Fernando Naiditch discusses innovation and challenges in education in the USA and Brazil
A native of Brazil, Dr Fernando Naiditch is a professor at Montclair State University, in New Jersey (USA). He relies on a solid experience in socioeducational contexts in Brazil and the USA and has been teaching at PUCRS since March as he was invited by the Graduate Program in Education, of the School of Humanities. A specialist in intercultural studies in the acquisition and education of additional languages, Naiditch was a PUCRS professor in the 1990s and, since 2000, has been living in the USA.
Fernando Naiditch was born in Porto Alegre, and currently teaches the course on Principles of Multicultural Education at PUCRS and does research at the research group into Motivational Processes in Educational Contexts, jointly with Professor Dr Bettina Steren dos Santos. He has written several articles and his research looks at multilingual and multicultural education and also at culturally and linguistically responsive teaching.
When asked about the role of innovation in the training of novice teachers, he makes a very clear point: we need to bring theory and students’ practice together. In his view, student teachers must be acquainted to classroom reality since the earliest stages of their training.
“More and more I can see students being encouraged to getting acquainted with educational settings since the beginning in the USA”, says he. US curricula have been changing to give student teachers the opportunity to experience life inside the classroom and, consequently, do practicum work during their entire course of study.
Naiditch claims these practices are beneficial for they raise students’ awareness of their own role as educators, their ability to adapt and the possibility of maximized learning in different scenarios. “Teachers who are familiar with the classroom since the beginning of their training will be better prepared for the challenges they will face every day”, completes he.
Naiditch also adds that some good practices need and deserve to be more broadly discussed. “We must raise students’ and teachers’ awareness of multiculturality and diversity”, adds he.
In his opinion, migration flows in Brazil, for instance, will change the classroom dynamics even more. “New York is a city where we can find people from different countries and cultures. We need to make every effort for these individuals to feel part of our educational program. I see this is a reality that is taking hold in Brazil”, comments he.
In view of the increasing numbers of Haitian, Senegalese and Venezuelan immigrants in the country, it is mandatory that teachers take on a multicultural attitude. Recognizing different cultures and realities can help these students to feel part of the educational setting, by bringing new roles to be played, activities or intercultural dynamics.
“The USA had to rethink the role of school in view of this scenario. American schools had changed dramatically over the last decades and today teachers and students are too distant, in sociocultural terms. This distance can be evidenced in the areas of languages, cultures, ethnicities, races and socioeconomic power represented in the classroom. We urge to produce educators capable of taking on multiple perspectives and several voices in educational discussions and teaching practice”, explains he.
Naiditch goes on to say that the society needs guarantee equal rights and the right means of education for all students. “Above all, we need a collective effort to get rid of racial and socioeconomic differences. This is how we will be able to produce citizens for life in a free and democratic society. When school fails, the nation fails with their citizens”, says Naiditch.