Journal of Technology Education

Journal of Technology Education

Current Editor: Chris Merrill,
Previous Editors: Mark Sanders 1989-1997; James LaPorte: 1997-2010

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Volume 4, Number 1
Fall 1992

              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
                        (Bensen, 1991).
                              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.
                             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
                             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
                             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
                        (Meriam, 1991).
                             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).
                             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.
                             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 &
                        McCrory, 1986).
                        Major Concerns
                              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.
                             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)
                        TABLE 1
                        State/University Mandated Courses
                        History                 6 s.h.    Political Science   6 s.h.
                        English                12 s.h.   Physical Education   4 s.h.
                        Core Curriculum
                        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.
                        Globalization Concept
                        Foreign Languages      12 s.h.   Cultural Diversity   6 s.h.
                        International Internship    6 s.h.
                        Professional Preparation
                        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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                            Kozak (Ed.), Technology literacy (pp. 119-137). Peoria,
                            IL:  Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.
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                            literacy in liberal education.  The Forum for Liberal
                            Education, 3(3), 1-3.
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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