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Revista Educação em Questão

versión impresa ISSN 0102-7735versión On-line ISSN 1981-1802

Rev. Educ. Questão vol.57 no.52 Natal abr./jun 2019  Epub 17-Sep-2019 


The (non) place of retired in the institution: memories of professors

Maria Neide Sobral3

Deise Juliana Francisco4

3Universidade Federal de Sergipe (Brasil)

4Universidade Federal de Alagoas (Brasil)


This text presents an analysis about the preparation process, retirement and post-retirement of university professors of the Department of Education of the Federal University of Sergipe. The University teacher experience his professional career imprisoned in a period. At the end of this journey, this period dedicated to the work needs to be re-dimensioned, resignified and revised from another perspective, quite different from the demands of the academic life. A period that was of the institution, occupying many hours of his day, now becomes his alone, turning to health and aging. This research is an investigation of an exploratory nature, based on theoretical-methodological support of thematic oral history, memories with the collection of autobiographical data about the final career of professors. We evidenced that the "empty place" left by the university professor in the institution where he spent most of his life is occupied, when he becomes inactive, by the new place in the institution that is the "archive".

Keywords: Retirement; University professor; Career; Education


Esse texto apresenta uma análise sobre o processo de preparação, aposentadoria e pós-aposentadoria de docentes universitários do Departamento de Educação da Universidade Federal de Sergipe. O professor universitário vive sua carreira profissional aprisionado em um tempo. Ao final dessa trajetória, esse tempo dedicado ao trabalho precisa ser redimensionado, ressignificado e revisto em outra perspectiva, bem diferente das exigências da vida acadêmica. Um tempo que era da instituição, ocupando muitas horas de seu dia, passa a ser agora só seu, voltando-se para a saúde e o envelhecimento. Trata-se de uma investigação de natureza exploratória, pautada em suporte teórico-metodológico da história oral temática, memórias com levantamento de dados autobiográficos sobre o final de carreira dos docentes Evidencia-se que o “lugar vazio” deixado pelo docente universitário na instituição onde passou boa parte de sua vida é ocupado, quando ele passa a ser inativo, pelo novo lugar na instituição que é o de “arquivo”.

Palavras-chave: Aposentadoria; Professor universitário; Carreira; Educação


Este texto presenta un análisis sobre el proceso de preparación, jubilación y post-jubilación de docentes universitarios del Departamento de Educación de la Universidad Federal de Sergipe. El profesor universitario vive su carrera profesional encarcelado en un tiempo. Al final de esa trayectoria, ese tiempo dedicado al trabajo necesita ser redimensionado, resignificado y revisado en otra perspectiva, muy diferente de las exigencias de la vida académica. Un tiempo que era de la institución, ocupando muchas horas de su día, pasa a ser ahora sólo suyo, volviéndose hacia la salud y el envejecimiento. Se trata de una investigación de naturaleza exploratoria, pautada en soporte teórico-metodológico de la historia oral temática, memorias con levantamiento de datos autobiográficos sobre el final de carrera de los docentes. Se evidencia que el "lugar vacío" dejado por el docente universitario en la institución donde pasó buena parte de su vida es ocupado, cuando él pasa a ser inactivo, por el nuevo lugar en la institución que es el de "archivo".

Palabras claves: Jubilación; Profesor universitario; Carrera; Educación

When reading Foucault's (2015) text, "What is an author?", some matrix ideas allowed us a certain analogy with the senses given at the end of the career of a retired teacher, of the (non) place he occupies in the institution when it terminates its work activities. Why the analogy with this text? Exactly because of the "empty place" given to the author in the Foucaultian texts, which expresses much more a discursive set of time and place that occupies in the institution than, properly speaking, a unique and special idiosyncrasy.

In a brief survey of the literature on retired teachers, the format of some of their titles attracts attention, namely formulated as questioning: "I stay or I leave" (FONTOURA, 2006); "University professors and retirement: a successful old-age experience?" (COLUSSI; ISLAND; COGO; PORTELLA; SCORTEGAGNA, 2014); "Retired teachers: what are the reasons for their return to teaching?" (MEIRA, 2012). It is evident in the titles the moment of decision, the change and rupture and the search for new strategies to make sense of their lives at the end of their careers.

A place left in the institution will inevitably be occupied by another teacher and the university remains alive, active, bearing marks and meanings of the teacher's personal action. This story becomes part of his memory, shelved in the intricacies of the memories he leaves for his peers, for the students he has formed and in the archival documentation. His passage, therefore, follows other streams that require new strategies for his personal life or even the return to the work activity.

Referring to Foucault (2015, p. 39), we consider the following statement: "[...] we strive to think with remarkable depth the condition of any text, simultaneously to the condition of the place where it is dispersed and the time in which unrolled". This implies that the author characterizes a certain being of the discourse, in which it borders the universe in which it is situated, as a complex operation of the treatment that can be given to the texts, with their linguistic, social, cultural operations and that we also implement interdictions, mediations and inclusions of what must be said.

This author's "empty place" allowed us to think about the empty place left by the retiree in the institution where he was working, since it is invariably occupied by another person, with the skills and competences recognized by the institution to give continuity to its doing, giving voice to the present discourse, give vent to the facts and acts that are demanded of the university teacher. The sense of who leaves the institution in which he has operated for much of his life and how he deals with it reveals much more the scenarios in which work has taken place in a society like ours. The end of the career, widely look forward as a reward for the times of toil, as a right recently acquires, is always paradoxical, as well as the titles of the texts announced at the beginning of this writing that allow interpretations of how the retiree can feel "excluded", "inactive", "useless", "unproductive", ultimately, an empty place which can be occupied by any other person.

