansion and variation of the commer-
cial sector, plus the bureaucratic explosion of new agencies, some of
which--like the army--are more powerful than the old merchant group,
created growth patterns which brought in so many more "people in the
middle" that the old two-class social system was expanded to include
a new middle class which is the frontier equivalent of the metro-
politan middle class found in Brazil's big cities (Wagley and Harris
The reason the growth of a middle class is interpreted as an
expansion of the old two-class system rather than as a change in social
structure is because it is not yet clear how far reaching this change
will be. In 1977, there were individual alliances being made between
members of the two groups. Members of the local upper class and the
new middle class sometimes were employed by the same agency--such as
the school system--but there was a tendency for them to remain separate
(see Chapter 5). The potential for fusion into a new town upper class
was there, because the two groups had similar life styles, and they
both had elite values and tastes.
Based on community and neighborhood surveys, the new middle class
in Muitaspedras is estimated to be approximately 17 percent of the
total town population of approximately 12,000 (Miller 1979). Two major
groups comprise the middle class: the bureaucrats, with about 6.7 per-
cent of the town population, and the commercial entrepreneurs, with
about 10 percent. There are about 700-800 people employed as bureau-
crats, including 235 educators employed either by the state or by the
county. The number of all bureaucratic agencies increased from 8 to 31
from 1971-77. The number of commercial establishments increased from
37 to 300 from 1970-77. The middle class is now larger than the old
upper class, which is.3 to 5 percent of the town population, but both
classes are much smaller than the lower class, which is almost 80 per-
cent of the town population. The lower class is still more like the
peasant or caboclo class of the small isolated towns than the urban
proletariat, as both of these groups are described by Wagley and
Harris (1955). The upper class is a town upper class, much less
wealthy and influential than the big plantation owners or other mem-
bers of the metropolitan upper class. According to a Muitaspedras
historian, a few people approached a truly wealthy upper class status
in Muitaspedras during the rubber boom early in the century, but they
left when prices fell (MendonSa 1975). The rest of the townspeople
followed the same two-class social system Wagley elicited from in-
formants in It5 (Wagley 1976).
The School System
The major differences between the traditional Amazon town and
post-highway Muitaspedras have been noted above. The Transamazon
Highway and the Santarem-Cuiabg Highway were part of a government
attempt to promote national security and integration of the Brazilian
frontier. An ambitious but only partially implemented colonization
program accompanied the highways. Many national agencies were estab-
lished in town as part of this implementation of highway-related
programs. A population boom occurred not only on the highways due to
planned and spontaneous colonization, but also in the county seat.
Some of this population found employment in the booming commercial
sector, whose members took advantage of the new highway transportation
system to forge new links with Sao Paulo, Brazil's industrial metro-
polis. Another segment of the population influx was agency personnel,
representatives of the metropolitan or town middle class from other
regions who expanded the traditional two-class social system. Perhaps
the most important new agency to locate in Muitaspedras was the army
base, which not only protected national security in the frontier area
but also maintained order and provided social services. The presence
of many other national agencies in town was a powerful factor in
Muitaspedras town increased its importance as a regional adminis-
trative and commercial center because of the new transportation routes,
a larger and more diverse population, and the establishment of many
national agencies. All of these factors combined to greatly enlarge
and.change the school system. There are four major areas of growth in
the school system: new educational agencies, new schools, new courses
for teachers, and a salary supplement for teachers. A brief summary
of traditions in Amazon education will pave the way for fuller under-
standing of the impact of post-highway growth on these traditions.
Traditions in Amazon Education
A low level of locally available formal schooling is the first
tradition in Amazon education. Muitaspedras' schools offer a First
Level education--grades one through eight. Primary schools offer
grades one through four, while grades five through eight are taught
in middle schools. Students who desire to continue their education
must leave the county to do so, because the closest high schools are in
Santarem. Table 2-2 shows the structure of Brazilian education from
primary school through high school.
As part of the Amazon region, Muitaspedras is an educational
frontier. The relatively small population spread over a vast territory
poses seemingly insurmountable problems to the extension of educational
services. One-room primary schools are common, and teachers themselves
often have only a primary education. Salaries are low, and paychecks
are frequently delayed for many months. Equipment and supplies are
Despite these obstacles, the respect and desire for education in
the Amazon is impressive, as Wagley notes (1976:180). According to
Taylor, the term "well-educated" (bem-educada) has several meanings:
"well-trained; well-educated; well-mannered" (1975:100). Parents
want their children to receive "instruction" (instrurao), or formal
schooling. They also want their children to be well educated in the
sense of having good manners, or knowing the proper way to act in
social situations. This emphasis on formal manners and proper behavior
is very important in many areas of Brazilian social life.
The second traditional pattern in Amazon education is control by
outsiders. The foreign Catholic mission is the oldest form of educational
contact between natives and outsiders in the Amazon region (see Chapter 7).
These missions began the process of acculturation with Indian groups
in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in 1977 there was
still a Franciscan mission-founded school for the Munduruc6 Indians in
operation in Muitaspedras County. Thus the foreign Catholic missions
THE SiIRUCTURe OF Bi.\ZIF.IS N P'RIMAlI AND MIIn IILE-LEVEL,
FIRST-LEVEL AND SECOND-LEVEL EDUCATION
Former System Present System Age
O Other 17
COLEI TECHNICAL SECOCND-I.l:VEL
S(Second-Cyc) Industrial SCHOOLING
L 0 SErCONDARY 3i
PRDIARY EDUCATION s
Source: Fay Haussman and Jerry Haar, Education in Brazil, p. 56.
and their schools are both a legacy and a current part of education in
the region. The pattern of educational control by outsiders is both
centuries old and continuing in the present.
Brazil has a shortage of native-born Catholic clergy, and the
Amazon frontier was still served by foreign missionary orders in 1977.
Franciscans established a diocese in Santarem in 1911, the same year
the Franciscan mission and school to the Munduruc6 was begun by a
German Franciscan (Murphy 1960:45). American Franciscans began the
first middle schools in the Tapaj6s River Valley, and they also opened
some primary schools. At their invitation, the American Sisters of
the Most Precious Blood opened a school in Belterra (Santarem County)
in 1956 (Gegen 1961:74-75). By 1957, the Franciscan fathers operated
32 primary schools, with 55 teachers and 1810 students. Muitaspedras
County took over control of the schools within its borders in 1960,
but this did not end the involvement of the Catholic religious orders
in the schools. In 1963, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception began
Santana Middle School in Muitaspedras town, and in 1974 they started
a nursery-kindergarten. Although theirs is an international religious
order, all but one of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who
served in Muitaspedras in 1977 were Brazilian. None of them were native
to Muitaspedras, but one was from Santarem and others from the North and
Northeast. The American Franciscans left Muitaspedras in 1974, and
were replaced by an Italian order, Fathers of the Trinity. Priests
and nuns both taught in the middle schools.
