Reclaiming the Voices of Female and Elementary School Educators in Technology Education
Karen F. Zuga
The Ohio State University
In 1994 Lewis asked that technology educators move "forward from the current state of practice, rather than backward from a theoretical ideal" (p. 22) in order to legitimize the curriculum content of technology education. One may wish it were so simple and linear; however, the history of technology education provides a twisted path rather than a linear progression to the contemporary practice of the field. Petrina and Volk (1995a, 1995b) addressed the issues related to legitimizing content by looking backward to theory and practice and examining the intent of some of the early advocates of industrial arts. They discussed more than one view and practice of industrial arts. The purpose of this article is to add to their examination of the roots of the profession by reclaiming some of the lost literature and pondering some of the reasons for its loss.
A reading of Bennett's (1926, 1937) history of industrial education reveals that the voices of elementary educators, in general, and female elementary educators, in particular, were diminished or missing from the mainstream literature of the field. Identifying women (other than Lois Mossman) who have contributed to the literature of the profession is an important and relevant issue in the discussion of authentic knowledge for technology education. As a result of the norms in the greater culture, many of the female voices in technology education have been confined to elementary school education; therefore, this article will consider the issues of women's contributions and elementary school theory and practice together. Two related questions will guide this discussion:
- Were women involved in the formation of industrial arts?
- If women were involved in the formation of industrial arts, why are their contributions missing from the contemporary record?
A brief review of pertinent history will verify the presence of women's voices and suggest why they are missing from the record; then postmodern and feminist literature will be explored to discuss both reasons for this phenomenon and suggestions for future directions.
Preludes for the earliest industrial arts programs were based in a belief in the value of an industrial education for underprivileged children (Bennett, 1937), a growing recognition and practice of manual training in private secondary schools for liberal educational purposes as a foundation for further education or training (Woodward, 1898), and Froebel-inspired kindergarten programs (Herschbach, 1992), all of which gained in popularity during the nineteenth century. Elementary school industrial education and manual training programs--which differed from the secondary school manual training emphasis on wood, drawing, and metalworking classes for boys--directly preceded the beginning of industrial arts.
General Education Purposes
Industrial education programs for elementary schools originated in kindergarten classrooms and were aimed at instruction designed for all children (boys and girls from all socio-economic classes) and incorporated a broad range of laboratory-based activities, such as block building, drawing, book making, embroidery, crocheting, paper folding, and construction (Bennett, 1937). However, many of the early manual training programs were criticized for being too rigid and thoughtless as a result of the influences of their origins in kindergartens (Dewey, 1916) and their relationship to the rigidity of manual training as influenced by the Russian System of Tool Instruction (Bennett, 1937). Educators of the day were particularly critical of this rigidity in the elementary school. Soon, a number of different approaches to the teaching of manual training at the elementary school level emerged, inspired by Swedish and British educational programs (e.g., Sloyd, arts and crafts, and handicrafts). These educational programs fit under the umbrella of industrial education. (Industrial was not meant to indicate the trades or a study of industry per se, but as a term equated with being industrious or occupied.) Concerned about the use of the term, the second annual report of the Industrial Education Association opened with this attempt to clarify the meaning:
There is an industrial training which is neither technical nor professional, which is calculated to make better men and better citizens of the pupils, no matter what calling they may afterward follow; which affects directly, and in a most salutary manner, the mind and character of the pupil, and which will be of constant service to him through all his life, whether he be wage worker or trader, teacher or clergyman. The training of the eye and of the hand are important and essential elements in all good education. (Gladden, 1885, as cited in Bennett, 1937, p. 413-4)
Participation of Women and Men
The contributions of both women and men (such as kindergarten teacher Emily Huntington, educational reformer Grace Dodge, and educational philosopher Felix Adler) provided a liberal rather than vocational education emphasis and purpose for what they called industrial education (Bennett, 1937). The early industrial education movement was influenced by a number of women who came from elementary schools and home economics education. Of the 188 members listed in the 1899 Proceedings of the Eastern Manual Training Association, 41 of them, roughly 22%, were women. (The number of women may well have been higher, but the practice of listing names with only initials and surname makes an accurate count impossible.) Two women, Pinney and Woolman (Proceedings of the Eastern Manual Training Association, 1899), wrote papers that were included in the proceedings, and it is evident that both were interested in primary school manual training. Woolman focused on domestic arts, and Pinney presented a view of manual training that included both domestic arts and those aspects of manual training more closely associated with content that was designed and intended for boys.
