Whole language and design and technology education

2006-05-08T17:22:08Z (GMT) by Patricia Hutchinson
The "Whole Language" movement has swept American elementary education over the last three or four years. Whole language refers to an approach to teaching that is highly integrative and thematic, where children learn language skills in the context of real-world problem-solving activities. Concurrent with but isolated from whole language have been two other major educational movements, one to reformulate education generally in terms of "outcomes" and one to update the content and delivery of technology education. Outcomes-based education requires progression toward adult outcomes starting with the earliest school experiences. One adult outcome generally agreed upon is technological capability. To many people this implies a need for kindergarten-to-twelfth-grade (K-12) technology education. In the US, technology is closely associated with science, a considerably weaker area of the elementary curriculum than language. Technology education is a daunting new idea to elementary teachers, the more so when associated with science. Whole language, however, provides a comfortable entree for technology into elementary education, since it can be seen as a logical extension of thematic problem- solving into the realm of practical activity. To date, little effort is being made to take advantage of this natural connection.