Technology Education New Zealand Conference Closing

  • Brian Donnelly
Education Review Office

Kia ora koutou katoa. Aku mihi ki a koutou. Hari koa te ngakau ki te tautoko te kaupapa o t?nei
ra. No reira.

Introductions: Paul Rodley, Tony Mander, Glynn McGregor, Alister Jones, conference delegates,
invited guests.

Thank you for the opportunity to close this inaugural Telecom Technology Education New Zealand
conference.

I am impressed that more than four hundred people committed to technology education have
attended this conference.

It is reassuring for me and the Coalition Government to find such a commitment from our teachers
for technology education, the newest essential learning area in our national curriculum.

It is always difficult to step in and close any conference that one has not attended because,
traditionally, the closing address is supposed to: sum up the conference; reflect the flavour of what
has occurred; and provide some inspiration and a vision for the future.

The organisers have provided me with the keynote addresses, which have given me some of the
flavour of the conference.

I must say I am impressed with the calibre of speakers and the exhaustive smorgasbord of
workshop sessions.

Many of you will be "conferenced out", but I suspect you will all return to school next week with
renewed enthusiasm.

However, before I get further into the reflective mode I want to spend a little time reiterating the
Coalition Government's commitment to technology education and its full implementation in schools.

The impact of discoveries, inventions and creative developments in science and technology is
apparent in all spheres of life.

The world we live in today as adults is very different to the world we lived in as children, thanks
largely to the discoveries in the fields of science and technology.

Continuing changes in social and economic life require new kinds of knowledge and understanding
of students and teachers.

I'll give you a brief and simple example, which probably illustrates the importance of the technology
and society strand of our curriculum statement.

I was a child at school in the 1950s;

I can still remember using inkwells and those pens you dipped in. There was a real art
to not making big blobs of ink on your paper;

The cool thing was to have a fountain pen but these were still banned from use in the
classroom. I was in about Standard Four or Five when the educators relented and
allowed fountain pens;

Fountain pens were in turn to be replaced by the ballpoint pen but for some time
these were vigorously resisted by the educators - they believed they would allow bad
habits to develop. So, I remember a time when biros were banned in schools and
only fountain pens were acceptable;

The competitive market made biros cheaper and cheaper. Fountain pen
manufacturers searched for profit - disposable biros offered it - they now make the
biros, spirit pens and painting sticks;

Teachers gave in - biros and painting sticks became in vogue;

We now have a plethora of spirit pens and biros - all acceptable in schools;

Today, much of the written work in class now uses a PC complete with spelling and
grammar checker and is printed courtesy of a bubble jet or laser printer. This not only
changes the mechanics of writing but the whole process of thinking about writing.

As an aside, I well remember the impact on the teaching of writing, which was made
by the visit to New Zealand of Professor Graves. I also saw the frustration of
students as they rewrote by hand four and five page drafts. And how word
processing technology and a philosophy of teaching writing were able to be pulled
together.

The inkwell monitor has been replaced by the 'hardware technician'. In fact many of
my students at Whangarei Intermediate filled this role as keenly as my father filled the
inkwells.

I remember a story he used to tell us about the time he flicked ink at his mate and
missed and it went down the back of his teacher's white shirt.

This is a simple example, but it demonstrates the dramatic technological development that has
taken place in the past half century.

I know that today I am talking to the converted; you people will take no convincing.

However, many of your colleagues back in our schools have yet to realise that we must be
educating students in our schools for their life in society beyond 2020.... a society that will be very
different from today largely due to the developments in technology research and the continual
development and modification of products.

Teachers and others responsible for designing curricula, developing resources for learning and
assessing student performance have been asking common questions about what the basis of our
curriculum should be.

In 1985 the OCED launched a programme of reforming curricula and improving school
effectiveness. Curriculum Reform - An Overview of Trends OECD CERI 1989

One feature of this reform was the need to introduce technology education at all levels in education
systems.

This technology education was not to be the craft-based "manual subject" that we all remember
from our Form One and Two years, but a series of learning experiences that enabled students to
become literate, competent and confident in a much wider range of technological areas.

