Speakers: Marisa Bittar (Universidade Federal de São Carlos) &  Amarilio Ferreira Jr. (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Portuguese colonization in Brazil and Christianization were two closely associated policies. In 1549, alongside the colonial administration, the Portuguese Crown adopted Catholicism as its official religion and, thus, asked the Society of Jesus to establish the Catholic faith among the indigenous people as a way to prevent the religious reforms that were taking place in Europe from reaching Brazil. The Jesuits established catechesis, created the first schools and exercised a long hegemony in Brazilian education (1549-1759). Unlike the Lutheran, Anglican etc reformers, the Jesuits did not establish literacy schools for everyone; on the contrary, they created schools for the formation of elites and seminaries. Based on written documents such as letters from the Jesuits, this paper shows that their method was the same for all their schools around the world, the Ratio Studiorum (mnemonic teaching)  However, in Brazil, in order to achieve their goals of Christianizing the entire population, the Jesuits practiced improvisations and adaptations. This dialectic between imposition (western standard) and adaptation left deep marks on Brazilian culture and education. Of the 210 years of the Jesuit operation in Brazil, we highlight the following consequences: 

  1. Brazil is the country with the largest Catholic population in the world
  2. The delay in building a state system of schools for everybody
  3. The lasting influence of Christianity on Brazilian pedagogical thought


IHR Seminar SeriesHistory of Education