Technology Education in New Zealand

Article excerpt

Technology in New Zealand schools is a new area of learning that is now compulsory for all students (years 1-10). Technology education policy was first developed in 1992 (Jones & Carr, 1993). Since then there has been a sustained research and development focus to inform the structure of the curriculum, its subsequent national implementation, and classroom practice. This article discusses the structure of the technology curriculum, programs that were developed to inform teachers of the curriculum and its content, and strategies to enhance the classroom practice of technology.

The New Zealand Curriculum Framework and the Technology

Curriculum

The New Zealand curriculum framework defines seven broad essential learning areas rather than subject areas. They describe the knowledge and understanding that all students need to acquire in health and well-being, the arts, social sciences, technology, science, mathematics, and language(s). Schools have flexibility in how the curricula are delivered and have the responsibility for making implementation decisions. The curriculum framework requires that the essential learning areas specify clear learning outcomes against which students' achievements can be assessed. These learning outcomes or objectives must be defined over eight progressive levels and be grouped in a number of strands.

The general aims of technology education in Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1995) are to develop technological knowledge and understanding, technological capability, and an understanding and awareness of the interrelationship between technology and society.

Technological Knowledge and Understanding

It is impossible to undertake a technological activity without technological knowledge and using and transforming other knowledge bases. Students need to develop an understanding of the principles underlying technological developments such as aesthetics, efficiency, ergonomics, feedback, reliability, and optimization. The specific knowledges and principles are dependent on the technological area and context within which students are working. The understanding of systems is essential in developing knowledge in technology. Students also need to develop an understanding of nature of technological practice and how this has similarities and differences in different technological communities of practice. It is important that students have an understanding of a range of technologies and how they operate and function .An understanding of strategies for the communication, promotion, and evaluation of technological ideas and outcomes is integral

Technological Capability

Technological activity responds to the identification of some human need or opportunity. Within the identification of needs and opportunities students need to know and use a variety of techniques to determine consumer preferences. In technological activities students develop implementation and production strategies to realize technological solutions. Part of this involves students in generating ideas that lead to solutions as well as developing and using strategies to realize these ideas. Students need to manage time, resources, and people to produce the outcome that meets the identified needs and opportunities. Students should communicate their designs, plans, and strategies and present their technological outcomes in appropriate forms. Part of this process is the devising of strategies for the communication and promotion of ideas and outcomes. Throughout the technological activity students should continually reflect upon and evaluate the decisions they are making.

Interrelationship Between Technology and Society

Students should develop an understanding of the ways in which beliefs, values, and ethics promote or constrain technological development and influence attitudes towards technological development. Students should also develop an awareness and understanding of the impacts of technology on society and the physical environment. …