While there was a time when women who were interested in the domestic arts and men who were interested in the socially accepted male role in manual training both met under the name of manual training, not all of the women were limited to the domestic arts side of the practice, and not all of the men were focused on secondary education. Female elementary school educators made contributions to the role of manual training, industrial education, and eventually, industrial arts in the elementary school curriculum. The women in the industrial arts movement were both teachers and teacher educators, contributed to and authored articles in conference proceedings and journals, and wrote textbooks on the subject of industrial education for children. For example, books written by women as single authors included Varied Occupations in Weaving (Walker, 1901), The Place of Industries in Elementary Education (Dopp, 1902), Construction Work for Rural and Elementary Schools (McGaw, 1909), and Education Through Manual Activities (Wiecking, 1928). Heller (Trybom & Heller, 1908) and Mossman (Bonser & Mossman, 1928) collaborated with male colleagues. Women, including Weiser (1907), Hennes (1921), Bennett (1911), and Watkins (1911), contributed to the Teachers College Record. In several of the articles that appeared in Teachers College Record authors were identified as "the Teachers of the Horace Mann Elementary School" (Russell, 1913), making gender identification more difficult. Nonetheless, a survey of the Teachers College Record as representative of early journal literature dedicated to manual training, industrial education, and industrial arts during the formative years for industrial arts reveals that women were active contributors to the professional literature.
Men also contributed to the elementary school industrial arts literature. Bonser collaborated with Mossman (1923) and wrote generally about industrial arts, incorporating information for elementary school practice as well as junior and senior high schools (Bonser, 1930; Bonser & Mossman, 1923). His prescriptions for content, based on his original work with Mossman, differed from contemporary texts written by men. McMurry, Eggers, and McMurry (1923) published Teaching of Industrial Arts in the Elementary School, in which they focused only on woodworking and bookbinding as the content for elementary school industrial arts. Most of their text was devoted to the traditional design and planning of wood projects. Winslow (1923) provided a more general view of curriculum content, including book making, paper making, the manufacture of baskets and boxes, brick and tile, pottery, cement and concrete, textiles, copper, iron and steel, soap, glass, and wood as topics of study; however, he did not approach content comprehensively by dealing with technologies of the home. His focus was on industry in general and the specific industries represented by his topics. Comparisons of industrial arts texts written by men and those written by women, or co-authored by women and men, reveal differences in the way that industrial arts content was approached by women and men. Texts written by, or influenced by, women during the early part of the century tend to have a more general scope with respect to content, incorporating all technologies, those of industry and those of the home as well.
Growth of Industrial Arts
By the end of the nineteenth century the practice of industrial education and manual training had taken hold in both elementary and secondary schools in the United States and several manual training teacher education programs had been initiated. The Ohio State University, for example, began manual training teacher education programs as a part of the engineering program in the 1880s prior to the advent of the College of Education (Proceedings of the Board of Trustees, 1888). During that same time period, several normal schools began teaching Swedish Sloyd or manual training. As a result of the work and success of the Industrial Education Association, New York College for the Training of Teachers was begun in the late 1880s, with Nicholas Murray Butler, a professor of philosophy and education at Columbia University, serving as president (Bennett, 1937; Hervey, 1900). By 1893 the name of the college was changed to Teachers College and the faculty and courses in manual training increased, resulting in Columbia University's providing several degree programs for manual training teachers. With the initiation of degree programs, including a Ph.D., Teachers College Columbia set a new standard for manual training teacher preparation and study (Bennett, 1937). As a result, a number of influential educators interested in manual training gathered there and in other universities, such as the University of Chicago, where manual training degrees were also being offered.
Of the faculty who gathered in manual training programs at universities, political ideologies and forces began to draw them in different directions. Several were committed to secondary education with a further division of those who proposed vocational education and those who proposed general or liberal educational aims for manual training.
