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Shocked to hear teachers don't realise that the future of D&T is at stake

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by remyk69, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Come on folks, I don't want to fill my timetable with RE, French and Geography, with the possibility of a bit of Latin thrown in for good measure.
  2. I am extremely pro-DT subjects and think it vitally important to ensure its continued existence in schools, however, this thread https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/523846.aspx?PageIndex=1 in which an interview with James Dyson is linked denegrating Textiles and Food as sewing and cookery really P@@@@D me off.
    I've also seen some material coming from DATA castigating some of the projects made in schools as boring and old fashioned and how we should be moving towards lots of new tech stuff. One of the pictures showed a steady hand game (vacuumed formed by a student) compared with a POD. Of the Heads of Department present at the presentation no one could explain why a POD was anymore cutting edge.
    Students love to do hands on activities, they get more than enough interactive computer stuff at home with their games and their I-phones, what they don't get is the opportunity to make stuff. My Year 10 Product Design class were begging me today to make mechanical toys. I had some very low ability boys a couple of years ago who revelled in being able to cut different wood joints - not to make anything in particular just so they could have a go with the tools. The trend towards making "high quality products" using laser cutters rather than hand tools is not nearly as satisfying to my students.
    While these mixed messages are being delivered - high tech = good, traditional skills = old fashioned and boring - I believe trying to promote the subject to this government will not get us very far. Surely we should be advocating DT as being the best subject to deliver a wide range of concepts, we cover so much - design, innovation, engineering, maths, history, material science, manufacture, problem solving, planning, evaluation etc etc.
  3. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Absolutely agree!
    What the government needs to see is that the subject offers more to students than just a chance to have a go with some tools. But we're fighting a stigma which has existed since the grim old days of Woodwork, Metalwork, Sewing, Home Economics and Technical Drawing and the pigeonholes they created (which was what happened when almost ALL politicians were in school not just the ConDems)
    Society too sees DT as a purely hacking and bashing subject. When was the last time you heared someone ask "what did you DESIGN in tech today?"... answer... never! people ask "what did you MAKE?"
    Until this stigma is shaken off it'll be very difficult to fight our corner!
    The only way I can see that we stand a chance is to get big industry to back us. The government wont listen to another bunch of complaining teachers (theres loads of them at the moment) They will however listen to big industrial companies who have an impact on the country's GDP.

  4. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Sadly I think this approach might fall on daft ears.
    Get yourselves to BAE Systems, Unilever, Wolseley, Cadbury, Rolls Royce, Pearson e.t.c. and get them to fight the case!
    It may well be easier to access these than some doddery old farts at Westminster. Plus, if the "old boys network" works as well as it is reputed to. The CEOs of these companies will be in bed with the politicians anyway.

  5. bluesbreaker

    bluesbreaker New commenter

    Pedro, you might be interested in the following link about a meeting BAE, Jaguar and others from industry had with the Government in June. Specifically, it says they discussed what to do with the content of the D&T curriculum. I think its from meetings like this that the idea of putting engineering in the subject name has come from.
    I agree with what others have said that we're getting mixed messages from DATA, and it would really help if they were clearer with what they're actually fighting for (i had a look at their manifesto but it seemed very light on detail to me). I think some change is coming, gove leaving us out of the ebac was a clear sign that he's not interested in the subject as it stands.
  6. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    And this is a problem because?????? At the end of the day, if you go on to a career in maths, you're a mathematician. If you study science you're a scientist. study languages you're a linguist e.t.c
    then it follows that
    If you study DT you're a "designandtechnologist" ?
    Change the name to something like "design and engineering" and it becomes much clearer who you are and what you're about.
    I get asked all the time... "so what do you teach?" followed by... "so what's that then? is it computers and things?"
    Maybe a re-branding is what we need.
    As for the meeting, it looks like another meeting that achieved **** all. I'd love to see the minutes.
  7. bluesbreaker

