Designing and making involve value judgements. In practical terms, the national curriculum requires pupils to disassemble and evaluate familiar products, and make judgements about fitness for purpose and the appropriate use of resources.
For some teachers this is a difficult diversion from the core activities; others believe that consideration of values lies at the heart of the subject. Some of these issues were addressed at a national Products and Applications conference held a year ago in Birmingham. A wide range of organisations was represented, including teacher training institutions, the Nuffield Design and Technology Project, the Design and Technology Association and the International Conference on Design and Technology.
Now a short set of guidelines based on that conference has been published. The booklet provides teachers with some examples of real products - a car seat, a T-shirt, soft drinks - and offers ways by which teachers can provide classroom work and activities based on the values implicit in their design. This is a welcome and concise resource providing clarity and help in a difficult area.