A January cold streak sounds like an excellent time to blog about a research trip to sunny, warm Brazil. A colleague of mine is heading up a comparative study of educational responses to diversity in Brazil and Canada. We are working with colleagues in Brasilia and Goiania. For the first phase of the research, we traveled to Brazil in November 2016. There we were a part of a symposium on the topic. Colleagues from Brazil and we, as guests from Canada, presented on perspectives on educational responses to diversity in our respective countries.
As a Canadian with no previous ties to Brazil, I learned a great deal. I discovered an interesting, rich and troubled history of slavery, migration and immigration that has been dealt with over the years with numerous policies that have not consistently been applied in practice. Yet, there were very interesting examples of application that Canada can learn from. For example, we met with someone from the Ministry of Education who works in Indigenous education. She told us about university programs that train Indigenous students to become teachers in Indigenous schools. I listened with great interest since I am involved with a program that targets Indigenous students to become teachers, but we are facing the challenge of finding Indigenous students who have the qualifications to enter the program and reaching adequate numbers of potential students. I am eager to read the transcripts and translation of the recording, since my Portuguese is minimal and our informal interpreter was doing his best to keep up. Â This example alone intrigues me to learn more about their pre-service teacher education.
While we were in Goiania, we were able to hold focus groups with professors, graduate students and undergraduate students. At present, the transcripts are being translated. We presented the participants with a number of examples from the Canadian context and asked their opinions as to whether there are similar situations in Brazil, how such a situation might be handled in Brazil and what we could learn from Brazilian responses.
Looking forward, we will begin writing about our initial research with our colleagues, which in and of itself should prove an interesting challenge in light of the differences in language and academic culture, but we also anticipate bringing a few of those colleagues to Canada for a similar symposium to that which we held in Goiania.
So, beyond providing a great break from the November doldrums, this trip resulted into an interesting and potentially very productive research project. Stay tuned.