Setting the moment to depart, although chronological time has come, is not always a simple decision for university teachers. It involves planning, redefinition of life strategies in the personal field and, sometimes, the return to the professional field, whether in the same activity or in another. Especially because the role of the teacher in the university, in general, requires a dedication and commitment that sometimes slip in other aspects of his life, such as family life and health itself.

Our objective in this article was to analyze the process of preparation, retirement and post-retirement of university professors of the Department of Education of the Federal University of Sergipe. This is an exploratory research, based on theoretical-methodological support of thematic oral history, memories with the collection of autobiographical data about the final career of professors. We contacted twenty professors, of whom six responded to our request, to collaborate with this investigation, each named with three capital letters.

(Auto) biographical reports of retired teachers

This study was based basically on a research methodology of qualitative nature, based on thematic oral history, in which the memories of the university teachers were being enunciated around some axes as the following examples: "preparation to leave the institution", "retirement" and "post-retirement".

The emblematic relationship between memories and history is considered by Nora (1993), making the conceptual counterpoints between these two concepts, since here we are dealing with individual memory (professors of the Department of Education [DED, in Portuguese abbreviation] of the Federal University of Sergipe [UFS, in Portuguese abbreviation]). This object should refer, through his remembrance, to institutional memory (COSTA, 1997), where he acted for a long period of time and moved away to retirement.

We point out as support for the analysis of this report some conceptual discussions such as career and trajectory (BOURDIEU, 1997), professional life cycle (NÓVOA, 1999, 2007, 2010), memories (LE GOFF, 2003; HALBWACHS, 1999) and remembrance (BOSI, 1994). In these conceptual options, the so-called microhistory (LEVI, 1992, p. 132) is evident in which "[...] all social action is seen as the result of constant negotiation, manipulation, choices and decisions of the individual, of a normative reality that, although diffuse, nevertheless offers many possibilities of personal interpretations and freedoms". This is revealed in the decision-making process of retiring from the teachers participating in this research, each one with a singular interpretation of their moment and their motivations, but in general reveals indications of their time and place in the decisions and tensions resulting from this process of putting an end of the labor career.

However, we cannot fail to consider that each "[...] individual memory is a point of view on collective memory [...]", always changing depending on the place it occupies and the relations that are establish, as Halbwachs (1999, p. 51) states. This implies considering that the set of memories of the retired ones also reveals the relationship between knowledge and power. When it comes to an academic institution as a university, the voices of university professors reinforce their own subjectivity, as belonging to this institution with its objectives and social purposes.

Bourdieu (1997) understands life as being a history inseparable from the events of each individual existence, and, therefore, manifestation of this history in the form of narrative. He contradicts the idea of life as path, course, project, which presupposes linear and defined cycles. But it must be pointed out that the end of the career, inexorably, corresponds to a certain chronological age, the final stage of a life span in which the general conditions of the individual have suffered the inclemencies of time and have been marked by different memories which, remembered, transform into remembrances that can be materialized through narratives. The individual, in this sense, becomes the author and witness of his lived time (BOSI, 1994).

Time is, possibly, the main category of (self) biographical reports, in which one operates, divides, classifies, separating good and bad moments, obscuring certain memories and illuminating so many others. Time lived and chronological time maintain their harmony, but, above all, their overlapping, unleashing feelings, perceptions, differentiated values on the events.

Career understood here as being a phase of life and of the profession that are intertwined in the course of teaching, this end of career can be marked by disinvestment, bitterness, satisfaction, indifference, resilience and other possibilities and feelings because effectively it is the interface between old age and retirement (COLUSSI; ISLAND; COGO; PORTELLA; SCORTEGAGNA, 2014). Can also be thinking as changes, with their losses and gains, but also mourning (SANTOS, 2016), moment of renewal of the professional trajectory that requires resilience. The recollections of retired teacher evidence that early career occurrences are more accessible to memory, which is explained when teachers report events "[...] that have been tied to the foundations of their personal beliefs and personal theories" (SANTOS, 2016, p. 210).

We chose the career sense given by Hurbeman (2006), limiting the pedagogical career of those who have been throughout the life in the teaching profession, but specifically, whose time of professional activity in its whole, and in part, was connected to university teaching. "It is a matter of studying the course of a person in an organization (or a series of organizations) and understand how the characteristics of that person exert an influence on the organization and are, at the same time, influenced by it" (HURBEMAN, 2006, p. 39).

Hurbeman (2006) defines general trends for the life cycle of teachers, which is broadly defined as follows: 1 to 3 years, the initial phase, time of teaching and recognition; 4 to 6 years, stabilization, consolidation of a pedagogical repertoire; 7 to 25 years, diversification, oscillating between activism and questioning; 25 to 35 years, serenity, affective distancing, but also conservatism; and, finally, 35 to 40 years, disinvestment, which can be serene or bitter. This cycle cannot be rigidly framed in the career path of a teacher, but they mark and bring indicators for the analysis, that, in one form of another, can counter or ensure the subjects of this study. Our focus was to consider the end of the career, the transition and retirement, which can be serene, with renewed interest, or with disenchantment and disinvestment.

