Twenty years of promoting DT

7th November 1997 at 00:00
The Design and Technology Education Show celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on November 13-15.

Clare Benson, director of the school of mathematics, science and technology at the University of Central England, will make the keynote speech on how technology education has changed over the past two decades and how it will develop over the next 20 years.

She says the most important change has been the introduction of an entitlement for all through the national curriculum.

"In the late Seventies, when I was a primary teacher, there was nothing remotely resembling design and technology in the curriculum. The emphasis was on maths, English and topic work, some of which was excellent, but much of which was poorly planned. After a few initial confusions, we actually got something that motivates children and teachers."

Dr Benson is an advocate of topic work that "provides relevant tasks to develop children's communication skills and ability to think quickly and reflect on work - skills they will need for the rapidly changing world of work".

Topic work, she says, "wasn't seen as such a useful vehicle in the past. But even Japan, formerly held up as a model for its adherence to learning by rote and constant practice, realises children need to develop by working in groups and thinking for themselves, so as to take on life in the 20th century. "

A second lecture, by Design and Technology Association chief executive Andrew Breckon, will consider the review's implications for secondary schools. Admission is free but bookable in advance.

Live "classroom" demonstrations from the National Council for Educational Technology, will show some of the best work from schools and colleges and the "Focus on Excellence" feature will highlight award-winning projects. There is also an extensive resources exhibition with related workshops.

Dr Benson is glad to see a rise in the number of women attending the show as most primary teachers and co-ordinators are female. She recommends it as a valuable opportunity for teachers to immerse themselves in the new issues and resources of the day.

She says the show has increased emphasis on primary design and technology. "About six years ago primary suffered a dip. But there has been an upturn and it's now clearly identified in the programme," she says. She also finds the free seminarworkshop programme "much more structured in its focus on current issues".

Five sessions on food technology reflect recent concerns about food health. Others are on information technology, the Internet and industry links.

Bookings: ICHF, Dominic House, Seaton Road, Highcliffe, Dorset BH23 5HW.

Tel: 01425 272711

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