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Cadernos de História da Educação

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Cad. Hist. Educ. vol.18 no.1 Uberlândia ene./abr 2019  Epub 06-Mayo-2019 


The creation of the Institutes of Education in Brazil as part of a connected history of teacher education1

Diana Gonçalves Vidal2 

Rafaela Silva Rabelo3 

2Full Professor of History of Education at the School of Education at the University of São Paulo. Dean of the Institute of Brazilian Studies at the same University. Researcher 1B at CNPq. Member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education. Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Center for Studies and Research on the History of Education [Núcleo Interdisciplinar de Estudos e Pesquisas em História da Educação (Niephe)]. E-mail:

3PhD in Education, specializing in History of Education, from the School of Education at the University of São Paulo. Postdoctoral researcher in the School of Education at the University of São Paulo. Member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Studies and Research on the History of Education [Núcleo Interdisciplinar de Estudos e Pesquisas em História da Educação (Niephe)]. E-mail:


This article discusses the New Education Fellowship (NEF) and the Teachers College (TC) at Columbia University as centers for the legitimization of education as an emerging academic field and as education network centers. To this end, we investigate the establishment of the Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo Institutes of Education in the 1930s in the context of the New Education movement. We seek to demonstrate connections and examine the circulation of people and ideas in what we consider a connected history of teacher education. We have based our research on an associated bibliography and other sources, such as pedagogical journals, curricula and reports. Our study reveals a web of relationships that connected people and places in the 1920s and 1930s. Central to these relationships were institutions such as the NEF and the TC, which established social and epistemological territories surrounding the production of pedagogical repertoires related to New Education.

Keywords:  Teacher education; Institute of Education; Teachers College; New Education Fellowship


O presente artigo tem como objetivo discorrer sobre o papel tanto da New Education Fellowship (NEF) quanto do Teachers College (TC) da Columbia University como centros de legitimação da educação enquanto campo acadêmico emergente e como epicentros de redes de trabalho na educação. Para tanto, exploramos a constituição dos Institutos de Educação do Rio de Janeiro e de São Paulo nos anos 1930 entrelaçada ao movimento da Educação Nova, buscando evidenciar conexões, perscrutando a circulação de sujeitos e ideias no que podemos considerar uma história conectada da formação de professores. Baseamo-nos em bibliografia correlata e em fontes tais como revistas pedagógicas, programas de ensino e relatórios. A discussão aponta para uma trama de relações que interligava sujeitos e lugares nos anos 1920 e 1930, desempenhada por instituições como a NEF e o TC, que se constituíam em territórios sociais e epistemológicos congregados sobre a produção de repertórios acerca da Educação Nova.

Palavras-chave:  Formação de professores; Instituto de Educação; Teachers College; New Education Fellowship


El presente articulo tiene como objetivo discurrir sobre el papel tanto de la New Education Fellowship como del Teachers College de Columbia University como centros de legitimación de la educación como campo académico emergente y como epicentros de redes de trabajo en la educación. Para eso, exploramos la constitución de los Institutos de Educación de Río de Janeiro y de São Paulo en los años 1930 entrelazados al movimiento de la Educación Nova, buscando evidenciar conexiones, mirando la circulación de sujetos e ideas en lo que podríamos considerar una historia conectada de la formación de maestros. Nos basamos en bibliografía relacionada y en fuentes tales como revistas pedagógicas, programas de enseñanza e informes. La discusión apunta a una trama de relaciones que interconecta sujetos y lugares en los años 1920 y 1930, articuladas por instituciones como la NEF y el TC, que se constituían en territorios sociales y epistemológicos congregados sobre la producción de repertorios acerca de la Educación Nova.

Palabras clave:  Formación de maestros; Instituto de Educación; Teachers College; New Education Fellowship

The Manifesto of the Pioneers of New Education (Manifesto dos Pioneiros da Educação Nova) was published in March 19, 1932. That same day, Decree 3810 was enacted, creating the Institute of Education in the Federal District—at the time, Rio de Janeiro—under the administration of Anísio Teixeira. Both documents provided for teacher education at a higher level (Vidal, 2013). Another element that relates the documents to one another was the dialogue with a set of ideas and models that circulated in the early twentieth century that came to be known as the international New Education movement.

