The international economy of the future will depend more and more on the development and application of new technologies and on our educational system.
How well we convert new scientific knowledge into practical benefits will have much to say about the growth of nations, the rise of living standards, and the well-being of the global population that is estimated to double within the next fifty years.
Yet it seems that our policy-makers and our educational institutions and the constituents they service are allergic to the accelerating rate of progress.
Our political, and to some degree unfortunately, our educational systems are not yet equipped to anticipate and assimilate change.
The problem is compounded by a growing suspicion of technology by the public: a suspicion born of incidents, accidents, scare stories, and often just plain sensory overload.
It seems to me that we need to address the issue of technology on a broad educational / informational front.
We must address simultaneously three levels or constituents:
2) University education
3) Primary and secondary education.
Feel free to post questions in the comments area below and I will do my best to respond.
In the recent past, topics related to technological literacy and technology education have drawn increasing attention by various segments of our society.
And the critical role of the schools in preparing society to meet the demands and understanding of an increasing technological world is rapidly becoming a high priority.
In the “Educating Americans for the 21st Century” report by the National Science Board Commission on Pre-college Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, the importance of Technology Education is stressed as follows:
“Students must be prepared to understand technological innovation, productivity of technology, the impact of the products of technology on the quality of life, and the need for critical evaluation of societal matters involving the consequences of technology.”
Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation, in one of his reports on high school education cites the need for study of technology that would lead to a more technologically literate citizenry. He writes and I quote:
“We recommend that all students study technology: the history of man’s use of tools, how science and technology have been joined, and the ethical and social issues technology has raised.”
Now, what is technology? Let me give you one definition:
- Technology is the application of knowledge to satisfy human needs and wants, and extend human capabilities.
- First, this definition implies that technology concerns needs and wants of humans, including shelter and perfume, food production and spacecraft, protection against harsh environments and VCRs.
- Second, technology addresses the extension of human capabilities- the telescope or microscope to extend sight, the computer to extend the brain, the satellite communications to extend our listening range, etc.
This definition also implies much by what it does not say. It does not say that technology is the application of science. In fact, technology has made some of science possible, i.e., the technology of brewing and wine-making led to the study of organic chemistry; the technology of the telescope led to the science of astronomy and to new concepts of organizations of the universe, etc.
Simply stated, science attempts to describe the physical world and discover new knowledge, whereas technology attempts to modify the physical world.
The study of technology can provide a rational basis for the study of science. Both of these disciplines are mutually reinforcing and can provide the foundation for curriculum innovation and creativity.
Technology, therefore, is the process that brings together human and material resources to solve problems.
To study technology, therefore, is to analyze available resources, how the resources can be interrelated, and what can be expected as a result.
This is accomplished by designing — the process which has as its goal the solution of technological problems — commonly called the “problem-solving” process.
Students employing this process utilize the same processes used in industry to produce products, develop and maintain systems, pioneer new techniques and perform complex tasks.
Now what is Technology Education?
It is the educational field that concerns itself with the study of Technology as a uniquely human endeavor and it involves;
- An interdisciplinary approach to education
- Activity oriented experience of Technology
- Application of sciences
- Understanding of technical systems
- Creative problem-solving techniques
- Impacts and consequences of Technology
- History of Technology.
What are the goals of Technology Education?
A Delphi study conducted by Barues of Carnegie Foundation lists the following:
- Process organizers
Values in Technology Awareness of implications and potential of Technology
Philosophy of Technology
Limits of Technology
Possible objectives are:
- To help students make informed career choices
- To make informed decisions as consumers
- To understand the impact of technology
- To understand the interrelationships of processes within
- To apply the concepts of physical science, social science, language arts, humanities and arts in the context of contemporary Technology
- To develop an attitude within students that encourages individuals to keep pace with a rapidly changing society and realize that education is a life-long process.
Impact on students
- Ability to use the problem-solving model and critical thinking skills
- Ability to use models to simulate real situations
- Ability to make real world decisions concerning the impacts and consequences of Technology
- Ability to demonstrate how feedback is used to control social, political, economic, ecological, biological, and mechanical systems
- Ability to recognize the relationship between mathematics, science, social studies, language arts and the humanities with Technology
- Ability to question possible effects of technological improvements on society
- Ability to trace and analyze the effects of technology on society from a historical perspective
- Ability to recognize that Technology could create new possibilities for society but also potential dangers that need to be controlled,