C.D.T. - Unity or Trinity?
There are two very powerful reasons why the current nationwide consultation exercise to determine national criteria for Craft, Design and Technology at 16+ is both welcome and timely. Firstly, COT, as a school subject, is emerging from a transitiqn period in which extensive changes in philosophy, objectives and content have taken place. Secondly, COT, traditionally a boys-only subject, is increasingly being offered to the female half of the school population. The task of developing national criteria, which is essentially a consensus-seeking exercise, is made that much more difficult in the context of change, but more critical, in that the emergent criteria should in no way restrict the process of change nor constrain the curricular gains already achieved.
For some years now the teaching approach which emphasises traditional handcraft skills has been giving way to a curriculum that is more concerned with the development of cognitive abilities. The existence of these opposing influences creates a special problem for COT National Criteria. The present confusion among parents, employers and pupils about what exactly constitutes a course in COT is reflected in the wide variety of course types currently being examined in this subject area.
Of the 75 CSE Mode 1 and GCE '0' level courses which shelter under the COT umbrella, less than half can be said to be concerned with the central aim of the subject - which is to give girls and boys confidence in identifying, examining and finally' solving problems with the use of materials. And amongst the minority of courses that satisfy this central aim there exists a wide variety of assessment methods. How can nationally agreed criteria reflect such a spectrum of practice, support curriculum developments and, at the same time, win credibility amongst users?