The Manifesto of the Pioneers was related in many ways—but not exclusively—to pedagogical theories generated in the United States, particularly at Columbia University’s Teachers College (TC). A number of the Manifesto’s signatories, such as Anísio Teixeira himself, had recently returned from the US and had begun incorporating the views of various American authors into their research. References to American research on pedagogy also appear in a bibliography that was included in the original foreign-language editions of these authors or in the translations of their works that became available in Brazil.

Although John Dewey was not cited in the Manifesto, Cunha (2017) argues that the philosopher’s ideas are present in the document. Similarly, Carvalho (2004) attempts to prove— through an intricate web of relationships between Brazilian and European educators—the connection between the content of the Manifesto and the ideas of the Ligue Internationale Pour L’Education Nouvelle (LIEN), which in the Anglophone context was known as the New Education Fellowship (NEF).

In the 1920s, the NEF (or LIEN) emerged as an international movement that sought to unite educators from different countries in the belief that education could meet the new demands of a changing world. In the context of the end of the First World War and concomitant calls for peace and democracy, this organization, whose official headquarters was located in London, established local sections around the world, including in South America; Brazil had a section in the 1940s. The organization’s main strategies for disseminating its initiatives and ideas was through journals associated with the NEF and at regional and international conferences. In this episode of cultural interchange, we have found not only connections between the TC, the NEF and Brazil but also between Brazil and other centers that advocated ideas and information related to New Education. Despite their different approaches, these interrelated centers and their Brazilian counterparts constitute intricate social networks. However, the consolidation of this pedagogical repertoire for educators from Brazil and other countries was not confined to these initiatives. The configuration of education as an academic field—one not restricted only to Normal Schools but associated with the university—was essential. According to Watras (2011), the emergence of the NEF coincided with the creation of Departments of Education at different universities around the world, which in Brazil involved the creation of the Federal District Institute of Education (Instituto de Educação do Distrito Federal - IEDF), in Rio de Janeiro, in 1932, and the São Paulo Institute of Education (Instituto de Educação de São Paulo - IESP), in 1933, and their subsequent incorporation into the University of the Federal District, in 1935, and the University of São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo - USP), in 1934, respectively.

These historic links lead us to inquire about the construction of epistemological territories in different geographical spaces and societies as well as to examine the disputed meanings associated with the international New Education movement in relation to its local hybridizations. To this end, this article discusses the role of both the NEF and the TC as centers for the legitimization of education as an emerging academic field and as centers of education networks. We have placed our focus on the establishment of the IEDF and the IESP, seeking to demonstrate connections while examining the circulation of people and ideas in what we consider a connected history of teacher education.

To develop the discussion, we have organized this article into three parts. The first examines the establishment of the NEF. The second discusses the international tradition of the TC, specifically investigating its relationship with the IEDF and IESP. The third examines the creation of these institutes and their connection to the New Education movement.

The New Education Fellowship

The New Education Fellowship was founded in 1921 at the first New Education conference held in Calais, France. However, its true origin was in the Theosophical Fraternity in Education, which was founded in England by Beatrice Ensor in 1915. According to Middleton (2017), when Ensor organized the Calais conference, she was careful not to associate the event with theosophy, in light of the resistance to theosophical belief of a significant number of educators. Thus, Ensor adopted the name New Education Fellowship for the new international organization whose official headquarters, as previously stated, was located in London. The journal The New Era, which began publication in 19204 under the auspices of the Theosophical Education Trust, became the official journal of the NEF. However, the connection with theosophy would continue to be felt in the NEF throughout the 1920s and 1930s, as can be noted in the conference themes and in the articles published in The New Era (Lawson, 1981).

At the time of the NEF’s creation, Elizabeth Rotten and Adolphe Ferrière were appointed directors of the Fellowship, Beatrice Ensor was the managing director, and BaillieWeaver was the president. The central committee was based in London. The primary means of communication with NEF members was through three journals associated with the Fellowship: The New Era, edited by Beatrice Ensor; Pour L’Ere Nouvelle, edited by Adolphe Ferrière; and Das Werdende Zeitalter, edited by Elizabeth Rotten. The biannual conferences also played an important role. The primary focus was to promote discussions related to different aspects of New Education (Larsson, 1987; Jenkins, 1989; Brehony, 2004).

