The School of Arts and Trades (Escuela de Artes y Oficios, EAO) in Santiago is one of the earliest examples of how enlightenment-based ideas of education, developed during the industrial revolution, reached Latin American states at the dawn of their independence. The School was founded in 1849 at the behest of President Manuel Bulnes to promote the development of the “mechanical arts” among the “sons of honest and industrious artisans”, with the intention of training a workforce for a fledgling domestic industry through the teaching of four trades: carpentry, blacksmithing, foundry and mechanics. From the beginning until well into the twentieth century, a polytechnical approach was repeatedly considered and rejected in favour of a solid industrial formation rather than specialization in a particular trade. This discussion began early on and continued throughout the life of the EAO, with various specialtes added over time to the basic structure of the school; the initial four workshops, however, were a constant presence throughout.

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