“Scientific and technical knowledge is essential for more active participation in contemporary society”

Humberto da Silva Oliveira
Brazil


Humberto da Silva Oliveira has been teaching physics for the last 21 years, firstly in private schools and for the last 11 years in public schools in the state of Paraiba. 


Adult Education and Development: How did you become an adult educator?

Humberto da Silva Oliveira: Various opportunities and challenges have arisen during my professional life. One was to work as an adult educator. This occurred due to the need to reschedule my working hours for the evening session. Until then my teaching experience was with young people and adolescents. My first contact with adult students was highly ­interesting because I realised that their motives and interests were very different. In addition, the classes were heterogeneous, with students of different ages and learning needs. This contact with adult education furthered my personal and professional growth. In adult education classes, mutual learning always takes place between teachers and students. This involvement renewed my dream and desire to contribute to the growth and intellectual strength of students and the local community.

Please describe your current work. 

At present, I work in a public school in a district on the outskirts of the city of João Pessoa, teaching secondary-level physics in youth and adult education classes. Our learners are young people and adults who have not concluded basic education at what is considered the normal age. Most are workers, mainly in low-paid, unskilled jobs, for which no kind of professional qualification is required. Many of our students live in communities with little infrastructure where the lack
of safety and the consequent violence affects them and frequently leads to them giving up their studies.

Which is your favourite working method, and why?

In order to attempt to overcome these difficulties and to contribute to the inclusion of the students in new environments, broadening their choices and opportunities, I believe that the teaching of physics can promote scientific and technological literacy for students who do not normally have access. I like to use the Science, Technology, Society and Environment approach with my students, together with the use of ICTs, as this allows us to acquire scientific and technical knowledge which is essential for more active participation in contemporary society. As we live in an era of personal mobility and technology, we use diverse technologies, mainly smartphones, in order to offer opportunities for reflection and awareness with regard to the sciences and technologies present in our societies.

What motivates you?

It is apparent that through projects developed in the school, my students achieve the motivation to acquire new knowledge, skills and competences to handle and understand the new technologies and their influence in society. These changes can be seen in their behaviour, and in their commitment to seek new knowledge and to look for ways of solving their problems and improving their lives. All this is what motivates me and makes me believe that adult education can contribute to renewing students’ lives.

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