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Copyright -
G P Sagar - 2015



Having spent a lifetime teaching and developing this subject area I make representation concerning the position of Design and Technology in the current educational atmosphere.

Current evidence shows a vast decline in skills, particularly in the area of creating and manufacturing. This is compounded by a diminishing number of teachers who can teach this specialised subject. This has resulted in a large void of young people who are capable of involvement in this very human area of pursuit. As a distinct mindset, it is not something which can be addressed later in life, it has to be developed from an early age alongside the other important elements of a child's education.

The subject is greatly misunderstood, even by some who claim to represent it. It seems to be regarded by many as existing solely to satisfy industrial needs or be another examination statistic. No reference is ever made to the educational value for children or students.
Another concern is the relentless pursuit of examination results which in themselves do not encourage pupils to think independently or develop reasoning skills. Neither do they engender real enthusiasm towards independent learning. Children by their very nature want to learn, but we are removing more, and more opportunities which have proved so successful in the past. We are in great danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Design and technology is not an easy option. In fact, many pupils will tell you that it is the hardest subject, and especially because of thinking skills required it can be regarded as highly academic. As evident in the past, it offers a natural educational balance and acts as a catalyst and platform for many other subjects and learning opportunities.

                                                         See D&T Relationship Chart

Whether or not pupils who follow this course continue into a related career, the experiences and application of their thinking leave an indelible mark within their overall educational experience complementing many other subjects. It is not a ‘new’ subject as the Professional Association claims but a metamorphosis over a lengthy period of time-based upon historical experience, and the hard work of a large number of what were traditional craft teachers.
Social attitudes towards practical subjects can be traced back to early times, but the survival of society is dependent upon artisan and technological excellence. This can only be achieved by giving the opportunity and encouraging children from a young age.

                                                                See Historical Timeline

Much damage has been done by the profession itself through constant infighting and the attempted trashing of traditional craft teaching. Very negative messages have been put out to the public at large with the resulting lack of understanding as to the importance of the subject area. Worse still is the fact that the academic fraternity has found it even harder to accept and understand. As a further consequence discussion between colleagues, parents, politicians, businesses etc, have seldom given any credence to the importance of this area of education.
The 1980s saw growth and excitement within this area with competitions, conferences, national exhibitions, and the like. Much of the success was generated by the teachers themselves, but sadly professional jealousy, for the want of a better description, crept in starting the subject area on a downward spiral. These events I have personally witnessed.

                                                             See Professor Thring’s Chart

It is a great pity when uninformed individuals are given media opportunities and undermines any good work which has been done by for instance, on television, relating the subject to DIY, or making such comments as “Gone are the days of making products with no real purpose, just to demonstrate and teach skills”. (Page 24 D&T Practice Issue 1 2015)
Successful education of our children has never been at a lower point. Evidence of this is all around us. It is not until those in power are willing to take a detailed and holistic look at the very meaning of education, and what makes up the human being, will the opportunity for reversing the situation present itself. Passing exams is not evidence of good education, they are merely a measuring tool.
Something must be done before it is too late!

Graeme Sagar
March 2017

As a footnote - my last department offered pupils the chance to experience traditional crafts, including silversmithing and cabinet making. However, much emphasis was placed on the new technologies found in industry. Robotics, control technology, and CNC manufacturing. The final icing on the cake was the result of an international project, inspired by us, where a pupil could sit at a computer in our workshop and operate an animated sculpture in a Hungarian school!

       See notes on our CREATE project

To see with the eyes, to do with the hands, to understand with the heart, to reason with the mind, these the simpler and more primitive forms of life compel us to do, and in the doing of them we secure a more complete development, round out our souls, enrich our lives.
    Walter D. Dyer, in 'The Craftsman'.


Personal Statement regarding Design & Technology

(In support of my communication to the Secretary of State for Education - March 2017)


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