The low level of schooling available in the sparsely populated
Amazon and educational control by outsiders through the Catholic Church's
attempts to extend educational opportunity are two traditional
characteristics of Amazon education. A third is geographical mobility,
which characterizes the people of the Amazon. Education is frequently
a factor in migration. Parents who live in a neighborhood without a
school may move to one which does so that their children can attend.
An alternative is to send children to live with relatives or to board
at a church school. A third option is for a mother and her children
to live in town while the father divides his time between the work
site (a farm or a gold mine) and the town residence.
Students and their families are not the only educational migrants
in the Amazon. Educators frequently migrate as children to get schooling,
and then migrate as adults to find jobs in education. As a result,
Amazon educators may be "outsiders" in their communities. This is
especially true at the middle school level because the educational level
of teachers must be higher than that required for primary school teaching.
Middle schools are only found in the larger urban centers, often the
county seat. The foreign orders of priests and nuns are the extreme in
a continuum of outsiders serving as educators in the community.
Growth in the Post-Highway School System
The most dramatic change in the educational system is the number of
new schools in the county. School administrators divide Muitaspedras
into three zones: the town, the river and rural villages, and the high-
ways (some of the latter schools are actually in another county but are
administered from Muitaspedras). The third zone did not exist before
the construction of the Transamazon and Santar6m-Cuiabg Highways and
their subsequent colonization. As of 1977, the state school system
included six schools in town, five schools in the river and rural
villages, and 82 one-room schools in the new highway zone. The county
school system included 14 one-room schools in the river and rural zone,
in addition to county-paid teachers in six of the state schools. New
or enlarged schools were also needed in town to serve the growing
population there. A new state primary school was built in the new
neighborhood of Alta Vista, and a new State Middle School replaced the
Santana Middle School. Two church-related nursery-kindergarten schools
were also started, for a total of 109 schools sponsored by the state,
county, or churches.
Related to growth in the number of schools in Muitaspedras is an
expansion in the scope of their programs designed to make the schools
less selective and more comprehensive, a long-held democratic goal of
Brazilian educators such as Anfsio Teixeira (Haussman and Haar 1978;
Havighurst and Moreira 1965:178; Teixeira 1977:85). These changes are
the recuperation program (implemented in 1976-77) to reduce the tradi-
tional high failure rate among students, and the night school program
(ensino supletivo) for adults (see Chapter 6). Both programs are
offered in primary schools as well as the State middle school (not all
primary schools, but a few from each zone). Briefly, recuperation is
offered at the end of the regular school year. Teachers give remedial
instruction to students who failed one or more subjects, after which
students can retake exams. Ensino Supletivo is an accelerated First
Level equivalency program, with two grades taught in each school year
(cursos supletivos seriados). Both changes are the result of
implementing the 1971 Education Reform Law (Lei 5,692) in the schools
(Haussman and Haar 1978).
Four educational agencies moved to post-highway Muitaspedras in
the 1970s: The State Education Division, Project Rondon, the National
Literacy Movement (MOBRAL), and the National School Lunch Campaign
(CNAE). In addition, a new County Education Secretariat opened in 1976.
A new regional division of the state school system was begun in
Muitaspedras in 1972. Previously, Muitaspedras had been part of another
state regional education division based in Santar6m. The new State
Education Division is called "The Division" by educators. Its head-
quarters are in town. Personnel in The Division administer state-funded
schools in the county of Muitaspedras as well as schools on segments of
the highways which lie outside the county.
The creation of a state regional division of education in Muitas-
pedras has had important effects on the lives of educators. Teachers
have moved into administrative roles as supervisors in the Division.
Muitaspedras has its own superintendent of schools. Educators in the
riverine village schools are closer to the Division headquarters in
Muitaspedras town than they were to the Santarem division.
The State University for the Development of the State of Santa
Catarina (UDESC) chose the town of Muitaspedras as the site of its
Extension Campus for Project Rondon in 1973. Project Rondon and its
local Extension Campus are described in Chapter 1.
The National Literacy Movement (MOBRAL), formally instituted at
the national level in 1967,6 opened an office in Muitaspedras town in
1972. It was administered by a county committee, and the county paid
for the only salaried administrative position, that of the supervisor,
a young man who also taught at the State Middle School. The MOBRAL
program in Muitaspedras started with classes in ten schools which
received instruction by radio from Santarem (supplemented by a monitor),
and classes in eight other schools with instruction from a teacher.
The course was given over a five-month period. Teachers and monitors
were paid according to a formula based on student attendance at certain
points during the course. The drop-out rate has been high in MOBRAL
classes. In 1977, seven radio classes and three "teacher" classes
remained: three in town neighborhoods, one on the Colony Road, and
the rest in river villages and hamlets. A total of 414 students were
The supervisor, a MOBRAL teacher, and a student all agreed that
the program in Muitaspedras was weak. The supervisor blamed the mayor,
because the latter was supposed to provide transportation but did not.
For this reason, the supervisor could not supervise the rural schools.
The teachers and monitors were expected to provide their own transporta-
tion to town once a month to turn in an attendance report. There was
a sense of noblesse oblige about MOBRAL; the low salary of the teachers
was considered a bonus (gratificacao, a gratuity, fee or tip) for per-
forming a community service.
The National School Lunch Program (CNAE) also opened an office in
Muitaspedras town after the Transamazon Highway arrived. This agency
supplied equipment and food supplies to the school system, so that a
cook in each school could prepare a mid-session snack for students and
staff in the morning and afternoon sessions. Often the snack was a
thick soup served in a cup. The school cook was encouraged to plant
a kitchen garden on school grounds to grow vegetables for the school
snack. Each one-room school had a work area for the school cook to
prepare the snack. Larger schools in river villages and town had
kitchens. As was the case with MOBRAL (and with the State Education
Division) transportation was a bottleneck in the CNAE program, but this
time it was the town schools which suffered (see Chapter 6).
Staffing rural schools is a perennial problem in Brazil. Teachers
who receive their training in urban areas seldom want to relocate or
return to the interior to live and work. As a result, women who become
rural school teachers usually have less formal education than their urban
counterparts. It is common for a rural primary school teacher to have
only a primary school education.
