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Artigos > Constituição de Teorias da Educação e da Educação Física > BERTO, Rosianny Campos; SCHNEIDER, Omar. Health and higiene as elements in the constitution of the school culture from the perspective of. The FIEP bulletin, Foz do Iguaçu - PR, v. 77, n. I, p. 520-523, 2007.

BERTO, Rosianny Campos; SCHNEIDER, Omar. Health and higiene as elements in the constitution of the school culture from the perspective of. The FIEP bulletin, Foz do Iguaçu - PR, v. 77, n. I, p. 520-523, 2007.




Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brasil.


To develop this study, we took into account issues related to children schooling, and the way it was articulated to a project that included Physical Education. The basic sources for the development of the investigation are the ideas that appeared in articles in the Physical Education magazine, printed from 1932 until 1945[2].

In the analysis, we focused on the thematic axles related to the discussions about health and hygiene, considering that they materialize themselves as the most important goals of the scholars that wrote the articles to that magazine, or became known as a consequence. The ideas focused on the body, in the magazine, formed, together with other subjects, the specific schooling culture of that period. We analyzed the themes mentioned above and their relation with the constitution of a schooling culture, establishing the connections that they had with childhood education in a broader sense.

To enable the understanding of the changes that occurred in Brazil in that period, we took Katia Danailof’s(2005) study about education and the body in Brazil, during the 1930s and 1940s, from the perspective of images of childhood. Danailof highlights that, among the changes, there was also the development of the means of transportation and the industrial progress. Consequently, it brought the disorganized and accelerated growing of the physical space of the cities, which caused a major social/racial heterogeneity.

The school, in that context, was a good means to ensure a better life to Brazilian individuals, as far as intelligence and character are concerned. At school, detailed physical examination used to be done in order to classify the children according to their physical capacity. This procedure allowed a more efficient control of the population, with the purpose of knowing and participating in the development of the nation (DANAILOF, 2005).

Therefore, it was necessary to discipline the body, to exercise it, to keep the posture, among other conditions, and, in this aspect, “[...] the child [was] represented as a modeling mass, justifying the hygienic control in schools, in its most different aspects, in order to prevent schools from producing useless human beings” (ROCHA,2003, p.9).

We notice, therefore, that health and hygiene were some of the main subjects of education in the period of the creation and circulation of Physical Education.For Schneider (2004), the educational themes were also the themes of Physical Education, or vice-versa, because the projecting of the country’s development that begins at school “[...] starts to impose itself in the ideological horizon of the intellectual and upper-class political groups, as a consistent resource for generalized incorporation of people into the economic and social organization” (SCHNEIDER; FERREIRA NETO, 2005, p. 117).



The intensive and extensive schooling process in Brazil, according to Souza (1998), is a recent one, dating of 1893, when the first elementary school was opened in São Paulo State. The organization of this type of teaching was based on standardization, aiming at teaching a high number of children. It was “[...] an adequate school directed towards mass education and the need for a universal popular education” (SOUZA, 1998, p. 20), thus becoming another way to educate the population.

Being part of the same schooling movement, it is possible to notice, as Kuhlmann Jr. (2001) says, the opening of pre-schools in Brazil, at the end of the XIX century, as a solution in the modern world; a place where the workers could leave their children[2]


In the XX century, the Brazilian schooling was consolidated and continued to expand, due to the compulsory education, universality, laicization, and the utilization of several modern methods of teaching. These methods were based on German and American principles - activity pedagogies, from which the school took on new forms, modeling itself according to the real necessity imposed by the social changing. Due to such facts, the children started receiving a different and institutionalized treatment in large scale.

The 1920s, according to Kuhlmann Jr. (2001), presented a deeper interest in children and their culture. It was a period in which the school was also consolidating a new teaching and learning culture, as a new means of preparing the human being for social life.



Along the years, ever since the beginning of institutionalized education, the way by which the school has been spreading knowledge, values, science, orders, and habits has been formed gradually. The school culture of each period, then, corresponds to the necessities of its proper time.

This reflection leads us to the way by which the History Professor Dominique Julia fixes the limits of the meaning of schooling culture. For the author, the notion of schooling culture allows us to understand the way it works:

[...] a set of rules that define the knowledge to teach and habits to [...] [internalize], and a set of practices that allow the transmission of this knowledge, and the incorporation of these behaviors; rules and practices coordinated with objectives that can vary according to the periods (religious purposes, social politics or simply socialization) (JULIA, 2001, p.10).