The growing trend to legislate vocational education at both state and national levels forced a further redefinition of manual training. As the prospect of Federal funding became more real, some manual training advocates placed greater emphasis on the vocational aspects of manual training. Prosser, Snedden, and other industrial educators became advocates of vocational education and participated heavily in the political movement to create Federal funding for vocational education. As a result of their successful efforts in combination with agriculture, home economics, and business educators, Federal support for vocational education was initiated with the Smith Hughes Act in 1917 and has been continued through a variety of Federal acts (Barlow, 1967).
During the drive to gain Federal funding for vocational education it appears that the original coalition of people and meaning assigned to industrial education changed. Industrial was increasingly used to refer to industry as an economic institution and associated more with teaching the trades. People involved in the National Association for the Promotion of Industrial Education (NSPIE) advocated a vocational purpose for industrial education as they lobbied for Federal funding.
Industrial Arts as Social Reconstruction in Theory
Although the effort to secure Federal funding for vocational education diverted the attention of many industrial education advocates, elementary school educators were still players in the industrial education arena. They kept alive a liberal education purpose for the study of what was rapidly becoming called industrial arts. Influenced by Dewey, perhaps by association at Teachers College, Frederick Gordon Bonser and Lois Coffey Mossman (1928) produced one of the first industrial arts texts for teachers, Industrial Arts for Elementary Schools. In that text, they provided the emerging field of industrial arts with a definition of the subject matter that would carry it through the first half of the twentieth century:
The industrial arts are those occupations by which changes are made in the forms of materials to increase their values for human usage. As a subject for educative purposes, industrial arts is a study of the changes made by man in the forms of materials to increase their values and of the problems of life related to these changes. (1928, p. 5)
By the time this book first appeared, the definition of industrial education had become associated with vocational education and was explained by Bonser and Mossman (1928) as "a definitive, intensive training for productive work in some industry" (p. 6). Industrial arts was distinguished from industrial education (as vocational education) as study with general education purposes. Materials, tools, processes, and production were to be studied "for the values which such study affords in one's everyday life, regardless of his occupation" (p. 6).
More importantly, however, the justification and purpose for the study of the industrial arts provided by Bonser and Mossman (1928) incorporated the ideas offered by Dewey in his discussions of the study of the occupations (Dewey, 1916) and social reconstruction (Dewey & Childs, 1933). The purpose of industrial arts was, according to Bonser and Mossman, to study "such problems of citizenship as to share in the regulation of industry" (1928, p. 7), which relates directly to Dewey's (1916) ideas about the social role of the study of occupations: "The most direct road for elementary students into civics and economics is found in the consideration of the place and office of industrial occupations in social life" (p. 201). Dewey advocated these ideas for older students as well.
Social reconstruction was the curriculum orientation proposed by those who advocated progressive forms of education (Zuga, 1992). Progressives believed that schools and society were caught in a dualistic relationship that separated the school from mainstream society and subsequently isolated the schools, meaning that what happened in them was not real or reflective of the problems in society (Bode, 1933; Counts, 1932; Cremin, 1976; Dewey, 1916; Dewey & Childs, 1933). Moreover, progressives, as social reconstructionists, argued that the artificial environment of the schools was miseducative in that the youth of the country were not prepared to see and understand the values and issues that would confront them as they became adults (Dewey & Childs, 1933).
Dewey's social reconstruction ideas influenced elementary school industrial arts educators, as indicated by Dopp (1902) in her text that acknowledged his influence. Elementary school industrial arts advocates defined their practice in general terms with social reconstruction overtones. Wiecking (1928) stated that
Intelligently planned and directed, the field of manual training and industrial education may change attitudes and foster appreciation of great moments in the child's life. With a background of actual participation in manual activity there may come to the child a point of view about our civilization which is bound to affect his future behavior toward questions arising in industrial life. (p. 268)
Wiecking echoed the sentiment of the time and of those who practiced elementary school forms of industrial arts. There was always a greater purpose than prevocationalism and skill training. The skills of concern were general life skills, rather than particular vocational skills. Hennes (1921) wrote:
There are certain social ideals and skills absolutely necessary in order to live unselfishly and helpfully in society with their fellows. Our children must learn how to cooperate. They must learn the spirit of mutual helpfulness. They must come to appreciate fair play, and thus become unselfish in their dealings with others. They must, in particular, learn to be truthful. (p. 137)
The men and women who were writing about the goals and purpose of elementary school versions of industrial arts were both advocating a social reconstruction agenda for industrial arts.
