Journal of Technology Education


JTE Editor: Mark Sanders

Volume 3, Number 1
Fall 1991


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Another Look at Technology and Science
 
                         Rodney E. Frey
 
               "Science and technology" is a phrase
          that rolls off the tongue with easy familiar-
          ity.  This linkage is so commonplace that
          science and technology are often assumed to
          share a common methodology, common symbol
          systems (language and mathematics), and a
          common community of practitioners.  Despite
          these perceived commonalities, science is
          generally assumed to precede technology.
               This misconception about the nature of
          science and technology and about the re-
          lationship between them can be misleading at
          best and fatal at worst for technology educa-
          tion.  As educators advocate, promote, and
          implement technology education in the public
          schools, they may find that the new curric-
          ulum is equated with science or competes with
          science programs.  In either case the dis-
          tinctive character of technology is misunder-
          stood.  Over two decades ago DeVore (1968,
          1970) argued the same point and urged indus-
          trial arts teachers to study technology.
          Now, even more, teachers of technology educa-
          tion need a clear understanding of similari-
          ties and differences between science and
          technology.
               In ordinary conversation, the term sci-
          ence seems to be used in three distinct ways:
          "(1) science as a human and social enter-
          prise, (2) science as the body of well-
          established laws and theories, and (3)
          science in its applications" (Borgmann, 1984,
          p.  17).  The first view encompasses the com-
          munity of science practitioners and the ac-
          tivity or particular approach used by the
          community.  The second view is concerned with
          the cognitive content and structure of sci-
          ence.  The third view often equates applied
          science with technology.
               Technology can be viewed as a corollary
          to science in all three senses if some lati-
          tude in fit is allowed.  First, technology is
          a problem-solving activity practiced by a
          community of professionals.  Second, there is
          a well-defined body of technological know-
          ledge.  And, finally, the world is replete
          with technological devices, procedures, and
          systems.
               There is a fourth sense in which the
          terms technology and science are used.  Both
          can be regarded in the abstract as mental
          categories or constructs which incorporate
          the other three senses.  Taken to the ex-
          treme, technology and science are then seen
          as disembodied forces which exist independent
          of the natural, material, or social world.
          Discussions about technology and science of-
          ten fail to distinguish clearly how the terms
          are being used.  In this paper, attention
          will focus on the first three uses of the
          terms:  practitioners, knowledge, artifacts.
               The fundamental position taken in this
          paper is that technology is a human activity
          involved with the making and using of mate-
          rial artifacts.  As a human activity, tech-
          nology is situated on the same level as art,
          politics, science, economics, and the like,
          and not subsumed under any other category.
               The purpose of this paper is to draw at-
          tention to subtle distinctions between tech-
          nology and science.  Specifically, three
          topics will be addressed:  distinctive ap-
          proaches to the natural world, distinctive
          aims and purposes, and distinctive knowledge
          structures and content.  (See Borgmann, 1984,
          chs. 5, 6, and 12 for distinctions between
          technology and science based on
          "explanation.")
 