From this point of view, it is possible to see, in a broader sense, that knowing such culture requires the comprehension about the universe of representations that make up the portrait of that period, or its relation with the external cultures, and the social objectives about the knowledge we consider important to know, i.e., everything needed for the effective social development and the constitution of a specific culture.

Physical Education, according to Vago (1999), started to be part of school programs in Brazil in the 19th century, and entered the school environment in the form of gymnastics. Looking for body building as a form of preparation for the world of jobs, it took over a new function in the 20th century. Indeed, the entirely new school environment seemed as if it were being prepared for a special kind of corporal education.

The teachers should teach the students all kinds of notions about body hygiene with the objective of making them able to take care of their own health. According to Vago (1999), the themes were directed to detailed procedures related to body hygiene, including other activities like cleaning, cooking, dressing, and other skills.

This body knowledge didn’t belong only to the Physical Education that posed itself as a discipline amidst these facts. It was the duty of every school to form the modern man: “[...] those that would be republican citizens - civilized, soft-mannered, disciplined, healthy and obedient - thus being able to contribute to the desired social progress” (VAGO, 1999, p.2).

Such objectives could only be reached by means of daily practice within the school environment, which, according to Rocha (2003), should expand as to reach the children’s families that, according to hygienist doctors, lived in deplorable conditions.

It was looking for this objective that the school of the new century, based on the medical concepts of hygiene and health, and aiming at making a modern nation, gradually constitutes its culture. And Physical Education gets an important position in this construction. According to Vago (1999, p.2).

[...]a target towards which all the devices of this new schooling culture would converge was the children’s bodies: the organization of schools should cultivate a beautiful, strong, healthy, hygienic, active, obedient, orderly, and rational body, in opposition to one seen as ugly, weak, dirty and lazy.

All this organization takes into consideration the physical aspect of the school itself, within which the children’s bodies start being cultivated. They were luxurious buildings and were in accordance with the ideals of the new society. Another important aspect to mention was the teaching programs that included, among their disciplines, moral and civic instruction, physical hygiene and physical exercises (specially grounded in the idea of regeneration of the race) (VAGO, 1999).

So, getting back to Dominique Julia’s thought (2001, p. 22), the production of the schooling environment “[...] ends up here, in the remodeling of behavior, in the formation of character and soul that goes through body discipline and conscience direction.”



When we observe the articles in the Physical Educationmagazine, we notice that besides reinforcing the concepts of health and hygiene, their words were directed to different readers such as fathers, teachers, specialists and the school in general. As Gondra (2003) points out, in the 20th century, the discourse about health and hygiene became up-to-date and established itself as a pattern for the educational programs, presenting education as an efficient way to reach the totality of the human being since it is by education that a desired country can achieved. However, in order to have progress, people must be physically well-prepared. “They must have abundance for the great projects and great enterprises. Education demands the spirit as well as the body: it is intellectual as well as physical” (LOURENQO FILHO, 1939, p. 10-12).

Physical exercises, the care of the body, better habits, and the maintenance of moralization were the main purposes of the modern education that attempted to be, primarily, moral, intellectual and physical. Those were the representations that dominated the ideal of the editor of that periodic.

Physical Education started being considered a school discipline in a period in which not only the scholars of the area, but also those from other fields of knowledge, believed strongly in their capacity to recuperate the nation, since, from their point of view, there were many deficiencies in the Brazilian people that had to be corrected in order to make them equivalent to people from other nations.

Not everyone has calculated yet how much the physical education needs to be part of the projects of correction and realization of this ideal country; how much it will weight and bend the reality to our favor if we take it into account when preparing the Brazilian generations (LOURENQO FILHO, 1939, p. 10-12).


The Physical Education school programs were elaborated guiding themselves to the construction of a strong nation, and attempting at being a mustfor the “[...] moral and intellectual formation of the child, preparing the spirit of that child to love and serve his/her country, adjusting him/her to the civic qualities of a perfect citizen, feeding them with patriotic feelings and high moral qualities of honor, dignity, and pride” (LOYOLA, 1942, p.27).

The authors selected by this study clearly show their beliefs in the contribution of Physical Education for the health programs that were brought into school spaces. It was expected that the majority of the health professionals and the Physical Education teachers would join in, in order to increase the interest in Physical Education in schools because it was believed that the discipline would contribute a lot for the students’ health.

