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ACCORDING to Harold Wilson, Britain entered the 'white hot' era of technology in 1963. He must have been watching too much Dr Who. By my reckoning, Britain in the early Sixties was severely lacking in essential technology. Cars didn't have slide-out cup holders, cookers were equipped with chimneys and alarm clocks still had to be wound up.

In schools, the technological development of the Sixties was the language lab. French teachers - modern foreign languages had yet to become de rigueur - were very excited about their new toys, but they soon discovered that closed-off cubicles allowed lots of learning in the classroom, but that very little of it focused on irregular verbs.

Forty years later and schools are overflowing with technology, some of which occasionally works. There's even a subject called technology. This cool addition to the timetable replaced distinctly unhip subjects such as woodwork and cooking.

Domestic science went through a number of name changes as the cardy faction in the staffroom tried to endow their subject with some status - it's now food technology. By the same process, woodwork and metalwork metamorphosed into resistant materials technology - a resistant material being something that leaves a bruise if the teacher throws it at you.

Lessons focus on the design process. Kids plan their work, produce a design brief, and identify alternatives. Occasionally, they even get to make something - usually a clockface, in which the only technological component, the mechanism, is supplied by the teacher.

In cooking, the emphasis is on diet and the science of food preparation. Teachers keen to do a Delia find that Tracey and Wayne have forgotten to bring their ingredients. Or there's a note from mum saying that she couldn't find chickpeas at Spar so will a can of peas do instead?

In the past 10 years, all the other technologies have been eclipsed by the computer. The rest of the world calls this IT, but education wanted to avoid confusion - so ICT it is. Schools spend thousands on kit that goes out of date faster than a boy band.

Kids with bedrooms full of Rom and Ram sneer at the school's machines, which are "Soooo slow!" What the teachers really need is a device thattransports 3C direct to the Cabinet Office in Downing Street.

"It's life Tony - but not as you know it."

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