How technology makes us human: cultural historical roots for design and technology education

Matt McLain, DAWNE IRVING-BELL, DAVID WOOFF, David Morrison-Love

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


In the context of curriculum change within English education, and beyond, this article explores the cultural 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, largely, outside of the discipline.
The authors revisit the original intentions of design and technology as a National Curriculum subject and, within the contemporary challenges, discuss the 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 focus on practical and potentially mundane concerns.
This article asserts that technological human activity is rooted in technological innovation and determinism, inextricably linked to social human activity. The aim is to add to the literature and provoke 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 social and technological perspective; recognising the value of the subject as cultural rather than a merely technical or economic imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-483
Number of pages20
JournalCurriculum Journal
Issue number4
Early online date7 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


  • Culture
  • design and technology
  • philosophy of technology
  • pragmatism
  • technology and society


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