Over the years, attempts have been made to solve the problem of
teacher training for rural schools by offering the training in rural
areas, in the hope of avoiding the rural-urban migration of trained
teachers. The regional normal school was one such attempt (see Chapter
3). Catholic nuns in Muitaspedras operated a regional normal school,
the Santana Middle School, from 1963 through 1977.
More recent attempts to solve the problem were begun after the high-
ways arrived in Muitaspedras. Two teacher-training institutions in
Bel6m, state capital of Para, sent teacher-trainers to offer two programs
for inservice teachers in Muitaspedras, Altamira, and Marab9--the three
river towns crossed by the Transamazon Highway. The two programs offered
an equivalent First Level and Pedagogical Second Level education, with
instruction given in the county seat during school vacations (see Table
4-1 for dates and other details). The first of these programs began
in 1971; later in the 1970s these programs were offered in other counties
Other inservice teacher training programs were offered in the post-
highway period of the 1970s in Muitaspedras to upgrade the skills of
educators. Those offered in 1977 are described in Chapter 4.
Besides the lack of general education and pedagogical training,
rural teachers traditionally receive low wages. When the Transamazon
Highway colonization program began, education was one of the planning
considerations. To attract educators to jobs on the frontier,
substantial salary supplements were offered by MEC, the federal educa-
tion ministry. These supplements were offered on a county-wide basis,
and educators in the old riverine towns and villages benefited as well
as educators in the new highway schools. Teachers, principals, and
supervisors all received salary supplements, and both county and state
teachers were included (see Table 2-3).
New Variations in Traditional Patterns
Although the four major post-highway changes in the school system
expanded the system, brought in new educators, and upgraded their
educational level, the three traditions of a generally low educational
level, educational control by outsiders, and migration for education
persisted in altered forms. The variations in educational traditions
are the counterpart of variations in community traditions, and all of
the changes are due to the new highways and their related development
programs in the 1970s.
The role of education in the community expanded. There was a "boom"
in education which corresponds to the economic boom in the community.
In both cases, special development programs mandated by the national
government provided funds and created new jobs which fueled the boom.
Despite all the many new schools, the level of schooling available in
Muitaspedras remains the same; eighth grade is the limit, and grades
Educator and Other Salaries, 1977
Little Prince School Monthly Salary
teacher A. regent (middle school) CR$350*
B. pedagogical (high school) CR$600
State Primary Schools SEDUC MEC
8 hrs. 4 hrs.
teacher A. leiga (primary school) CR$452 522 136
B. regent CR$571 522 136
C. normalista (high school) CR$663 960 255
director CR$820 1950
night watchman CR$747 100
servant CR$546 100
State Middle School SEDUC MEC
per mo. per class 120 120
hour+ hrs. hrs.
teacher A. pedag6gica CR$1000 CR$12 960 470
B. licentiatura CR$1000 CR$17 960 470
C. licentiatura CR$1200 CR$23 960 470
administrator CR$1200 CR$2500
Project Rondon Monthly Salary
servant CR$ 800
Mayor (monthly income as rancher) CR$ 6,000-8,000
Army Lieutenant (salary and hardship pay) CR$17,500
CR$13 = US$1
computed in five-week periods
Qualification Level of State Educators
in Muitaspedras, 1976
School Leiga Regente Normalista Total
(Primary) (Middle (High School
School) and above)
URBAN ZONE TOTAL 11 32 53 96
Division 0 1 16 17
HIGHWAY ZONE TOTAL
Miritituba 1 3 4 8
Ruropolis 5 4 9
Cuiaba (all) 13 13
(all) 64 4 6 74
RIVER/RURAL ZONE TOTAL 21 6 11 38
Pimental 5 1 6
Jacar6acanga 6 2 2 10
Barreiras 3 3 5 11
Sao Luis 6 2 8
Missao Cururu 1 1 1 3
TOTAL ALL ZONES 110 50 78 238
five through eight are still available only in the county seat. The
only people who have ever received a high school education offered
locally are the 26 educators who completed the pedagogical high school
equivalency course, which was only offered once. A more positive
change is that more students may complete more grades through the
ensino supletivo and recuperation programs.
The five new educational agencies in Muitaspedras have offered
some teachers the chance to become better-paid administrators. The
plethora of new agencies in the community has boosted the number of
middle class residents, along with businesses which started or grew
with the boom. Educators are part of the new middle class in Muitas-
pedras which has expanded the traditional two-class system. Educators
are especially noteworthy for their sponsorship of entertainment
events (Chapter 7) which are a political arena for validating alliances
between the old local upper class and the new middle class.
The second traditional pattern in school and community is control
by outsiders. In the community, international economic control through
distant markets for tropical products is being at least partially
replaced by "internal colonialism," or the economic dominance of the
North by the industrial South. Thus national integration has been
advanced by establishing closer contact between Muitaspedras as a pro-
ducer of raw materials and Sao Paulo as a supplier of industrial
products. In education, traditional sponsorship of schools by foreign
Catholic missionary orders has ended in many cases, and has been over-
shadowed by the building of many new state-sponsored schools. While
Catholic nuns and priests still teach and administer schools, they have
been overwhelmed by an influx of educators recruited from new agency
The third traditional pattern in school and community is migration
for jobs and schooling. Both lower class small farmers and gold miners
as well as middle class business entrepreneurs and bureaucrats have
migrated to Muitaspedras for job opportunities in the 1970s. The tradi-
tional Amazon migration pattern of low-educated outsiders (especially
from the periodically drought-stricken Northeast) movingin while the
few privileged natives who secure a better education move out (Machado
1974) has been varied in the 1970s by the influx of well-educated
outsiders. However, their stay may be brief (army personnel come on
two-year assignments, for example) and the goal may be to "get rich
quick" and then leave. This reinforces the distrust of outsiders by
insiders (Machado 1974). There is certainly a "brain drain" of suc-
cessful students who leave Muitaspedras to seek high school and univer-
sity educations. Within the county, the tendency for students and
educators to move to the county seat to continue schooling and find
better jobs continues. The result of all these migration patterns is
that few people remain in the community long enough to develop roots
Before the highways and their related development programs arrived
in the early 1970s, the only opportunity for Muitaspedrans to receive
middle schooling locally was provided by the Santana Middle School, and
even this opportunity did not exist until 1963. Santana Middle School
exemplifies the traditional Amazon education patterns described in this
chapter. Further, the reasons why students attended Santana Middle
School pose a dilemma in Brazilian education which has continued
despite the establishment of new schools and new teacher training
All figures on educators and students are approximate because of
the high teacher turnover and high student dropout rate. In some cases,
local figures for the number of educators in a school were available,
but not for the number of students. In such cases I have estimated the
number of students per classroom or one-room school, based on several
other available ratios of students to teachers (they vary from 22 to
35 students per teacher). It is very difficult to collect accurate
figures in this region, due to transportation problems, low population
density, migration, and multiple sponsorship of schools. For example,
while the mayor gave the 1970 figures of 28 schools, 20 teachers, and
about 1000 students, a state-level source said there were four schools
and 819 students, with 43 percent of school-age children enrolled in
school (Para 1975). Apparently the State report left out county
schools. This means the percent of school-age children enrolled in
school may be higher than the 43 percent the State cites.
