The introduction of Practical Craft Skills into the Scottish Technology Curriculum : a new beginning or the beginning of the end
2007-05-23T10:25:02Z (GMT) by
Scotland in the form of ‘Practical Craft Skills’. This has been greeted with a large degree of satisfaction from the majority of technology teachers in Scotland who have expressed a growing concern about the ability of certain pupils to deal with the design element in craft and design. The ‘arranged marriage’ of craft to design has not been without its tensions as the long established craft tradition had to make accommodations to its new, more creative partner. The teaching of design, its assessment and its integration with craft skills has not as yet found an optimum balance in technical education in Scotland and this has left a proportion of students not entirely convinced of the benefits of the design dimension. Courses in Practical Craft Skills, on the other hand, have no design element, are continually assessed and are inherently skillsbased. This ‘skills by prescription’ approach is becoming entrenched in policy. This particular curriculum reform could therefore be interpreted as a retrospective dilution and revocationalisation, of the curriculum, or conversely, as a broadening out of provision which allows teachers greater scope to respond to the educational needs and preferences of diverse groups of pupils. Whilst the risks of forecasting curricular futures must be acknowledged, the trend of departments offering Practical Craft Skills alongside craft and design, or indeed in place of craft and design, looks set to continue at the expense of design education in Scotland (Dakers and Doherty, 2003). This paper will seek to argue that the teaching of Practical Craft Skills as a hands-on practical activity, with no involvement in the design process, is problematic. The paper is limited to some key topics and seeks to promote discussion.