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From the TV to the class-room

One year after the start of Telecurso 2000 ( High school classes), which went on the air in 1995, the quality of the didactic material used for chemistry stood out, in comparison with that of other disciplines. The researchers who produced this material felt motivated to introduce it into the public network, and in the light of the opportunity put up by FAPESP, they implemented a project with this objective, under the coordination of teacher Reiko Isuyama, from USP's Institute of Chemistry. The work resulted in the qualification of 103 teachers from the capital, who teach 40,000 pupils.

Moving on from good intentions to practice, however, called for an effort to change concepts and to implement the modern techniques that guided the preparation of the material for the Telecurso. To better convey the concepts of chemistry – says Reiko – teachers need to have communication skills, logical reasoning and graphic representation. That means knowing how to encourage students to research, instead of giving a ready reply. “You have to direct them towards doing experiments at home, when they have questions. Chemistry is not just limited to the laboratories.”

The work of adapting to the new methods took up all the three years of the project. “Telecurso is done at a distance, there is no teacher. And the teachers from the network were not prepared for anything so advanced. They were trained in traditional teaching, chemistry through chemistry, without relating it to the student's daily life”, Reiko complains.

The original material, intended for adult students, was expanded to normal schooling and adapted to cater for the difficulties of the teachers – part of whom, according to Reiko, did not master the basics of chemistry and had a difficult relationship with the students. The coordinator now has in her hands a profile of the teachers of the public network that can be used as a basis for future work. “It is no good waiting for the ideal situation. Knowing the qualities and problems of the network, we have a better chance of producing something positive.” The project, in which 13 grant-holders took part, trained another ten teachers to pass on the proposition to other schools in the capital, Taboão da Serra and the ABCD (Industrial suburbs of São Paulo).