                 APPROACHES TO THE NATURAL WORLD
               Both technology and natural science as-
          sume the existence of an objective, physical
          reality which is independent of one's percep-
          tion of it.  Bunge (1979) lists these assump-
          tions as "(1) the world is composed of
          things; (2) things get together in systems;
          (3) all things, all facts, all processes,
          whether in nature or in society, fit into ob-
          jective stable patterns (laws); [and that]
          (4) nothing comes out of nothing and nothing
          goes over into nothingness" (pg. 270).
          Technologists and scientists often act and
          talk as though this external world can be
          "known" and that the laws and principles de-
          scribed by symbols and equations do, in fact,
          correspond with objective physical reality.
          This view of nature is a variety of realism
          and although not all natural scientists hold
          this view, it likely predominates (Wartofsky,
          1968; Casti, 1989).
               In spite of agreement on fundamental
          presuppositions about the existence of the
          natural world, technologists and scientists
          act differently upon these assumptions.  For
          the natural scientist, nature is the object
          of research.  Scientists are interested in
          discovering all they can about natural phe-
          nomena, whether directly available to human
          experience or through active intervention
          (atom splitting) in natural processes.
          Through systematic investigation and exper-
          imentation the natural world can be discov-
          ered and universal laws stated which explain
          how the natural world functions.  The natural
          world is a "thing in itself," worthy of
          study, research, and experimentation to un-
          cover fundamental laws, patterns, and struc-
          tures.  Because the scientist is interested
          in nature for what it is, all nature is open
          for investigation and all nature is equally
          valued from the smallest particle of matter
          to the vast universe (Bunge, 1979; Rapp,
          1974).
               An example from Newtonian physics may be
          helpful.  To the physicist friction is a
          force which is always opposed to the direc-
          tion of motion.  Kinetic frictional force,
          empirically determined for any two types of
          surfaces which are dry and not lubricated, is
          equivalent to the coefficient of friction
          times the normal force acting on the body in
          motion.  The coefficient of friction is a
          constant characteristic for the materials in-
          volved and determined experimentally.  As an
          empirical law the mathematical equation ade-
          quately describes the relationship between
          frictional force and normal force.  Although
          this law does not rest on any deeper theore-
          tical understanding of the mechanisms which
          cause friction, it is satisfying because it
          describes a portion of the physical world.
               The technologist, on the other hand, ap-
          proaches nature in a fundamentally different
          way.  Nature as a "thing for us" is not neu-
          tral because value is attached to it depend-
          ing on the circumstances of use.  This is
          true for physical laws and natural resources.
          In engine design frictional force is consid-
          ered undesirable and efforts are made to re-
          duce its effects.  On the other hand braking
          systems are designed to utilize the effects
          of friction.  In both cases the physical phe-
          nomenon, friction, is valued differently be-
          cause of the circumstance.
               "Because of his pragmatic attitudes,"
          Bunge (1979) suggests, "the technologist will
          tend to disregard any sector of nature that
          is not or does not promise to become a re-
          source" (p. 268).  Thus, all nature is not
          equally valued.  In fact, it is quite common
          for the technologist to ignore or overlook
          any material or phenomena not immediately
          useful.  At a later date, because of changing
          societal values, political, economic, or so-
          cial conditions, the ignored or discarded re-
          source may become highly prized.  Before the
          development of atomic energy, uranium ore was
          a nuisance.  After technological break-
          throughs in nuclear reactor design and con-
          struction made nuclear energy an economically
          feasible reality, uranium ore became valu-
          able.  The same can be said about solar en-
          ergy.  As political alliances in the Middle
          East shift, threatening oil supplies, inter-
          est in and commitment to the technologies of
          solar and wind energy also shift.
               If scientists were limited to an objec-
          tive reality accessible directly through the
          five senses, little scientific progress would
          be possible.  At some point, scientists pene-
          trate the surface reality to directly inter-
          vene in natural processes and natural
          structure.  For instance, particle acceler-
          ators and supercolliders are built to break
          apart matter to investigate the fundamental
          building blocks of nature.
               Technologists, too, directly intervene
          and alter nature.  The intervention is not at
          the level of fundamental physical phenomena
          through controlled, systematic experimenta-
          tion, driven by mathematical theory.  More
          likely, nature will be altered at the
          macroscopic level.  For instance, metals are
          refined from ores to produce pure elements
          not occurring naturally.  These metallic ele-
          ments are then combined in controlled quanti-
          ties to yield other metals (alloys) with new
          properties.  In this sense the physical world
          (space, raw materials, fossil energy) is al-
          tered and transformed with the intent of ap-
          propriating nature for human purposes (Rapp,
          1981, pp. 152-153).  In short, "whereas sci-
          ence elicits changes in order to know, tech-
          nology knows in order to elicit changes"
          (Bunge, 1979, p. 264).
 
