Design and technology demands not only teaching skills but the ability to manage a diverse range of skills and practical activities. New processes and materials require teachers continually to update their skills.
The status of the subject is still questioned by some. Is it academic, vocational or a blend of both? Add to this the need to ensure pupils work safely, and teaching Damp;T can seem a daunting prospect.
However, the joy of teaching the subject cannot be understated. When a pupil who has struggled to finish a piece of coursework finally presents a product they can feel proud of, it brings pleasure to both teacher and learner.
These facets of teaching design and technology are to be found in two recent books published by the Open University to support their flexible PGCE course. Teaching Design and Technology in Secondary Schools: a reader, edited by Gwyneth Owen-Jackson, introduces students to a range of contemporary issues and provides useful background reading. The articles cover the place of Damp;T in the curriculum, views on teaching and related issues. Many of the essays were first published in DATA's excellent Journal of Design and Technology Education.
The book provides background reading to be sampled during a teacher training course. While all the main themes are covered, there are some surprising omissions. The chapter describing the development of technological education concentrates on changes to the national curriculum and ignores the role of CSE mode 3 examinations and the struggle to establish an A-level in design and technology credible with university admissions tutors. New teachers soon realise the impact examination syllabuses have on the curriculum.
A companion volume, Aspects of Teaching Secondary Design and Technology: perspectives on practice, also edited by Owen-Jackson, provides practical advice on teaching. This will be valuable for NQTs as well as students in initial teacher training. The chapter on managing a design and technology classroom includes guidance on how to prepare for, teach and conclude a lesson. Other articles focus on the effective use of ICT, assessment and risk-taking within project work. The book would have benefited from some examples of pupils' work to illustrate the high standards achieved when they are taught by skilled and enthusiastic teachers.
Teaching Design and Technology in Secondary Schools: a readerAspects of Teaching Secondary Design and Technology: Perspectives on practiceOpen UniversityRoutledge FarmerPrice: pound;18.99 each
Bob Welch is principal adviser with Bracknell Forest