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The impending collision of secondary schools and society

I like the Technology curriculum because it embodies the Design process in schools (I like the design process – in all its forms) but I dislike the approach schools have taken with this area. Essentially we have the same old woodwork, cooking, sewing and computing we had 20 … odd … years ago. Shiny new names but essentially the same disparate courses of “learning”.

As I see it, we have two large issues rushing at us as secondary teachers.

  1. Kids are exposed to a wide range of technologies at a much younger age. My 4yr old daughter is happily conversant with the 3D printer (in that she talks to it). It’s a very real thing in her life. Digital TV and interactive media is normal. Making stuff is now inexpensive and increasingly open communities are doing a better job of teaching than we are in schools. We are not ready for that sort of curious mind (or the very angry parent that will follow)
  2. Our society has changed considerably in the last 50 years. Our schools have not really changed at any meaningful structural level to match. The internet is an obvious and very large change.

We have about 3.5 weeks of class time each year with students. Those students often do not know what they are interested in … or hide it in case it’s not “acceptable” or “going to get me credits”. How do we set up courses that:

  1. Engage their interests and existing knowledge and skills Get them excited about something enough that school becomes an extension of their learning and they eventually go on without us
  2. Do not create major conflict with existing structural/management processes (not my area of concern)
  3. Keep student numbers up in our courses so we can all stay here and keep working with young people
  4. Do not bore kids and drive them off from the thing they were interested in in the first place
  5. Give them access to all the resources (teachers included) they need to do exciting things regardless of arbitrary boundaries (wood, metal, digital, textiles, food, languages, mathematics, physics etc etc)
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