                 AIMS OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE
               Early in his book Borgmann (1984) intro-
          duces an engaging phrase: "taking up with the
          world" (p. 3).  People take up with the so-
          cially constructed world through politics,
          economics, and social institutions.  They
          also take up with the natural and material
          world through technology and science.  In
          both cases the human activity is open, dy-
          namic, patterned, and purposeful.
               There is not a clear consensus about the
          ultimate aim or purpose of natural science.
          The situation becomes muddled when the notion
          of motivation of the scientist gets mixed in
          with aims and purposes of science as an ac-
          tivity.  A commonly formulated statement of
          motivation suggests that scientists pursue
          scientific activity out of intellectual curi-
          osity and inquisitiveness about the natural
          world.  The more pristine formulation can be
          found in Campbell (1953) where he insists on
          science as a form of pure intellectual study
          which aims "to satisfy the needs of the mind
          and not those of the body [and] appeals to
          nothing but the disinterested curiosity of
          mankind" (p. 1).  This view of science, and
          scientists, is unsullied by concerns of the
          daily world or by base motives such as recog-
          nition, power, money, and prestige.  Thought-
          ful and reflective scientists would reject
          Campbell's view of motivation, especially
          when they consider the social/cultural con-
          text within which science is practiced.  They
          might, however, retain curiosity as a
          stimulant to scientific activity.
               Even though the motivation of the scien-
          tist is understood, the ultimate end, pur-
          pose, or aim of science remains obscure.
          What is the result of scientific activity?
          If the answer to this question is approached
          by recalling the discussion above of the sci-
          entists' view of nature, the subsequent dis-
          cussion will carry more meaning.
               The more common contemporary answer
          about the aim of science involves a complex
          interweaving of relationships involving laws,
          theory, explanation, and understanding.  Sup-
          pose it is noted that certain phenomena are
          related in such a way as to form a stable,
          regular pattern.  This pattern is called
          physical law.  For example, as a piston moves
          within a closed-end cylinder, a relationship
          between volume and pressure is observed.
          This observation can be communicated by stat-
          ing that as the volume decreases the pressure
          increases and as volume increases pressure
          decreases.  A more concise formulation states
          that pressure (P) is inversely proportional
          to volume (V).  In the interest of simplic-
          ity, this can be reduced to the mathematical
          equation PV=k where k is a constant.  This
          pressure-volume relationship, known as
          Boyle's Law, is an example of an empirical
          law because it is a descriptive summary of
          empirical observations (Casti, 1989, pp.
          22-23).  Empirical laws describe the regular-
          ities of natural phenomena, and may predict
          an outcome given appropriate conditions, but
          they do not explain why something happens.
          For this theory is needed which explains the
          uniformities expressed as empirical law
          (Hemple, 1966, p. 70).
               In the example above, the empirical law
          of gases (Boyle's Law) does not provide ex-
          planation of the physical phenomena in the
          scientific sense.  For explanation deeper
          theory based on Newtonian mechanics is
          needed, specifically f = ma, which does not
          use concepts of pressure and volume.  In-
          stead, particle motion, mass, and velocity
          can be used to derive the formal mathematical
          relationship.
               Scientists and philosophers of science
          have articulated various aims for science.
          Some emphasize explanation and understanding
          which is consistent with the view of science
          as a body of knowledge; of well-established
          laws and theories.  For instance, Feibleman
          (1972) argues that "pure science has as its
          aim the understanding of nature; it seeks ex-
          planation" (p. 33).  In a sense, this could
          be characterized as a REALISTIC view because
          it assumes a correspondence with an objective
          reality "out there" (Casti, 1989, p. 24).
               A different perspective holds that sci-
          ence aims at producing theories which have
          the ability to predict data accurately.  The-
          ories are not judged to be true or false, nor
          are they claimed to be an explanation of re-
          ality "out there."  Instead, theories are in-
          struments or heuristic devices for looking at
          phenomena, for testing the congruence between
          data and hypothesis, and are open to change
          as new data are available through experiment
          and observation (Suppe, 1974, pp, 29-30,
          127-135; Casti, 1989, p. 25; Borgmann, 1984,
          pp. 18-19).
               A third perspective of science emerges
          as an extension of the view of science as an
          organized, systematic body of knowledge.  In
          this view the aim, or issue, of science is
          Truth because the knowledge we have about the
          natural world describes a reality presumed to
          be true whether anyone knows it or not.  This
          scientific truth is objective, cumulative,
          independent of the lives of scientists, and
          timeless (Wartofsky, 1968, p. 23).
               In contrast to the views above (explana-
          tory, instrumental, truth) are the ideas of
          Thomas Kuhn.  Kuhn (1970, p. 24) states that
          "no part of the aim of normal science is to
          call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed
          those that do not fit the box are often not
          seen at all.  Nor do scientists normally aim
          to invent new theories, and they are often
          intolerant of those invented by others."
               In a Kuhnian framework there are two
          kinds of science; "normal" science and "rev-
          olutionary" science.  It is normal science
          which occupies the daily work of most scien-
          tists.  In Kuhn's view the aim of "normal"
