The John Eggleston Memorial Lecture: DATA 2005 Design and Technology for the Conceptual Age

Patricia Hutchinson
2005, Vol. 10, No. 3,


Twenty years ago I spent a year studying the
Design Process in CDT in the UK on a Fulbright
Scholarship. Pre-National Curriculum, it was an
exciting time to be a technology educator.
Among the people whose work had impressed
me in my doctoral research were Bruce Archer,
Ken Baynes and John Eggleston. It is on
Professor Eggleston’s influence on American
technology education that I attempted to focus
for this lecture.
John Eggleston was responsible for many of
the values that underpin our conception of
Design and Technology in both the US and the
UK. His ideas are among the most humanizing
principles underlying our conception of design
and technology as a new school subject for all
students. Recently in the US, however,
technology education has begun to take
engineering as its professional model, a
considerably narrower view of our enterprise
than some of us have envisioned. There are
many reasons for this, political, cultural and
economic. The most significant may be a result
of an expected shortfall of engineers, since
tightened national security has limited the
number of foreign engineering students who
have traditionally studied and then stayed to
work in the US. This influence tends to shift
technology education from general education
to a pre-professional or pre-vocational offering.
During the 1990s, many of us in technology
education based our view of the field on a
continuum of designerly activity ranging from
the artistic to the scientific. A recent book by
Daniel Pink, titled A Whole New Mind, supports
the view that the skills most valuable for the
highly technological future, in both careers and
life in general, may not be those left-brained
skills associated with engineering, but rather
the more right-brained capabilities typical of
the designer.
The left-brain/right-brain juxtaposition is a key
component of Pink’s argument. He points out
that information technology is replacing or at
least devaluing the logical, analytical
capabilities of the left brain, much as
mechanical devices devalued human strength
and dexterity and took us into the industrial
age. Pink feels we are now moving beyond the
information age and into the conceptual age,
where creativity and empathy will be the
critical factors in success of all kinds. He
identifies six “senses” that will be of major
importance in business, healthcare, law,
economics and other key enterprises and
provides strategies for assessing and
strengthening these senses. Many of the
activities he suggests would be familiar to
design and technology teachers.
The whole new mind that Pink describes is
highly consistent with the broad definition of
technology education articulated by John
Eggleston. Pink’s observations suggest that the
left brain-directed abilities that currently
characterize engineering are only part of the
picture of the technological literacy and
capability; hopefully, a more holistic version of
technology education will lead the way into the
Conceptual Age.


John Eggleston ; Design and technology ; Technology education ; Engineering design ; Design education ; Conceptual age

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