www.TENZ.org.nz
www.techlink.org.nz

Current issues

Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ)

NZ Association of Academics in Technology Education (NZAATE)

Position Statement on the

A NATIONAL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR SCIENCE IN SOCIETY

A NATION OF CURIOUS MINDS

(Issued by the Offices of the Ministers of Science and Innovation and Education)

We applaud the Ministers for their more explicit focus on Technology in the Science in Society Strategic Plan. However we feel that there are still inconsistencies in the use of the term technology, insufficient clarity about the distinctive natures of science and of technology and how they relate to each other, and a need for a more coherent inclusion of technology in the strategy areas presented.

The statement for Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) clearly indicates a strong alignment with the Plan, and conversely, the Plan also provides the opportunity to more fully achieve the curriculum goals:

Technology is intervention by design: the use of practical and intellectual resources to develop products and systems (technological outcomes) that expand human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities. Adaptation and innovation are at the heart of technological practice.

However, we feel that the opportunities for technology in the curriculum to address the development of innovative STEM students is inadequately recognized in the Plan.

While the original Draft Strategic Plan for Science in Society 2014-2017 evidenced significant confusion in the use of the terms Science and Technology, there is less evidence of this confusion in this document. However, it remains unfortunate that the focus of the Plan: “developing a more publicly engaged science sector and a more scientifically engaged public”, does not reference technology, particularly as the need for technology is clear as the Plan is operationalized throughout the document.

There remains throughout the Plan fundamental misunderstandings of the nature of ‘technology’ and inconsistencies in the use of the terms science and technology. These two areas of study are different in many ways, and a clear understanding of the differences can enable effective cooperation for social and economic benefit. For example the epistemology of science (related to understanding natural phenomena) and technology (related to intervention in the made world) are different, as are the processes of science (scientific inquiry) and technology (design and invention). Both areas are influenced by, and influence, each other.  Informed differentiation and sound understandings will be imperative in the success of these strategies.

As a tool for student awareness of possible STEM pathways leading from school, Technology is undervalued in general, and in the specifics of the Plan. The range of professions that are represented by the Technology curriculum, and the relevant support skills that are developed such as creativity and innovation, provide an ideal platform for awareness of STEM related career pathways, such as: food technology, engineering, architecture, ICT development and textile and fashion designers, all very relevant to develop a diverse foundation for a future New Zealand economy. It is to be noted that The Vocational Pathways identify Technology as a component across all six pathways: Primary Industries, Services Industries, Social & Community Services, Manufacturing & Technology, Construction & Infrastructure and Creative Industries, indicating the broad contribution of Technology.

We recommend that the New Action (p. 25) contemplated under Action Area 1: Enhancing the role of education, to improve the quality and relevance of PLD for science and technology teachers, explicitly include technology, and so become “Science and Technology Skills in Education initiative” in order to recognise the different contributions that these two curriculums offer.

Technology is essentially interdisciplinary in nature. It draws on elements of the sciences, arts and social sciences in developing technological literacy in students so that they can effectively use, develop and understand technology in society. As such, being naturally and necessarily integrative, it is a crucial element of a STEM  approach to the needs of society.

This is one of the strengths of Technology in the curriculum: the diversity of contexts through which students can develop their general technological literacy. These contexts include:  digital technologies, biotechnology, food, textile, structural, and control technologies. All of these contexts require continual review in order to ensure relevance. The value of their individual contribution to a student’s development of technological literacy is a significant consideration in the bigger picture of technology; a variety of learning experiences within a range of contexts develops a broad technological literacy. We therefore feel strongly that the continued optimal contribution of digital technology across a range of contexts is essential to student development as a component of the Technology curriculum rather than it being separated out as a standalone learning area within the NZC.

We are conscious of the need for progression in technological literacy (and STEM literacy, STM literacy in schools) to be developed across all the stages of schooling, and the development of the Indicators of Progression for Technology (http://technology.tki.org.nz/Technology-in-the-NZC/What-does-learning-in-technology-look-like/Indicators-of-Progression) has highlighted this need. The achievement of improved teacher confidence to result in “more science and technology competent learners” will need to focus on all stages of teacher education and schooling, to support teachers to make effective use of progression indicators.

We agree with the need to focus on high quality teacher education “so that teachers can engage all learners and support their success in the sciences and technology”. The curriculum is sound, indeed NZ has an international reputation for its technology curricula; and there are research informed and well designed physical and online (TKI website Technology Online, the Science Learning Hub and the Biotechnology Learning Hub) resources for supporting teachers. Most teachers are dedicated and enthusiastic, however, there is inadequate time allocated to developing science and technology teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) before and during their professional careers. PCK is that deep understanding of content which is integrated with appropriate pedagogies to ensure effective student learning. An additional limitation is current competing policy drivers related to literacy and numeracy, which result in a focus of pre and in-service education which limits attention to science and technology, rather than effectively contextualizing literacy and numeracy to be delivered through these content areas.

Despite the government expenditure of more than $80m annually, the support for science and technology teachers’ professional development has diminished significantly in the last few years. Primary teachers often have no person to go to in seeking support for science or technology, and secondary teachers now depend on the limited resources of universities and professional associations to obtain curriculum professional development and learning  . There is ample evidence that effective professional development results from teachers working collaboratively on authentic problems over time, and that one-off provisions do not achieve enduring change. TENZ has recognized this gap in the provision of a planned professional development programme in conjunction with one of the ITE provider universities.

TENZ is a professional association of Technology Educators in New Zealand and represents  primary and secondary teachers of technology across the breadth of the curriculum.

NZAATE is made up of academics from all universities in NZ who teach technology education, and has as its main goal to advocate for technology education within New Zealand.