As a result of the established practices of industrial education in the elementary schools and the influence of Dewey upon educators in general, during the first half of the century industrial arts was given a place in the schools (Zais, 1976). Often, that place was to be a vehicle for the study of the occupations that permitted the integration, acquisition, and application of practical knowledge to social problems. University laboratory schools, such as The Ohio State University Elementary School and Kindergarten, and public schools began to establish laboratories for the purpose of providing "real participation by each student in each of these functions of living" (Publications Committee, 1935, p. 121).
While social reconstruction was the direction and intention of many elementary school and industrial arts educators of the time, their influence was not the mainstream direction taken by the industrial arts community as it moved forward into the twentieth century. Most of the voices advocating social reconstruction in industrial arts curriculum gradually became silent as industrial arts curriculum theorists focused on identifying better ways to teach skills (Fryklund, 1956; Selvidge, 1923; Selvidge & Fryklund, 1946) and unique content for industrial arts (Towers, Lux, & Ray, 1966). School practice became more vocational, with a curriculum of woodworking, metalworking, and drawing (Schmidtt, 1963).
As industrial arts evolved, it became apparent that early interest in providing subject matter for all children, boys and girls, was not being practiced--the common pattern of industrial arts for boys and home economics for girls became set. In the literature for the field, prescriptive theory for content became more narrowly focused on woodworking, metalworking, and drawing in secondary schools, while the inclusive curriculum of elementary schools focused on weaving, sewing, clay modeling, woodworking, block building, and paper construction (Wiecking, 1928) and/or foods, clothing, shelter, utensils, records, and tools and machines (Bonser & Mossman, 1923). This split may be partially due to the association with vocational education in collegiate and secondary education and the loss of the female elementary educators' voices.
Industrial Arts as Vocational Education in Practice
Other than in theory, and during the brief period of progressive education as an expression of social reconstruction curriculum theory, mainstream practice in industrial arts has been more a study of the skills needed in order to perform a trade than a study of the relationship of industry to society and the problems of life related to industry. Several influences have mitigated against reaching the potential of the early ideas associated with industrial arts. They include the strong and persistent practices of secondary school manual training, the close association of all educators who dealt with industry related subjects, and Federal funding for vocational programs.
Persistence of manual training practices. Highly resistant to prescriptive theory of what ought to be in industrial arts, the mainstream pattern of industrial arts curriculum was the manual training curriculum initiated in the 1870s. Woodworking, metalworking, and drawing dominated both junior and senior high school curricula throughout the United States. Additions to these topics were patterned after the original grouping of content, and over the years graphic arts, auto mechanics, electricity, plastics, and other topics were added. The topics were based upon a mixture of materials and processes, as the original content had been. With respect to what was taught as industrial arts, the familiar and successful patterns of manual training that relied upon tool instruction and material processing in order to learn specific skills predominated. The only major change in this pattern was to refocus the narrowly conceived manual training laboratory exercises of making throw away examples of selected joints, turnings, and other component parts in order to incorporate some of the Scandinavian handicraft methods and progressive thinking by the representation of projects which were useful items to be taken home (Barlow, 1967; Kilpatrick, Bagley, Bonser, Hosic, & Hatch, 1921; Mossman, 1921). This does not mean, however, that mainstream practice was in line with the social reconstruction philosophy supporting progressive thinking about the aims and purposes of industrial arts, because as students were guided in the making of teacher selected birdhouses, pump lamps, bookracks, and funnels, the potential intrinsic value was stripped from industrial arts (Dewey, 1916). Teacher selected projects became activities that risked being insignificant to students because of the control exerted by teachers in the organization of the curriculum as projects were chosen for their role in teaching skills. While many students did enjoy the activities, they lacked the meaningfulness associated with either personal or social purpose as teachers selected projects through manual training ideological filters in order to achieve vocational skill development. Industrial arts lacked the understanding and application of the pertinent exhortations of Tyler (1946) to create curriculum with a careful blending of subject matter, personal, and societal needs.
