What we buy and what it costs

7th November 1997 at 00:00
Changing Technology. By Roger McBrien. Birmingham Development Education Centre, Gillett Centre, 998 Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6LE Pounds 15 plus VAT plus Pounds 3 postage.

From Source to Sale. By Ali Farrell. Intermediate Technology Development Group, Myson House, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HT. Pounds 9.95.

Teachers keen to develop the moral, spiritual and ethical aspects of their subject as well as the quality section of the national curriculum will find every opportunity to do so with these two resource packs.

Both have a world focus that will stimulate and inform, and both ask students to consider products and their impact beyond the purpose for which they were designed (national curriculum key stage 34 quality - section 8(d) for those interested).

But if buying both packs is out of the question, teachers will have to choose wisely because one offers breadth and the other depth.

Changing Technology is a booklet of photocopiable activities and teacher's notes supported by 10 colour photographs showing high-tech products being used by peoples from a variety of cultures. The pack is full of questions about appropriate design and manufacturing's impact on social structures.

One of the best activities, Winners and Losers, invites students to brainstorm causes and effects of product development with increasing degrees of subtlety.

But as every good technology teacher knows, facts trigger understanding and maturity of judgment, and neither the text nor the photos supply enough information for all abilities. With its broad agenda this pack could provide the basis for cross-curricular or interdisciplinary work in technology.

In contrast, From Source to Sale is full of facts and figures about the Kerala region in southern India. We are told Kerala means "the land of coconuts" and are offered seven uses of the coconut tree, from the medicinal to the aesthetic.

The pack comes as a teacher's booklet, three case studies, and a poster. Questions are readily supported and the only drawback is the restrained and serious-looking graphics. Get inside the text, however, and the pack comes alive with "the life of a fisherman", two stories contrasting the Western experience with that of the Keralan boatman.

There is plenty to talk about and do. Related directly to the national curriculum orders, the teacher's booklet offers focused practical tasks and design-and-make activities including methods of preserving fish and making a cosmetic cream.

This pack encourages respect for other cultures, and despite its narrow focus, has all the ingredients for a stimulating and demanding series of technology lessons.

Patricia Tarrant Brown is a teacher of design and technology in a Midlands school and works for the NEAB and freelance as an Inset provider for textiles within design and technology

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