2River steamers were formerly wood fired. Now larger passenger
and cargo craft use diesel fuel, and the smaller speedboats (voadeiros)
which take people across the Tapaj6s from Muitaspedras to Miritituba
on the opposite shore use another type of fuel oil.
Air travel to and from the gold mines is by small single-engine
airplanes. A regional carrier provides air service from Muitaspedras
to Santarem (with connections by jet to Belem and Manaus) three times
a week, and two local carriers plus many small planes also fly to
Santar6m and Bel4m frequently. In addition, the Brazilian Air Force
(FAB) continues to make stops in Muitaspedras once or twice a month.
FAB brings Project Rondon students to and from Muitaspedras. Prior
to 1970 they were the only more or less regular air transport.
Law 5,692 (1971) changed an earlier system in which primary
education included grades one through four and an optional grade five,
while secondary education was divided into to "cycles" of gin sio
(grades five through eight) and col gio (a three to four year program).
See Haussman and Haar for details of this change (1978:54-57).
Students at Santana Middle School who failed could retake exams.
This was called segunda 6poca, or a "second chance." In addition to
this "second chance," recuperation provides for 15 days of additional
instruction in January, after the close of the regular school term in
MOBRAL replaced an earlier program. "And the famous adult
literacy program conceived by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, the
'psycho-social method," which aims to make poor people literate while
also preparing them to break out of their social, economic, and
political marginalization, was considered as anathema by the military
regime, and every vestige of it extirpated" (Haussman and Haar 1978:117).
TEACHER TRAINING AT SANTANA MIDDLE SCHOOL
The previous chapter has presented an overview of the rapidly
changing community of Muitaspedras and the formal schooling opportunities
that exist there. Although primary schooling has been available since
1908 (Mendonsa 1975), it has only been since 1963 that schooling has
expanded to include grades five through eight. From 1963 to 1976,
Santana Middle School was the only school in the county to offer schooling
at this level, and it is this school which is the focus of this chapter.
Today the Santana Middle School has been replaced by a new State Middle
School, founded in 1976. Nevertheless, a discussion of the Santana
Middle School is important for three reasons. For one thing, the history
of the school clearly reveals issues about educational goals which are
still present in Brazilian society. In addition, the school had trained
nearly 20 percent of the approximately 235 educators who were in Muitas-
pedras County at the time of this study. Finally, the data presented
here about the Santana Middle School are important for fuller under-
standing of the way the school is both similar to and different from
the new middle school which will be described in Chapter 5.
When the Santana Middle School was established in 1963, the ideal
was that it should serve a vocational function as a regional normal
school (grades five through eight) for the preparation of students who
would become rural primary school teachers. In reality, the school
functioned as the frontier equivalent of an academy, the type of school
most Brazilians prefer but only the privileged can attend.
This chapter begins by exploring the historical reasons that help
explain why a vocational school was started when an academic school was
preferred. A brief review of the history of Brazilian education will
show the interrelationships among several factors important in producing
the Santana Middle School. Essentially, these factors are the Catholic
Church, the dual national and state school systems, the normal school,
After examining the historical reasons for the overshadowing of
vocational teacher training by the academic function at Santana, the focus
of attention will turn to teacher training as it was observed during
1976-77. General statistical data and selected individual profiles of
teachers and students are presented as a prelude to discussion of the
program goals of the school and the ways these were being implemented
in the formal curriculum, teaching methods and the socialization of
students by their teachers and peers during the final year in which the
Vocational and Academic School Models in Brazilian
The question of whether schooling should follow a vocational or an
academic model has long been debated. For example, in the United States,
Jerome Bruner posed the question in his educational classic, The Process
of Education: "There has always been a dualism in our educational ideal,
a striving for balance between what Benjamin Franklin referred to as
the 'useful' and the 'ornamental'" (Bruner 1963:4). Margaret Mead
includes both models in her essay on The School in American Culture
(1951). One of Brazil's foremost educators, Anisio Teixeira, also
includes both models in Educacao Nao 6 Privilegio.(1977).
In Brazil .two sociocultural facts are especially pertinent to
the vocational versus academic debate. First, education has been for
the elite and, more recently, for the rising middle class. Second,
Brazilianshave a cultural preference for academic education over other
types, which goes back to their Portuguese heritage and the admiration
the Portuguese have for all things French, including their centralized,
academic school system. The result of these two facts is that Brazil
has an aristocratic heritage with an academic bias constituting the
ideal pattern in education. As with other ideal patterns, it does not
matter that few Brazilians can actually achieve the ideal in their real
lives--the ideal pattern is approximated with whatever materials are
at hand. Thus, the ideal of the extended family network (parentela) is
approximated by the fictive kinship system (compadresco) (Wagley 1971),
and the elite academic is approximated by whatever school will allow a
student to move up to the next higher education level.
The academic model in Brazilian education began with the Jesuits
in the Colonial period. Jesuit priests were Brazil's first educators.
From 1549-1757, they catechized Indians and later began academic
secondary schools for the sons of planters in provincial capitals. On
the plantations, it was the plantation priest who educated young children.
The dual national and state (successor to provincial) school systems
began in 1834, when the Additional Act to the Imperial Constitution
decentralized primary and secondary education and made them the respons-
ibility of the provinces. Higher education was the responsibility of
the national government. Teixeira points out that the dualistic
school system of this era was part of a dualistic Brazilian society,
with the economic base being a "semi-colonialphase of production of
primary material and the importation of consumer goods" (Teixeira
1977:89). This is still the economic base of Muitaspedras. Under
the dual school system, the national schools followed the academic
model, while the provincial systems pioneered the vocational model
by starting normal and commercial schools.
Normal schools began during the Empire, and were founded by
provincial governments in their capitals. The first was the Niteroi
School in Rio de Janeiro, founded in 1834 and 1835 (Lourento Filho
1953:15; Havighurst and Moreira 1965:233). Significantly, "registra-
tions were at first meagre, but they gained as the schools became
knownas col6gios (academic high schools) for girls, rather than as
centers for teacher training" (Havighurst and Moreira 1965:75).
