Brazil’s 2013 Plan at Hand: Fixing the Education Gap ASAP

“In the long term, most plans are of little importance but that said,
thoughtful planning is always essential.”
— Winston Churchill

This past summer, when the last 2012 London Olympics athletes finally left England with their medals in tow, and after the last Confetti gun was fired at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the whole UK let out a collective, appreciative sigh. Understandably worn out, her majesty’s government wasted no time in passing on the ‘Party Host’ torch (pardon the pun) to Brazil.  Their Southern Atlantic neighbor will spend the next four years serving as the official ‘Celebration Nation’ not just to the 2016 Olympics but also to the 2014 World Cup community.

Never mind Brazil’s infamous reputation concerning the ability to throw one fun carnival; that’s not exactly helpful when it comes knocking out a housekeeping ‘To-Do’ list many miles long.  Every Culture,  Tourism, and Engineering office continues to spend day and night strategizing ways to accommodate a guest list exceeding millions.  And forget the tea candles, place cards, or pressed napkins.  For now, the country’s education leaders will spend next year’s majority trying to fix the education gap that’s holding back amongst other things Brazil’s booming growth spurt.

While in São Paulo for BBC World News, Katty Kay’s latest report on this topic explains how looming concerns over slower economic growth, inflation, etc., stand to nullify every progressive educational benchmark Brazil’s surpassed since the early/mid 90s.  Moreover, the leading international research firm PISA, recently profiled national education systems, ranking Brazil 53rd.  It’s a concerning placement, taking into account that Brazil’s economy -now the world’s #6 GDP- just bumped the UK to spot #7 not all that long ago.  To point, Kay notes that if Brazil wishes to sustain noticeable progress, “it will require more than muscle to lift a country into modernity; they will need human resources too.”  And while it’s not an exact science,  the process to improve a nation’s ability to educate their domestic population needs to begin with reviewing all teacher feedback.

It’s extremely risky when a government, underestimates a teacher’s role (no matter the grade level) and their ability to influence the educational community locally, nationally, and abroad.  Speaking candidly with Kay about the subject, Priscila Cruz, a prominent Education Campaigner, reiterates that Brazil’s 2+ million teachers posses a great voting power.  In serving as the Executive Director to the organization, Todos Pela Educação, Cruz operates an invaluable company, using the latest technology and media to distribute countless necessary resources, in order to help any Brazilian teacher receive better professional training.  As a result when it comes to electing senior officials who have the power to change government policies concerning education, more teachers will cast knowledge votes.  Any social, economic, or political change relies upon the individual citizen’s ability to maintain a versed political understanding- all party loyalties aside.

As Kay’s article for BBC points out, it’s true that “over the past 20 years Brazil has done an impressive job of getting more students into the education system.”  However that success translates to a different problem, as enrolling more students, now requires schools to expand their class availability.  Furthermore, if teachers fail to receive extensive training before they actually start teaching their classes – the negative impact gradually trickles down and directly impacts every Brazilian student.  Although sophomoric, many young students voice their genuine understanding that gaining even the most basic education, acts as a passport that will eventually grant access to creating a successful future.  Such enthusiastic, insistent student potential deserves far more than an educational environment that underserves the teachers and their instructional materials.

Failing to implement such serious changes will not only hurt Brazil’s academic reputation internationally; there’s also weighty financial implications to consider.  It stands to reason that if Brazil’s working demographic isn’t sufficiently educated, then it will force the present and future commercial development to hire a labor force – not locally from Brazil – but more expensive professionals, eager to relocate overseas.  A Brazilian workforce lacking transferable skills, also jeopardizes the ability to diversify the nation’s economic activity.  It’s exceptionally dangerous for any country to rely on a single trade exchange, i.e. only exporting natural resources or supplying commodities to China.  Hence, if Brazil wishes to evolve past the ’emerging leader’ role then they must prepare to keep pace with Asia/US/European competition.

Without question, luck, timing and a rare geographic/coincidental proximity between two such monumental events like the Olympics and World Cup all give Brazil premium opportunity to show off the nation’s historic legacy and other strengths.  But in order to make this global presentation a truly successful, resonating performance they must first figure out how to redesign the way both lower/higher education rouses the population.  Once this internal enlightening begins, it’s only a matter of time before Brazil’s talent pool will flood into the market place.  It will serve Brazil well to follow their national motto more closely than ever over the next decade.  It’s an unremitting philosophy… Order first, then Progress.

Verdade, meus amigos, muito verdadeiro. // True, my friends, very true.

Amanda // @acmontgomery


Has Social Media Revived or Revolutionized Salon Scholarship?

This week’s theme and blog post highlight various readings which address Shifting Models of Creation/ Participation in Art & Pop Culture.

As I set out to prepare and review my notes and ideas for my Case Study presentation, admittedly, I struggled to find a new media object that would best capture my presentation’s theme and compliment the assigned readings. Bunnies, Cookies, and Podcasts had been all used up so I thought harder. I am interested in International Communications; we’re going to discuss shifting models of creation/participation amongst art and pop culture… How do these things relate back to EMAC 6300?

When a very kind and brilliant professor advised me took back and explore how Lev Manovich describes a new media object, I heeded her guidance and stumbled upon this little nugget which began to solidify things-

“What is new media? We may begin answering this question by listing the categories, which are commonly discussed under this topic in popular press: Internet, Web sites, computer multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMs and DVD, virtual reality. Is this all new media is? For instance, what about television programs which are shot on digital video and edited on computer workstations? Or what about feature films which use 3D animation and digital compositing? Shall we count these as new media? In this case, what about all images and text image compositions — photographs, illustrations, layouts, ads — which are also created on computers and then printed on paper? Where shall we stop?”

Courtesy of Dean Terry ;

What about a classroom where students transcribe their musings and observations into a rolling feed stream via the Internet while at the same time analyze and critically discuss various other media platforms such as videos, paintings, literature, and song? Could this not also be a new media object? I’m inclined to vote yes; but that’s not where this case study is headed.

To a certain degree I would qualify our Wednesday evening class that meets at 7pm every week as a new media object. Our class incorporates technology in to the traditional components of communication and media so therefore it retains a ‘new media’ aura. However I think the more appropriate label is something I like to refer to as ‘Salon Scholarship’. Salon Scholarship occurs when academics congregate at any given time to converse, theorize, collaborate, observe and record thoughts on a certain topic or idea. Salon Scholarship requires participating using communication to express one’s ideas to those gathered. More often than not addressing these concepts amongst a group leads to inspirational creativity. And so the question presents itself.. Has Social Media Revived or Revolutionized Salon Scholarship?

When we look at all the online platforms we participate in every day (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, FlickR, SlideShare, Prezi, YouTube, etc.) we’re participating as online citizens who converses with our peers, family and friends about relevant topics and at times create art, opportunities, or other expressions of life that thrive amongst the technology that pushes us forward. As we see things today are Convergence and Salon Scholarship a nostalgic throw back to the times of The Renaissance, Moileré, and Mary Shelley? Or has social media revolutionized the model to a point of no return and altered the idea entirely? We’ll participate in a lively debate over these questions and create our own conclusions. Of course this also means we’ll celebrate as scholars in fantastic salon fashion!

Til Soon-