The Standards for Technological Literacy: A Needed Change for Technology Education

Article excerpt

It is now up to the professionals in the field of technology education to embrace, implement, and promote the standards that can insure a bright future for our field of study.

After years of work, the technological standards described in Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL) are now ready for implementation. Through cooperation between the International Technology Education Association, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation, technology education now has the guidance that has always been missing on a national level. These standards do several things for the field of technology education. They provide identity, recognition, organization, and direction. For the past several years, these components have been missing from our field, but now these standards have the ability to change the current conditions and influence a paradigm shift for our future if we embrace and promote them.

Technology education has been plagued with an identity crisis over the past decade. As many schools and states moved from the old methods and content of shop and forged ahead with the "new" technologies, our field of study became even more varied, complex, and nondescript to those outside the field, both within and outside of education. Several name changes, many contemporary with each other but conflicting, only added to the confusion. During this time, no national standards existed to clear the confusion about who we were or what we did or even what good we were to the future of our students. Most states did not even have state standards for what was generally an elective course area. Each year or two our name changed, as did the course names, sometimes without any content change. In some districts, an even more disturbing situation occurred, no change at all. The 1980s and 90s were a time of necessary growth, change, pain, and confusion. It is now time to move beyond that and reclaim our identity and our position of relevance to all students. Standards for Technological Literacy is our best vehicle for achieving this goal. By instituting its standards all across the country, in all states and in all districts, our identity crisis will end and the importance of technological literacy to the future of our students and this country will once again become apparent to all.

In the area of education, many wonderful, exciting, and worthwhile events take place on a daily basis. Most go unrecognized. Recognition for accomplishments, productivity, and worth are vital to growth, and even existence in today's world. Technology education has not received, as a whole, the recognition it deserves in many areas of the country. The International Technology Education Association is the only national voice our profession possesses. While ITEA is a great organization and resource for technology education, there has been no overriding device to bind our collective skills, our knowledge base, or our profession together. Standards for Technological Literacy changes that situation. With years of work leading to the most scrutinized set of educational standards ever produced in any discipline, the STL standards have been presented to Congress and the President, along with all state education departments. Those who did not know we existed a few short months ago are now impressed with the completeness, order, and usefulness of the Standards for Technological Literacy document. …