Thus, the tendency to transform a basically vocational school into
an academic school was present from the start. Belfm, the capital of
Para, had a normal school by 1840 (Primitivo Moacyr, Vol. I 1939:76),
and the Par5 Institute of Education began in 1871 (0 Liberal Dec. 29,
During the early Republican period, industrialization and urbaniza-
tion in South Brazil was the impetus for social change which included
pressure to expand educational opportunity to a growing middle class.
After 1892, Sao Paulo State reorganized the public primary schools and
the normal school. The state capital and the county seats were to offer
severalyears of primary schooling, and the rural areas four years.
In the 1920s there was an important educational reform movement
in Brazil which followed the United States and European movements for
"progressive education," the "activity school," and the "new school."
Among the Brazilian followers of this movement were Lourenco Filho,
Anisio Teixeira, and Fernando de Azevedo.
The aims of this group of reformers were to make the
primary school an instrument for bettering the social
life of the community and to create a system of
secondary and advanced schools that would support the
technological and cultural aspects of a developing
democracy. (Havighurst and Moreira 1965:92)
Part of this movement in the 1920s was the "popularization" of primary
schooling, which meant the attempt to increase the number of people
enrolled in schools. "Popularization" of primary schooling began in
Sao Paulo state, the most industrialized state. This state was the
first to extend primary schooling to all. One of the results of the
upsurge in school enrollment was the beginning of school double ses-
sions. Begun in Sao Paulo state in one school in 1928 as an "emergency
action," multiple school sessions became customary for practically all
Another result of the "popularization" of primary schooling was
the increased demand for primary school teachers. In the 1930s, reform
legislative acts created the regional normal school. This lower level
normal school was designed to train teachers for rural primary schools.
The regional normal school offered a four-year course for graduates
of primary schools who were at least thirteen years of age. Graduates
received certification as regents de ensino, or "instructors," as one
Brazilian educator translates this term (Lourenso Filho 1953). The
upper level normal school was called the Escola Normal. This was a
three-year course at the col6gio or secondary level. Applicants had
to be at least fifteen years old and have a ginasio diploma. Laboratory
schools for practice teaching were also started during this period
(Havighurst and Moreira 1965:233).
This educational reform movement was greatly changed after the
Vargas government became a dictatorship in 1937. The new emphasis was
one of quantity over quality (Havighurst and Moreira 1965:92-93; Hauss-
man and Haar 1978:34-35), or, as Teixeira phrased it, "menos ao maior
numero de alunos" (the least for the most students) (1977:91). Educa-
tion was"simplified" and made more formal. There was public pressure
for more schools to reduce illiteracy. The three-year course following
the four-year primary course was abandoned. In the cities there was a
four-year primary course, and in rural schools there was only a three-
year program. Schools taught only reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The results of the reduction (in years) and extension (to more
students) of primary schooling affected the normal schools. The shorter
primary program of three to four years created an increased demand for
the next level of schooling, which was the ginasio or middle school level.
Often this next level was represented by the regional normal school.
These schools proliferated, not to prepare teachers but to offer a course
equivalent to the national course and thereby give access to the high
school and the university. Parana State, in the South, created a hundred
"regional normal schools" with one legislative act. Private normal
schools proliferated, just as secondary schools had earlier. This pro-
liferation was accelerated when the curriculum became an academic one and
the original teacher training emphasis was downplayed. Often the so-
called curriculum meant verbal instruction and the simple memorization
of texts (Teixeira 1977).
This process was aided by the ending of the dualistic school
system through the integration of the national and state school systems
by laws passed in 1946 and the 1950s. Henceforth all levels of
schooling were subject to federal law, although states could operate
their own schools with a certain latitutde for regional variation.
All of the secondary level programs--vocational/technical, normal, and
academic/scientific--were considered to be equivalent. All allowed
access to higher education. The result was that the normal school
became more of a college preparatory school than a professional prepara-
tion for a teaching career in the primary school. The same thing happened
to the first level normal school (the regional normal school), where
the curriculum was adapted to the first level of secondary schooling,
equivalent to the gingsio or middle school (Teixeira 1977).
The first law pertaining directly to teacher training was passed in
January, 1946. This law specified that the primary school "instructors'"
training course should have a "regional" character. "The content and
emphasis of these regional courses are to vary according as the principal
local activity is agriculture, stock raising, mining or the extraction
of vegetable products" (Lourenco Filho 1953:22). Also specified were
the compulsory subjects for the "instructors'" course.1 Academic sub-
jects comprised the first three years, and the final year included
First year: Portuguese; mathematics; geography of Brazil;
natural science; drawing and calligraphy; manual work and
domestic economy; choral singing and physical education.
Second year: Portuguese; mathematics; geography of Brazil;
natural science; drawing and calligraphy; manual work and
economic activities of the region; choral singing and
Third year: Portuguese; mathematics; elements of human
anatomy and physiology; world history; drawing; manual
work and economic activities of the region; choral
singing; physical education, recreation and games.
Fourth year: Portuguese; psychology and pedagogics;
elements of hygiene; history of Brazil; theory and
practice of teaching; drawing; choral singing;
physical education; recreation and games.
The key subject of the whole course is manual work and
economic activities of the region. It must comprise manual
training affording a knowledge of the production techniques
of the region, and observation and research exercises on
the life of the local population, their customs and the
prospects of the school's influence improving matters. The
law of each state may provide for the addition of further
subjects, indicating, in each such case, the regional
relevance of the course added.
The Organic Law lays it down that programmes of instruc-
tion must be simple, clear and flexible. In applying them
attention is to be paid to the following points: (a) the
teaching methods adopted are to be active; (b) the spirit and
manner of the teaching are to provide a moral and civic educa-
tion for the pupils; (c) the methodology classes are to deal
with the objects, organization and recommended approaches and
procedures of each discipline; (d) practical instruction is to
be given in the form of "sitting in" at classes and actual
teaching practice; (e) the final year's classes in drawing,
manual training, singing, and physical education, recreation
and games will also comprise instruction in the methodology of
each for primary school purposes, with special reference to
requirements in the region. Religious instruction may be
introduced, but as an optional subject, and attendance may not
be made compulsory. As a complementary activity teachers'
training establishments are to promote the formation and
development of students' organizations designed to create a
spirit of cooperation and social service among the teachers of
All teachers' training establishments are to maintain
attached primary schools for teaching demonstration and practice.
In the case of regional training courses, at least two single-
teacher schools are to be selected for the same purpose.
