The Importance of Technological Education in the Curriculum
Technological innovation influences all areas of life, from the daily lives of individuals to the work of business and government, to interactions on a global scale. It helps meet basic human needs and provides tools for improving people's lives and exploring new frontiers. The policy outlined in this document is designed to ensure that technological education in Ontario enables students to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.
The power, reach, and rapid evolution of technology demand a curriculum that will enable students to become technologically literate - that is, able to understand, work with, and benefit from a range of technologies. Students need to acquire the technological skills and knowledge that will allow them to participate fully in a competitive global economy and to become responsible citizens in an environmentally vulnerable world. To succeed in today's society, students need to be effective problem solvers and critical thinkers, able to understand, question, and respond to the implications of technological innovation. Students who pursue careers in technology will also need these high-level skills to develop solutions to technological challenges or to provide the services required in their chosen fields.
Technological education focuses on developing students' ability to work creatively and competently with technologies that are central to their lives. As they proceed through their elementary and secondary school education, students attain a level of technological literacy that will enhance their ability to succeed in their postsecondary studies or in the workplace. For students who do not choose to pursue careers in technology, technological education can provide knowledge and skills that will enhance their daily lives, whether by enabling them to work on home renovations or car repairs or by allowing them to pursue technological hobbies.
Technological education promotes the integration of learning across subject disciplines. For example, when students design a product, they explore the social or human need that the product addresses (social science), the scientific principles involved in its design and construction (science), its dimensions and shape (mathematics), and the aesthetic qualities of its design (the arts). When they assess the impact that new technologies have had - or may have - on society, students are exploring historical or current events. When they consider how various technologies affect health and physical well-being, they are looking into aspects of health and physical education. Students apply business principles to the study of the production and marketing of products. They apply literacy skills to communicate design ideas, produce reports summarizing technological projects, and write instructions for the use of the products they create. Technological education also helps students develop research skills and fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. In addition, in its emphasis on innovation to meet human needs, it encourages global citizenship and promotes social, economic, and environmental awareness.
Subject matter from any course in technological education can be combined with subject matter from one or more courses in other disciplines to create an interdisciplinary course. The policies and procedures regarding the development of interdisciplinary courses are outlined in the interdisciplinary studies curriculum policy document.
The secondary school technological education curriculum is designed to build on the foundation of knowledge and skills provided by the elementary science and technology curriculum, particularly in its Understanding Structures and Mechanisms strand. In this continuum, there is a similar emphasis on foundational knowledge and skills (fundamentals), technological problem-solving skills and processes, and the relationship between technology, the environment, and society.
THE GOALS OF TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION
The fundamental purpose of the technological education program is to provide students with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enhance their ability to achieve success in secondary school, the workplace, postsecondary education or training, and daily life. The goals of the technological education curriculum are to enable students to:
• gain an understanding of the fundamental concepts underlying technological education;
• achieve the level of technological competence they will need in order to succeed in their postsecondary education or training programs or in the workplace;
• develop a creative and flexible approach to problem solving that will help them address challenges in various areas throughout their lives;
• develop the skills, including critical thinking skills, and the knowledge of strategies required to do research, conduct inquiries, and communicate findings accurately, ethically, and effectively;
• develop lifelong learning habits that will help them adapt to technological advances in the changing workplace and world;
• make connections that will help them take advantage of potential postsecondary educational and work opportunities.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF BROAD-BASED TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION
The philosophy that underlies broad-based technological education is that students learn best by doing. This curriculum therefore adopts an activity-based, project-driven approach that involves students in problem solving as they develop knowledge and skills and gain experience in the technological subject area of their choice.
Rather than focusing on specific occupations, courses in this broad-based technology curriculum explore groups of related occupations and industry sectors within particular subject areas. So, for example, workplace preparation courses in construction technology enable students to acquire knowledge and skills related to carpentry, electrical/network cabling, heating and cooling, masonry, and plumbing.
Broad-based technology courses enable students to develop a variety of transferable skills that will serve them well in a complex and ever-changing workplace. For example, problem-solving skills are transferable skills, because they can be applied in a wide variety of situations to solve problems of various kinds. Other transferable skills emphasized in this curriculum are the "Essential Skills" and work habits identified in the Ontario Skills Passport (see pp. 29-30) as the skills and habits that enable people to perform the tasks required in their jobs and to participate fully in the workplace and the community.
FUNDAMENTAL TECHNOLOGICAL CONCEPTS
This curriculum identifies a number of fundamental concepts that inform design and production in various areas of technology. To address technological challenges and solve problems effectively, students need to take the full range of these concepts and elements of technology into account. As they progress through their technological education courses, students will come to understand these concepts more deeply, and to work with them creatively as they confront new challenges.
Aesthetics : The aspects of a product, process, or service that make it pleasing to the human senses.
Control : The means by which a device or process is activated or regulated.
Environmental sustainability : The creation of products or services and use of resources in a way that allows present needs to be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. An important related concept is that of environmental stewardship - the acceptance of responsibility for the sustainable use and treatment of land and other natural resources.
Ergonomics : The design of a product, process, or service in a way that takes the user's well-being with respect to its use or delivery into account - that is, in a way that minimizes discomfort, risk of injury, and expenditure of energy.
Fabrication/ building/creation : The act or process of assembling components and/or materials and resources to create a product or service.
Function : The use for which a product, process, or service is developed.
Innovation : Original and creative thinking resulting in the effective design of a product or service.
Material : Any substance or item used in the creation of a product or delivery of a service.
Mechanism : A system of connected parts that allows a product to work or function.
Power and energy : The resource that enables a mechanism to perform work.
Safety : The care and consideration required to ensure that the product, process, or service will not cause harm.
Structure : The essential physical or conceptual parts of a product, process, or service, including the way in which the parts are constructed or organized.
Systems : The combinations of interrelated parts that make up a whole and that may be connected with other systems.