Primary Design and Technology for the 21st Century: The Maurice Brown Memorial Lecture

Prof Clare Benson
1998, Vol. 3, No. 1,


It seems particularly appropriate to focus at this time on primary design and technology education. Very often primary issues are addressed last but as we move into the review of the National Curriculum we need to begin with primary issues before we can move forward and build on these in secondary and further education. It should not be a case of working backwards but of starting at the beginning and travelling forwards. How can we address, for example, such important issues as continuity and progression if we start with a finishing point and build steps backwards? There is surely the great danger of ending up with huge gaps that are difficult to bridge or steps so small that it is almost impossible to build in progression.

I want to celebrate the first seven years of the subject in the primary curriculum and to identify some key considerations for the next seven years to show why design and technology is first among equals. Interesting parallels can be drawn with both the story of Joseph and the seven years of plenty, followed by the seven lean years and that of the sower and the reaper. I would suggest that the 'story' of design and technology has been reversed and that there have been seven lean years when seeds have been sown to be reaped in the following seven years. There have been many setbacks at times, including the lack of sun and warmth (little attention given to the value of design and technology and its many successes), too much rain (the continual focus on the negative to 'dampen' enthusiasm), the lack of speed in the provision of support for growth (initial tardiness in in-service provision and publications) and seed falling on stony ground (an unwillingness by some to listen to and accept evidence). However, despite the setbacks, sufficient seed has fallen on fruitful ground and we can look forward to the next seven years of plenty.

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