          science is to solve the puzzles and problems
          inherent in already established phenomena and
          theories.  The ebb and flow of normal and
          revolutionary science suggest that scientific
          knowledge is discontinuous, subject to the
          interpretation of the community, and
          time-bound:  a view clearly at odds with
          those expressed above.  Against this back-
          ground the aims of technology can be consid-
          ered.
               Technology serves a practical end which
          the common bromide describes as "meeting hu-
          man need."  But the picture is not that
          clear, nor the conception that simple.  In-
          deed, there appears in the literature numer-
          ous, often conflicting, accounts of the aim
          of technology.  In broad outline the views
          can be grouped into two categories:  the ma-
          terial technology of concrete objects and
          processes and the nonmaterial technology of
          efficient action.  The narrower view of the
          former is probably closest to a common sense
          notion of technology.  The latter view is
          broader, less common, and a more abstract
          formulation of the aim of technology.  Some
          instances from the literature are helpful in
          clarifying these views.
               The restricted view sees technology as
          aiming toward realizing concrete material ob-
          jects.  The natural world provides material
          resources which serve as one input into a
          transforming process which ultimately issues
          in an artifact (Rapp, 1981, p. 44).  Devices
          and processes are applied and utilized within
          technological systems which are, in turn, em-
          bedded within larger social and economic sys-
          tems.  The purpose of these devices,
          processes, and systems is to relieve humans
          from physical work, to increase the capacity
          of human sensory organs, and to provide in-
          creased efficiency (pp. 47-49).
               This view lies close to the heart of
          technology education.  "Meeting human need"
          is the way it is often put.  But does "meet-
          ing human need" account for the diversity of
          technological artifacts?  Basalla (1988) does
          not think so.  He states that "if technology
          exists primarily to supply humanity with its
          most basic needs, then we must determine pre-
          cisely what those needs are and how complex a
          technology is required to meet them.  Any
          complexity that goes beyond the strict ful-
          fillment of needs could be judged superfluous
          and must be explained on grounds other than
          necessity" (p. 6).  He continues the argument
          by noting that "we cultivate technology to
          meet our perceived needs, not a set of uni-
          versal ones legislated by nature" (p. 14).
          Diversity of technological artifacts can be
          explained more adequately through consider-
          ation of human aspiration and as the "product
          of human minds replete with fantasies,
          longings, wants, and desires" (p. 14).
               A distinctly different view of the aim
          of technology shifts the focus of the activ-
          ity toward a nonmaterial character of tech-
          nology.  Although two positions can be
          identified, (1) efficient action, and (2)
          social/organizational, they are not entirely
          discrete and independent views.
               In the first position, artifacts, de-
          vices, and processes are acknowledged to be
          the result of technological activity.  More
          important, however, is the internal dynamic
          which drives the quest for new and better ob-
          jects of the same kind.  For example, better,
          in this context, means increased durability,
          reliability, speed, and sensitivity, and
          produced at less expense and within a shorter
          period of time.  This internal dynamic to
          produce better objects is best expressed as
          the pursuit of effectiveness.  Effectiveness
          is analyzed through a theory of efficient
          action.  The aim of technology is effective-
          ness (efficient action) (Skolimowski, 1966,
          pp. 372-377).
               In the second approach the idea of effi-
          ciency is extended explicitly into the
          social/organizational/methodological arena.
          This view is congenial to other aims of tech-
          nology which have to do with artifacts, pro-
          cedures, systems, and efficient action.  It
          simply holds that these do not go far enough.
          This is made clear by Bunge, (1979): "We take
          technology to be that field of research and
          action that aims at the control or transfor-
          mation of reality whether natural or social"
          (pp. 263-264).  Elaborating on this idea he
          tentatively outlines the branches of technol-
          ogy as follows:  (a) material technology to
          include physical, chemical, biochemical, and
          biological; (2) social technology to include
          psychological, psychosociological, sociolog-
          ical, economic, and warfare; (3) conceptual
          technology to include computer science; and
          (4) general technology, including automata
          theory, information theory, linear systems
          theory, control theory, and optimization the-
          ory (p. 264).  Especially revealing is the
          caption under a flow diagram depicting the
          technological process.  The caption reads:
          "The end product of a technological process
          need not be an industrial good or a service;
          it may be a rationally organized institution,
          a mass of docile consumers or material or id-
          eological goods, a throng of grateful, if
          fleeced, patients or a war cemetery" (p.
          265).
               In spirit, but not detail, Richter
          (1982) agrees with Bunge.  Technology is seen
          as a human phenomenon encompassing "tools and
          practices deliberately employed as natural
          (rather than supernatural) means for attain-
          ing clearly identifiable ends" (p. 8).
          Richter extends the idea of "means" to in-
          clude ORGANIZATIONAL patterns to realize so-
          cial ends or societal goals and SYMBOL
          systems as technologies designed to realize
          communication, persuasion, and computation.
          This is obviously the broadest interpretation
          of the aims of technology so far.  It may be
          so broad that it weakens as a useful concept
          to distinguish technology from other forms of
          human activity.
 
