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‘Times change and we change with them’ or do we? : a new paradigm for design and technology

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posted on 2008-02-12, 16:28 authored by Clare Benson
With the ink barely dry on the last National Curriculum document for England, the debate as to the appropriateness of the paradigm that exists for design and technology is gaining momentum. Just as educators in all sectors thought that there might be a period of stability and consolidation, frameworks could be rebuilt, planning redrawn and delivery and resources redesigned. Is it appropriate and realistic to suggest that changes occur so quickly? Rather than raise standards, will it encourage educators to side step any changes, or even withdraw altogether from teaching the subject? A study of design and technology, since its introduction in 1990, indicates that in fact, there has never been a period of stability. Documents have come and gone as the design and technology community struggled to create a paradigm that was thought appropriate and acceptable to the majority. It is impossible to know exactly how implementation and standards were affected by this constant change, but there is evidence to suggest that progress would have been greater if stability had reigned. Yet is the situation different now? Is there sufficient agreement and have solid foundations been laid, upon which a different paradigm can be grafted that will enhance the subject and allow it to keep pace with the changing world? With the publication of the last curriculum, there was a consensus that the statement outlining the importance of design and technology was a true reflection of what most believed to be at the heart of design and technology. Furthermore, it is the very first sentence of that statement that supports the notion of a possible new paradigm. If young people are to be prepared to participate in tomorrow’s rapidly changing technologies, then surely the curriculum must reflect these rapid changes – constantly. Using recent evidence, including a wide range of case studies written by primary teachers, it will be argued that we have a flexible framework that has been created from the experiences of the last ten years. Parts that are no longer appropriate can be removed, whilst new areas can be slotted in without destroying the good practice that is already evident in our schools. We must consider the paradigm in relation to young people in early years and primary education if we are to create exciting designers and makers in the future. The new paradigm must take into account, not only the ‘new’ technologies, but also design and technology and society, a strand that has been neglected more recently. Moreover, it is not enough to create the model but a paradigm has to be created for its delivery. This is one past mistake that cannot be repeated. The purpose of the paper will be to highlight why we cannot afford to remain static, to suggest a new paradigm, from a primary perspective thus ensuring that building blocks are in place and to indicate how implementation can be successfully achieved.



  • Design

Research Unit

  • D&T Association Conference Series


BENSON, C., 2002. ‘Times change and we change with them’ or do we? : a new paradigm for design and technology. Design & Technology Association International Research Conference, 12-14 April, pp. 11-17



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