Between the two world wars, the NEF organized seven international conferences5 and a series of regional conferences6 that addressed topics central to New Education. These events attracted the attention of professionals, administrators and academics in the field of education and lay individuals. Through its associated journals and international conferences, the NEF facilitated the circulation of theories, models, objects and individuals related to the agendas of New Education, thus extending its ideas to new locations and adding new researchers and enthusiasts to its ranks.

Given the rapid increase in the number of associated sections and groups in different countries and the number of conference participants, the NEF’s international presence is evident. For example, in 1936, the NEF had 51 national sections and 23 associated journals in 15 languages. The international conferences united members from different parts of the world. At the seventh world conference, held in England in 1936, 50 countries were represented (Larsson, 1987; Jenkins, 1989).

South American countries also had NEF sections and groups, e.g., in Argentina (created 1928), Ecuador (1930), Peru (1930), Bolivia (1936), Paraguay (1930) and Uruguay (1931)7. In Brazil, the section was created in 1942, with Lourenço Filho as director and Celina Padilha as secretary, according to the NEF’s reports.

Although the Brazilian section was only created in the 1940s—later than in the neighboring countries—there is evidence of the presence of Brazilian educators at the NEF’s conferences beginning in the 1920s. The earliest references include the presence of Laura Jacobina Lacombe at the Locarno conference, where she gave a presentation on public education in Rio de Janeiro (Lacombe, 1927). It is possible that she was part of a Brazilian delegation sent by Fernando de Azevedo, the director of public education in Rio de Janeiro. In issue number 32 of The New Era, published in 1927, which includes information on the Locarno conference, Lacombe is listed as a delegate from South America, representing the Brazilian government and the Brazilian Association of Education. The same issue lists the number of members from each country, with three from Brazil.

The NEF included internationally renowned educators and institutions in its ranks, which was reflected in articles published in associated journals, including The New Era, as well as in the presence of those educators at the regional and international conferences organized by the Fellowship. Conference participants included Susan Isaacs and Percy Nunn, professors at the Institute of Education in London; Adolphe Ferrière and Jean Piaget, affiliated with the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute; and Harold Rugg, Carleton Washburne, Helen Parkhust and Isaac Kandel, associated with the Teachers College/Columbia University and/or the Progressive Education Association (PEA).

The first US section of the NEF was created in 1932. It was linked to the PEA and published the associated journal Progressive Education (Brehony, 2004). Although it is clear that the PEA was aware of the NEF’s activities from the beginning, based on statements that appeared in Progressive Education and considering the number of delegates representing the US at the NEF’s conferences, the PEA resisted the idea of being linked to the NEF for a substantial length of time, as noted by Middleton (2013). This concern and resistance is also mentioned by educators associated with the PEA, such as Rugg (1931) and Washburne (1952).

There are at least two explanations for this initial resistance. First, although at the time the NEF was emerging as an important social network linking individuals from different countries, it initially brought together lay individuals and educators associated with theosophy. Second, although they were founded at approximately the same time—the PEA was created in 1919—and had objectives that converged at various points, the PEA and the NEF collided over the issue of prominence. In fact, Brehony (2004) notes unsuccessful attempts to merge the two organizations, although he does not provide further details.

The Teachers College at Columbia University as an international reference

The Teachers College (TC) at Columbia University was an important model for teacher education worldwide and a model for the creation of similar institutions in other countries, such as the Institute of Education at University College London (McCullock, 2014) or the Edinburgh (Teacher) Training Centre (Moray House) (Lawn, 2014) in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1920s and 1930s.

The TC was founded by Grace Hoadley Dodge, Nicholas Murray Butler and James Earl Russell in 1887. The current name Teachers College was adopted in 1892. In the early twentieth century, a group of educators was invited to join the TC teaching staff. These pioneers established a tradition and left an inheritance that would make the TC one of the most important references in educational thought and practice in the US. One of the pioneers brought to the TC by its dean, James Russell, was Edward Lee Thorndike, who was recommended by his professors William James and James McKeen Cattell. Thorndike was hired in 1899. As “Edward L. Thorndike led the field of educational psychology, so John Dewey was the outstanding pioneer in educational philosophy” (Cremin et al., 1954, p. 46).

