Open Distance Learning Training Centre

SEPTEMBER 2008


How’s technological education in Europe doing?

Research project UPDATE examines curricula in schools

Is schooling in Europe able to keep up with technical development of the information society? Does education provide pupils with adequate preparation for life? The sixteen partner organizations of the project UPDATE (Understanding and Providing a Developmental Approach to Technology Education) analysed the content of curricula in schools and preschools. In many of the partaking countries curricula currently are being restructured. Above all the scheduled technical education within the single grades of education was examined.

Kindergarten and Preschool: learning to love technique

Current results of research show that children already acquire a relation to technique by daily activities in kindergarten and preschool. Mutual experiences possibly could support enthusiasm, creativity and justice of opportunities. Girls at the age of kindergarten show interest in technique and how technique is used in concrete everyday life situations. Governesses, and in some cases instructors too, rate their own insufficient skills in the field of technique, their own prejudices towards technique and the non-existing material as negative.

Primary School: More Resources for Active Technology Education

Striking about the field of primary school is that teachers have a great margin to avoid technique – related topics in class. Because of vague rules without specified topics and examples teachers need sufficient resources, training and appropriate stimulation in order to organize technique-related lessons to an adequate degree and to apply new teaching methods. Few material and inadequate premises often cannot ensure active technological education.

Secondary Schools: Technique - Option or Obligation?

Results show that lessons in technique are rated differently by the single countries. Since 1970 Finland lays claim to all schools to teach girls in handicraft. Technological education is considered more intense because of the absorption of the wide subject area „Human being and Technology“ into the curricula. Those curricula also take into account personality, environment and vocational independence. Technology is not a compulsory subject in secondary schools in Germany. In Austria Technology as an autonomous subject only is taught up to the 8th grade. Estonia schedules in its curricula that the quota of practice in technological education must cover 2/3 of the lesson. After the 9th grade a certain obligating level of technological education must be shown by the pupils. Estonia views an extensive technological education as an essential headstone concerning the further development of the country and is prepared to optimize and upgrade curricula and material time and again because of the rapid technological progress. France offers the opportunity to acquire a technical high school graduation. The a-level in technology is initiated in the 10th grade when pupils are allowed to opt for lessons in technique.

UPDATE-Knowledge-Portal and Newsletter-Service

The UPDATE-Website http://update.jyu.fi offers a constantly growing knowledge portal and a newsletter service for teachers, other stakeholders of educational system, and interested parties. In the form of a “Wiki“ on technology education, managed by experts, news, dates, research results, and examples of good practice are presented. UPDATE reports, for example, on new concepts for the youngest visitors in European technology museums, on the amazingly successful project “Girls’ Day – Future Prospects for Girls“ in Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, or the Rumanian project „Be a Science Teacher for a Week“. UPDATE as an innovative approach focuses the entire educational chain from (pre-)school up to the choice of field of study or an apprenticeship. One of the core themes is to examine why girls drop out of technology education at the different stages of their formation. New ways and educational methods shall be created to make the image of technology and technological careers more attractive for both girls and boys. Particularly girls and young women shall be promoted, encouraged and mobilised for engineering and technology careers, and as active users of modern technology. The research project UPDATE is funded by the European Community and is part of the European Community’s Sixth Framework Programme.

For more information check: http://update.jyu.fi

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