For Fischer (1983), body health always resulted in a good mental condition. Only a more hygienic and healthy life would enable the human being to be more efficient, happier and more enthusiastic. Even the human spirituality and inner capacity to think philosophically depended on these requirements. Those principles should be known since childhood, and the school was an ideal place to teach them.

The goal of Physical Education became the search for a healthy body and, in this aspect, the health taught at school in the period in which the magazine was being published, further expanded towards the care with the body. In the same way, it was expanded towards the mental end, the emotional aspects of the subject which, for the author, couldn’t yet be comprehended by everybody, but would be an advance if doctors and psychiatrists took it into account in a more global form, finally recognizing its value (GRAYSON, 1941).

So, it was the responsibility of Physical Education to contribute strongly to the regeneration of a race because a nation like Brazil, formed by people from so many different origins, still did not have a definite nationality and, according to Azevedo, the physical culture would give the new generations an improvement of the inherited patrimony which would help the human nature to become perfect (AZEVEDO, 1936).

Within the general educational objectives, the physical education would be an instrument to recover the social values by using the somatic aspects of the human being. This recovering would put marks on the children: they would become the strong, healthy, eugenic, hygienic future generation. As a result, the physical education received a special attention from those who published in the magazine, and the education of children was given especial attention because of the beliefs that “The country needs good children and only an integral education could form a perfect citizen. The Physical Education is the ground on which the sumptuous building of education lies.” (LOYOLA 1940, p.55)

Being the school an essential resource for the moral and intellectual formation of people (ROCHA, 2003), it was also the place to build, from an early stage, the knowledge that could prepare children, now compulsorily educated, in order to become perfect adults, members of a perfect nation, showing, according to the intellectuals in the magazines, that Physical Education was an instrument of immeasurable importance.



The Physical Educationmagazine was published in a time in which the ideals of the human being and society sought for totality, integrity and perfection. It was a time of social innovations and transformation in a variety of established conceptions; a time when discoveries and inventions moved towards the construction of a new society and new forms of expressions. So, it was a remarkable time, and the periodic studied in this research proved itself important for the Brazilian education because it brings in its pages the impressions of a common ideal for the construction of a new world or, should we say, a new nation.

Such changes would be more significant if they started in the childhood because children would be more easily modeled, whereas adults would be more resistant. This way, the “[...] schooling effort would privilege childhood, saving instruction for the adults as a possibility to reinforce habits” (ROCHA, 2003, p.4).

This is the reason why we chose to study childhood schooling: the modern school consolidated itself primarily as a place for children. So, to think aspects of this schooling culture is, as Julia (2001) mentioned, to think about the childhood culture that “invades” the school.

The school is a place that develops a proper culture. However, such culture is essentially dependent on the external ones, especially the one brought by its own members, being also dependent on the representations that rule societies, whose objectives are connected with the economic and political desires, among others.

The school, a powerful means to disseminate knowledge of the social order as well as a means of homogenization of behavior, has also become the ideal place to spread knowledge and values that are important to foster the desired changes.

Health and hygiene were among the major objectives of the national education between the decades of 1930 and 1940, the period during which the magazine circulated. The intention was to raise the nation, to regenerate the race, and finally, to see Brazil as a civilized and developed country. Those were the points to be taught by Physical Education which, going through changes in meaning, conquered a place among the other subjects, and became an extremely useful way to disseminate knowledge during that new period, rising to such a dimension as to be seen as the “salvation of the country.”

Trying to understand the constitution of a schooling culture, we see that the Physical Educationmagazine is the reflection of important aspects of this culture, showing the necessity to cultivate the bodies, minds and souls towards a new era and new space, as well as new human beings, who would be stronger and more prepared, more willing and more enthusiastic, more obedient and better trained.

This study points to a comprehension of the schooling culture as something historic and in motion. Thus, we can notice that, beyond the speech about race regeneration, it is also possible to find an extremely useful speech whose ultimate purpose would be to prepare human beings to a society that was trying to consolidate itself as an industrial one, and that could be able to face any other more developed societies.

To model behavior and present new values is one of the objectives of the school. The way in which the disciplines are organized in order to share values, knowledge and practices reveals the strategies created to reinforce a specific way to look at the world. This way, in children schooling, in their education based on health and hygiene, the Physical Education becomes an instrument that can see in the body the ideals of a national education. So, we can understand that the schooling culture that was chosen for our study was born from the desire of a political and economic order; however, it doesn’t stop here, since the aspects of the schooling culture showed by the magazine lead us to the self-representations shared by that group or society.



