Its good to talk. We were having a nice chat in my department, and ended up with the view that we’re all going to hell in a hand-cart, teachers and students alike.
Okay, maybe its not that bad, but in these swingeing (who made up that word?) times it’s fairly easy to convince oneself that everything is rubbish.
Take the state of our D&T curriculum, f’rinstance. Hi-tech machinery that does everything for you, students not knowing which end of the ruler is the sharp end (I have literally seen a 14-year old lad hammering a screw into his work), greater pressures on teachers to produce which reduces the possibility of risk-taking in terms of classroom creativity, which in turn leads to more rigid projects, which leads to everyone doing the same, which results in a drop in student motivation, which results in teachers spoon-feeding, which results in everyone having a results-centred approach to D&T; in that all students want is to get the ‘thing’ at the end, which all leads up to the probability of any given student reaching the end of a project without having learning a flippin’ thing, merely having followed a series of stringent instructions as to how to construct some pre-fabricated kit with flashing lights that is guaranteed to capture their attention for the duration of the project but that has no real significance to the greater part of their lives, especially as they could buy something equally gaudy but more interesting from the poundshop or anywhere else you care to mention.
Doesn’t it make it all seem like a god-awful waste of time?
Yet D&T offers so much more than this – it is design, it is technology. What D&T is not is CDT – that look is so early-nineties.
I would really like to think that we have moved on from the ‘make this because I said so’ pedagogy, but to what? The problem is that you need that do-it-until-you’ve-learnt-it approach, if you’re to pick up the skills that you need later in the curriculum.
A spread of projects that reads ‘year 7 – laser cutter, year 8 – laser cutter, year 9 – laser cutter’ can result in only one thing come years 10 & 11, surely?
Yet what student honestly wants to know about tenon saws and housing joints when they can pop to Ikea for a full bedroom set for pennies?
In my experience each D&T department is better off when it wrestles with these questions – more alive, more searching. Each department will, at this point in history, have some sort of schizophrenia over which camp it sits in, even each teacher, even within each lesson.
Things aren’t as bad in my department as we were talking about, but the elephant is definitely in the room. My guess is that it’s not going away anytime soon.
And another (!) thing – touchscreens – everything has them now, but it’s not the sort of thing that you can use in the classroom. It makes us look so, well, basic.