According to Ibope, 75% of Brazilians can´t write, read and interpret a long text. That means that only 25% of Brazilian can fully understand a long text.
I don´t know how high this percentage is in other countries, but the lack of reading or discussion on serious subjects is very evident when you start talking to people here and this is what I meant when I posted that there is a cultural void in Brazil. I don´t know who is to blame for this obvious disadvantage Brazilians have, but I have my suspicions.
My only contact with the “academic” or “educational” world was when I taught English Text Interpretation at a federal university in Ilhéus and when I studied for my driving test. I even wrote about this in the “Driving school experience” post.
In both situations, I noticed one thing that is probably the basis for the educational problem Brazilians have, and this problem is definitely based on the Jeitinho Brasileiro. Call me a blundering lunatic, but these statistics just prove my point.
Brazilians have a lousy education because the study material and method suck. Period. When they start school, they copy texts written by the teacher on the board that they don´t understand. They copy and copy until they supposedly learn how to read and write. The method is based exclusively on memory.
When the exams comes, the students who pass are those who memorized the most. There are no interpretation or discussion questions, no thoughts or opinions, nothing. When they finish school, they are tested to enter university based on the same principle of memorization. Text interpretation is very basic and it is perfectly possible to pass the exam without understanding anything you have read or written.
Basically, education in Brazilian schools is information that must be memorized to get at least 6 and pass, enter a university, get a diploma and start a professional career.
At the university I taught for a short period, none of the students knew how to summarise. I had to teach them. The smart ones got it almost instantly. Their grades went up almost 30% (students who had previously gotten 6 later got 9). This also goes to show that it´s not an incapacity, it´s just omission.
At the driving school, I was shocked how they only taught the information that would come up in the written test and actual driving exam. We did not drive at night (the exam is during the day) although this was a requirement and we could skip the information that did not appear in the exam. We basically memorized as little as possible. No one was curious, no one really wanted to learn the rules of safe driving or even how to drive properly. They just wanted to pass the exam.
When Brazilians go to an exhibition or to the theatre, they always love everything. No matter how bad it is. They don´t digest what they have and don´t have their own opinions because they were not taught how to. Again, that is what I consider a cultural void. What is the point of having all these cultural events and great museums if you have no opinion? Brazilians get offended when I say they have no culture. They do, but not all of them understand it or feel confident enough to come to their own conclusions.
If you don´t believe me, watch programmes like Zorra Total (with the exception of a couple of comedians, the rest is…. just watch it and then we´ll talk) or Brazilian TV commercials. This problem is also reflected in problem solving. When they realized the driving test was too easy, the authorities decided to add another 15 classroom hours, but the material is still exactly the same, so the schools are forced to teach and then pretend to teach for another 15 hours (you just sign the frequency sheet and go home). Then you have the queuing system and idiotic unfounded requirements people are always inventing to supposedly solve a problem, and create a new one.
Is that normal? Does that happen in your country, too?
At school in London, we had English Language (equivalent to Lingua Portuguesa) but we also had English Literature and I think that made all the difference. In English Language, we learned how to read and write, but in English Literature we learned how to understand what others wrote, how to summarize, how to discuss, how to express our opinions. Information was digested and turned into something individual and unique. It was beautiful.
That, in my opinion, is what is lacking in Brazil. It´s not the teachers, it´s not the students with family and disciplinary problems, its the method. It´s the defective way information is presented and the lack of interaction and real contact with that information. This terrible void the Brazilian educational system has only created citizens who don´t think for themselves, who don´t understand, who don´t know what is right or wrong, good or bad. Call me a witch, but I think I am the only one who is truly mourning.