Looking Back

Norman Glover
1977, Vol. 10, No. 1,


Looking back on the period of the past ten years or-so one cannot help but realise that (apart from being ten years older!) a great deal of change has taken place not only in the basic thinking about, but also the approach to, creative design in education. Visits to Colleges, departments and schools at the end of last year tend to confirm this view. Yet prior to the School's Council Research Project at Keele many of the ideas and attitudes which are now so readily accepted as normal were being 'floated' by independent groups of enthusiasts who were restless and looking for something new in their approach to craft work. They sought an approach which would lead away from merely sound training in technique to using technique to further intellectual development. This was to be achieved, as Bernard Aylward once remarked, 'without throwing the baby out with the bath water'. It is worth remembering that earlier craft teachers had spent years making it a thriving and much respected infant. The objective of change was to enable the baby to reach maturity, not to kill it off.

The beginning of the movement was the drift away from furniture making in schools, together with fitting and beaten metalwork, by cabinetmaking- orientated woodwork teachers and their engineering-minded metalwork colleagues. These men ventured away from their traditional training and experience, adopted new materials and looked outside the classroom for their inspirations. The result was the spectacle of young people in schools researching the needs of handicapped children or old people, designing and then making equipment to suit these needs. The outcome was the learning of new technologies, a social awareness that might not otherwise have existed and an involvement of the school with the community. As teachers gained experience and confidence they began to explore the possibilities of co-operating with colleagues in other departments and thus gave rise to the beginnings of faculties in schools.

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