Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
The body that grows and learns. Eugenic and ergonomic concerns in the Portuguese school furniture (19th and 20th centuries)
Anabela Amaral, Margarida Felgueiras, Juliana Rocha

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


This presentation aims to analyse how the body of students was observed, disciplined and regulated by the look of doctors and teachers. We used as primary sources medical journals and medical theses presented at the end of the course to obtain the diploma in medical-surgical school in the Porto Medical School as well as publications on the subject of school furniture. This documentary documents we selected those that in its title referred hygiene, ergonomic furniture and the healthiness of school space, interested us in particular how these perspectives penetrated the organization and school practices and aimed the body of male and female students. In the nineteenth century medicine helped to naturalize morality, establishing a direct correlation between social behaviour, moral judgment and the material conditions of existence. In view of the serious problems of insufficiency, social and moral poverty of the working classes, the school appeared as the main instrument of moral regeneration of the citizen. But to achieve this it was necessary to take care of the body, protect and strengthen it. Doctors will thus denounce the lack of hygiene and health of housing and schools, as well the inadequate furniture and propose measures to correct the way to sit the students to avoid and correct physical deformities and make the presence of students in the school healthy and beneficial to its growth. Doctors speeches will legitimize eugenics in the defence of children's integrity and its future as useful citizen, to do so they will define the educational space as a field of intervention: teacher training and through a set of measures that have guided pedagogical practices. The furniture in particular the hygiene of local and body, the organization of school space and time are privileged themes of doctors, which affect teaching practices: teaching methods, attitudes of students, organization of portfolios in the classroom, aerating and incidence of light, heating, children's food, school schedule and distribution of different subjects throughout the day. Medical intervention was guided by a set of rules that were imposed to teachers and school authorities, which resulted in the objectification of the male and female students as bodies to discipline to be productive and robust physical and moral point of view, in that the body stronger implied a strengthening of the will and adherence to behaviour appropriate to the individual and collective preservation of life.