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The emergence of design ability : the early years

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conference contribution
posted on 08.05.2006, 14:51 by Yvonne Outterside
Design and technology is about the way in which we shape our world to meet our needs, bearing in mind that we, too are shaped by our environment. It is a relatively new addition to the primary curriculum, but is it new to children? We must all have seen young children creating things that did not exist previously, whether from stones, sticks, sand, paper, playdough or in fact any materials or components that might be to hand, as they shape and create their own models of the world. Through the designerly activities of young children we see our culture made manifest. Children see through the eyes of their culture and exhibit a natural curiosity about cultural meaning, the way things are done, how people behave, what things look like and represent. The aim of my current research is to more clearly understand what constitutes the ability to design, or more correctly abilities, and see how these abilities are displayed in the early years. The focus in this research paper is on perceiving, imaging and modelling: Perceiving - learning to see ordinary things and exercise the skill of seeing, for how can we perceive what might be if we cannot perceive what is? Imaging - 'seeing in our mind's eye' i) what is (but is not before us at the time); ii) what was; iii) what might be. Modelling - using symbols to represent things, making one thing stand for another. The following research forms part of a much larger case study undertaken with Joe, who at the outset was 2 years 6 months and is now 4 years old.



  • Design

Research Unit

  • IDATER Archive


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OUTTERSIDE, Y., 1993. The emergence of design ability : the early years. IDATER 1993 Conference, Loughborough: Loughborough University


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