Inbreeding of industrial educators. The pattern of grouping together all educators who were interested in related forms of industrial education was a trend that was established with the first teacher education programs and has continued to this day in the United States. As in the early programs at Teachers College Columbia and the University of Chicago, industrial arts educators were trained in programs that were a part of the larger vocational education effort at most universities. These programs often were started before industrial education split clearly into a vocational faction and a general education faction and faculties continued to stay together in order to gain efficiencies in operating multiple programs.
These practices were problematic because future teachers were, and still are, often prepared to teach industrial arts in the same courses and with the same texts as used by vocational students (Zuga, 1991). While the texts may state that the purposes and time length of industrial arts classes in the schools were different than the vocational classes, every other prescription for curriculum planning and classroom practice was a prescription for planning vocational education by using task analysis (Fryklund, 1956; Fryklund & Selvidge, 1946; Selvidge, 1923). Naive teacher education students who were not tuned into the different purposes of general education practice versus vocational preparation were often not capable of creating a school practice that was anything more than a scaled down copy of vocational education, because that is what they were taught to do. Those who were more independent were either driven to search for more guidance or were able to break free of their teacher education prescriptions, but those teachers were not the majority.
Essentially, teacher educators continued the twentieth century tradition of industrial education as a study of industrial trades for prevocational or vocational purposes. The dominant practice was so overwhelming that even in those schools where the industrial arts faculty remained separated from the vocational education faculty, both ideologically and physically, practices with respect to curriculum in teacher education and prescriptions for practice mirrored the thinking in the rest of the country. Classes were structured around teaching skills in woods, metals, and drawing to boys and students used books that provided visual references to only boys while teacher educators espoused a general education purpose for the field.
On Federal dole. Sustaining the grouping of industrial arts and vocational educators together, in teacher education and in the schools created the potential for gaining access to Federal vocational education funds. As the funds were distributed through state governments, there were some state governments that provided money for industrial arts and some that did not. The promise of vocational money, under the guise of saving money and gaining efficiency in instruction, kept industrial arts professionals close to vocational educators just in case there might be an opportunity to benefit from vocational monies (i.e., supplements for teachers salaries, funded projects, reimbursements for teacher education).
These practices, well established since the inception of vocational education funding, continue to this day as many technology educators seek ways to access vocational education, tech prep funding, maintain technology education teacher education in larger vocational education programs, and reach out not only to vocational educators, but to a wider audience of industrial trainers and human resource educators, as well as subvert long standing industrial arts education programs into university-based vocational education programs to prepare, not teachers for the schools, but managers and technicians for industry. All of these programs have had the residual effect of creating teacher education curricula for undergraduates that are vocational in nature (Zuga, 1991), diminishing the numbers of technology education teacher education programs and students (Volk, 1993), and creating confusion among the few who do make it into the schools as teachers (Zuga, 1991).
No Place for Women
As industrial arts became tied to vocational education for political expediency, the historical gender split in vocational education (trade and industry males and home economics females) left the elementary school females in a difficult position. The numbers of women had dwindled, and the reconstitution of manual training into several vocational areas left little room for women in industrial arts.
After having been integral to the effort to initiate industrial arts, women (and their voices) backed out or were shut out of industrial arts and industrial education. Given the social norms of the day and the growing numbers of men who were taking control of all of the industrial education efforts, including industrial arts, the early female advocates and practitioners in industrial arts were slowly eliminated and the record of their participation in the field forgotten. Early in this century female industrial education and manual training teachers were not anomalies in schools (Bennett, 1937) and there was evidence of their participation in the profession through the literature of the period.
There are well documented and recurring social pressures that accentuated differences with respect to gender roles at home and at work. According to Faludi (1991), these social mechanisms work to counter the progress women make towards equality. Most notable was the propaganda effort at the end of World War II initiated by government, industry, and media representatives and aimed at driving women out of industry and back to the home and hearth to make way for returning veterans. It is possible that a backlash as a result of women's suffrage resulted in the diminishing of women's voices in the 1930s both in society and in industrial arts.