Knowledge and understanding were also to be important considerations, along with the
identification and solution of technological problems.

Another driver of these reforms was undoubtedly economic competitiveness.

This drove several of the curriculum innovations, particularly the desire to establish a new subject
'Technology'.

I note that one of the key recommendations in a recent New South Wales report is to improve the
status of science and technology in Australian primary schools.

Two other recommendations deal with improving teacher confidence in technology through both
pre-service and in-service teacher education.

Sounds familiar to me!

This week the Government launched its Green Paper on Teacher Education, which has immense
implications for the field of technology education.

I note that in her address notes your first keynote speaker, Dr Beverly Jane, commented briefly on
the review of teaching and learning of science and technology as reported to Parliament.

I found her comments on Science and Technology Centres interesting.

Currently the Government spends about $2.5 million on Learning Experiences Outside the
Classrooms.

Recent research commissioned by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology found that
just over two thirds (68%) of this funding directly supports Science and Technology learning
experiences.

The Telecom Roadshow also provides access for a large number of students throughout the
country.

You will be aware of planned changes in this project.

The New Zealand technology curriculum statement can be considered a world leader.

Its development and implementation has avoided the traps, chasms or capture that occurred in
other countries.

We may have taken a little longer to develop it than other countries have taken, but I believe we
got the statement itself is sold.

Our challenge continues to be its implementation.

When he was still an opposition education spokesperson Lockwood Smith stirred up a hornet's
nest when he announced that the subject Technology should be compulsory at all levels of
education to Form Five.

Many teachers were concerned - especially the social scientists who felt they had been squeezed
out.

And I believe the concerns were justified and still are.

Technology education must enhance the human condition.

I still believe a healthy balanced education must be retained.

Lockwood became Minister of Education, and the development of the technology curriculum is
now history.

Dr Alister Jones reminded us of the full details of the developments in his address earlier this
morning.

I recall that when Lockwood Smith left the education portfolio, some teachers and principals were
heard to remark that, "technology was Lockwood's dream and it would go to agriculture with him."

The technology curriculum statement is part of his legacy to education in this country.

The cynics may have got a bit of a shock when Wyatt Creech reaffirmed the Coalition
Government's commitment to technology education and announced that January 1999 will be the
date for full implementation.

This is a decision that is vindicated by your attendance at this conference.

At the same time, he announced that the Form 1 to 4 Workshop Craft syllabus would be revoked
at the end of this year to make it easier for schools to move towards the new curriculum without
running into compliance problems with the Education Review Office.

You probably don't need to be reminded of this, but it is worth remembering that this curriculum
statement was:

developed after exploratory studies and research;
based on the findings of implementation trials;
not captured by existing teachers of the related crafts areas or indeed
any other single existing discipline, and;
reflected wide and extensive consultation;

Two strands, Knowledge and Understanding and Technological Capability are found in the
curricula of other countries.

The society strand, with its links to culture and history and the impact of technology on today's
society and tomorrow's environment, is innovative and makes our statement stand out.

I am told that other countries, such as Finland and South Africa, are using our curriculum as a
model almost to the point of breaching copyright.

Who was it who said, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?"

The Government is committed to continue funding teacher professional development in technology
education.

By the end of this year we will have spent more than $12.5 million on teacher development through
Ministry of Education contracts.

A further $3.6 million is projected for the next three years.

The Know How Two resource package, which Wyatt Creech launched in June, will provide an
excellent basis for this continuing programme of technology professional development.

A national co-ordinator of professional development in technology education has been appointed
to co-ordinate the professional development programme.

May I congratulate Sandie Gusscott on her appointment to this position.

Her task is both a daunting and critical one.

What must be changed is a mindset.

I do not wish to underestimate the size of her task.

However, once teachers come to grips with technology education, it is my belief that they will
recognise elements already existing in good programmes.

They will recognise the exciting potential that this field has for enriching programmes of learning.

Your presence in such numbers is proof of this statement.

