Skills in Technology
The skills required for investigating, designing, producing and evaluating can not be underestimated. These process skills require practice for students to achieve competence and proficiency. However these are not the only skills that are required to innovate.
Often overlooked are the skills required in the production of technologies. Constructing something tangible – whether it be a Lego house or a woollen scarf – requires some level of skill to complete the task. For this reason, some teachers will stick to digital technologies, believing that the procedures require less planning, less technical knowledge, or are less messy. Other teachers stick to “simple” technologies, such as knitting or basic cooking. But the skills and understandings required to sew, to build furniture or to cook a complex meal should not be underestimated in value, and a part of our objective in technology education should be to help our students develop some skills that are in their interest. This is where secondary subjects such as Home Economics or Manual Arts excel, while primary teaching can sometimes fall short.
Consider the skills required to make clothes, design websites, or brew ginger beer (ok, that last one is not too difficult!). Make a list of the skills and you’ll see that there can be a lot more complexity to teaching technology to students than simply making another Powerpoint or crafting a Christmas card…
Effective and complete technology education can be really hard, but also really fun: engaging, challenging and empowering for our students. Technology education allows our students to develop any and all of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Information Communication Technologies capabilities, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Ethical understanding and Intercultural understanding. We can also focus on one or more of the Cross-Curriculum Priorities if we seek to, particularly Sustainability. Technology education invites students to solve problems, invent new futures, predict and anticipate change positively, and empowers them with choice and control over what they will accept and what they will not in their own lives. It allows for deep and meaningful discussion of authentic problems we face as a species and for critical and creative thinking about events and activities both local and global. Technology education invites inquiry, scientific thinking, and creative problem-solving. It allows students to apply their learning from other learning areas in meaningful contexts. Ultimately, the skills, attitudes and understandings developed by technology education are those we seek in any engaged and thoughtful citizen of our society. What’s not to love about technology education?