                 KNOWLEDGE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT
               An obvious concern when considering the
          relationship between technology and science
          is the location of the claim for knowledge.
          Conventional thinking often situates techno-
          logical knowledge within the same knowledge
          base as science or in a position subsidiary
          to scientific knowledge.  This thinking can
          lead to the view that there is no distinct
          cognitive content for technology or that sci-
          ence generates new knowledge which technology
          then applies as is evident in the phrase
          "technology is applied science."
               Recent scholarship in technology rejects
          this view and claims that technology is a
          cognitive system; that technology is know-
          ledge (Layton, 1974).  On a superficial
          level, the question about structure can be
          approached by answering the question:  "Where
          can I find knowledge about X?" Our reason for
          wanting knowledge about X, say an air condi-
          tioner, may be to repair, or to design, or to
          use one.  For each of these three cases the
          technological knowledge is different (some
          overlap will exist), structured and presented
          in patterns most usable for the purpose, and
          available in textbooks, manufacturer's liter-
          ature, reference manuals, and technical doc-
          umentation.  Nevertheless, the technological
          knowledge is organized, coherent,
          intelligible, and different from scientific
          knowledge.  This is knowledge organized
          around devices, processes, and systems.
               At a more abstract level technological
          knowledge can be structured by the patterns
          of thinking inherent in the individual
          branches of technology (Skolimowski, 1966),
          or by the problems put to the technologist
          (Jarvie, 1966,), or by the methodology used in
          problem solution (Vincenti, 1979).
          Skolimowski illustrates specific structures
          of thinking within branches of technology by
          suggesting ACCURACY OF MEASUREMENT for sur-
          veying, DURABILITY for civil engineering, and
          EFFICIENCY for mechanical engineering (pp.
          376-381).
               The idea above is extended by Jarvie
          (1966) to include "the overriding aim that is
          to govern the solution" (p. 387).  He sug-
          gests that speed, appearance, low unit cost,
          social cost, worker and customer satisfaction
          could be aims which structure the problem
          solution, the thinking patterns, and conse-
          quently the knowledge structure.
               Parallel to this view is a conclusion
          drawn by Vincenti (1979) resulting from a
          case study of technological methodology.  He
          concluded that the method [parametric vari-
          ation] used to supply data for designing air-
          plane propellers structured the thinking
          patterns and, consequently, the form of that
          technological knowledge (p. 743).  It appears
          that the problem put to the technologist and
          the distinctive method of solution contribute
          to patterns of thinking and to unique techno-
          logical knowledge.
               A fourth approach places technological
          knowledge within a community of practition-
          ers; a sociological approach.  Fundamental to
          the structure of technological knowledge is
          the practice of a technological community be-
          cause "technological knowledge comprises tra-
          ditions of practice which are properties of
          communities of technological practitioners"
          (Constant, 1980, p. 8).  In his study of
          change in technological knowledge, two broad
          communities within the aircraft industry were
          considered--those concerned with propeller-
          driven aircraft and the emergence of a commu-
          nity formed around turbojet aircraft.  As
          justification for this approach, Constant
          (1984) states that "the issue is what practi-
          tioners do, which to me is a promising and
          fruitful path into what they know and how it
          changes" (p. 28).  Constant provided evidence
          of the unique structure and content of spe-
          cific technological knowledge within each
          community.  This should not surprise indus-
          trial educators, who, for decades, have pur-
          sued a similar practice.  Knowledge unique to
          crafts and trades was defined and structured
          by observing the practicing communities.
               Four general comments about technolog-
          ical knowledge will help to understand the
          unique character of its content.  First,
          technological knowledge is formulated in lev-
          els of discursive and symbolic complexity
