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DTMUSIC - Let's study designers

The history of design should be a key part of the curriculum

The history of design should be a key part of the curriculum

My mission this week is to persuade you to use the study of designers and design history as a key element of your curriculum.

We teach Damp;T to every child at key stage 2-3 and we are the largest optional subject at KS4, but I often wonder how many of them understand what design is. Do they know who designers are or what they do? I want us to put the designers back into design.

Other subjects study their most successful proponents. Can you imagine English, music, art or drama ignoring their luminaries? Yet designers have not always been a major facet of Damp;T.

When I tried to understand why design history is not taught more widely, I came up with the notion that there might be gaps in teachers' knowledge. That there are so many competing demands on class time and that Damp;T started as a practical rather than academic discipline do not help.

So where do we begin? How far should we go? And how do we get there? Will teaching about designers and design history fit into the curriculum and will students enjoy it?

I believe the study of design history enriches Damp;T and is both easy to do and fun. The majority of product design, resistant materials, graphic products and textiles technology syllabuses require the study of design history. From a quick review, it seems that the majority of exam boards require students to know about Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, ModernismInternationalism and Post-Modernism.

Several GCSE controlled assessment tasks include work based on design history: AQA's resistant materials includes one based on products influenced by the major design eras of the past 100 years. So start your students early - get going in KS3.

I bet you know far more about design history than you think. Take a minute. Can you name five designers? Can you tell me who designed the 1959 Morris Mini Minor or the iPhone? Do you know who designed the London Underground map?

So how to begin? You could compare and contrast the work of multiple designers focusing on an engineer, chef, architect, product designer or crafts person. You do not have to change the whole KS3 curriculum. Start slowly, maybe with a research task.

You can focus on a classic or contemporary designer, a local designer or one you know your students will like. It may be a designer whose work you can easily access.

So there you are. Get creative and get designing.

James Playford is head of design and technology at Pocklington School in Yorkshire and a member of the James Dyson Foundation Innovation Group

What else?

From Tube maps to kettles, juicers to the London Olympics and Paralympics logo, ascorer's presentation introduces designs and designers past and present.

For a study of fashion designers through the ages, look at June21's PowerPoint.

Or take students back in time and try NEN's historical recipes in the food technology kitchen.

In the forums

In the TES Damp;T forum, a teacher wants to know if anybody else has been asked to teach all areas of the Damp;T curriculum.

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