Although Dewey was not a member of the TC faculty—he was part of the Department of Philosophy at Columbia, a position he took in 1904—he gave lectures at the TC, beginning in 1906. Later, Dewey joined the group of professors who comprised the newly created Department of Educational Research (Cremin et al., 1954; Cremin, 1964).

The tradition of international contacts is at the origin of the TC. The presence of foreign students was welcomed, and their numbers increased over the years. According to Cremin et al. (1954), in 1923, there were 265 students from 42 countries. Between 1926 and 1927, the number of foreign students increased to 457. One of the consequences of the growing number of foreign students was the creation of the International Institute in 1923, made possible by a grant from the General Education Board, which had been founded a short time earlier by John D. Rockefeller. Paul Monroe was appointed director, and one of the board members was Isaac Kandel8. The activities for foreign students promoted by the International Institute included trips to visit and study schools in the US. Among the outcomes of the International Institute’s research program were the development of the International Educational Library, which was “one of the best collections of its kind in the world” (Cremin et al., 1954, p. 74), and the publication of the International Institute’s Educational Yearbook, edited by Isaac Kandel, with a focus on education in different countries. According to Correia (2011), the Yearbook existed alongside the International Institute—which closed in 1938— and then survived for more than six years on its own. In addition to the Yearbook, there were also reports written by members in foreign countries.

The creation of the Institute of Educational Research in 1921 was an important milestone in the TC’s history. The Institute was organized into an administrative framework with three divisions: (1) Division of Educational Psychology, Professor Edward L. Thorndike, Director; (2) Division of School Experimentation, Professor Otis W. Caldwell, Director; and (3) Division of Field Studies, Professor George D. Strayer, Director (Cremin et al., 1954, p. 76). In addition to the International Institute and the Institute of Educational Research, it is important to highlight the creation in 1924 of the Institute of Child Welfare Research.

Based on documents from the International Institute, it is possible to draw up an approximate list of the foreign students who attended the TC9. According to Rabelo (2016), the TC received approximately 120 Brazilian students between 1920 and 1960. Among them, the one who is probably best known in the history of Brazilian education is Anísio Teixeira. According to Nunes (2007), Teixeira’s first trip to the US was in 1927, during which he attended summer courses offered by the TC. His second visit was in 1928 and 1929, during which, with a scholarship from the International Institute’s Macy Student Fund, he attended the master’s program at the TC, receiving a Master of Arts in Education.

The lists of Brazilians include other distinguished names, such as Isaias Alves de Almeida, an educator from Bahia who attended the TC between 1930 and 1931 and received a master’s degree in educational psychology. After returning from the US, de Almeida served as the technical deputy director on the Federal District’s General Board of Public Education (1931 to 1932) at the invitation of Anísio Teixeira. He was also the head of the Service of Tests and Scales at the IEDF from 1932 to 1934 (Rabelo, 2018).

Noemy Silveira10 appears on a list of students from 1930. According to Warde (2002), she did not conclude the planned courses at the TC, returning early at the request of Lourenço Filho to assist with educational reform in São Paulo. In the 1930s, Silveira also served as the chair of educational psychology at the IESP and then at the School of Philosophy, Sciences and Literature (Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras - FFCL) at the USP, where she also headed the Service of Applied Psychology.

Olga Strehlneek, who was an assistant professor under Silveira at the IESP and the FFCL, attended the master’s program in educational psychology at the TC between 1939 and 1940. Also noteworthy is the group of five female teachers from Minas Gerais who went to study in New York in 1927: Lucia Schmidt de Castro, Ignacia Ferreira Guimarães, Alda Lodi, Amelia de Castro Monteiro and Benedicta Valladares Ribeiro. On their return in 1929, they took positions at the new Training School in Belo Horizonte (Fonseca, 2010; Maciel, 2001).

The different documents listing the students include one titled Students from Latin American Countries Registered in Teachers College, Columbia University, 1920-1940, which contains the names of 29 Brazilians. Based on the document, 11 Brazilians completed their studies at the TC in the 1920s, 13 in the 1930s and five in the 1940s. However, this document does not include students who stayed for a shorter period of time, attending only a few courses without receiving a degree, such as Noemy Silveira. Nonetheless, this list gives an idea of the flow of Latin Americans who were developing their studies at the TC and their respective fields of concentration. This list includes eight students from Argentina11, one from Bolivia, two from British Guiana, 24 from Chile, three from Colombia, 19 from Cuba, seven from Ecuador, 19 from Haiti, two from Honduras, 15 from Mexico, three from Nicaragua, 13 from Panama, five from Peru, 132 from Puerto Rico, one from Uruguay and three from Venezuela, for a total of 286 students.

