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ITEA News

ITEA's Starkweather Presents Testomony on Technology in DC
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Oct 27, 2005, 06:51

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Transcribed Testomony from October 25, 2005

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Kendall N. Starkweather, Executive Director/CEO of the International Technology Education Association (ITEA). ITEA represents over 38,000 technology, innovation, design, and engineering teachers at the secondary level of education. These figures do not count the many elementary teachers who integrate activity-based instruction in their classrooms. We thank you for the opportunity to testify today on a topic that is of great importance to our educational
system.

Our primary interest in this assessment relates to technological design. We realize that this is probably a difficult area for the science community, for we see technological design addressed only on a limited basis, even though it was deemed important enough to be a part of both National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) and Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy (AAAS, 1993). Additionally, the National Science Foundation and
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration believed in the importance of design and technological literacy as they funded a more extensive look as the Standards for
Technological Literacy (ITEA, 2000/2002) document was created. The National Academy of Engineering thought the topic was important enough that they completed a
formal review of those standards, as did the National Research Council of The Academies. All of this work was completed with the knowledge that the science
standards and AAAS Benchmark creators believed in the importance of the topic and the undeniable relationship between science and technology. Each serves as a basis for the advancement of the other. This action was taken because a large number of corporate, governmental agency,
association, and education leaders had a vision that related science education to the larger picture of being able to transform knowledge learned about our natural world to the
human made world of technology. This action was also taken because these informed leaders knew that it takes more than science and inquiry to create a strong next generation
of inventors and innovators. They knew that inquiry must be quickly followed by technological design to realize the true creative ability that grows human potential. It is
time for science assessments to reflect the very component that has been missing from the curriculum. That missing part brings with it the practice of putting science into action as is done by an engineer, architect, or high tech workers as they utilize technological design.

Americans have a history of being world leaders in innovation. That leadership history is now being challenged as other nations are learning, seeing opportunities, and working to make innovation a key priority in their quest to be strong players in the world marketplace. If we are to thrive in a world of challenge and change, we must take to heart selected prerequisites for a country to be innovative as identified by the Council on Competitiveness (COC, 2004). They are to:

Educate next-generation innovators
Deepen science (inquiry) and engineering (technological design) skills
Explore knowledge intersections, and
Equip workers for change

It would be easy for your committees to look at science education in a traditional way and assess in patterns similar to past decades. However, what our country needs now is a next generation of learners to develop new knowledge, launch new scientific/technological industries, and protect citizens and homelands. We must develop ideas and learning through technological design in new kinds of ways and levels of value to the marketplace. These characteristics affect the kind of workforce that we will have in the next generation.

We have become a country that treasures what it measures when it comes to education. We have adopted an educational mentality that we should not change what would be considered the basics of education during the past century. We seem
to have adopted the mindset that science should not change when it comes to dropping technological design out of these assessments. We do this in spite of living in a highly sophisticated technological society based on a
science/technology interaction. We have ignored, misinterpreted, and inadequately addressed technological design in science education. We fear including technological
design in assessments pertaining to science education because we secretly believe that our students will do poorly on such assessments.

We even state that we should omit technological design in assessments because there are not enough science students experiencing its characteristics. Are we to believe that all science education is taught in science classes? Technology teachers have understood for some time that they are involved in science teaching and that science educators have a similar responsibility to address technological design because of the relationship of science and technology. Just
as there are literally millions of students taking science education in our schools, with over 38,000 technology teachers in our schools, it stands to reason that millions of students are getting experiences in technological design in science related courses. How can we ignore that technological design is a key component when dealing with inquiry, invention, innovation, science, technology, and engineering? Other countries evidently are not ignoring these characteristics as is demonstrated in their thirst for knowledge and performance as a force in future economies.

The issue is not whether technological design is good or bad; not whether it should or shouldn't be offered; or not how or where it is taught. The issue here is whether the United States will maintain its worldwide competitive lead
if science education and its related assessments continue to ignore its relationships and added value when technological design is a key component.

Technological design helps students adjust to change, deal with forces that influence their lives, and to participate in controlling their futures using science knowledge as a basis for action. We know that an unutilized science
education is valueless. Technological design is that component of a science education that ALWAYS provides action and captures the ingenuity of the students as they practice putting their knowledge of science into purposeful action.

It is appropriate for science education to carry a vision that includes a practical purpose tied to the inventive and innovative future created by the next generation. We should not wait until the next generation of assessments to
address this issue. The time is now if we want to start creating a science education that addresses the next generation rather than repeating the past. The science assessments could play a major role simply by addressing our ability to
utilize technological design as a part of science education.

I thank you for this opportunity to provide input on this important matter. I wish you much success in your endeavors.

References
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1993) Benchmarks
for scientific literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Council on Competitiveness (COC). (2004) Innovate America. Washington, D.C.:
Author.
International Technology Education Association (ITEA). (2000/2002) Standards
for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA:
Author.
National Research Council (NRC). (1996) National science education standards.
Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

© Copyright 2005 Wisconsin Technology Education Association

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