(Lourenco Filho 1953:22-23)
There were two regional normal schools in Pard by 1948 (Ministerio
da Educacao e Sadde 1949:5, 36-40). By 1960, there were eight regional
schools in Pard. One was a state school, and the remaining seven were
private. Three of these private schools had been started by a missionary
order of nuns --in Santargm, Belterra, and Altamira (Gegen 1961:130).
There were 69 teachers and 524 students, the overwhelming majority of
both being women (Anuario Estatistico do Brazil 1960:299-300). Nation-
wide, there were 213 public and 134 private regional normal schools in
1960 (Havighurst and Moreira 1965:233-234). In 1970, Santana Middle
School was one of 27 such schools in Pard, with 12 being public and 15
private (Anuario Estatfstico do Brazil 1971). Figures on the regional
normal school in Para from 1948-1970 are presented in Table 3-1.
To summarize the historical background of academic and vocational
schools, the academic model was present from colonial days in the
secondary schools started by the Jesuits in provincial capitals. Later,
under the dual school system, the national school system continued to
support the academic model, while the state school systems began to open
vocational schools such as the normal school for teacher training. How-
ever, even the vocational schools tended to be used by Brazilians for
more academic ends, because academic schools are the ideal school model
people aspire to, whether appropriate or not. As urbanization and
industrialization in South Brazil created a larger middle class, this
class exerted pressure for more schools at more levels. If a regional
normal school was the only middle level school present in a locality,
middle class families used that school as a substitute for an academic
school. After 1946, the dual school system ended and the different
types of middle and high schools were made equivalent. It became easier
to use the regional normal school as a stepping stone to high school.
Although the original purpose of the regional normal school was voca-
tional when it began in the 1930s, the official curriculum became more
academic than vocational when the teacher training law of 1946 took
REGIONAL NORMAL SCHOOLS IN PARA: 1948-1970
YEAR SCHOOLS EDUCATORS STUDENTS
PUBLIC PRIVATE TOTAL BEGIN YEAR END YEAR GRADUATED
1948 1 1 2 -
1959 1 5 6 47 333 -
1960 1 7 8 69 524 -
1962 1 8 9 83 789
1965 9 16 25 220 2571 2296 309
1970 12 25 27 330 5240 4512 631
Compiled from: Anuario Estatfstico do Brasil 1959, 1960, 1962, 1967,
1971, 1972, Ministerio de Educacao e Saude 1949.
The Santana Middle School
The historical background described above provides the context
within which the Santana Middle School must be understood. As a county
seat in a rural, frontier area of Brazil, Muitaspedras has been very
late in developing a school system, and a regional normal school
(offering grades five through eight to primary school graduates) did
not begin there until 1963. Even then, the Santana Middle School was
not opened by Pars state. Instead, in the typical Amazon pattern, a
missionary order of the Catholic Church began the school and then made
an agreement with the state whereby the parish provided the school
buildings, the nuns ran the school, and the state paid teacher's salaries.
The first six students graduated in 1966, and the last 73 students
graduated in 1977.
The school was located in one of the Parish buildings which occupy
two blocks fronting the Tapaj6s River. Two wings of the building form
an L around an open, grassy area. Another, smaller wing extends into
the courtyard, giving the building a headless G shape. The grassy
courtyard is framed by other parish buildings and a high wall. Another
high wall divides the classroom wing from busy, commercial Second Street.
This concrete wall is topped with broken glass.
The school building was used all day, for several educational opera-
tions. In 1977, the State Education Division moved into the office wing
while their quarters underwent repairs. Division personnel worked there
in the morning and the afternoon. A state-sponsored, inservice teacher
training course was conducted in morning and afternoon sessions in
three two-week phases from May through August, 1977. At night, the
Santana Middle School held classes in the classroom wing.
Over an eleven-year period, 338 student-teachers graduated from
the school. The year 1974 saw peak enrollment, with 267 students in
four grades meeting in double sessions. Beginning in 1975, one grade
was dropped each year because the state of Para opened a new middle
school. The eighth grade class of 1977 had 73 members, who met in
two classrooms in the night session. We turn now to a description of
the activities of educators and their pupils as they were observed
The Educators: A Profile
Santana Middle School had a staff of nine educators in 1977.
There were five administrative-clerical positions and six teaching
positions. Administrators could also serve as teachers. Because the
school operated only at night, educators held other jobs during the
day. In this respect, Santana educators are typical of the Brazilian
middle class, whose members commonly hold several jobs. This practice
is especially found among teachers because Brazilian schools operate
in several daily sessions and salaries are low.
Santana's educators (in 1976-77) were all born in Para State.
Three were natives of Muitaspedras. Four were from neighboring counties
downriver on the Tapaj6s. One was from a town on the Amazon. One was
from the state capital in Belem. Five were female, and four were male.
They ranged in age from 20 to 39.
The level of education differed considerably among the educators.
Four had a middle school education. Four had a secondary education.
One had one year at a university. These teacher qualifications fall
short of the goal of the 1962 National Education Plan (Teixeira 1977:
103) to have the following qualification percentages: 20 percent
regents (middle school), 60 percent normais (high school), and 20
percent post-high school. At Santana Middle School, educators'
qualifications by percent were 44.5 percent middle school, 44.5 per-
cent high school and 11 percent post-high school. In Muitaspedras,
even a middle school located in the county seat(and therefore "urban")
failed to meet the professional level of qualification for primary
school teachers set forth in the national plan. Four of the educators
were themselves students at Santana Middle School. Two educators
received their secondary schooling in Muitaspedras, in an inservice
Six out of the nine educators held more than one job. Three had
other jobs in the educational system, and three in the commercial sec-
tor. Two taught at the state middle school, one was the Secretary of
Municipal Education, one worked for a bank, one worked in an accounting
office, and one was a businessman.
When asked what they considered to be the most serious problem in
the local educational system, the most frequent responses were the need
for parental cooperation, school supplies and equipment, and the lack
of education in Muitaspedras beyond the middle school level. Also cited
were the need for student cooperation, better training for teachers
(especially for grades one through four), better pay, and more teachers.
A variety of suggestions were offered on what was necessary to im-
prove the educational system: more help from the State Secretariat of
Education, a secondary school, the return of abolished methods, teachers
teaching in their area of training, mutual help between teacher and
student, and teacher training which was more practical and less
All of Santana's educators said that they planned to continue
their education. Four of them would like to enter the university in
liberal arts, nursing or medicine, human sciences, and biology and
medicine. Other plans were to graduate in teaching, graduate in
accounting, deepen understanding of the teaching profession, and to
get a better job.
Helena da Silva illustrates several of the major themes.described
for the group as a whole. She is a 23-year-old native of Muitaspedras.
