Values in design and technology education past present and future
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Values in design and technology education Past, present and future. Mike Martin LJMU, England. The ‘engine’ of D&T.

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Values in design and technology educationPast, present and future

Mike Martin

LJMU, England

The ‘engine’ of D&T

Values and value judgements are the ‘engine’ of design and technology. Judgements about what is possible and worthwhile initiate activity; judgements about how intentions are to be realised shape activity; and judgements about the efficacy and effects of the product influence the next steps to take. Value judgements, reflecting people’s beliefs are ubiquitous in design and technology activity.

Layton 1992a:36

Technology and values

The value of design and technology - 1992

(Layton 1992a: 3)

The value of design and technology - 2012


Professional Engineers

Socio-political shaping of design and technology

Liberal Educators


Sustainable Developers


Values issues in design and technology

  • Design and technology constantly involves pupils making decisions

  • How do pupils reach decisions?

  • Are pupils aware of the values they bring to the decision making process?

  • Which activities (projects?) do teachers consider to be the most valuable?

  • What values do teachers of the subject hold?

Values issues in design and technology

  • Technical – right materials for the job, improved performance of an artefact, neat solution

  • Economic – thrifty use of resources, maximising added value of a product

  • Aesthetic – Pleasing to handle, attractive to look at

  • Social – equality of the sexes, regard for the disadvantaged or handicapped

  • Environmental – ecological benignity, sustainable development

  • Moral – sanctity of life

  • Spiritual / religious – commitment to a conception of humans and their relationship to nature

Layton 1992b: 36

Looking at products

Martin 2007: 164

Understanding systems

  • The sourcing, shaping, forming, use and disposal of materials is a system

  • Systems are complex, hard to understand yet critical for sustainable design

  • Where do we give pupils opportunities to understand such systems?

Exploring contexts

  • Young people as passive consumers or critical users of technological products?

  • Potential ‘tyranny of products’

  • Genuine design and technological activity is driven by user and purpose

  • Exploring contexts is key to make values visible – both of the user and designer/maker


  • Technology cannot be separated from values

  • Values underpin designing and making

  • Making values explicit is important

  • The future of design and technology depends on how we value it’s contribution to pupils general education.

The value of design and technology education

Design and technology is the only subject where pupils can see in three-dimensions

the result of their own decision making

The value of design and technology education is it’s ability to enable pupils to explore their own values and the values of others





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