PCN'S and Elementary School in Mathematics: a breakthrough or a setback?

PCN'S and Elementary School in Mathematics: a breakthrough or a setback?

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Gladis Blumenthal


The teaching of mathematics has, over the years, undergone successive reforms. Even so, the mathematical school failure continues. As Municipal and State Secretariats of Education strive to absorb and adapt to the new rules in force, National Curriculum Parameters (NCPs) play an important role. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of your basic ideas related to mathematics and bring some thoughts on them.

"It is important to highlight that mathematics should be seen by the student as a knowledge that can favor the development of his reasoning, expressive sensitivity, aesthetic sensitivity and imagination" (PCN's, 1997).

In the courses and workshops in which I have been working in recent months I feel a climate of unrest (and, why not say, sometimes even anguish) on the part of the teachers, supervisors and others responsible for the education of the municipality. or the school I'm working at. Some questions have been constantly asked: after all, what do National Curriculum Parameters (NCPs) bring back in Mathematics? How do they differ from what we've been working on? Change the contents only? Does the order in which they are worked change? Is it worth changing our way of teaching when we are not sure how to do it? Where to start moving?

As we can see, in a way, the PCN's are already achieving, in part, their goals, that is, they are discomforting the teacher, making him stop to reflect on his pedagogical practice. It is the first step towards a possible change in it.

The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the basic ideas of NCPs in Mathematics and to bring some reflections on them. I do not pretend to exhaust the subject, on the contrary. Much remains to be discussed. I will not go into the merits of those who elaborated them and how the process of their elaboration took place, for escaping what I propose at that moment.

I will draw on two MEC publications through the Secretariat of Fundamental Education: National Curriculum Parameters, Mathematics, volume 3 (1997), with guidelines for Basic Education (1st and 2nd Cycles) and another with the same name, emphasizing the teaching of 5th to 8th grades (1998). Both bring, in the first part, a brief Mathematical analysis in Brazil, some considerations about mathematical knowledge and learning and teaching mathematics in elementary school, the general objectives, the contents of mathematics and the evaluation in mathematics in elementary school, in addition to the principles guiding the work to be done in it. In the second part, they differ substantially: the first focuses on teaching from 1st to 4th grades and the second, from 5th to 8th grades, presenting objectives, content, orientations organized by cycles.

The basic ideas contained in the National Curriculum Parameters in Mathematics reflect, much more than a mere change of contents, a change of philosophy of teaching and learning, as it could be. They point to the need for urgent changes not only in what to teach, but especially in how to teach and evaluate, and how to organize teaching and learning situations.

The role of mathematics in elementary school as a facilitating means for the structuring and development of student thinking and for the basic formation of their citizenship is highlighted. "… It is important that mathematics perform, in a balanced and inseparable way, its role in the formation of intellectual capacities, in the structuring of thought, in the streamlining of the student's deductive reasoning, in its application to problems, everyday life situations and activities in the world of work, and in supporting the construction of knowledge in other curricular areas. " And further on: "To speak about basic formation for citizenship means to speak about insertion of people in the world of work, social relations and culture, within the Brazilian society" (MEC? SEF, 1997, p.29). The diversity of the ethnic groups in Brazil, the diversity and richness of mathematical knowledge that our student already brings to the classroom, is emphasized in the PCN's that and the teaching of mathematics, together with the appreciation of the student's socio-cultural plurality, can contribute to the transcendence of their social space and to their active participation in the transformation of their environment.