She is married and the mother of two young children. Her husband is
a carpenter, and has a primary school education. Helena went to
Santana Middle School and then received a secondary school education
in the special course for teachers offered by the ParS Educational
Institute in Muitaspedras during school vacations. She taught previously
in one of the town primary schools. A Catholic, Helena participates in
religious activities. She also goes to the cinema. She plans to remain
in Muitaspedras "always."
Profesor Helena's daily schedule illustrates the Brazilian middle
class pattern of multiple jobs. In the morning, she taught fifth grade
history and art education at the State Middle School. In the afternoon,
she was a secretary at Santana Middle School. In the evening she
returned to Santana as a teacher of eighth grade in Fundamentals of
I observed Professor Helena's classes at both middle schools.
Her teaching style was relaxed but efficient. She had the class work in
teams on projects. When we had coffee together in the teachers' lounge,
I commented on all the work she had. She agreed, noting all the papers
she had to grade plus having two children to care for at home.
When asked what kind of profession or job she would like for her
children to have someday, Helena's response was similar to that of
many educators in emphasizing that the choice is theirs. She acknowl-
edged that she would influence their choice, but maintained that
whatever profession would provide a life of dignity for them would be
the one she would want.
A second example of a Santana educator is Sister Fatima. A 30-
year-old native of Santarem, where her religious order was founded,
Sister Fatima moved to Muitaspedras recently to fill a vacancy at
Santana Middle School. She attended Santarem schools and the Pars
Educational Institute, in Belem. She has training in nursing and would
like to take the college entrance exam to enter a university program
in nursing or medicine.
This was Sister Fatima's first teaching assignment, and her in-
experience showed in her lack of authority in the classroom, even though
the subject she taught, Hygiene and Childcare, was compatible with her
educational training and interests. As a newcomer to the community as
well as to teaching, Sister Fatima did not command the respect and
deference from students which her colleague, Sister Margarida, had due
to the latter's longer residence in Muitaspedras, greater teaching and
administrative experience, and personal authority in her quiet but
effective manner of speaking to the class. Both of these educators'
performances in the classroom are described later in this chapter.
Santana Graduates as County Educators
The importance of Santana Middle School in the preparation of
teachers for Muitaspedras County is revealed by the fact that during
the decade 1966-76, the school graduated 265 student teachers. Of
these, 48 were teaching in the county during the 1977 school year.
They comprised slightly more than 20 percent of the approximately 235
educators in the county. Among this group of 48 Santana graduates,
38 were born in Muitaspedras County. If just the educators who were
born in Muitaspedras County are considered, 38 out of 54 local educa-
tors attended Santana. The 16 who did not attend Santana Middle School
as students fall into three categories. Five are from the interior of
the county and attended only primary school. Five went to other towns
and cities for their middle-level schooling. Six completed their
first-level schooling (eight grades) by attending a state teacher
training course in Muitaspedras. Of the 48 former Santana students who
were teaching in the county in 1977, 38 worked in town schools, 6 in
river/rural schools, 3 in highways schools, and 1 in a municipal school.
It may seem surprising that only 48 out of 235 educators in Muitas-
pedras county were Santana graduates. If 265 student-teachers graduated
during 1966-76 (not counting 1977 graduates), why were only 48 teaching,
especially when so many schools hired teachers with a lower educational
level? There are two likely reasons for this situation. One involves
migration, and the other, the function of the normal school.
Internal migration in Brazil usually follows a pattern called step-
migration. People migrate from rural to urban areas in a series of moves,
for example, from a rural neighborhood to a county seat to a regional
urban center to a national metropolis. People are not as likely to migrate
from urban to rural areas. Santana graduates lived in a county seat for
at least four years while attending school. Those who actually became
teachers would most likely do so in Muitaspedras town or in another
urban center, rather than move to a river village or highway neighbor-
hood school to teach. This is borne out by the figures cited above
for Muitaspedras County, which place most Santana graduate teachers in
However, not all of Santana's graduates were employed as local
educators--about twenty percent were. This low percentage supports
Teixeira's statement that the regional normal schools functioned more
as a means of upward educational access for the middle class rather
than as a means of terminal professional education. In Muitaspedras,
the regional normal school provided the only middle school education
in the county until the mid 1970s. It is not surprising that students
who wanted a post-primary education attended Santana, whether or not
they planned to become teachers.
There are four native Muitaspedras educators who were Santana
students in 1977. These four young women (all in their twenties) taught
at the same town primary school. All were married and had at least one
child. Three of the four were born in the interior .of the county and
later moved to town. One transferred from a river village school,
where she was a student and later a teacher, to the town school for the
purpose of completing middle school.
The Students of Santana Middle School: A Profile
Seventy-three students comprised the last class to graduate from
Santana Middle School. There were twice as many female students as
there were male students. The youngest was 13 years old, and the oldest
was 36. Most students were clustered in the seventeen to twenty-one-
age group (50 out of the 61 students surveyed).
Although there were students from almost every region in Brazil,
most students were from Para (52 out of 61). By region, student birth-
places were 55 from the North, 3 from the Northeast, 2 from the West,
and 1 from the South. Most of the Pard natives were from Muitaspedras
county (37). Eleven were from neighboring Tapaj6s River counties.
Four were from elsewhere in Parg.
Since they attended school at night, students had the opportunity
to work during the day. Twenty-six students held jobs (out of 61
respondents). The most frequently cited jobs were sales clerk. (five),
primary school teacher (four), and office clerk (three). Others were
Bank of Brazil (two), the Post Office, the military, machinist, nurse's
aid, cashier, secretary (two), copy machine operator, aviation, and an
employee of the Sports Lottery.
Edmundo Santos, for example, is twenty-one, married, and has a
daughter. He was born in Santar6m. For the past year he had worked at
the Post Office. He wanted to transfer to Santarem, because he could
go to high school there. However, his current employer was reluctant to
let him do so. I saw Edmundo at work whenever I collected our mail, and
he seemed to be the most knowledgeable and efficient worker there.
Naturally, his employer did not want such a good worker to transfer.
Nor did he like to give Edmundo the days off that a federal employee is
supposed to have, which were, according to Edmundo, eight days for
marriage, three days for childbirth, and five days for death. Edmundo
said he received one day off for marriage and none for birth. However,
he did take a weekend off to take his daughter to Santar6m when she was
sick. Things did not go well at the Post Office during his absence.
Edmundo, like many students and teachers in Muitaspedras, cited
the lack of secondary schooling as reason for planning to leave. He
wanted to take the vestibular (college entrance examination). Eventually
he would like to be an architect. However, he also expressed interest
in working for the Bank of Brazil.
