Can you define the nature of d&t?


It looks as if Elizabeth Truss is listening to the latest advice given to her by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Design & Technology Association.

You can find this advice here Advice_on_D&T_programme_of_study_presented_to_DfE

In her response Elizabeth wrote, “I believe the draft you have submitted is strong and welcome in particular the way in which it embodies the coherence and conceptual rigour of design & technology”.

So it seems as if the more than dreadful proposals of last February are now consigned to the past.

However it is important that we are not complacent. It will be essential to turn the resulting programme of study into excellent practice in the majority of schools. One of the problems we face is that despite 20 plus years of d&t national Curriculum programmes of study there appears to be little consensus amongst teachers as to the nature of the subject. John Williams, a well respected academic and colleague of mine, carried out an interesting enquiry. He asked a number of relatively new to teaching science and design & technology teachers what they thought were ‘enduring ideas’ in their subject and how these might be taught. The science teachers had no difficulty about agreeing on the first part of the task and were soon discussing how to teach such tricky ideas as the particulate nature of matter and elements and compounds whereas the design & technology teachers spent all the allocated time disagreeing about the nature of design & technology and what might or might not be ‘enduring ideas’. To those of us who know design & technology teachers this might not come as a surprise but this lack of unanimity is a cause of great concern.  If amongst ourselves we cannot agree about our subject then we will have little success in communicating its worth to others. So here’s a challenge for your d&t deparment – identify no more than 10 agreed ‘enduring ideas’ that all pupils should be taught in their design & technology lessons. To give the challenge some structure,  divide your ideas into ideas of design & technology ideas (ideas that are used by designers and technologists) and ideas about design & technology (ideas that explain what design & technology is like and how it works in society).

Torben and I look forward to hearing about your thoughts!

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