Content Standards for Technology Education: The Nature and History of Technology

Article excerpt

Background information about the standards development process, as well as an orientation to what the Content Standards are, was provided in Technology and Children Vol. 3 No. 1. As a review, the Content Standards for Technology Education will include the following dimensions:

The Nature and History of Technology

Design

Develop and Produce Products and Systems

Use and Manage Technology

Assess the Impacts and Consequences of Technology

Technological Connections

Physical Technology

Chemical and Biological Technology

Informational Technology

This issue will address The Nature and History of Technology.

Technology education should be part of the core curriculum for all children throughout their school years. In the elementary school years, technology education also serves to support the educational goals of the school curriculum. It can and should be taught by the regular elementary classroom teacher, although some additional training will be required. Early technological experiences in grades K-2 provide an exciting, active learning environment for children. These learning experiences should spiral throughout the school years.

Students will begin to learn what technology is and how it has evolved from early civilizations. They will come to understand that humans develop technology using tools, products, processes, and systems, and that this development is influenced by society's economic, political, and institutional structure. As technology develops and demands are satisfied, human wants change and new ideas and innovations emerge. By using such things as tools, systems, and information, children can gain the ability to think creatively, solve problems, and learn by trying out ideas.

The desire and ability to modify our world to suit us is inherent in humans. People in every culture throughout history have engaged in technological processes to modify their environment. Technology is developed to satisfy human needs and wants, and in the process creates new needs and wants. In this drive, people have developed and improved ways to communicate, travel, build structures, make products, cure disease, and provide food. These advances have created a complex world of constant change.

Millions of years ago, the first humans created primitive tools by chipping away the edges of stones. Toolmaking was the first technology. It was-and is-a means to solve practical problems. But humans have become more than just toolmakers. Over the millennia, people have refined their capability to create technological solutions to solve problems. In a very real sense, the progress of civilization has been linked to the development of technology.

Human history is described, in part, by technological developments. For example, historians refer to the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Agricultural Age, Industrial Age, and the Information Age. Each of these names refers to the level of technological sophistication of societies. In the Stone Age people used stone tools and weapons, whereas in the Bronze Age they developed the ability to shape bronze into jewelry, armor, and weapons. The Agricultural Age refers to the era when people had developed not only tools, but also techniques that allowed them to consistently harvest a variety of crops without depending upon nature and plants that grew wild. During this time, most people were involved with farming and ranching. …