For the same list of students from Latin America, it is interesting to note the educational areas that were targeted. In the case of the Brazilians, the studied fields include Public Health Nursing, Educational Psychology, Comparative Education, Nursing Education, Elementary Education, Normal School Education, Teaching of General Science, Student Personnel Administration, Educational Administration, Individual Development and Guidance, Religious Education, Education and Health Education.

Considering the TC’s role in the organization of the Institute of Education (IoE) in London, it is also relevant to note the presence of English students at the New York institution. Between 1920 and 1930, 132 English students attended the TC. Some of them resided in third countries, such as China, Japan, Turkey, India and Canada. According to the records, a portion of these students wanted to teach in the US or Canada. For these students, fields of concentration that appear frequently include Educational Psychology, Early Childhood Education and Kindergarten.

The IoE had its origins in the London Day Training College (LDTC). The LDTC was founded in 1902 and became the Institute of Education at University College London in 1932 (Aldrich, 2004). The LDTC was initially affiliated with the London County Council (LCC), which caused tensions until it gained its independence and became affiliated with the University of London. A number of arguments used to advocate for the LCC’s independence referred to the TC as a model, as explained by John Adams, the LDTC’s first director, in a memorandum written in 1914: “The ideal should be the establishment of a department of the University of London comparable to Teachers College in the Columbia University, New York” (Adams, 1914 apud Aldrich, 2004, p. 621).

According to McCullock (2014, p. 126) the IoE’s association with the University of London in 1930 was intended to develop a center for studies on education and a means of internationalizing educational research, much like the TC.

This would mean the appointment of staff who would be able to specialize in particular aspects of education, such as history and organization, methods of instruction and training, and the philosophy and psychology of education, and to engage in research in these areas.

Lawn (2014) expands this leadership by the TC to the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland, for which the American institute was not only a model but also a center responsible for training a considerable number of educators between 1920 and 1930.

Finally, regarding the relationship between the TC and the PEA, considering the number of TC professors who were PEA members, other connections are likely to be identified. These professors included William Heard Kilpatrick, Harold Rugg and John Dewey. Although the PEA only became a section of the NEF in 1932, members of the PEA— including certain TC professors—had previously attended conferences promoted by the NEF and published in journals associated with the Fellowship, as is clear from various issues of The New Era and Pour L’Ere Nouvelle.

Institutes of Education in Brazil in the 1930s

In the case of Brazil, as previously mentioned, Institutes of Education were created in Rio de Janeiro in 1932 and in São Paulo in 1933. They were incorporated into universities in 1935 in Rio de Janeiro (University of the Federal District) and in 1934 in São Paulo (USP). Lourenço Filho served as the director of the IEDF in Rio de Janeiro (1932-1937), whereas Fernando de Azevedo became the director of the IESP (1933-1938). Much like the TC, these Institutes had the common goal of producing a science of education. In this sense, they encouraged teachers to specialize in different aspects of education, such as the history, philosophy and psychology of education; conduct surveys and research; and publish the results. In fact, according to Decree 4489, of November 11, 1933, which governed the pay of professors at the IEDF, publishing studies that could be used in the different courses of the Institute or general cultural research was a condition for receiving salary increases.

However, the publication of the 1932 Manifesto and the creation of the two Institutes did not guarantee that a new professional teaching culture would become established in Brazil. The strategies that united pedagogical information related to the principles of the New School movement with the improvement of teacher education through the creation of Institutes of Education at universities were linked by a strong editorial policy. It was no accident that both Lourenço Filho and Fernando de Azevedo would become affiliated with Brazilian publishers and coordinate pedagogical collections, such as the Education Library, published by Editora Melhoramentos, and the Brazilian Pedagogic Library, published by Companhia Editora Nacional.

In a letter to Anísio Teixeira dated November 1, 1929 (nearly three years before the appearance of the Manifesto), which commissioned a translation of Dewey texts for the Education Library published by Editora Melhoramentos, Lourenço Filho demonstrated the spirit that animated this group of Brazilian educators:

The information from Columbia is of great interest to me. All the more so because I am planning a project, for next year, which involves creating an “institute of education”—something that has developed out of my courses at the normal school, for teachers who have already received training. They must be indoctrinated... (Apud TOLEDO & CARVALHO, 2017, p. 1005).

