Integration of technical education in primary education
2. The child in the centre
In modern day scientific
approaches to education, the learner, the learning child, is the focus.
Children have to take
responsibility for their own learning process. Teacher and learning environment
are together the didactical arrangement, which must stimulate children to
As a matter of fact, a basic
level of knowledge of several learning areas is necessary, but there can be big
differences from one child to the next; each child develops, so to speak, its
You might say: a child is a
full-coloured ink spot that extends itself in all directions.
Teacher, peers and the
education arrangement help determine how quickly, and in what direction, the
ink will go. By interaction and co-operation in the classroom a group of
children will become a full coloured pattern, likeocean paint.
This image comes close to
what the three concepts of Stevens mentioned earlier: autonomy, relation and
a. Basic conditions
In chapter 1 the basic
conditions are mentioned which are related to development-oriented
Education. These are: being
self-confident, being curious, and being emotionally free.
In which way is technical
education able to fulfill these three conditions?
Criteria for the fulfilment
of the three conditions in order to produce materials within this ETE project:
Self - confidence
Children must feel that they
can master technology. The consequence of this is that the construction of the
activities must be in a way that children can work at their own speed and at
their own level. Working with technology must lead to experiences of success.
Technical education must be
attractive for all children. This means that children with different learning
styles and different interests can enjoyably and safely
This requires a variety
of activities. Each child can do things which are enjoyable.
To give some direction to the
demands of the activities to be developed the current model of multiple
intelligence can be used.
Rather often we see that
quite different children can profit from technical education, even moreso than
when they are working with regular subjects like mathematics, language,
geography, history, and so on.
However, it would be much
better if technical education would be attractive not only for those who are
more practical and have technical understanding, but would also be offered
diversely so that it is attractive for many children. In the examples of good
practice (§ 2.6), we will come back to that.
Activities must be challenging,
exciting and provoking.
The end-result must not be
The activities must be close
to the experiences of children.
In order to control this,
children must be observed. People must talk to them (and their teachers) and
they must be involved in their own development.
From the PATT research in
Europe and the US we could learn that the attitude towards technical education
is rather positive. It can become more positive by more technical education.
The outcome of one research was that a short-term project was not enough to
make the attitude more positive. The conclusion of this is that products from
this project must be produced for a longer period.
technical education has the
task to challenge children and to give them room for creativity. What are the
consequences for the task we have in this project?
2.3 The teacher
The (new) role of teachers in
the process of introducing ETE
a. the role of teachers in
A short, stereotypical
description of the role of teachers in our countries is teaching us that their
role can be very different and that the teacher-student relation differs along
the lines of cultures and characteristics.
Hofstede ¹), a well known
social scientist in the area of comparing cultures, points out that that the
role of teachers in cultures strongly corresponds to the way in which a society
is coping with power distance. Under power distance we can understand the
relation between a parent and their child, or the employer and the employee, or
the teacher and the student.
The more informal they behave
to each other, the more they feel equal, the more they negotiate tasks and
activities, the more discussion takes place. The order in classrooms is a
little bit of a noisy order (where periods of silence also take place). The
more formal the relationship, the more the parent, teacher, employer is
deciding what has to happen. Discussion is a phenomenon which is rarely seen.
Classrooms are quiet. The teacher is teaching. There is power distance
is respect, some say.
The result of both ways of
coping with problems is that in the first case teacher and pupils/students will
discuss tasks and will finally agree together what is going to happen. Both
parties have committed to the task and especially the children by that
commitment - have internalised the task. In the second case the teacher is an
authority that knows best for the children/pupils/students and they rely on
her/him. They are doing the task because she/he said they must do it.
It also implies that the
teacher is telling you how to solve the problem. A long centurys worth of
experiences have taught us that this is the best way. In the first case
children are finding out things which are already well known by teachers and
parents. They are just finding out things in a shorter time than their
In the case of formal
relations, books and other materials are important to convey all knowledge of
the past to new generations. In the case of informality, books and other
materials are to support what has been found out (e.g. in practice, in daily
In formal cultures, books and
teachers and family are the instruments along which new generations are
learning to solve the problems of life. In informal cultures, everything and
everybody can be the thing which supports a person to learn to cope with
In formal cultures,
relationships are described/prescribed and children know how to behave. In
informal cultures children learn by experimenting. The relations are less
described and less prescribed.
In cultures with a large
power distance (formal cultures) it is clear what the sanction is when
students/youngsters/pupils are not behaving
- not behaving well in order to learn. Formal cultures are not helping
the person who commits this prohibited activity. In cultures where the power
distance is smaller the teacher is thinking about the best way of punishing.
This thinking is related to education goals. Even judges do that.
Teachers are nowadays
educated like this. There was a time (70s and 80s) that the education of
teachers was not running parallel to the changes in informal societies.
Teachers were educated as if they were going to teach in formal societies. They
had not learned to cope with negotiation, with putting limits on behaviour,
with the ways in which you can use books and other materials.
As from this century the
informal societies may expect that their teacher education is more or less
running parallel to what is happening in the informal society where power
distance is small.
What we see in countries
where there is a more formal education structure is a development into the
direction of more informality, of more negotiation about tasks and activities
and a less formal attitude of teachers towards their pupils or students.