Evidences of the professional occurrences reported by teachers can provide data that allow us to understand how they analyze their past experiences, and these, namely, have a social function, giving meaning to what is remembered and as "[...] enriching sources with a view to a better knowledge of the nature of the teaching process" (BEM-PERETZ, 2007, p. 201).

It means, yet taking up Bosi (1994), the remembrances highlighted in a certain memory space (place of memory), an end of career in a university institution, which bring to mind the memory of the work (of its end), in which life and death of labor work mutually, signaling a new personal restructurings and constructions. We searched for elements in the (auto) biographical method as a methodological option for the realization of this study, understood as an approach to the field of human sciences possible through life histories. With this, we have a retrospective perspective, from the present to the past, allowing reflective awareness of a professional trajectory covered (NÓVOA, 2010), highlighting nuances of how life taught him during his trajectory.

Preparation time: the teacher "becomes an archive"

Time, as an important historical category in the work that focuses on memories, was in fact point of intersection between the participants of this research. Time that measures, traces, divides, bases, defines, classifies life, its stages and its course. Time to work, to play, to rest, to live, to die. This time, beyond the clock, the pendulums, the chronometers, the calendar, has as indicators and references these cultural artifacts to guide the materialized memories in narratives. Time that consumes us, amortizes, calms, shakes, signals, passes and kills.

Historical time does not refer only to collective, anonymous, it is a first hardening-consolidation effort of the individual passenger. Historical time refers to "human life", which is individual and collective. To force the collective against the individual or to emphasize the individual against the collective is to fail in the apprehension of human life, which is the goal of the historian (REIS, 1996, p.12).

Teachers' health and working conditions and illness processes have been the object of several studies, such as Gasparini, Barreto and Assunção (2006); and Guerreiro, Nunes, Gonález and Mesas (2016) that explain the impact of this relationship on teachers' lives, in particular, personal costs, psychological problems, incapacity for work, due to overwork, tensions involving the teaching profession and the very peculiarities of each of them in facing these difficulties and limitations. Retiring often can be driven by the urgency of dealing with health, having already been reaching for the retirement.

Regarding the teacher's health and working conditions, Batista, Carlotto, Coutinho and Augusto (2011 p. 430) point out how much they "[...] mobilize their physical, cognitive capacities, which demand effort, but also generates a hyper solicitation of their psychophysiological functions". It means that the working conditions and the requirements of this in extramural spaces, as well as the effects on health (GUEREIRO; NUNES; GONÁLEZ; MESAS, 2016), sometimes provoked and the prevalence of Burnout Syndrome as a chronic response "[...] to the interpersonal stressors that occur in the work situation, which happens to professionals who maintain a constant and direct relation with other people such as teachers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, police and firemen etc. [...]" (BATISTA; CARLOTTO; COUTINHO; AUGUSTO, 2010, p. 503), showing personal and professional costs of several orders at long-term levels.

In today's society, retirement has been a conquest of the working class, a recent right when one considers the history of mankind. In that respect, it is a reward for long years of toil, to have the right to paid rest, thus guaranteeing the end of career and life with the greatest possible tranquility. Usually, is an expectation to arrive at the necessary time to complete this stage and request retirement, but, in some professions, especially in the higher public teaching, the exit is not immediate. This is often because of pressure from changes in retirement legislation, as clear indications of loss of rights - as occurred in the 2000 pension reform -, for health reasons and because of the need for more extensive care to oneself. In addition to this, it is possible to list work problems that prevent or complicate continuity as personal problems of another nature; desire to start a new stage of life, with more leisure, travel; extreme tiredness due to work; structural changes in the institution, among other motivations.

Thus, it highlights a certain difficulty in severing ties with work, due to the arrival of regular time. This is also due to the sense that the university career assumes in the life of each one, as a mission, as a significant and important task, as personal fulfillment, as passion, as social responsibility and even as a kind of priesthood, believing in the possibilities of struggle and change for the improvement of education and society. It is not simple to ignore this, empty the drawers and go home "rest in the hammock", waiting for the time to pass.

Time to work, time to rest, maybe this is the great double of the university teacher's life. When teachers were questioned about their retirement planning, as well as their motivations, the doubling of time appeared in some reports, such as MAB, on the problem faced at the institution as reported below:

I developed my professional activities and got involved in the process of implementing the doctorate in education at UFS, no longer occupying administrative positions, but I faced many criticisms from some colleagues resulting from the struggle for power. I started to live in a ambient of hostility, which contributed to the fact that in 2009 I applied for retirement, disinterested in entering with the application for functional evaluation for associate teacher 3. My retirement was granted by the ordinance issued in March 9, 2010. Even though I was retired, I continued as collaborator teacher of the graduate program in education to finish the orientation work of two doctoral students, despite the obstacles placed by the coordinator of this nucleus (MAB, 2018).

In the words of Professor JOA (2018), the time spent at work should be replaced by other activities: "After completing my tenure and extending my retirement for another 8 years, I felt it was time to live other moments of life." JOA also refers to the need for "[...] free time to enjoy a quieter life and 'tame time' in addition to academic obligations. Enjoy pleasures delayed by lack of time".