These pedagogical collections included both Brazilian and foreign authors. Works from foreign authors that were translated include School and Experimental Psychology, by Edouard Claparède, and Education and Sociology, by Durkheim (both translated by Lourenço Filho, in 1928 and 1929, respectively); texts by Dewey, compiled in Vida e educação [Life and Education], by Anísio Teixeira, in 1930 (referenced in the preceding quotation), Biogenetic Law and The Active School, by Adolphe Ferrière, in 1929, and Education for a Changing Civilization, by Kilpatrick, in 1933 (all three translated by Noemy Silveira for Editora Melhoramentos); Dewey’s How We Think and Democracy and Education (translated by Godofredo Rangel and by Rangel and Anísio Teixeira, respectively, in 1933 and 1936), Functional Education, by Edouard Claparède (translated by J.B. Damasco Penna in 1933 for Companhia Editora Nacional); and Elementary Principles of Education, by Thorndike and Gates (translated by Haydée Camargo Campos for Saraiva & Cia. in 1936).

The numerous works by Brazilian authors in these collections included the following: Introdução ao Estudo da Escola Nova [Introduction to the Study of the New School], by Lourenço Filho, and Cinema e educação [Cinema and Education], by Jonathas Serrano and Francisco Venâncio Filho, published in 1929 and 1930, respectively, by Melhoramentos; Novos caminhos e novos fins [New Paths and New Ends], by Fernando de Azevedo, published in 1931; the Manifesto dos Pioneiros da Educação Nova [Manifesto of the Pioneers of New Education], in 1932; and Sociologia educacional [Educational Sociology], by Carlos Delgado de Carvalho, Educação progressiva [Progressive Education], by Anísio Teixeira, and Noções de história da educação [Notions on the History of Education], by Afrânio Peixoto, all three of which were published in 1933 by Companhia Editora Nacional.

The authors and translators noted in the preceding paragraphs were professors at the IEDF (e.g., Lourenço Filho, Anísio Teixeira, Carlos Delgado de Carvalho, Jonathas Serrano, Afranio Peixoto and Francisco Venâncio Filho) or at the IESP (e.g., Fernando de Azevedo, Noemy Silveira and Haydée Campos). The translated authors were associated with the TC (e.g., John Dewey, Edward L. Thorndike and William Kilpatrick) or the NEF (e.g., Adolphe Ferrière and Edouard Claparède). Analyzing the profiles of the authors who were translated for the Education Library published by Editora Melhoramentos, Maria Rita Toledo and Marta Carvalho (2017, p. 1003-1004) also note this connection with the NEF (which they refer to as the LIEN) when they argue that

Lourenço Filho clearly chose those recognized in the international New School movement, who were being disseminated particularly in Europe, such as Claparède, Ferrière, Piéron, Binet and Luzuriaga. The reference to the European debate marked the EL [Education Library]. Lourenço Filho was, in the period that coincides with the publication of the Collection’s first volumes, the Brazilian correspondent for the Bureau International d’Éducation (1928), in addition to having personal relationships with important figures in the Ligue Internationale pour l’Éducation Nouvelle, such as Ferrière and Piéron.

The connections between Brazilian and foreign educators were also promoted through travel. Between 1920 and 1960, there was a noticeable increase in the number of Brazilian students at the TC. It is possible to trace several of these Brazilians back to the early years of the IEDF and the IESP, for example, Anísio Teixeira, Isaías Alves and Lourenço Filho, in Rio de Janeiro. Although Lourenço Filho did not attend courses at the TC, he traveled to the US on pedagogical missions, established contacts with professors at that institution and used the opportunity to order a large number of books for the IEDF Teachers’ School Library (Vidal, 2001, p. 139). Brazilian TC students connected with São Paulo included Noemy Silveira and Olga Strehlneek. The TC appeared primarily as an important model for teaching philosophy and psychology at these Institutes of Education.

