Social Representations and Special Education Teacher’s Epistemological Conceptions of Learning

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the teacher’s epistemological conceptions of learning (n = 12) during the continuing teacher education program of a Basic Education School, Special modality, from Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. The qualitative research was developed from the hermeneutic phenomenological perspective, drawing from the Theory of Social Representations as a theoretical and methodological resource for data analysis. The IRAMUTEQ software was used for statistical analysis data obtained through the protocol of the observation of the meetings. The continuing teacher education program took place over eight meetings lasting two hours each. For each meeting, one researcher registered the speeches of the participants (theme registration) and another one registered the movements of the group (dynamics registration). The register of the teachers’ statements during the meetings formed a textual body which was submitted to similarity analysis and the graphic representation of word clouds by IRAMUTEQ software, giving rise to the categories of analysis. The innate and empirical epistemological conceptions of learning coexisted in the teachers’ social representations. The conceptions were anchored in the organicist view of disability and ideas that reinforce the handicaps of children with disabilities and not their potentialities. As a consequence, teachers work on the preparation of children with disabilities for their integration into society, and not on educational actions aimed at their effective inclusion in society. The results refer to the teacher’s continuing education, the promotion of reflective discussions with the pedagogical team about the role of the special school and the encouragement of interdisciplinary work in the institution.