YDO highlighted his departure, at 30 years and some months of contribution, combining some reasons for a faster exit of UFS, among disenchantment of the institution, personal and family problems. In his narrative, he spotlights, above all, the developments that took place in the public university in the early years of 2000 and the consequences that occurred in the daily scenario of the institution itself. All these factors generated new pedagogical and political practices that did not pleased everyone, much more by the way the changes were instituted than by the content they were contemplating. Let's look at his narrative:

When I started to think about it, I faced personal problems that involved profound changes in my life and also greatly affected my health. It was at a time when my parents that I lived with me died: first my mother, unexpectedly, soon after I finished my doctorate, and, in the sequence, the slow death of my father that was consummated in July 2012. Associated with the physical and emotional fragility in which I found myself, came disenchantment with the institution. The clear emphasis that the university start gave to production, results, organization of teaching and evaluation practice, based much more on numerical criteria and on efficiency than on quality criteria, which visibly sacrificed teachers. This had been contributing to unbridled activism, especially with regard to scientific production. We received more and more reports on some hardly correct approaches of the teachers to grant the necessary score to the “good” assessment and the academic prestige (YDO, 2018).

The course of pedagogy, instituted on November 28, 1968, in the heart of the creation of the Federal University of Sergipe, assumed, at the time, the model defined at the national level for titles in Bachelor's degree in Education (B. Ed.) and Bachelor's degree, of 1962. However, in 1969, one year after its creation, the first curricular reformulation was carried out, with the introduction of so-called qualifications. In the 1970s, there was another reformulation, with the technicism profile, after the Opinion no. 252/69 (SAVIANI, 2012).

In this way, in 1992, a new proposal of curriculum reformulation was presented because of the discussions about the qualifications placed in the agenda. In 2006, in particular, a new course curriculum was introduced, definitively withdrawing the qualifications and outlining an essentially Bachelor's degree in Education (B. Ed.) course, focused on teacher training in early childhood education and the early years of elementary education (SOBRAL; FREITAS, 2009).

Another facet of this disenchantment was the change in the profile of the students of the pedagogy course, although I base this statement only the empirical observation of reality. Each semester I had been observing, based on the polls that I made at the beginning of each period, that a large part of the students entered the course not by desire or by the said vocation for teaching or concern with the issue of education in the country or something worth. But, for other, odd reasons: for considering an easier course, by accident, for not knowing what to choose, for lack of choice or as second or third choice in the order of choice at the time of entrance examination (at the time, it still was the main modality of admission to the university).

I think that object education is not so easy to understand for beginners, it is an object of great complexity, and the majority were there with no expectations in relation to the course. So, lessons, readings, discussions seemed to fall into a void. This was very demotivating.

Still another aspect of the student's profile, caused me a deep affliction: the incipience of the level of basic knowledge such as reading and writing was hopeless and, if this was problematic during the course, at the end, at the writing the monograph, it was a terror (YDO, 2018).

We had another curricular reform in 2006, where advances in the understanding of the pedagogy course, focused on teaching, were of singular importance and of identity. In this scenario, the inclusion of the monograph at the end of the course brought the expectation of a change in the quality of this degree. This inclusion, however, was neither smooth nor peaceful, greatly increasing the retention of the course, at a more general level, and the immense difficulty of the students in facing this intellectual production. In contrast, those who met this demand were joining the master's degree course and giving progressive continuity to their academic trajectory, demonstrating the gains also in relation to the inclusion of the monographs.

In the discourse of the participant YDO these questions were punctuated in expressions such as "disenchantment with the institution", in relation to unbridled productivity, generating an "unbridled activism" and also the "disenchantment of the profile of the course change", with the inclusion of students who entered for "stupid reasons": easy going course, not knowing what to do, lack of choice, second or third option. Furthermore, the insufficiency of students' prior knowledge, low reading and writing rates, crucial in the difficulties evidenced in the production of the monograph. The same professor, however, points out that:

I would like to say that I am not against racial quotas or the requirement of the monograph, I am only concerned with the way in which the university dealt with the students who entered it favored by that system. Apparently, they had the greatest difficulties in reading and writing, but the institution, at the time, had not yet taken any initiative to help them, at least, to minimize such difficulties.

I consider the writing of the monograph, a requirement of the end of the course, as a privileged moment of synthesis of the readings and discussions carried out and the elaboration by the student of the understanding of specific problems of education. However, the experience of guiding the end-of-course work demanded of me, and I think of all my colleagues, a superhuman effort because I was forced to, practically, guide writing as if I had to “hold hands” with each of them (this is symbolic). When I completed my last student's monograph orientation assignment, at the end of 2012, I retired. It was an extremely difficult job, she was one of the many students who did not understand what they read and could not articulate writing, organize thinking. At the conclusion I got sick, literally bedridden, I was exhausted (YDO, 2018).

In addition to this speech, the participant MAB also highlights a correlation between health and work, which provoked his retirement at 36 years and 9 months of work exercise. Thus, he alleges that he had a stroke because of his job dissatisfaction, although he had to wait another two years to retire in order to avoid salary losses, reducing many of his activities over that period, it was possible to dedicate himself to other activities - like physiotherapy, water aerobics and painting on canvas - necessary for the recovery of his health. Personal reasons, problems with health, coping with adversities in institutions, tensions and problems with other colleagues were listed as important motivations for moving away from work, although none of the participants in this research did so after completing regular time. Other motivations have also been listed, as LMT points out in bringing elements of the work to justify their departure, incisively: "I'm tired of teaching! I'm tired of my department colleagues! No one wanted to be the head of department! The position only interested to the authoritarians or the uncommitted ones [...]. So, I decided to retire".

