Challenge for Design and Technology Education: A changing Paradigm

Susan McLaren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Evidence of design for sustainability, sustainable development, and creative approaches to dealing with controversial issues in current formal Scottish secondary school teaching and learning in Design and Technology (technical) is sparse. The origins and cultural traditions of technical education create a stronghold for teachers of Design Engineering Technology departments. Since 1993, design for sustainability and issues of education for sustainability and sustainable development have been included, in various guises, in several editions of national guidelines and rationales for Technology Education (e.g. SOEID, 1993; SCCC, 1996; LTS, 2000). However, there is very little evidence to suggest changes in practice to address such issues have been adopted in classroom, workshop and studio practice.

Accepting that Design and Technology Education has long been associated with the manufacture and crafting of products, this paper explores the transformative change required to enable greater exploitation of its role in education for sustainability. The Curriculum for Excellence Technologies framework introduced in 2009 (LTS, 2009), attempts to broaden the scope and range of contexts for learning while championing the value of creative designing and making. This demands that the realisation of a product outcome is not seen to be the sole purpose of the learning experience. The question is what impact will this new conceptualisation and approach have on classroom practice?

Design and Technology provides a great many opportunities for authentic learning contexts. Particularly pertinent are the 21st century issues and concerns that relate to the design, manufacture, and engineering of everyday products, environments, systems and infrastructures. Such things are issues and ideas from the ‘real’ world, that require attention in order to address the depletion of resources, the exploitation of others, the reduction in biodiversity, and encourage democratic, ethical global citizenship and social justice through design. It is in this context that this paper examines the challenges in developing a new pedagogical paradigm for Design and Technology education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation in a Global Space
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practice in Initial Teacher Education
EditorsT. L. K. Wisely, K. M. Barr, A. Britton, B. King
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781899136162
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameIDEAS for Global Citizenship


  • Design and Technology
  • Learning for Sustainability
  • teacher education
  • curriculum development
  • design for sustainability
  • issues and value based education


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  • Policy formulation and enactment: Linked up thinking?

    McLaren, S., 2015, Environment, Ethics and Cultures: Design and Technology Education's Contribution to Sustainable Global Futures . Stables, K. & Keirl, S. (eds.). 1 ed. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, p. 133-152 19 p. (International Technology Education Series; vol. 5).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    Open Access
  • Considering some big issues: and the role of technology education in transformational change

    McLaren, S., 2012, Technology Education for Teachers . Williams, J. P. (ed.). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, p. 231-260 28 p. (International Technology Education Series).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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