The scientific heritage of Portuguese secondary schools: a historical approach
Portuguese schools hold important collections, most organised in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This scientific heritage, however, is still to be discovered. This article focuses on the creation, development, and role of natural history collections in Portuguese secondary schools, between the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, that is, before and after the introduction of laboratory-based teaching in science education. Material culture is thus used to expand the current narrative of science teaching in Portugal, by tracking these kinds of collections. Contrary to the current view on science teaching in Portuguese secondary education, in this article I argue that by focusing on collections, and more generally on the material culture of secondary schools, a new picture emerges that contradicts the traditional discourse emphasising the scarcity of appropriate school buildings, infrastructure, and equipment. A brief overview of the current state of Portuguese natural history teaching collections is also provided, drawing attention to their vulnerability, given the absence of a general policy or guidelines orienting its conservation.