International Trends in Design and Technology
Probably there is currently no school subject around which there is so much debate as there is around technology education. To a large extent this is because technology education is a relatively new subject in the school curriculum, when we mean technology as a contribution to general education for all pupils (of course, there is also vocational, technical education, which does have a long tradition; in this article we shall focus on technology education as general education). Although technology education in all countries has a sort of historical background – usually in craft education – the changes towards technology education are so fundamental that one could easily be justified in calling it a new subject. Of course, other school subjects go through major changes also. Science education, for example, has become increasingly linked to everyday life phenomena that pupils directly expert ence for themselves. Furthermore, there has been a growing sense of awareness of the role played by pupils’ preconceptions which they bring to science, and how these can be transformed into more scientifically valid concepts by creating effective educational situations. But even with these sorts of changes, science education remains science education in a recognisable way. And maybe more importantly, the changes are made by teachers who have been specifically educated to teach science. In that respect the situation is different for technology education, where in most countries teachers of other subjects have been retrained, or moved without retraining, to become technology teachers (often in addition to their other teaching roles). These teachers often do not have much more than a basic knowledge of technology as a subject, which is sufficient to teach it adequately, but does not enable them to create a new school subject. An additional problem for technology education is that, contrary to most other school subjects, it has no directly
288 Teaching Design and Technology in secondary schools
equivalent discipline in the academic world. Science educators can draw from the academic disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology to get a conceptual basis for their teaching. For technology education, one could of course think of the various engineering disciplines in the academic world, but it is generally felt that following those would create too narrow a scope for teaching technology. And other than those disciplines, there are no others that combine all the different aspects that one would like to bring together in technology education.