Disagreements, griefs, relationships in conflicts, dissatisfactions also contributed to the departure of the institution and not only the feel of regular time and duty fulfilled, as the collaborator JOA tells us, at 41 years of work time:

After completing service time and extending my stay for another 8 years, I felt that it was time to live other moments of life. Take the time to dedicate myself to other experiences, unrelated to institutional obligations and commitments. Dedicate “myself” to leisure activities, readings and family coexistence (JOA, 2018).

The collaborator DAO long stay of 38 years was the result of closing one stage and then starting another, recovering her time for activities not lived with greater intensity due to work:

The main motivation [...]: I wanted to do other things the active life of academic work does not allow. I wanted this free time, in the last stage of my active life, to enjoy a quieter life and tame the time beyond academic obligations. Enjoy pleasures delayed by lack of time (DAO, 2018).

More timely questions also prompted the faster retirement of colleagues at the institution, as asserts collaborator MIOA, who says she has not been able to take the license period for training and to be very tired of teaching classes in the evening. However, this same teacher stressed that she left the institution and asked for the bond of a volunteer teacher in the masters and doctoral program on education.

Being retired: "owner of my time", "getting rid of the empire of time"

I remember my first workplace, my first class, the dead leaves that creaked in footsteps in the provincial fall. Then, the day of retirement - far from me, a lapse of time twice as long, or almost, than my previous life - seemed to me as unreal as death itself. Behold, a year ago he arrived (BEAUVIOR, 2014, p. 12).

Beauvoir (2014, p. 12) brings in her tale "The Age of Discretion" the mishaps of facing aging, recollection and retirement, in which time appears as a new resizing in which the physical, intellectual and emotional marks promote other meanings for their own existence. Each of them competes in a different way: "Being retired and being a fret seems almost the same thing. The word froze me. It frightened me the extent of my leisure. I was wrong. Time, sometimes was hard to pass, but I manage. And what a pleasure to live without obeying orders, without embarrassment. There are times when I am astonished".

A study carried out by Cruz (2012) on the meanings of retirement, portraying experiences of UFS professors, point out different forms of confrontation of professors, from regret for being discarded and dissatisfied with current life, concerned with quality of life from then, the illness of others, return to work in other institutions or even in UFS, often as a volunteer teacher.

This singular moment of receiving the communication of being retired and asking yourself "what do I want to do now?" unveils a new stage of life that requires, initially, planning and understanding of your gains and possible losses. Pack your things and leave your room after decades are not actions that occur simultaneously, as YDO reports, because as the memories are selective, to choose what to preserve and how to preserve, after a long period of time collecting books, magazines, papers and works in general, demands from the university professor the time and willingness to confront his own history in the institution. It is time to leave, detach and move on, the destiny that has gatherer takes its place, whether in the recycling, in the trash, in the library or even in folders properly organized and classified:

The school recess also collaborated, because I spent three days cleaning and discarding a lot of old material and student work stored in the closets of my room, which had no more importance. I also made a donation to the UFS Central Library of my collection containing books, periodicals and copies of the final papers of the graduate course (MAB, 2018).

DAO (2018) states: "I did not organize myself, it was quiet. I left as I entered. Firm steps and a sense of duty fulfilled". And JOA (2018) claims to have "[...] everything very well thought: at the end of the semester, I entered the application in a way that did not need to start a new term and interrupt it". Testimony that differs from another collaborator: "I have not yet organized. I decided to dedicate my time to friends, family, travel and philanthropic activities. But I intend to get a job, I believe that work dignifies the human being and that unoccupied head is a door to disease and aging (MIOA, 2018)".

Receiving the news that, finally, he is retired gives rise to the need to empty the drawers, to close the tasks, and to rearrange personal life in another movement. It is also fueling expectations about the new time, the time of retiree. This transition movement brings unique memories about the procedures and organizing strategies of that time.

Jubilation, joy, concern, sense of duty fulfilled, fear of time to be occupied, tranquility and nostalgia, emotional feelings, and other set of feelings mark the end of the career. The construction of a new time of living and use of time. Retirement proves to be promising, since the time before, devoted to work, starts being used to do the things that you like and that you did not have time to do. This often involves new learning, the need to solve new problems and face new and different challenges. To return to a course, to develop an artistic activity, to carry out a project that was left for later, these are important requirements for the retiree while promoting a sense of well-being and self-realization, even if the time of work has been revealed compensator.

There is a reinvention of routine and life in new (or old) tasks and a new way of facing everyday challenges, as YDO reveals:

Regarding my personal life, the changes were great, as I said, I sold the house where I lived with my parents and my son, I bought an apartment to which I moved. After a year, I made a new change to be able to reform it, all this demanded much of me, there were many changes in personal life. Besides, I had to take care of my health, because I felt very sick, depending on sleeping pills; the going to doctors, health care became constant.

Regarding the books and materials I left in my UFS room, it took me almost a year to remove them. After the definitive change of house, one of my arrangements was to organize my documentation, to separate and discard only what was repeated and which I supposed I no longer needed.

I am very attached to my books, to the documentation that I have raised, so this work of organization, cataloging, is now waiting for me to elaborate on them to write (YDO, 2018).