Regarding the NEF, we previously mentioned Laura Lacombe’s participation in the Locarno Conference in 1927. However, it is also worthwhile to examine this circulation in the opposite direction, i.e., travelers who came to Brazil, for example, Adolphe Ferrière. According to Coquoz (2012, p. 43), at the first NEF Conference in Calais in 1921, it was determined that while Beatrice Ensor would be in charge of the Anglophone countries and Elisabeth Rotten would be in charge of the German-speaking ones, Ferrière would be responsible for disseminating the NEF among the Ibero-American countries. Armed with books and a copy of the movie “Home Chez Nous,” Ferrière left for Portugal, Spain and Latin America in 1930 with the task of encouraging the creation of local NEF sections (Idem, p. 44).

Although his ship was unable to dock in Rio de Janeiro due to the Revolution of 1930, Ferrière maintained contact with Brazilian educators. Publications by Fernando de Azevedo and Deododato de Moraes on the educational reforms implemented in Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo were delivered to him on board and later published in issue number 67 (April/May 1931) of the NEF journal Pour L’Ere Nouvelle.

In addition to the circulation of various individuals and the establishment of networks, the curricula of the courses at the IEDF and the IESP have left behind vestiges that facilitate establishing connections with the US and the NEF. According to Vidal (2001) and Evangelista (2002), authors such as Dewey, Thorndike, Rugg, Kilpatrick and Kandel, who had relationships with the TC and/or the PEA, were included in bibliographic references in curricula from the 1930s. Certain of these scholars published in the NEF’s official journal, The New Era.

In addition to the connections with the TC, the curricula from the Institutes also included authors affiliated with the Francophone sections of the NEF, such as Ferrière, Claparède, Decroly, Amelie Hamaide and Piaget. References to Kerschensteiner—a German-speaking author—and Pintner, Nunn, Rusk and Findlay—British authors—throw light on connections that have been underexamined in the historiography of Brazilian education. Certain works by these authors appeared in their original foreignlanguage editions, while others appeared in translations (published by Companhia Editora Nacional or Editora Melhoramentos).

Specifically regarding the case of the IEDF, analyzed by Vidal (2001), an examination of the curricula from the Teachers’ School reveals books and authors that were frequently cited. Of the nine curricula published by the journal Arquivos do Instituto de Educação [Archives of the Institute of Education] in 1937 that included a bibliography, seven cited How We Think, by John Dewey, and Introdução ao Estudo da Escola Nova [Introduction to the Study of the New School], by Lourenço Filho, as mandatory or recommended reading. Functional Education, by Édouard Claparède, received six citations, followed by Life and Education, by John Dewey, with five citations. The fourth-most frequently recommended books were Education for a Changing Civilization, by Kilpatrick, and Educação progressiva [Progressive Education], by Anísio Teixeira.

The frequency of particular citations could also be confirmed through the bibliographies of readings included in class reports, located in the Archive of the Center for the Research and Documentation of Contemporary Brazilian History (Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil-Fundação Getúlio Vargas - CPDOC-FGV). The most frequently recommended books were Introdução ao Estudo da Escola Nova, by Lourenço Filho, and Life and Education, by Dewey, both with four recommendations. The preface to Dewey’s book by Anísio Teixeira, “A pedagogia de Dewey” [“Dewey’s Pedagogy”], was particularly frequently cited. School and Experimental Psychology, by Claparède, Education and Sociology, by Durkheim, Sociologia educacional [Educational Sociology], by Delgado de Carvalho, and How We Think, by Dewey, ranked second, followed by Education for a Changing Civilization, by Kilpatrick, and Functional Education, by Claparéde.

The analysis of the curricula agrees with the assessment by Silveira (1959, p. 76) of the relationship between teacher education and the editorial market:

To satisfy the law of demand, bookstores displayed the newest books in their windows and on the most prominent shelves. Decroly, Ferrière, Claparède, Piaget, Pierón, Kerschensteiner, Kilpatrick, Dewey and Gates reached teachers, either in the original or in Portuguese or Spanish translations. Introdução a Escola Nova, Testes A B C [Introduction to the New School, A B C Tests] by Lourenço Filho; Escola Progressiva [Progressive School], Em Marcha para a Democracia [On the Road to Democracy] by Anísio Teixeira; Para Novos Fins, Novos Meios [For New Ends, New Means] by Fernando de Azevedo were bestsellers at the time. There was no teacher who did not have them, did not look in their pages to find the answers to their questions, as well as suggestions and technical resources for their work.