Edmundo was a leader among his student peers. In a class on
Hygiene taught by Sister FPtima, Edmundo was the team leader for his
group of two females and one other male. When this group gave a class
report, he was the spokesperson. Compared to other students, Edmundo
was a superior speaker. He looked at the audience, turned to his poster
to illustrate points while he spoke, and had a smooth speaking style.
Once when he reached an awkward pause in his speech and seemed at a
loss as to how to continue, he said, "tudo bem," (everything's OK) and
then continued, unperturbed. Previous speakers had become silent and
embarrassed at this occurrence. Edmundo transformed an awkward moment
into a humorous one by his assured manner and offhand comment. Both he
and the class laughed after his comment.
In a class on Fundamentals of Education taught by Professor Helena,
Edmundo again served as team leader. This time the group included two
females and two other males. Edmundo assumed the role of scribe. He
described the team method to me when I joined this group. He read from
the teacher's handout and told the team to think. Then he initiated a
conversation with me. After a few minutes he steered the team back
onto the assignment. Later, when the group seemed to reach an impasse,
Edmundo made a gesture meaning "crazy" to describe the group.
Common Characteristics Among Santana Educators and Students
The educators and students at Santana Middle School shared some
characteristics. One is the aspiration to further schooling, usually
with fairly specific career goals in mind. Related to this is the
willingness to migrate for educational opportunities. Often this
involves an individual's migration from the interior to the county seat
to a larger urban center, often a statecapital (step-migration).
Astrogilda Nazar6 Gaspar, a Santana student, illustrates this pattern.
Born in a river village in Muitaspedras County, Astrogilda worked
in town and attended Santana at night. Although she was not sure what
kind of schooling she wanted, she knew where she wanted it: "The place
is Fortaleza, Ceara" (the state capital). The people of Ceara are
famous in Brazil for their migration, especially during the periodic
Northeastern droughts, to their state capital and then to other Brazilian
regions which offer economic opportunity. Many travel south to the
industrial metropolis of Sao Paulo. Others moved to the new national
capital, Brasilia, when it was under construction. Still others moved
to the Amazon region during the rubber boom at the turn of the century.
Recently a new wave has moved to the Amazon region along the new highways
and into the river/highway junction towns. I did not find out where
Astrogilda's parents came from, but it is a good guess that they were
"Cearenses" (people of Ceara), and that she, like many others, wanted
to return to the family's home region.
However, not everyone who migrates for schooling has a state capital
as a permanent residential goal. Irenide dos Anjos Souza, another
Santana student, was born in the interior of Santardm County. She lived
in Muitaspedras town in 1977, working by day as a cashier and attending
Santana at night. She wanted to attend a technical high school in
Manaus, statecapital of Amazonas. But she had developed a fondness for
Muitaspedras, explaining, "I would like to stay in Muitaspedras fore-
ever. I will leave only to study." Unlike some others, Irenide had
an occupational goal, to be an office worker, which could be achieved
in Muitaspedras town. It is less likely that Edmundo (the post office
employee) would find work in Muitaspedras as an architect.
Another characteristic shared by the educators and students at
Santana Middle School is regional origin. Most were from the North or
Amazon region. As previously mentioned, all of the educators were from
Para (the North). Fifty-five out of 61 students were also from the
North. This regional homogeneity distinguished Santana from some of the
Most educators and students at Santana Middle School are female.
In the classes observed, female students outnumbered males by two-to-one.
There were five female educators and four male educators. The Director
was female. Among the 48 Muitaspedras educators who were students at
Santana, 42 were female and 6 male. Four of those males were night
school teachers, however, and they had other jobs during the day (a banker,
a driver, an electrician, and a businessman).
Comparing the ratio of female to male students in 1977 (two-to-one)
versus former students who worked in schools in 1977 (seven-to-one) is
illuminating. Until the opening of a new State Middle School, Santana
was the only middle school in the area. Males who desired a middle school
education had to go to the regional normal school, giving Santana a
higher percentage of male students than is usually the case in Brazilian
teacher training institutions which prepare primary teachers (Boserup
If the annual enrollment figures by sex for the years 1968 through
1975 are compared, the sex ratio of female to male students becomes
smaller. In 1968 there were 77 females and 32 males, or over a two-to-
one female to male ratio. This approximately two-to-one ratio continued
through 1971. In 1974 and 1975 however, the female-male ratio is
approximately three-to-two (154 females to 110 males in 1974, and 93
females to 67 males in 1975). In 1977, the two-to-one ratio had returned.
The State Middle School,in contrast, had more male students than female
students, in the classes observed.
These student enrollment data suggest that males become involved
with traditionally female educational sectors when the structure of
opportunity makes it advantageous. In this case, Santana was the only
option open for males seeking more advanced education in Muitaspedras.
Yet few of these male students went on to become local teachers, as
compared to female students. It should be noted here that few of the
total graduates (265) over ten years became educators, at least in
Muitaspedras County (48 or 18 percent). But even fewer male students
became educators in Muitaspedras than did female students (6 male
students, or 12.5 percent of the 48 students).
The participation of males in traditionally female educational
sectors will be cited again in another type of teacher training, the
state courses for inservice teachers. The point is that the structure
of opportunity sometimes makes it advantageous for males to become
teacher trainers. It is then that males participate.
Program Goals: A Compromise Between Models
The Santana Middle School can be described and analyzed not only
according to who participates (the educators and the students), but also
by the goal of that participation. The goal at Santana was to train
students to become primary school teachers within the broader goal of
providing a middle school education. This goal was an attempt to effect
a compromise between the vocational and academic models of schools.
These two aspects of the goal of Santana's curriculum were
presented earlier in the national context. To reiterate, the normal
school in Brazil began during a period characterized by the expansion
(to more students) and reduction (in years) of primary schooling as
well as teacher education. Anisio Teixeira characterizes this program
as "the least for the most students" (Teixeira 1977:91). Linked to
the popularization of education was the idea that education serves as
a preparation for work. This idea gained support during the industrial-
ization of Sao Paulo, and it is still important today. The practical
results of expansion and reduction programs were that the small but
growing middle class flocked to the regional normal schools as an avenue
to higher education (secondary school or college). This meant that
the academic function of the normal school was utilized more than the
vocational or teacher training function, and therefore tended to be
strengthened at the expense of the latter. The academic tradition has
always been valued in Brazilian education of any type or level.
Another reason for the popularity of the normal school among
middle class Brazilians was cited by Robert Shirley in his restudy of
Cunha, a town in Sao Paulo State. The normal school degree gives
young women more independence. In the event of an unsuccessful