AZEVEDO, F. O problema da regeneração. Educação Physica, Rio de Janeiro, n. 5. p. 12-14, abr. 1936.

DANAILOF, K. Imagens da infância: a educação e o corpo em 1930 e 1940 no Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Ciências do Esporte, Campinas, v. 26, n. 3, p. 7-192, maio 2005.

DELGADO, A. C. C. O que nós adultos sabemos sobre infâncias, crianças e suas culturas? Revista Espaço Acadêmico, n. 34, mar. 2004. Disponível em: <>. acesso em: 15 set. 2005.

EDUCAÇÃO Física. Educação Física, Rio de janeiro, n. 39, fev. 1940.

FISHER, J. A Nova educação physica. Educação Physica, Rio de janeiro, n. 25, dez. 1938.

GONDRA, J. G. Homo hygienicus: educação, higiene e a reinvenção do homem . Cad. Cedes, Campinas, v. 23, n. 59, p. 25-38, abr. 2003. Disponível em <>. Acesso em: 15 set, 2005.

GOUVÊA, M. C. S. A escolarização da “meninice” nas minas oitocentistas: a individualização do aluno. In: VEIGA, G. V.; FONSECA, T. N. L. (Org.). História e historiografia da educação no Brasil. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica/CNPQ, 2003. p. 189-226.

GRAYSON, D. Saúde do corpo e do espírito. Educação Física, Rio de Janeiro, n. 55, jun. 1941.

JULIA, D. A Cultura Escolar como objeto histórico. In.: Revista Brasileira de História da Educação, SBHE, n. 1, Jan/jun 2001.

KEHL, R. A Arte de conservar a saúde. Educação Física, Rio de Janeiro, n. 56, jul. 1941.

KUHLMANN JÚNIOR, M. Infância e educação infantil: uma abordagem histórica. 2. ed. Porto Alegre: Mediação, 2001.

LOYOLA, H. Lição de Educação Física infantil: primeira infância - período pré-escolar. Educação Física, Rio de Janeiro, 1941, abr. 1940.

LOYOLA, H. Educação física infantil: breve notícia sobre a educação física nas escolas primárias das principais nações do mundo. Educação Física, Rio de janeiro, n. 67, 1942.

LOURENÇO FILHO. Educação física e a futura raça brasileira. Educação Física, Rio de Janeiro, n. 37, p. 10-12 e 60, nov. 1939.

ROCHA, H. H. P. Educação escolar e higienização da infância. Cad. CEDES. [on-line], v. 23, n. 52,          p.            39-56,    abr.         2003.                           disponível      em: <>. ISSN 0101-3262. Acesso em: 20 dez. 2005.

SCHNEIDER, O. A revista Educação Physica (1932-195): estratégias editoriais e prescrições educacionais. 2003. 342 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Educação) - Programa de Estudos Pós- Graduados em Educação: História, Política, Sociedade, da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2003.

SCHNEIDER, O. Entre a correção e a eficiência: mutações no significado da educação física nas décadas de 1930 e 1940: um estudo a partir da revista Educação Physica. Revista Brasileira de Ciências do Esporte, Campinas, v. 25, n. 2, p. 39-54, 2004.

SCHNEIDER, O.; FERREIRA NETO, A. Saúde e escolarização: representações, intelectuais, educação e educação física. In: OLIVEIRA, Marcus Aurélio Taborda de. (Org.). Educação do corpo na escola brasileira. Campinas, 2006. v. 1, p. 111-133.

SOUZA, R. F. de. Espaço da educação e da civilização: origens dos grupos escolares no Brasil. In: Souza, R. F.; VALDEMARIN, V. T.; ALMEIDA, J. S. O legado educacional do século XIX. Araraquara: UNESP - Faculdade de Ciências e Letras, 1998. p. 11-47.

VAGO, T. M. Início e fim do século XX: maneiras de fazer Educação Física na escola. Cad. CEDES. [on-line], v. 19, n. 48, p. 30-51, ago. 1999. Disponível em: < ... arttext&pid=S0101>. ISSN 0101-3262. Acesso em: 20 ago. 2005.



The texts selected as sample and which offered us the primary parameters for the development of this study belong to the collection of PROTEORIA.

[2]  Para Kuhlmann Jr. (2001), não apenas a necessidade do mundo do trabalho, mas também a proteção e o assistencialismo podem ter influenciado a escolarização da infância no Brasil.




Instituto de Pesquisa em Educação e Educação Física (PROTEORIA),
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