    bluesbreaker New commenter

    Sorry, probably my fault for the misunderstanding! I'm all in favour of engineering going in the title and the subject becoming more scientific.
    When I said DATA needed to be clearer with its message, what i meant was that i want it to be (and think it needs to be) more explicit in its support for engineering.
    I was the one who originally posted the dyson link in this older thead:
    To quote myself from that thread: "Ultimately what matters (for all our futures) is that engineering, food and textiles are popular and are being taught somewhere within the school rather than worrying about whether or not they all stay together as one subject called ‘d&t’. Personally, i hope that in the end the government follows dysons dte suggestion, as it’ll help me attract more students if i’m part of a proper engineering subject… bring it on I say :)"
  8. Coming from a food background, I am a former scientist from the FSA and also an environmental health officer, I think what is also needed is that students need to know what kind of careers they can go into in regards to food. Sorry I have just started my GTP so I have only covered food. The students I have spoken to seem to think that the only careers they can go into include chefs and possibly nutritionists. I think if they were given clear indications of the type of careers this subject would lead to would be beneficial. Maybe getting the FSA on board (but I am not sure if they are still held in such high regard anymore) and food manufacturers such as unilever, Tesco, waitrose, etc for food product development, food safety auditor (selfridges harrods), EHOs, Heinz (nutitionists) etc
    I really think food is not placed in the right area anyway. I have covered protein lessons and carbohydrate lesson along with food hygiene, I do believe that Food should be placed in science somehow.
    Sorry I do not have any other dealings with other parts of D&T at the moment
  9. I'm not a teacher, but a product designer (and a school governor, and married to a teacher). The whole curriculum change not only affects the core D+T subject but also in primary education, they have removed IT from being a core subject. Why is this? Well the general consensus appears to be that by removing a subject as "core" you make it optional and so do not have to fund it. D+T and IT are expensive subjects, requiring specialist equipment and facilities.

    Speaking as a professional designer employing graduates, in my opinion the issue is in the HE sector not the primary or secondary sector. Whilst in the primary and secondary sector there are defined agreed curricula for the subjects, once a student reaches HE it goes out the window and becomes an institution based selection activity. Without getting into the relative merits of some courses, all I can say is that there are serious issues with the quality of output from many degree courses across the Design and Architecture sector.

    What many want to see is a more structured system - like primary and secondary, with agreed national standards.

    Speaking as a parent of two children currently doing A level and GCSE design subjects (Food Technology and Graphic Communication) one of the issues with D+T at secondary level is the sheer volume of work that needs to be done. The perception of many outside the sector is that people who do "technology" are less able academically. Those of us working in the sector know that is not always the case, and there is a general misunderstanding of what is involved. My first degree was in Mechanical Engineering. My second degree was in Industrial Design. My discipline IS very technical (and indeed many of the people I went to college with were the first employees for James Dyson), but frankly, so is any D+T topic. What needs to be addressed is the fact that an academically able student SHOULD be encouraged to take a D+T subject, and that subject SHOULD be relevant to many degree courses outside the D+T sector.

    But here, I think there is a problem. Teachers at AS and A level do not encourage able students to take A levels when they have other subjects. My daughter, for example, took AS Graphics (A grade), but she wants to do Chemistry at University. She wanted to do 4 A Levels including Graphics, but was told not to "due to the demands of the Graphics course". Yet her friends are taking 4 non D+T subjects at A level. What this says to me is that the coursework loading in D+T subjects is too high and out of proportion to other (more traditionally academic) subjects. Perhaps what is needed are more "academic" options within the modules of a D+T course, so that those students who want it can opt for less practical elements and focus on more research or book based learning.

    So a re-branding (I hate that term!) of the subject from Design and Technology to Design and Engineering does not in fact cover the scope needed. A better term (I think) would be Design and Manufacture. This is what the country needs - whether that is products, clothing, print, media or food. I have to say I am not a fan of the individual subject titles either! Design-Resistant Materials! Call it Design and Manufacture-Products. Food Technology - Design and Manufacture-Food etc.
  10. heidiyoung86

    heidiyoung86 New commenter

    I completely disagree with D&T becoming more scinetific! How awful! We are CREATIVE, we teach CREATIVITY, end of!!! Science and engeneering should be kept well away. Our KS3 National Curriculum is based on designing skills - if you want to be an engineer, study maths, science and RM then go to college to specialise. We should be cultivating product designers, fashion designers, interior designers, web designers, Tricia Guild, Heston Blumenthal and the Bouroullec brothers!
  11. Sorry that is a ridiculous statement. This demonstrates the precise issue I face daily dealing with professional designers. There is an arrogance that runs through te design sector implying that only designers can be creative. Why can't scientists, engineers, doctors be creative? This is exact thinking that restricts the design sector and pigeon holes us in the eyes of others, that being, we are arrogant creative beings.