However, many teachers, when they leave for retirement, soon after or with some interval of time they return to work. Meira and Leite (2013) did an investigation in this respect and point out stereotypes and myths regarding retirees. Although it is a right and a conquest of the worker, there is a certain devaluation in terms of retirement: to become unproductive, denying a whole professional trajectory. The person also begins to deny himself and be identified with it. But according to the authors the main reason for the work often implies a demand for income, the teacher faces new challenges in a new scenario in which educational institutions are in shifts, to resume often implies a requirement of updating for the confrontation of these challenges. In addition to the loss of wages, there is also another issue on the agenda that is sometimes neglected, the well-being of the profession, which fills life and gives meaning to it, leaving the feeling of emptiness related to an idle life. For this reason, the importance of planning and preparing to make this transition. What are the projects and objectives to be achieved in this new life cycle? Are these achievable in view of age, health conditions and time available? How to deal with this rupture and change without installing a disinvestment of oneself as a person, even as a professional, while in the condition of "inactive"?

MAB received an invitation to join a private institution and did it shortly after his retirement at UFS, highlighting the differences in the way the work was done and the requirements pertinent to his position in the private institution.

In May 2010, I received an invitation to participate in the university teaching staff [...] that was requesting the implementation of the master course in education and lacked professionals holding the doctorate degree and experiences in teaching, guidance and management. After a certain insistence, I accepted, therefore, my plan was to return to the exercise of professional activities only in the year of 2011.

At the beginning, the work in the graduate course was rewarding, despite [having gone to] work in a private institution of a family nature, which is another different reality. There is an exaggerated charge, because “everything was for yesterday”, in addition to a strict control of time and excessive bureaucracy. After a year of work in this institution, there was a change in the initial conditions established, since every teacher holding a doctorate degree had to work in the undergraduate program (offering 2 to 3 disciplines) in order to favor the institutional evaluation of the courses carried out by the Education Ministry and raise the “quality of teaching”. Teaching at undergraduation in the evening was not a problem, but rather the level of the class and the lack of interest of many students, because they think that, because they are attending a paid institution, they can have certain perks and walk all over you. In addition, the teacher has to meet certain requirements, the most crucial for me was to only “evaluate” the student through testing, what I consider a procedure outdated and that did not evaluate the student's abilities. The teacher had a limited performance (MAB, 2018).

MAB also points out in his narrative the difficulties encountered with the profile of the students of this institution, the lack of autonomy in the pedagogical referrals and the limitations of the exercise of teaching that promoted their departure from the said institution. It also indicates that the accumulation of one more remunerated activity ends up being compromised by the Income Tax because it considers in its calculations two incomes for the said legal discounts. It is only after this activity for a certain period that the participant starts to dedicate himself to leisure activities such as canvas painting and orchid cultivation.

The return to the same institution for work activities, although not necessarily for undergraduate education, was the option of three other participants. YOD marks its presence in the specialization course in early childhood education, from which it was initially coordinator and became responsible for the offer of some disciplines, in the period after his retirement. She was also invited by the team of the National Plan for Literacy in the Right Age (PNAIC, in Portuguese abbreviation) to work on the continuing education of teachers, but it was only in one edition. She highlights her reasons:

As always, I was very worried and tense to do the work, I spent immense energy to organize everything, I spent many hours for it. At the same time, in the PNAIC, during the course in which I participated, I began to verify how unmotivated the teachers were, they arrived late, many left in the middle of the classes, they gave the most diverse excuses. The records of their speeches not only revealed the world of difficulties, in which they were immersed in the exercise of their profession, but also the enormous fragility of formation (which, in fact, does not seem to be a problem only of Sergipe reality) implied in the same practices, as the use of primers in the usual way, without questioning. Moreover, the neglect of public policies in education increasingly deepened the understanding that it was unproductive all efforts to carry out the aforementioned training program, in addition to the questioning that I particularly made to the policy of continuous training adopted by the federal government (YDO, 2018).

The professor saw problems already suffered in the department of education, unveiling the tensions between the supervised internship and the school community where it was taking place. In fact, one of the structural problems in teacher education, particularly in day care centers and kindergarten schools, which, despite a greater universality of offer, continues to be obsolete, without actually answering the school needs. Local studies have been carried out in search of a transformation in local schools and day care centers, like those of Silva (2004; 2017).

This disenchantment to which I referred originates when I was still in the department of education [and] observed the internships practices, especially in kindergartens and preschools [...] how difficult was to do a job that would help teachers come to reflect on the teaching practice and also to strive for changes to take place. “Throwing the problems under the rug” seemed to be the best. People seemed to just want to secure their jobs, the university's presence wanting to send reflections and actions seemed not to be welcome (YDO, 2018).

The return to the work activity also occurred with LMT, to assume a trust position, next to the current management of UFS, accepting it "[...] for two reasons: the gratification, which was not negligible, and the fear of boredom". She faced a new challenge, which was different from what she had done during her 18 years in the institution. When asked about the changes of her teaching time for this new occupation, she answered:

It did not change much, even because I returned to work in the university itself, however, the type of work was quite different. The teacher can work alone, the manager does not! The first challenge was to turn assigned people in my sector into a team. For that, I mobilized from the layout of the room, the furniture, roles, tasks, until creating a dynamic of collective work seeking to value the potential of each one. I was fortunate enough to share the management with a teacher I did not know, but from the first meeting there was an inexplicable trust between us, able to draw up a work plan whose sharing was the beginning. Complementing this team, I had the pleasure of meeting a colleague from the department who, although a distant colleague, it was a pleasure to return to work with and share her competence and commitment, typical of her, since always. But the same did not happen with the pro-rectory as a whole, to each their own, disputing who appears the most, to be considered the best. The collective work that we built in the sector did not receive much attention and support due the other sectors of the [mentioned] pro-rectory. So, all the work little advanced and was left without ground to consolidate itself (LMT, 2018).