In searching for theory to explain the loss of women's voices in the professional literature, a theory about women's voices in literature in general, proposed by Russ (1983) as a result of her scholarship with women's nineteenth century literature, has merit. There are many subtle techniques for diminishing women's voices. Russ (1983) has observed that these methods
are varied but tend to occur in certain key areas: informal prohibitions (including discouragement and the inaccessibility of materials and training), denying the authorship of the work in question (this ploy ranges from simple misattribution to psychological subtleties that make the head spin), belittlement of the work itself in various ways, isolation of the work from the tradition to which it belongs and its consequent presentation as anomalous, assertions that the work indicates the author's bad character and hence is of primarily scandalous interest or ought not to have been done at all (this did not end with the nineteenth century), and simply ignoring the works, the workers, and the whole tradition, the most commonly employed technique and the hardest to combat. (p. 5)
Several of the techniques mentioned by Russ can be identified in an historical analysis of the loss of women's voices in industrial arts.
Informal prohibitions. The primary method of removing women was through the gender-based split of domestic economy and trades and industry. For whatever reason, including a possible desire on the part of women to gain more control over their own destiny, the mechanisms were in place for informal prohibitions that kept women out of the profession. Given the period, prohibitions would have been acceptable as a result of prevalent beliefs and behaviors and, perhaps, as a backlash against women. Also, there has always been a lack of respect for women's voices and women have often complied, taking the traditional back seat, either willingly or unwillingly. In industrial education Bennett (1937) alluded to the presence of this problem as early as the 1880s with respect to the Industrial Education Association and the work of Grace Dodge when he said,
This new organization brought men as well as more women into the work. General Alexander S. Webb, president of the College of the City of New York, was elected president, and Grace Dodge, vice-president, though she did the active work of a president [Italics added]. (p. 413)
Isolation and belittlement. As a subculture, the increasingly male dominated field of industrial arts mirrored these social patterns, and as the industrial arts literature from the 1930s through the 1950s exhibits a lack of women's voices, while the literature from the 1880s through the 1920s and the 1960s through the present includes women's voices. There may have been a collective suppression of women's voices by denying authorship and belittling the contributions of the women through the habit of referring in conversation and in press to the most frequently used definition of industrial arts, as the "Bonser" definition (Lux, 1981; Smith, 1981), which is more appropriately the Bonser and Mossman (1928) definition. When an author was asked why he had not properly cited the Bonser and Mossman text, his response was that Mossman was not the lead thinker and had not published on her own, as if he knew this to be a fact. She had published under her own name (Mossman, 1921), but as many of the women who were often slighted in citations, some of her work could have been lost. For example, two articles about the project method appeared in a 1921 issue of the Teachers College Record, one co-authored by the team of "Professors Kilpatrick, Bagley, Bonser, Hosic, and Mr. Hatch" and another authored by Lois Coffey Mossman. The topics were related and the team of men, not all professors, grouped theirs together, making one wonder why Mossman's appeared separately. Perhaps they wanted to attribute her full honors of authorship, but the practice, which seemed to be a pattern in the journal, involved the professors' writing lead articles and the teachers, often not named, providing related articles.
Ignoring the tradition. As Russ (1983) has indicated, omission is the hardest form of denial of women's agency to combat. When one considers the numbers of books and articles written by women that are available in a university library, overlooking women's contributions by not reading, using, and citing their work may have been and may remain a pattern in industrial arts and technology education literature. While women have contributed, and continue to contribute to the literature of the field, the easiest way to negate their contributions is to ignore them. Essentially, all alternative views held by men and women suffer from omission with respect to the mainstream thought and writing in general and in technology education.
The gradual de-emphasis of women and their voices from industrial arts is slowly being reversed, as women begin taking active roles in technology education. They are, however, working from the deficit created by past omissions; two percent, at most, of the total profession of teachers and teacher educators is estimated to be female (Quon & Smith, 1991; Wright & Devier, 1989). Their voices could fall prey to the same tactics used to suppress the voices of the women who proceeded them two generations earlier, given the nature of the still biased society in which we live (Faludi, 1991).
The effect of the loss of women's voices over the years has probably changed the course of industrial arts and technology education. The focus on industrial arts for elementary schools and, therefore, general education, was in part a result of the early participation of female elementary school teachers. There is no way to tell what the course of evolution for technology education may have been had women remained active and respected in industrial arts. At present, we can only speculate as to the effect the loss of their efforts had on curriculum and what effect the new female voices will have on technology education (Lux, 1981). One task of modern scholarship should be to reclaim the lost female voices of past generations and to re-introduce those voices to the contemporary debate in technology education.