          (Carpenter, 1974).  At the lowest level is
          tacit knowledge which resists all attempts at
          verbalization.  Such knowledge develops dur-
          ing deep and sustained experience.  For exam-
          ple, the novice welder observing an expert
          welder might wonder how the expert knows when
          aluminum is about to collapse as he TIG
          welds.  When asked, the expert might reply,
          "I just know."  Tacit knowledge is not unique
          to technology.  It is part of every cognitive
          system.  At the highest level, technological
          knowledge which is obtained analytically, is
          often expressed symbolically in mathematical
          form.  Chvorinov's Rule is a simple example
          from metal casting.  Expressed mathemat-
          ically, t = B (V/A) sup n, where n = 1.5 to
          2.0.  "The total solidification time [t] is
          the time from pouring to the completion of
          solidification; V is the volume of the casting;
          A is the surface area; and B is the mold
          constant..." (DeGarmo, 1988, p.  312).
               The extremes in levels of technological
          knowledge have been chosen to make a point.
          At the worst, in the popular conception of
          technology, tacit knowledge is assumed to be
          the sum and substance of the cognitive con-
          tent, and is often expressed as "technology
          is know-how."  At the best, in the popular
          conception, abstract, mathematical formu-
          lations of technological knowledge have the
          appearance of being "scientific." This leads
          to the formulation of "technology is applied
          science."  Both views do an injustice to the
          richness, complexity, source, and
          distinctiveness of technical knowledge.
               Claims made about the content of techno-
          logical knowledge must be situated in re-
          lation to the content of scientific
          knowledge.  Two case studies by Vincenti
          (1982, 1984) illustrate such an effort.  On
          the one hand, Vincenti (1984) documents the
          development and refinement of technological
          knowledge which owes no debt to science.  In
          this case study, the knowledge of flush
          riveting (details of rivet size, shape, head
          angle, tolerance, material, riveting tools
          and technique, skin thickness, countersink
          procedures) was developed using systematic,
          analytic, and rational procedures and "no en-
          abling scientific discovery was necessary"
          (p. 569).  On the other hand, Vincenti (1982)
          selected a problem from thermodynamics
          (control-volume) which provided wide regions
          of overlap between engineering and physics.
          He documented how the different communities
          of practitioners regarded and used the con-
          cept of control-volume--"engineers have de-
          veloped control-volume analysis and use it,
          physicists have not and do not ... the dif-
          ference arises out of a difference in
          purpose" (p. 172).  Knowledge generated by
          engineers working with control-volume is dif-
          ferent from science "in both style and sub-
          stance" (p. 173).
               Another approach can be taken by ac-
          knowledging the necessity of scientific know-
          ledge but recognizing its insufficiency.  In
          this view scientific knowledge must be made
          useful by transforming it, restructuring it,
          and appropriating it according to the spe-
          cific demands of a design problem (Aitken,
          1985; Staudenmaier, 1985).
               To an important degree the content of
          technological knowledge is determined by
          praxis rather than theory.  A simple example
          is provided by fluid flow.  In classical
          fluid mechanics flow problems are described
          by mathematical equations and Newton's law of
          constant viscosity.  However, printer's ink,
          paint, grease, and coal slurries do not have
          constant viscosities, i.e., they are non-
          Newtonian fluids thus falling outside the
          classical framework.  Modifications to the
          classical mathematical equations were made
          based on extensive testing which revealed
          complex behaviors and additional variables.
          Knowledge of these additional conditions re-
          sulted directly from praxis.  This was also
          evident in the previous examples of flush
          riveting and metal solidification.
               It may seem necessary to establish pri-
          ority, historical or conceptual, between
          praxis and theory as a way to distinguish be-
          tween technology and science, but it is not.
          In the development of technological knowledge
          they reciprocate as though in dialogue with
          one another (Caws, 1979, pp. 229-231).
 