In this manner of mixing foreign authors and national production, the foundations of a new science of education were established that found acceptance within the university. Although the IEDF and the IESP ceased to operate with the onset of the Estado Novo regime, the repertoire that had been established was able to survive within the Pedagogy Sections at the Schools of Philosophy, created beginning in 1939, partly because some of the faculty were still teaching. In São Paulo, with the elimination of the IESP following its incorporation into the School of Philosophy, Sciences and Literature at the USP and its subsequent replacement by the Pedagogy Section, Fernando de Azevedo and Noemy Silveira remained on the teaching staff, among others. In Rio de Janeiro, the newly created National Institute of Pedagogical Studies (Instituto Nacional de Estudos Pedagógicos - INEP), founded in 1937 and directed by Lourenço Filho, and its journal, Revista Brasileira de Estudos Pedagógicos [Brazilian Journal of Pedagogical Studies], whose first issue was published in 1944, were the privileged locus for consolidation of this pedagogical repertoire.

Final considerations

The observations outlined above help us understand that a web of relationships connected people and places in the field of pedagogy in the 1920s and 1930s. The NEF established an intricate web uniting educators from different countries, including through journals and conferences. In this manner, it produced a common, shared repertoire related to the New School movement. However, the NEF was not the only institution to establish social and epistemological networks in the area of pedagogy. During the same period, the TC, the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute and the Bureau International d’Éducation—the latter two both located in Geneva, where Ferrière lived—were in tension/coalescence, amalgamating individuals and meanings in a field that was still being established.

In a similar fashion, the IEDF and the IESP acted decisively to select reference texts and authors and encourage research. Exploiting the positions established by publishers, educators associated with the international New Education Movement, including Fernando de Azevedo and Lourenço Filho, outlined the boundaries and contours of the educational field in Brazil and laid the foundations of a science of Brazilian education, not only by creating specialties but also by engaging in research and its socialization through print. At the same time, they consecrated actors and invented an academic tradition.

This tradition was produced by a combination of publishing texts, participating in conferences and traveling in a manner that rewove the established networks according to other constraints, such as the nature of academic work, while connecting them with other social networks, such as those in the areas of institutional policy and state policy. In the process, a corpus of ideas was generated that remains valid today, in particular ideas associated with the psychology and philosophy of education and the principles of New Education.

These complex interactions produce what Lawn (2014) terms a geography and sociology of science in research tracing the international activities of different individuals, the appropriation of the ideas of the New School and the national tensions inherent in establishing communities of meaning and networks. Fuchs’s warning (2007, p. 187) is also relevant: “networks are specific forms of governance or of the coordination of actions,” which implies that their strategies must be deciphered.

It is by following these paths that the present investigation has questioned how the Brazilian New Education movement defined problems and established procedures still present in the academic debate on education. We have sought to trace the routes and hybridizations produced in the past and the memory that continues to project itself on current historiography.

1This article presents the results of research funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo/FAPESP), processes 2015/06456-1 and 2016/07024-0. The English version was made by American Journal Experts (

4The journal was initially titled Education for the New Era, which was shortened to The New Era in 1921.

5Montreux (1923), Heidelberg (1925), Locarno (1927), Elsinore (1929), Nice (1932) and Cheltenham (1936) (Brehony, 2004).

6Particularly noteworthy are the regional conferences held in South Africa (1934), New Zealand (1937) and Australia (1937) (Brehony, 2004).

7Groups were also created in Chile and Colombia; although exact dates could not be determined, one can infer that they emerged between 1931 and 1933.

8Issue number 32 of The New Era, published in 1927, has references to trips made by professors from the TC’s International Institute, reporting that Isaac Kandel spent 1926 in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, conducting research on secondary schools.

9The documents are available in the archives of the Gottesman Libraries through an online platform named Pocketknowledge. The lists of foreign students enrolled at the TC are available for the years 1920 to 1970. These lists indicate the student’s name and country of origin and, in certain cases, their field of interest.

10Noemy Marques da Silveira married Bruno Rudolfer in 1934 and subsequently changed her name to Noemy da Silveira Rudolfer.

11The list makes it possible to determine a student’s country of origin but not his or her nationality.


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Received: June 2018; Accepted: August 2018

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