What are the origins of technology teaching/technology and engineering education?
Technology teaching has evolved as technology has advanced. During the industrial era of the 20th century, it was taught in the schools as industrial arts, reflecting the industrial society. As advancements have catapulted us into a faster moving, more highly sophisticated, technological society, technology education has made content adjustments that reflect these changes. One of the most recent changes is expanding the curriculum to include more engineering content. Generally, the public is unaware of these changes in curriculum and content and, therefore, the field must contend with a lack of support despite major strides to advance the subject matter.
In a word, it is about INNOVATION! It is about how people think! It is how to apply technology in the solutions of problems facing society. The aim is to solve problems and create opportunities within a realistic context. That context can start with the
student’s everyday environment and progressively move into more global issues.
Examples of technology problems and learning situations could be the cleaning of a stream that has become polluted, the creation and fabrication of an invention to solve a household problem, or designing and building of a habitat for a unique situation. The
thinking process is closely related to that of an engineer, hi-tech worker, designer, or an architect. Students use their ingenuity with tools, materials, processes, and resources to create solutions and opportunities for themselves and others. The nature of learning goes from the very early years of just “knowing” to more developed applications that relate to the medical, agricultural, energy and power in information and communication, transportation, manufacturing, and construction technologies. It is a new and dynamic subject in our schools that is as fast moving and as up-to-date as the thinking of technology in our society! It is future workforce thinking!!
A major consequence of accelerating technological change is a difference in levels of technological ability and understanding. The workforce of the future must have the
ability to use, manage, and understand technology. Indeed, technological literacy is vital to individual, community, and national economic prosperity. Beyond economic vitality is
the realization that how people develop and apply technology has become critical to future generations, society, and even the Earth’s continued ability to sustain life.
The purpose of the Core Initiative is to address the need for all children to become technologically literate in the State of Wisconsin.
This initiative proposes initiating a required course that all students would need to complete prior to graduation. A draft outline of a class titled: Foundations of Technology & Engineering has been created, reviewed and posted (http://www.wtea-wis.org/FTE.html) for the reader to view. The purpose of the draft is to allow decision makers sample of a tangible curriculum product that would increase the technological literacy of students.
This class offers all students an introduction to the Foundations of Technology & Engineering. You might compare it to taking an Algebra I course and then having the option to move on to a higher-level Algebra II or Geometry class.
With that said, it is important to understand especially in tight budget times, that if the class is mandated, we may need to give up some classes to make room for the implementation of this course. Students should continue to be allowed to explore other elective content offered in Technology & Engineering Departments.
What about accountability?
Technological literacy of our children cannot be left to chance. It is assumed that the implementation of Foundations of Technology & Engineering would also initiate a companion assessment on all state mandated tests. In other words, technological literacy would become a tested subject similar to other core subjects.
The challenge is not whether technology should be offered or how it should be taught. The real challenge is how it will be possible for a country to maintain a competitive technological advantage if it continues to ignore teaching about technology and innovation. To maintain its superiority as a technological leader, a country must teach and emphasize the study of technology beyond its use as a delivery system for other subjects. As technology plays an increasingly important role in our society and affects our everyday existence, our ability to understand, use, and manage it in our daily lives requires that it become a significantly supported educational initiative rather than one ignored by legislation. Fortunately, the groundwork has been completed with help from our nation’s most prestigious science and technology agencies. The important step in progress is the realization that our technological superiority and affluence as a nation will not continue unless our populace is educated to take advantage of the opportunities that now exist.
Require all students to take a Foundations of Technology & Engineering course prior to graduation.
The Department of Education has undervalued the thinking and content applications of technology unless it has been tied into the delivery system for other subjects as in educational or instructional technology. The science and technology agencies have supplied funding to nurture this content area. At the same time, our society has become characterized as being very technologically oriented. However, legislation to support the thinking processes involved with and utilized in the creation of technology and innovation has been nonexistent. We urge the inclusion of technology in mathematics, science, and technology education legislation as a subject area with a knowledge base as used by engineers, hi-tech workers, designers, and architects rather than just a delivery system for the other subjects.
Additionally, technology teachers should be given the same opportunities as their peers in concept-based instruction and assistance with investigating the ideal scope, sequence, and curricula content in our country. This means requiring meaningful professional development for technology teachers through rigorous summer institutes that will further there teaching skills. Institute tax credits for beginning technology teachers with strong content preparation and tax incentives to businesses who provide assistance to local schools to help with science, mathematics, engineering, and technology teacher enhancement.