    In a recent tour of a university Chemistry department the lecturer explained that modern science is about creativity and the application of other sectors to chemistry, so blurring the edges between disciplines. That is what creativity is.
  12. I have to disagree.... Creativity is part of what we do - and it should be, because yes, architecture, product design, fashion design, surface work for textiles etc etc should have a creative input, <u>but</u> we can't do any of that efficiently or effectively without understanding the science behind it. What use is a fashion designer who has no concept of sizing, body shape, or the structure and construction of a garment? Or a product designer who doesn't understand the constraints of the material they want to work with? The list is endless. We can't do the creative parts of our courses without the underpinning knowledge - and however you choose to look at that, it is a science.

    On a slightly different tact from that, I personally (and please don't yell!) think that if we focused more on the <u>technology</u> part of the subject and less on the design then the outcomes we produce would be more successful, and the students would be more engaged - but I accept that this will never appeal or apply to everyone (students and teachers alike).
  13. All subject boundaries are arbitrary. Even 'Pure' Maths, 'Pure' Science etc are closely related to all other subjects. Subject labels are man-made.
    I would like to see more skill-building though in D&T education and less conceptualising in the younger age groups. You can't make good decisions about a product unless you know something about its construction.
  14. Spencer_DT

    Spencer_DT Occasional commenter

    Come on people......................just sign the form, if the DT Ship sinks it does'nt matter what we think Design Technology is really all about!
  15. I have signed it some months ago, but realistically Michael Gove has aready decided what he want to do with education and its already had various discussion in the commons and Lords i believe. The only dramatic chance would be if we delivered the subject via the medium of Latin or possible ancient Greek if they have there way. Its best to ride it out and wait for the next education minister to realise that its all been a big *** up and things will go back full circle.
    Thank GOD its Friday ( and this is not a specific religious belief..)
  16. timbdesign

    timbdesign New commenter

    Good design is about balancing aesthetics and engineering so shouldn't D&T be the same?
    Was the slot together box chosen because it's the best shape of container or would it be better truly three dimensional? When pupils choose a material are they able to choose from a range of appropriate materials or from a limited range in the store room where only one is actually suitable? How many times have you seen pupils using the wrong material - how about bird boxes made out of MDF?
    We should never have reached this stage of fighting for the survival of D&T. Since the introduction of the national curriculum, collectively we have stopped making our subject exciting, we have stopped innovating and building on the latest developments in design and engineering. We sat back, safe in the knoweldge that pupils have to take D&T and all we have to do is get good results. D&T teachers designed courses that get results, by distilling what is taught down to only that required to clear the hurdles set out in the exam specs. As a specification for D&T education they are pretty limited in scope and in many cases badly outdated. The end result for many pupils is a very limited and frankly dull experience.
    We can survive but only by choosing projects that interest and inspire pupils, developing making, design and technical knowledge alongside each other and by applying science and maths where appropriate. If we manage to do this, pupils will choose D&T because it is fun, challenging and relevant to the modern world they are growing up in and not our past.
  17. I agree with Benedict16. I'm going to continue promoting the subject and fighting the prejudice described in this thread. I too signed the petition ages ago and don't expect anything to change, apart from there being less money. Next education minister will undoubtedly want to 'ring the changes' and things will swing the other way.
  18. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Historically this has happened and it will again.
  19. Having received an "enlighted" secondary school education I thought that I would like to be a D&T teacher to put something back particularly in more deprived areas.
    On course at University of a mixed group of potential D&T teachers, I was the only one with the slightest interest in resistant materials, none were interested in food technology. The rest were going to opt mostly for computers.
    On teacher training in the schools, most of the male pupils were only interested in wearing short trousers and chasing a ball, the female openly admitted that they would prefer the traditional Domestic Science.
    Perhaps the final situation comment was by the senior D&T teacher almost gloating about how "the old engineering had been taken out of D&T" and how he had managed to sell off the school woodwork and metalwork equipment to purchase soldering irons etc.
    With attitudes like this I have very considerable misgivings whether the addition of "Engineering" to D&T would make the slightest difference and even create considerable resistance.
    I soon concluded that I was totally wasting my time and took a proper D&T job abroad where traditional skils are still appreciated and I still sometimes wonder what the British tax payer might think at the considerable investment made in my training for other counties benefit.
  20. si_forestiero

    si_forestiero New commenter

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