Forensics and autopsies: exploiting popular culture to teach design for commercial manufacture?

2007-06-12T08:19:03Z (GMT) by Susan V. McLaren Neal P. Juster
Forensic science is the discipline that students and parents consider as most interesting, providing a well paid and satisfying career (Manufacturing Foundation 2003). The influence of popular culture and the high level of media exposure may be a reason for this positive perception. Contrary to this, there seems to be a negative image of manufacturing, often perpetuated by the media. This anti-manufacturing attitude has prevailed for some time and is acknowledged by many (e.g. Scottish Executive, Make It Scotland, RSA, Foresight, MORI/EMTA, Unipart, The Manufacturing Institute). Industry and universities alike are finding it increasingly difficult to find enthusiastic recruits. This paper reviews current approaches to teaching the relatively new curriculum content (SQA, 1999) of commercial manufacture in the Scottish secondary school system and describes development work with in-service teachers and school students. The development work described aims to challenge the anti-manufacturing stereotype through a pedagogy designed on motivational principles and explicit use of the language and tools of popular media culture. The approach taken exploits the interest in all things ‘forensic’ and uses ‘product autopsy’. It aims to link the author’s previous work in exploring values and expressing opinions in Technology Education (McLaren, 1997) with recent curriculum developments and related teaching strategies. The integrated approach attempts to encourage greater engagement in aspects of technological sensitivity and technological perspective (SCCC, 1996) when learning about designing for commercial manufacture.