                       CONCLUDING COMMENTS
               Differing perspectives on technology can
          be identified by examining the claims made
          for the aims, goals, or purposes of technol-
          ogy.  One view holds that the goal of tech-
          nology is to produce things, products,
          processes, systems, installations, i.e., some
          concrete manifestation of purposeful, struc-
          tured praxis (Caws, 1979, p. 235) designed to
          deliberately alter the natural world.  A sec-
          ond perspective affirms a broader conception
          of technology which encompasses managerial
          and social supporting systems.  The aim, it
          seems is toward optimization, at the techni-
          cal and the organizational level.  Conse-
          quently, included in, or at least in
          principle not limited by, this concept of
          technology could be the theory and practice
          of bureaucratic coordination, advertising
          strategies, management, teaching and train-
          ing, and economic decision making (Brooks,
          1980; Sigaut, 1985).
               The author accepts the first of these
          perspectives.  When technology is understood
          in the second sense, "the concept staggers
          under the interpretive load it has to carry"
          (Laudan, 1984, p. 5).  Too much is subsumed
          within the framework of technology.  For the
          broader concept of technology to have mean-
          ing, the characteristic and distinctive fea-
          tures of technology would have to be
          articulated in relation to science, econom-
          ics, politics, business, and the like.  And
          this is no easy task because difficult
          questions must be addressed: questions about
          knowledge (epistemology), values (axiology),
          ethics, practice (praxis), and the nature of
          each activity (metaphysics).  For our pur-
          poses, the problem is delimited by following
          Mitcham's (1978) suggestion that technology
          refers to "the human making and using of ma-
          terial artifacts in all forms and aspects"
          (p. 232).
               When thought of in that frame of refer-
          ence, the nearest neighbor to technology be-
          comes natural science and claims for
          technology must be situated in relation to
          natural science.  Although technology and
          science have been discussed as independent,
          parallel cognitive systems with "hard edges,"
          the literature, especially in the history and
          sociology of technology, suggests otherwise.
          Instead, technology and science are viewed as
          systems with "soft edges" which allow inter-
          action and interpenetration.  This does not
          deny the influence of the broader
          social/cultural environment; it simply states
          that technology has features more in common
          with natural science than with other forms of
          human endeavor.
               What implications does this have for
          technology education?  First, the profession
          is moving closer to a theory of technology
          which will guide program rationale, curric-
          ulum development, textbook content, and labo-
          ratory activities.  One aspect of this theory
          is the relationship between technology and
          science as expressed in distinctive ap-
          proaches to the natural world, distinctive
          aims and purposes, and distinctive cognitive
          systems.
               Second, a theory of technology will ar-
          ticulate presuppositions about the ultimate
          aim of technology.  A technology education
          curriculum could be developed around the view
          that technology aims toward realizing techni-
          cal solutions manifest in artifacts, proc-
          esses, and systems.  Or, rational effective
          action and optimization could be the focus of
          the curriculum.  These curriculums will dif-
          fer radically from each other in content and
          activities.
               Finally, technological knowledge has
          profound linkages with praxis in the gener-
          ation of new knowledge as practical problems
          are solved, in the development of technolog-
          ical rules and laws, and in the formation of
          theoretical models which rationalize practi-
          cal experience.  This unique characteristic
          can be emphasized through laboratory activ-
          ities which permit students to design, fabri-
          cate, and test technological artifacts and
          simple systems within specified criteria.
          These activities allow the teacher to show
          regions of overlap between scientific and
          technological knowledge and how the two
          interact and interpenetrate.  They also per-
          mit the student to generate technological
          knowledge which can be organized, codified,
          and communicated.
 
 
          ----------------
          Rodney E. Frey is Associate Professor and
          Head, Industrial Arts Education, Bethel Col-
          lege, North Newton, KS.
 
 
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          Permission is given to copy any
          article or graphic provided credit is given and
          the copies are not intended for sale.

Journal of Technology Education   Volume 3, Number 1       Fall 1991

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