Technology educators in the United States cling to a cultural view of technology education that is dominated by masculinity (Zuga, 1994, 1995). Perhaps this is due to the domination of a Western, male view of technology in general as identified by feminist scholars who write extensively about technology (Haraway, 1989, 1991; Wajcman, 1991) and the reproduction of it within education (Smith, 1991) and, therefore, technology education as a subculture. Yet, no one in society or in technology education can afford to face the future with outmoded ways of thinking that will not address the needs of those whom they serve.
Postmodern and feminist theorists have taken up the discussion of the need for diversity in general with respect to technology. The nature of technology, economies, and work is changing in our society. Haraway (1991) combined a feminist and postmodern view of the issues:
Black women in the United States have long known what it looks like to face the structural unemployment ('feminization') of black men, as well as their own highly vulnerable position in the wage economy. It is no longer a secret that sexuality, reproduction, family, and community life are interwoven with this economic structure in myriad ways which have also differentiated the situations of white and black women. Many more women and men will contend with similar situations, which make cross-gender and race alliance on issues of basic life support (with or without jobs) necessary, not just nice. (p. 168)
Technology educators need to address the future by beginning to incorporate the diversity of the communities they serve. Survival in the future for all of us will depend upon technological literacy, which is often held as a goal of technology education. It will not be enough to equip men with technological literacy; as more families depend upon women for part or all of their survival needs, and women (the majority in our society) continue to make technological decisions at the voting booth.
There is historical evidence that technology educators have been reproducing a biased curriculum with respect to gender, class, and ethnicity (Lakes, 1988; Loucks, 1991). And there are those who wish to use the traditions of the field to claim authenticity for future curriculum decisions (Lewis, 1994). Legitimizing and reproducing the traditional knowledge of manual training and industrial arts, which was based upon the skills men needed in order to compete in an industrial society, will be inadequate for the future.
Postmodern theorists such as Foucault (1980) have helped to explain how knowledge that is legitimized by society sustains the power of the dominant group and reproduces unequal relations. These unequal relationships ultimately cause social strife. That is the path taken by technology educators currently. In order to prepare for the future, technology educators need to begin to think of alternative ways to conceptualize their subject matter to reach the diverse population of citizens in this society. They must rethink the way in which they legitimize the knowledge of technology education for students in order to meet their needs and wants. About legitimate knowledge and diversity through professional language, Wright (1992), a postmodern philosopher, stated,
the social commitment must be to legitimating the principle of difference, to encouraging and multiplying different kinds of people and positions and values for their own sake, within the bounds of social order, because it would be through the legitimacy of difference that new and necessary forms of rationality would emerge. (p. 212)
Technology education curriculum, as language about technology that is intended for all students, needs to incorporate the diversity of people, positions, and values in order to reach students and to serve as a socially valued subject in the school curriculum.
As with postmodernist theories such as Wright's (1992), feminist theories also encourage diversity in view,
Feminist theories, like other forms of postmodernism, should encourage us to tolerate and interpret ambivalence, ambiguity, and multiplicity as well as to expose the roots of our needs for imposing order and structure no matter how arbitrary and oppressive these needs may be. If we do our work well, reality will appear even more unstable, complex, and disorderly than it does now. (Flax, 1990, p. 56)
Both postmodern and feminist theories point to diversity as a direction for the future and can provide some of the ideology for technology educators' avoiding a restricted cultural view and creating change in the profession.
If technology educators wish to maintain a recognizable place for technology education in the schools, they have important choices to make. The historical image and practices in technology education provide the public with a conception of a subject matter that is prevocational training for boys. Technology educators may be content with this image and wish to continue the tradition; however, they will be serving a smaller segment of the population in the United States and they will continue to risk elimination in general educational practice due to the inability to serve the needs of all students. If technology educators wish to meet the goals that they set forth for teaching all students about technology, they must address the hegemony which exists in their profession. Looking back to the ideas and practices of the early industrial arts elementary school educators provides a brief view of a subject that is inclusive of the technology used by all members of society and was designed to be taught to all members of society. If technology education is to be a viable subject for all students, technology educators must understand and accept the power associated not with hierarchies of singularity, but with diversity in language and culture.
Zuga is Associate Professor, Technology Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
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