Is Mickey Mouse technology the way to beat the Japanese?
conference contributionposted on 2006-03-21, 15:26 authored by J.M. Flood
This is a polemical paper which is critical of what is an increasingly common interpretation of the teaching of technology in schools. "Technology" in this case will be defined as that which is concerned with the design and production of products or systems associated with the manufacturing industries. "Mickey Mouse Technology" will be defined as design tasks given to pupils which involve cartoon type images and in which little attempt is made to use design tools such as mathematical modelling or scientific principles. It will be argued that the image promoted by such topics is erroneous, that it trivialises technology and is counter-productive to the stated aims of the subject. The pathology of this situation will be located in the lack of an adequate paradigm. It will be shown that attempts to promote paradigms have resulted in polar shifts which have left many teachers confused and demoralised. The paper will conclude by arguing that if we are to achieve the aims of teaching technology, one of which is to ultimately strengthen the manufacturing base of this country and to make it more competitive with countries in Europe and East Asia, then a clearer paradigm needs to be articulated and clearer guidelines for interpretation offered. Some examples of 'non-Mickey Mouse' technology will be offered for illustration and discussion.
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