The said teacher is in this position, assuming the challenges and possibilities that it contains, continuing his work, in the same way as DAO, who also joined this management work position to contribute to his work. After eight years of retirement, without any paid work, she attended the "invitation of a long-time friend and colleague" whom she trusts and respects to take up the position of advisor, considering that the intellectual work continues to motivate her. Likewise, teacher JOA assumed a position during a period in the State Secretariat for Social Inclusion.

The maintenance of a link with the graduation in another category, such as that of a volunteer teacher, is another fact that has been verified in relation to the teachers who retire, as it happened with the teacher MIOA. It is a way of continuing the academic-pedagogical activities in a more specialized portion of master and doctorate degrees, enabling the study, research and intellectual production, without the dilemmas and difficulties that are often faced in the undergraduate degree.

In relation to these cases, Cruz (2012) highlights the memories and experiences of retired teachers at UFS, within the framework of the gender approach,

[...] highlighting their trajectories / life histories, dimensions of work, social class and generation and the processes of sociocultural changes, the meanings attributed / lived with retirement, an event that marks the rupture with the existence in the world of work, thus, enabling them to understand how they reconstruct their identities and integral aspects of the citizenship process (CRUZ, 2012, p. 12).

In this study, based on the autobiographical method and the life histories of teachers, it was emphasized that there was positivity and satisfaction when they obtained recognition at work, but there was also psychological suffering, loss of meaning and control of the work they had been doing.

The interviewees refer to non-constructive ways of dealing with suffering, sometimes stressing only the experience of suffering, sometimes resigning or denying suffering, or seeking individual solutions. The effects of pleasure, mentioned by the participants, refer to the culture of the organization, to creativity, sharing and productivity. The effects of suffering are related to the fall in productivity and competitiveness, with the power relations of the members of an organization (CRUZ, 2012, p. 147).

Our participants also brought in their accounts data on this suffering, especially as YDO narrates:

Look, I've always been a person who demands a lot of herself, being worried and tense to handle the tasks was permanent. I had many migraines, almost daily taking pain medicine. Then, over the years, other problems were emerging. I also had a muscle weakness that led to several fractures. I never had time to exercise and take care of myself a little more. I slept little and bad and, in the end, I had to take antidepressants for having triggered the panic syndrome. This set of things was being improved in the course of treatments and after I retired from university (YDO, 2018).

This suffering is also present in the speech of MAB that had health conditions changed due to the clashes faced at work:

I suffered a stroke and left my left body compromised. This incident occurred in 2007 due to several setbacks experienced in the work environment. We stayed for two months preparing the documentation of the graduate program in education, organizing and updating the archives in order to receive the visit of the consultant teachers indicated by Coordination of Improvement of Higher-Level Personnel (CAPES, in Portuguese abbreviation) to make the visit and analysis of the program.

During this period, the rectory of UFS decided to use the financial resources to tile the walls of block II, where were the dependencies of the program (meeting room, secretary, classroom and library), dismantling all spaces and not valuing our effort, making it impossible the observation of the dependencies and consult the archives and publications, by the visiting teachers. We maintained dialogue and made several criticisms of the rectory, which were in vain.

The suggestion was that the meetings should be held in the rectory offices, and we had to carry several documents to facilitate the research and consultations. During the visits and contact with the consultants, we detail our efforts, the institutional support obtained, as well as the setbacks caused by the inflexible stance of the rector and the mayor of the campus.

The following week, all this strain of stress and tension affected my body, causing the stroke. I was away four months from the institution and only felt encouraged to return thanks to the stimulus and signs of affection of some colleagues and students of the research group under our coordination (MAB, 2018).

It highlights significant elements of how much work brings important elements of psychological and physical suffering, requiring the professors to shift attention from work to health care. When asked about losses and earnings when retired, participants note that:

I believe that one of the losses is the closest contact with the colleagues / friends I made at the UFS, the exchanges, the dialogues, the sharing of things together, there is in fact a natural separation, each one goes to one side; I missed that a lot. Comradeship in recent times have always been very good! Another important loss concerns a certain intellectual decline (YDO, 2018).

DAO (2018) completes that "[...] it only has gains, for me at least. Life is shorter and living rationally begins to have a short and unforeseen time".

It is interesting to highlight the use of the "time frame" of LMT and the statements made based on a perception of Marx about alienating work. In this perspective, this author highlights how labor dehumanizes and oppresses in capitalism, without the possibility to the development of the individual's potentialities, let alone his creativity, enough just to keep him alive, a survivor, unrelated to the ultimate end of the product he produces, that is, the objectified work. However, paradoxically, there is always an overvaluation of it, so that its absence empties the worker itself, as well portrays our collaborator, as we withdraw from it, time empties and empties us, as if it were possible to live with it and live well.

Marx said that the servitude of the worker to his work means that we can only maintain ourselves as a physical person as a worker, in other words, alienation reaches a point that we become subjects to work, without it we have no existence of our own. Hence the question of working time and life time. Time is everything and nothing at the same time and we, when we retire, feel as if we are “the time frame”. Alienated work transforms work as a vital and productive activity into something external to us. When retirement comes, we are afraid of losing our own existence without work. Free time, that time so dreamed up when we were in the active duty can turn into a time of getting sick, bored, disowned, disqualified... On the other hand, the gain is to become aware of this reality and to overcome it, enjoy life in the life time we have (LMT, 2018).

