A Discussion about the Development of Higher Mental Functions in Brazilian Schools: A Portrait of Excluding Inclusion 43
Doctor of Applied Linguistics and Language Studies, Professor at the Portuguese and English Teaching Undergraduate Program and Currently Coordinating the Graduate Program of Education and Health in Childhood and Adolescence, Federal University of São Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Doctorate Degree in Education from Virginia Tech, and is Currently Full Professor at the Linguistic Department and the Applied Linguistics and Language Studies Graduate Program, Pontifical Catholic University of São-Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Holds a Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Education and Health in Childhood and Adolescence, Federal University of São Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil
This paper aims at providing an overview of Brazilian schools focusing on the development of Vygotsky’s concept of Higher Mental Functions (HMF), especially in the case of students with disabilities. We often see that a lack of appropriate teacher education leads to further excluding students and others involved in the teaching-learning processes — such as the educators themselves, who feel increasingly overwhelmed by their classes of 45 to 60 students, shortage of money and governmental investment. We can even say that Brazilian official schools are immersed in a conflicted-conflicting, alienated-alienating and oppressed-oppressive contradictory reality that is increased by this exclusion-inclusion dichotomy that hinders teachers’ and students’ participation in dialogically organized activities. This diminishes students’ possibilities for developing HMF, which require an argumentative, critical language organization not often accessible to students whilst they continue to be educated on the receiving end of a system that is based on principles of assistance, as are the teachers. With this in mind, the text aims at answering the following question: To what extent are HMF pursued in classrooms allowing young people with(out) specific educational needs to develop (as close as possible) to their fullest potential?
This paper aims at discussing the development of Higher
Mental Functions (HPF) in their relation to the education of children and
adolescents with (or without) specific educational needs or disabilities in
impoverished school contexts mostly in the outskirts of a large city (São
Paulo) in Brazil. We show that certain circumstances might affect or hinder
education, and more specifically the development of HMF, especially in times of
the pandemics1, in a context that encompasses (1) the lack of financial means
for families to support their children’s distance learning in the current
social-educational situation (imposed by COVID-19), for example, and where (2)
schools and universities had to interrupt their activities for months in order
to search for financial support to try to provide students with computers and
internet services for some educational work to be resumed.
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