Samba schools teach classes about Brazilian culture and history

Historian shows how parades can be used to teach history, sociology, art — and even Portuguese

This weekend, the champion samba schools in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo return to the avenue with their winning parades. In addition to bringing us excitement and fun, the themes that dress up costumes and sambas also have a lot to teach about art, history and the diversity of our people.

For historian Luiz Antonio Simas, what happens on the avenue has great pedagogical potential. “The plots, the dramatic procession, the dramaturgy of a samba school parade can raise a series of questions linked to the history of Brazil, to Brazilian culture”, he states in an interview with the website Porvir.

Simas, who was honored in this event by the Rio de Janeiro samba school Academicos da Abolição, states that the parades help us analyze history and reflect on current issues, such as the racism, religious intolerance and prejudice. 

And give an example. “In 1960, Acadêmicos do Salgueiro created the plot 'Quilombo dos Palmares', telling the story before it reached textbooks.”

In turn, in 2023 Beija-Flor de Nilópolis sang narratives about Brazil's independence process with reference to Bahia's 2nd of July, Bahia's war of independence.

A party that crosses several disciplines

Seamus also highlights the educational role of fantasies. In the case of the block Chief of Ramos, from Rio de Janeiro, the custom of wearing indigenous costumes is closely linked to its origins in a space dedicated to the orixá Oxóssi and takes on a different dimension, one of respect for traditional people. 

“Cacique de Ramos praises the caboclos, Oxóssi and the people of the forests, paying homage to the original peoples”, he explains.

Another point highlighted by the historian is that carnival manifests itself as a celebration of building a collective meaning in life. “This is very important, especially in a society that tends to individualize us.”

All of this, in his view, makes carnival an important element for education by mixing history, sociology, philosophy, art, geography and even the Portuguese language — why not use a samba-enredo to study Portuguese? 

“We can teach history, geography, sociology, philosophy, arts, Portuguese language, literature classes with carnival as a reference. It’s a topic that has a transversal meaning for those who work in education.”

Was this content useful to you?
YesNo

Related posts