Should Technology be a Separate Discipline?

This post is based on some work of Thomas Erekson way back in 1992. I assume that Erekson is working in a context in which scholars and educators are trying to figure out if technology should be a part of all courses or as a separate course.  I also assume that Erekson and his colleagues were not all that pleased with the keyboarding courses I was required to take.  I imagine he wanted more for children. We still desire more for children, don’t we?

Borrowing from DeVore in 1964, he notes that technology has a history/tradition,  an organized body of knowledge, and is significant to society. Therefore, technology deserves a place in the curriculum as a separate discipline.  That is, technology has the same elements as science, language arts, math, etc, so why should technology not have a place in the school day?

Just as educators have long argued the need for two sides of science literacy (most recently identified as core ideas and practices), Erekson recognizes that the content of a technology curriculum should be informed by both the body of knowledge we call technology as well as the processes through which that body of knowledge is created through what he and others call “the technological method”. Of course I hate the fact that anyone would try to limit the manner through which technology is developed to a single method, but I will recognize his point that we want both process and product to inform technology education.

What I found most interesting about Erekson’s article was that he recognized how difficult defining the boundaries of the technology curriculum would be. Indeed, I doubt that Erekson would have thought the programming of apps for the mobile platform would have potentially been a course of study back in 1992.  Maybe he was a better futurist than I was, but hey, I was only 12. Yet, the dynamic nature of technology will make any curriculum decisions extremely tentative.  Perhaps this would actually require districts and governments to trust teachers to make decisions instead of trying to standardize the curriculum. 

I tend to agree with Erekson, but would want to include a strong philosophy of technology component, but that view is probably influenced by my interest in the philosophy of science being part of science education. Yet, most of our students are not going to be technologists, but they will need a strong philosophical (as well as practical) knowledge on which to base their technological decision making.

Reference:

Erekson, T. (1992). Technology Education from the Academic Rationalist Theoretical Perspective. Journal of Technology Education, 3(2), 6-14.

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