Basic Principles in Holistic Technology Education

A school that adopts a curriculum, that aims for a holistic understanding of technology, does so because it produces a better educated person than a curriculum which does not. How do we know when we are teaching technology holistically and why must we do so? Increasingly, more is asked of technology educators to be holistic in the understanding conveyed to learners of technology itself in order to make better informed technical and design decisions in a wider range of applied settings. The ability of the learner to naturally consider social and environmental factors, for example, when seeking solutions is seen by some State education systems in Australia as fundamental to a genuine education in technology (New South Wales Board of Studies, 2000 & 2002). In philosophy, the holist position asserts that to understand the particular one must understand its relation to the whole and that only through reflection of one's sensation based applications can genuine knowledge be critically affirmed (Matthews, 1980, p.87 & p.93). The combined apparently independent paths of the State and the Holist positions set a compelling scene not only for the socio-economic necessity for holistic technology education in the curriculum but also for Technology's status as a key curriculum agent in the knowledge formation process of educated individuals. This paper asserts that the general elements of Applied Setting (including Time), Human (as Agent), Tool and Environment are well placed to be the necessary basics to any holistic human technological activity. How and why these elements work together, their schema, will be referred to in this paper as the 'Basic Principles'. The paper presents the thesis that Technology cannot be reduced to less than these general elements and as such, Technology is their product. We therefore may need to understand and teach these elements and their relations to each other explicitly, in ways that reveal the utility of such understanding when making technical choices and design decisions for all the genres of technology and at all their scales of application and discovery. The case is made for technology to not merely be a 'know how' learning experience, but necessarily also a holistic 'know why' learning experience essential for developing and transferring technological knowledge.
Keywords Technology and Design  Technacy Genre Theory  Philosophy of Technology Education
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