Technology Education: Prospectus for Curriculum Change
Michael R. Kozak
Starr (1988) documents the United States as being in an
ever weakening global position. For example, he reports on
the demand for an increasingly educated and technical work
force and contrasts this with the supply of high school
graduates ill equipped for either college or the work force.
Many Americans find today's rapidly changing world a
bewildering and alien place to live and to work as they
intentionally, or unintentionally, recoil from the technical
means upon which they must rely and try to cope and adapt
This editorial examines how the United States is
failing in its attempt to educate and professionally prepare
our youth. The critique is followed with a proposed
technology education teacher preparation curriculum that
attempts to reflect today's global, technological society.
UNITED STATES SOCIETY BASED ON GLOBALIZATION
A recurring theme in contemporary society is
globalization. The expanding growth of world output
crossing national boundaries, because of dramatic advances
in transportation and information services, has advanced the
concept of a one-world economy. Somewhere in the world,
markets are open. Products are commonly produced in one
country utilizing materials from a second country and
exported for sale to still others.
No American firm can afford to assume that it is
impervious to foreign competition. In addition, an
increasingly larger number of United States firms are
looking overseas for opportunities. A technology education
teacher preparation curriculum should include the concept of
UNITED STATES SOCIETY BASED ON TECHNOLOGY
Technology may be defined as the systems and objects or
artifacts that are created using knowledge from the physical
and social worlds (Friedman, 1980). Key descriptors of a
definition for technology, according to Barnes' (1990) study
include: a) innovation; b) invention; c) creativity; d)
extension of human capabilities; e) system of tools,
knowledge, and behaviors associated with the exploitation of
the environment; and f) social, economic, political, and
environmental impacts. A technology education teacher
preparation curriculum should include the latest advances in
UNITED STATES EDUCATION: A FAILING GRADE
While globalization and technological changes are taken
for granted in today's business and industrial arena,
education seems to be much more inwardly-focused. The
United States public educational system is not only
supplying unprepared entrants for college and for the
technical work place, but even worse, it is misleading them
into believing they are qualified to compete successfully in
a modern and demanding technologically global society
Most of the United States population is not being
properly educated to function in the everyday world of the
next century--a time in which technologically literate
citizens must make critical decisions affecting the global
community. For example, when asked in a Gallup poll what
kind of work engineers perform, 35 percent of "average
Americans" surveyed stated they run trains, manage boiler
rooms, or simply do not know (Lohman, 1991). Over 3,000
students drop out of high school each day in the United
States and 75 percent of American high school youth never
graduate from college (Thomas, 1987).
PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION AND EDUCATION
Japan's manufacturing is, for the most part, highly
robotized, yet the educated human element is still a high
priority. The Japan Productivity Center, established in
1950, contends that the basic view of productivity is a
respect for people in order to promote human welfare (Orr,
Professional preparation programs in the United States
tend to place less emphasis on general education (liberal
arts) courses and a much greater emphasis on subject
specialty courses. However, the Stanford Institute for
Research on Educational Significance on High Technology has
stated: "Everyone should have strong analytic, expressive,
communicative, and computational skills as well as extensive
knowledge of political, economic, social and cultural
institutions" (National Advisory Council on Continuing
Education, 1984, p. 8). A technology education teacher
preparation program should include professional preparation
and a liberal arts education.
TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
Any technology education program development effort
should takeplace within the concept of a defined totality.
The human adaptive systems (ideological, sociological,
technological), are a totality as identified by White
(1959). Human adaptive systems are open systems which are
dynamic, tend towards growth and differentiation, and stress
a continued renewal process. Ideological systems are those
that comprise basic belief systems such as values and social
norms. Sociological systems refer to structured
relationships among people. Technological systems pertain
to the manipulation of the physical world to meet basic
needs of survival and to extend human potential (Lauda &
Determining the appropriate distribution of
professional preparation and liberal arts courses should be
a major concern in a technology education teacher
preparation curriculum. Zuga (1989) stresses that program
development should be based on intellectual processes that
also make critical thinking, problem solving, creativity,
and selfconfidence major concerns.
Public school instructors, by virtue of the fact that
they are in daily contact with today's youth and tomorrow's
possible leaders, must themselves be educated in the liberal
arts, appreciate the globalization of society, and be
professionally prepared to understand the concept of
constant technological change.
Recent writers seem to stress this general approach to
the study of technology. Kozak and Robb (1988) wrote that
technology education emphasizes technology as a part of the
humanities, the arts and the sciences, and can acquaint all
persons with their technological environment so they can
make rational decisions about their own lives and control
their own destiny. Zuga (1989) stated: "The evolution of
technology education goals has reflected a drift towards
more liberal education ideals" (p. 34). According to Wright
(1988), the technology educator should adopt the
social/cultural approach for improving the awareness of how
humankind interacts with technology. Perhaps at no other
time in history is there a greater need for university
technology education teacher preparation programs to be
pro-active rather than reactive.
SUGGESTED PROGRAM IN TECHNOLOGY TEACHER EDUCATION
The technology education teacher preparation curriculum
should include, in addition to the latest technological
advances, the following: a) state and university mandated
requirements (these cannot be ignored), b) core curriculum
courses, c) globalization concepts, and d) professional
preparation courses. (see Table 1)
PROPOSED TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAM
State/University Mandated Courses
History 6 s.h. Political Science 6 s.h.
English 12 s.h. Physical Education 4 s.h.
Art 3 s.h. Music 3 s.h.
Chemistry 4 s.h. Philosophy 3 s.h.
Computer Sciences 3 s.h. Physics 4 s.h.
Dance/Drama 3 s.h. Psychology 3 s.h.
Economics 3 s.h. Sociology 3 s.h.
Mathematics 6 s.h.
Foreign Languages 12 s.h. Cultural Diversity 6 s.h.
International Internship 6 s.h.
Technology: Materials 9 s.h. Technology: Energy 9 s.h.
Technology: Information 9 s.h. Technology: Control 9 s.h.
Education Methods (Including Student Teaching) 18 s.h.
Total 144 s.h.
If a liberal arts education is to be a major concern,
then a core curriculum should be considered with courses, if
possible, in every department in every college and/or school
in a university.
To address "globalization": a) communication skills
in a second language such as Spanish, German, Japanese, or
Russian; b) cultural diversity; plus c) an international
internship would be possibilities. Today's typical
technology education program includes approximately 130
semester hours. However, a full-time student at a
university could take 18 semester hours per semester for
four years, a total of 144 semester hours. Therefore, Table
1 is an example of a proposed 144 semester hour technology
education teacher preparation program that includes: a)
state/ university mandated courses, b) a core curriculum, c)
globalization concepts, d) professional preparation in
technology and e) professional preparation for teaching.
An old story concerns giving a starving person a fish
so that the individual will live for another day, or
teaching the person to fish so as not to starve ever again.
In today's world, with constantly changing technology,
teaching a person to fish is no longer sufficient; the
individual must be educated so that as fishing methods
change, the individual will know how to learn to stay
competitive and survive in the technological fishing
industry of the future. In addition, with the technological
advances in the fishing industry, the individual will have
more free time and should also be educated to appreciate
what the world has to offer.
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Michael R. Kozak is Associate Professor, Department of
Engineering Technology, University of North Texas, Denton, T
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Journal of Technology Education Volume 4, Number 1 Fall 1992