The analysis by Carvalho and Martins (2016) highlights the process and alienation of work in the process of productive restructuring, understanding the need to consider the work in an idealistic and romanticized way, because:

If the activity of guidance culminates in the formation of the personality of the people, and if this activity in adulthood is expressed by the form of work, it must be noted that only by overcoming the relations of alienation, whose foundation lies in private property, in the system of money - in capital - we can affirm that, in fact, the guiding activity of adulthood is at the service of the real development of individuals (CARVALHO, MARTINS, 2016, p. 288).

This implies an understanding of this paradox between the alienated work and the sense it has for the university teacher, who assumes the academic function with intellectual devices capable of rationalizing, framing and requiring for him an importance greater than simply the salary received at the end of the month, but the importance of being someone imbued with the research, teaching and management of a way of life of its own that extrapolates routines and norms commonly attributed to other workers, as our participant YDO well said, when referring to retirement as a way of not going on trips, vacations, holidays with a bag of books and material for reading and correction, creating tension and reducing the possibility of leisure. This living well is expressed in JOA's speech:

I think that retirement brings us many gains. The feeling of freedom and lightness of life is something wonderful! Live without strings and [without] the pressure of time. Time to prepare classes, to correct works, to think about class, to evaluate... I only felt the absence of socializing with my colleagues, but life gains another dynamic without anxiety..., without a clock indicating the time for this or that (JOA, 2018).

It reinforces the positive feeling of MAB retirement when it refers to "[...] freedom to enjoy life and dedicate to activities that satisfy and enrich you despite health problems. Facing the finitude of life, DAO believes that retirement only brings gains, because "[...] life is short and living rationally begins to have a short and unforeseen time". In relation to time, MIAO also states the importance of "gaining more time to manage one's own life".

The institutional (non) place of the retiree, by way of conclusion

When we approach the (non) place in the institution, we return to the beginning of this work, trying to understand how our participants perceive the place they occupy in the institution as retirees. Our intention was to also understand how the institution treats its employees who, for decades, have been almost every and full days in their spaces doing their work.

It is noted here that the institution itself does not shelter its employees, even though they have been walking in their corridors for many years, sitting in the auditoriums, participating in meetings and debates, mobilization movements, commissions, organizations and collective activities, marking and marked by fellowship with their peers, either in conflict or, alternately, in harmony. There is a plasticity of the active professors’ actions of the movement and the dynamics of daily life in the institution.

In this context it even seems that it is essential and if you do not meet schedules, reports, answer calls, participate in examining boards, embezzlement is inevitable. This importance attributed to itself, this zeal and commitment, this responsibility and attention to the demands of the institution, deepen the physical and mental wear of the teacher, who, when in the active duty, considers it unthinkable not to assume and respond in a timely fashion. Perhaps there, it is the cause of the slow and continuous sickness, which over time will demobilize the dynamics of their actions, marked by fatigue, sometimes extreme, and in a fast time that does not accelerate the movement of our actions.

As Foucault stated the author's empty place, we think that perhaps this empty place is also suitable for the retired, that the next day or as soon as his desk and his drawer will be occupied, his assignments will be carried out by another person and there is nothing that can be said about this teacher be more or less important than the one that left. Only the faint remembrance of what he has built about himself, about his doing, about the importance he gave to what he did, how he did it, and the clarity of the reach of his actions can be revealing of what was present in any archive, either in the institution or in the report of what he was about to speak, or in the memories of others with whom he worked and lived.

In summary, the theoretical-methodological support of thematic oral history, with the collection of autobiographical data from teachers of the Department of Education (DED) of the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS, in Portuguese abbreviation), gave voice to the so-called "inactive ones", exhibiting significative elements of the process of preparation, retirement and post-retirement of them.

The analysis has revealed us that the closure of the university professor career is not always carried out with tranquility. Almost always provoked by modifications in the institutional order that discourage the continuity of the professor making: conflicts with the pairs, health problems and family losses. It is also evident that some professors considered it as an overcome phase and wanted to enjoy other possibilities, taking up their time in a different way, than the one that was forced to deal, in leisure activities, self and health care.

When they achieve the retirement, some of them returned to work, either in a private institution or at the institution itself, with an increase in revenue, new experiences, but also the fear of facing an "empty" time.

Teachers recognize, however, that upon leaving the institution their place is occupied quickly and, in fact, they must deal with oblivion after acting for decades in the institution with care and responsibility. Their voices, therefore, leave meaningful statements of the implication of being retired, a stage of life that needed to be reorganized and resized in the uses of their "free" time. Personal memories and institutional memories intersect, revealing how much the end of career reveals about their lives, their work performance and, especially, how the institution deals with those who have dedicated themselves for decades to its maintenance.


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Received: November 14, 2018; Accepted: January 21, 2019

Profa. Dra Maria Neide Sobral

Universidade Federal de Sergipe (São Cristóvão, Brasil)

Departamento de Educação

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação

Grupo de Pesquisa Educação a Distância, Comunicação e Práticas Educativas Interculturais (EDAPECI/UFS/CNPq)

Grupo de Pesquisa Estudos e Pesquisas sobre História do Ensino Superior (GREPHES/UFS/CNPq)



Profa. Dra. Deise Juliana Francisco

Universidade Federal de Alagoas (Maceió, Brasil)

Centro de Educação

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação Programa de Pós-Graduação em Cognição, Tecnologias e Instituições (PPGCTI/UFERSA)

Grupo de Pesquisa Saúde Mental, Ética e Educação



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