Accepted Papers:

Positivism and vocational education in Brazil: the case of the Porto Alegre School of Engineering and its secondary-level institutes, c.1900-1910  

Author:

Flavio Heinz (UFPR - Universidade Federal do ParanĂ¡)

Paper Short Abstract:

Established in 1896 by a group of young and politically active military engineers, the Porto Alegre School of Engineering became one of the most successful positivist-oriented educational enterprises in Brazil. The paper discusses the models of technical schooling that inspired the school founders.

Paper long abstract:

Established in 1896 by a group of young and politically active military engineers, the Porto Alegre School of Engineering became in the first decades of the 20th century one of the most successful positivist-oriented educational enterprises in Brazil. Planned as a 'Comtean project of technical university' and supported by the ruling elite, the School was the centre of a reformist attempt to provide higher education in different branches of engineering and, at the same time, cast a wide net of vocational and technical education for young workers. Very critical of the 'literary' nature of Brazilian education and the ubiquity of Law graduates ('bacharéis') in social and political life, the ideologues and first managers of the School of Engineering were inspired by the models of the German Technische Hochschule and the North American Land-Grant College, defending the central place of technique in education. Although the provision of excellent higher education remained the focus of the institution, its proactive role in the establishment of secondary vocational and technical institutes was equally celebrated. Contemporaries considered this emerging system of technical schools to be the accomplishment of a core positivist directive: to incorporate the proletariat into society. The paper discusses the choice of the German and American technical school models by positivist ideologues and educators in Rio Grande do Sul as a way to overcome the elitist nature of education in Brazil.

panel P25
Positivism and education reform in late nineteenth-century Latin America