The co-ordination of the professional development programme is vital as we move towards the
mandatory implementation date

The Ministry tells me that it expects to spend much of the remaining money on improving the
technological capability of teachers in the various technological areas such as electronics and
control, structures and mechanisms and biotechnology, to name three.

Teachers who want to further their technology education at a postgraduate or tertiary level can
apply for the secondary teacher study awards or the MORST Science and Technology
fellowships.

I commend these to you for consideration.

They provide experienced teachers with valuable opportunities to improve their technological and
scientific capability.

I am often asked about resourcing for technology education equipment in schools.

There is never enough money in Vote:Education to meet all requests and needs.

However, the 1994 Budget earmarked $7 million of per pupil operations grant funding for
resourcing the technology curriculum.

This funding continues each year and, so far, adds up to an extra $21million.

The Government is considering the question of funding for Information Technology - computer
hardware and software.

Of course, the operations grant cannot be tagged; the legislation prevents that.

However, a key question is whether it should be.

Therefore, the final decisions about allocating funding for curriculum implementation must reflect the
priorities of individual principals and boards.

As Wyatt Creech said in June, when he launched the Know How Two technology resource
package;

"Schools have been given two 5% Budget increases in 1996 and 1997 to meet inflation increases,
therefore I assume they are spending the money won for technology education resources for that
purpose!" Hon Wyatt Creech: Launch of the technology resource package Know How Two (June
1997)

The self managing school is expected to allocate funds for curriculum priorities.

If technology has not been a priority to date, then boards and principals should urgently review
their long-term strategies before the curriculum is mandatory.

1998 gives them an extra year in which to plan for the curriculum's implementation.

I understand the Ministry is preparing a further Education Gazette notice to clarify this point and
what it expects of schools during the 1998 transition year.

I note that Professor Kimbell's keynote address considered the difficult issue of assessment of
technology.

He provided you with examples of pragmatic procedures that work.

I suspect his paper produced considerable discussion. It should have because what he is saying has
implications for assessment acros all our learning areas.

It will certainly have contributed to the assessment debate in some of the workshop sessions.

Assessment drives educational practise.

But if we didn't get the assessment practices right, the underlying principals of the technology
syllabus will not be attained.

Other workshop sessions provided opportunities for all technological areas to be discussed.

I am also pleased to see the new TENZ organisation is attracting a good initial membership; not
just of teachers, but also tertiary technology educators and people from the technology sector who
have an interest in technology education.

This augurs well for the rapid establishment of technology in schools as part of the balanced
curriculum.

The end result of this would be that a person could not be described as educated unless they are
technologically literate and capable.

The Government is committed to this aim for all students as we prepare them for the next
millennium, their life in the twenty first century and their role in whatever career technology research
might establish.... Inkwell monitor? Laser technician? Food engineer? Home technologist? Who
knows?

Which leads me to another area for consideration.

One of the hats I wear through delegation is responsibility for the Skill New Zealand strategy and
the Industry Training Act.

As a result, I have had a great deal of interaction with Industry Training Organisations.

In their own recruitment interests ITOs are keen to have schools develop skills and interests in the
technologies upon which their industries are dependent.

ITOs are very keen to support schools in the technology syllabus.

I see enormous potential for the development of symbiotic relationships between ITOs and schools
through the challenges that are inevitably being brought by the technology curriculum.

For example, one the greatest areas of vocational growth in New Zealand is predicted to be in the
electronics industry.

And yet, this is an area in which I believe our schools are not well equiped in either physical or
human resources.

Moreover, it is an industry dominated by males.

If we are to overcome the phenomenon and provide gender equity, our schools need to be
introducing our students to this field at an early age.

To do so, they will need support and assistance.

From what I have gauged, this is an industry prepared to help schools in its own long-term interest.

Finally then, may I congratulate the organisers for a very successful conference.

The planning and effort has been rewarded.

As you all return home I trust the exhilaration and excitement of technology education will enhance
your enthusiasm for teaching and the learning of your students.

You are the converted.

Spread the word to those who are still the technology sceptics.

Thank you

[Ends]