Teaching Design and Technology at Key Stages 1 and 2

Series Achieving QTS
Author(s) Gill Hope
Publisher Learning Matters
Published 2006
Pages 224
Price £17.00
ISBN 1844450562
Reviewed by Dr Christine Bold
Liverpool Hope University
Review published 28 November 2006

Content

The content is exactly as the title describes since it focuses on enabling students to meet the standards for classroom teachers with a useful mapping document in the appendices. It also supports the Design and Technology Association (DATA) guidance Tier 1- competencies necessary to teach design and technology satisfactorily. Key features of the book are reflective activities, practical tasks and case studies. These features will support any curriculum-based university programme.

Reading this book prompted me to revisit and reflect on my own Progression in Primary Design and Technology (Bold, 1999 published by David Fulton) to identify that Gill Hope and I both emphasise the iterative nature of the thought processes required for good design and technology. We both steer readers away from a rigid linear plan-make-evaluate model. This is one of the strengths of the book but in my view, it does not go far enough in exemplifying what this might actually mean in practice. Although there are many examples provided, they assume some specific knowledge and skills on the part of the reader and are generally broad in nature. Supporting photographs of actual design and make assignments would enhance the text and help those readers who for example might be asking, “How do I teach a left-handed child how to use scissors effectively when I am right-handed?” or “How do I sew a button on?”

In my experience, the practical details of teaching such skills are important and although the students might learn these things in their university programme, or in their everyday experience, it is equally likely that they will not. However, despite the assumption that readers have more skill than they do and the occasional lack of detail, the book provides a sound basis for any design and technology undergraduate or postgraduate curriculum studies programme. In particular, the link to the Excellence and Enjoyment (DfES, 2003) principles is useful, helping readers to remember that there is more to the school curriculum than is contained within subjects. The book helps readers to understand the particular opportunities within the design and technology curriculum that offer opportunities across and beyond the statutory curriculum. It clarifies the similarities and differences between design and technology and science, or art and design. The book begins with some information about the history and nature of design and technology and ends with a glimpse into the global future. It sets the scene for a fluid context, acknowledging that things change, systems are modified and that technology has a central place in our world despite its seemingly fringe position in the curriculum in many English primary schools.

Links to others in the field:

The book contains a number of references to various key writers such as Kimbell, Ritchie and Johnsey, plus a useful list of recent and relevant websites. However, critically reflective debate is sparse, reflecting the current dilemma in teacher education of enabling students to achieve standards without always providing secure academic rigour in being critically reflective about the work of others, the prescribed national curriculum or curriculum guidance. If students are lucky, their courses will provide them with an opportunity to use the research-related websites listed in the book. If not, design and technology standards will remain just another hoop through which to jump.

Usefulness

I have no doubt that this book will find its way onto the library shelves of those institutions that provide a significant input in design and technology as a primary curriculum subject and may establish itself as core reader for such programmes. There is little competition with few people publishing in a non-core area of the primary curriculum. For those who wish to become subject specialists in design and technology, a text with a stronger critically reflective discourse is desirable. In institutions where the focus on curriculum studies is lessening, in favour of a focus on broader interagency issues related to learning in schools, this book might be purchased as a supplementary reader supporting the skills, knowledge and understanding learned on placement in schools.