Cultural and historical roots for design and technology education: why technology makes us human

Matt McLain, Dawne Irving-Bell, David Wooff, David Morrison-Love

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding (ISBN)peer-review

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In the continuing context of curriculum change within English education, this paper explores the cultural and historical roots of design and technology, as an educational construct, distinct from design or engineering, which exist as career paths outside of the school curriculum. It is a position piece, drawing on literature from a wide range of sources from writing and outside of the discipline. The authors revisit the original intention of design and technology as a national curriculum subject and within the contemporary challenges, highlight the historical and social importance of technology, including designing and making, as an essentially human and humanising activity. The aim being to contribute to the theorisation and philosophy of the subject, where typically practitioners tend to focus on practical and potentially mundane concerns. This paper asserts that technological human activity is rooted in technological innovation and determinism. The aim is to add to the literature and debate around the place and value of design and technology. The argument for retention of the subject, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, is presented from a socio-technological perspective; recognising the value of the subject as cultural rather than a merely technical or as an economic imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnology Education Research Group
PublisherAthlone Institute of Technology
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5272-2508-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-5272-2507-7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2018
EventPupils' Attitudes Towards Technology (PATT) Conference - Athlone Institute of Technology, County Westmeath, Ireland
Duration: 18 Jun 201821 Jun 2018


ConferencePupils' Attitudes Towards Technology (PATT) Conference
CityCounty Westmeath


  • culture
  • design and technology education
  • philosophy of technology
  • socio-technological human activity


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