Perhaps the reason for this is the EU in which also in the area of education
there is much more intensive contact than in the past.
Yet, we must conclude that
generally speaking - there are important differences, e.g. between the North of
Europe and the South.
b Changes in the required
skills of teachers in Europe.
In the last 5 to 10 years,
education scientists have strongly concentrated on the teaching profession.
Looking back, we can find that in the 70s it was believed that education reform
had to be a reform of the curriculum. Also the description of aims and goals
became of more and more importance. For all those years the teacher as such was
outside the picture.
It is only since the 90s that
the skills and knowledge of teachers became the subject of investigations.
First studies were published how new generations were educated. So far this
last issue is still waiting and scientists are now concentrating on the new
As might be known,
constructivism is a theory which is adopted across Europe nowadays. It is
supporting the way in which people in Europe are thinking more and more about
making the child the focus. To be more specific: the learning of the child with
that specific reference framework. People are constructing knowledge and adding
new knowledge to that. Not without meaning, on the contrary, especially new
knowledge WITH a meaning.
A famous Dutch learning
psychologist Carel van Parreren and adept of Vygotsky already described this
way of learning in the 70s and later in his publications esp. for starting
student teachers at teacher training colleges.
The focus on constructivism
has consequences for teacher training in general and specifically for teachers
in the area of ETE.
Another development in this
area is the focus on competences. Also Europe-wide, especially education
scientists concentrate we described this earlier in this paragraph more and
more on the competences of teachers. We can say that this is closely related to
the developments within modern learning psychology in the area of the earlier
In The Netherlands
publications mention sometimes 5, sometimes 7 and even 9 competences have been
identified for teachers.
A competence is the capacity
to execute tasks and to solve problems which are part of a position or
professional role with a cluster of knowledge, skills and personal
characteristics in a complex working situation ²).
We would like to concentrate
on 7 general competence areas: the pedagogical area, teachers need to be
competent on their subject, interpersonal, in the area of organisation, in the
co-operation with colleagues, in co-operation with the environment and finally
being competent in reflecting and professional development.
These competences in
combination with the new developments within learning psychology are absolutely
relevant for the subject area of ETE.
In chapter one (§ 3) we
described the development-oriented approach (OGO) in the Netherlands. This
approach in education for children ages 4 12 is in a way a concept derived
from and interrelated with these described new developments of constructivism
and the competences of teachers.
Some key characteristics of
the curriculum within development-oriented education are:
Learning is increasing the
participation in structured activities i.e. teaching.
Learning is a social
Pedagogy, didactics and
subject methodology cannot be separated. They are interrelated
The learning content always
has a personal meaning
Learning is production based
The consequence of this for the curriculum is:
- the curriculum is constructed by meaningful
activities. Aims are derived from these meaningful activities (in the past
we put forward the aims and objectives first). The constructing of the
curriculum takes place in co-operation between teacher and students. Both
are busy with a reciprocal construction process.
- Students, children are producers of
solutions for problems. They are producers of research, of concrete
c. the required role for ETE
First a short description of
the competences of a teacher related to the subject (in general). The tasks for
a teacher related to his/her subject are to:
arouse and develop motivation
and involvement to learn;
challenge pupils to make
further steps for their development;
plan teaching by external set
playing and task-oriented by learning;
design education arrangements
to achieve requirements from individual children and their differences;
grasp the essentialities of
the subject and connect that to the emotional and experience-based world of
adapt and add education
resources to needs and learning styles of children related to education aims.
The specific requirements for
teachers in the area of early technical education are of course running
parallel to the basic competences children have to learn (see Chapter 1 § 3.5).
This means that the competences children have to learn are already required by
teachers. We copy them here from chapter 1:
These basic characteristics
are objective and contain at the same time for development and learning during
primary school age and actually for the entire learning process.
The competences from the in
between circle are necessary for children to start their personality
development and increasing independency.
A. being active, taking initiatives, making plans
B. communication and language
C. playing and working together
D. discover the world
E. express yourself and designing
G. understanding symbols, signs and meanings
I. investigation, arguing, and problem solving.
A first identification of the
competences for teachers in the area of ETE as a conclusion of what is said in
Teachers must be:
positive towards new
competent in knowledge and
skills in the area of ETE;
open for questions and needs
of children and colleagues (national, international)
d. What has to be changed in
order to develop an attitude appropriate for ETE?
In short, we can say that in daily practice
there are a lot of obstacles in requiring the competences for an ETE teacher in
Europe according to the above described demands.
First there might be the
cultural obstacle. Familiar ways of teaching that have their roots in the
national culture are sometimes difficult to change. Sometimes one must wait for
the right time. We believe that the time will come. We also believe that
teachers from more formal cultures can become independent of rules, can try out
new things and are able to think independently.
Secondly, there is the
cultural determined attitude of what it is for boys and what it is for girls
and what boys and girls think about that 5). Note that this resource is already
from 1989. We think attitudes might be changed.
Third. There is the obstacle
of pedagogues and their theories about how children develop and at what age one
can start with the arousal of new developments. In this respect it is important
to have knowledge about the zone of proximate development (Vygotsky).
Fourth. Knowledge (or the
lack thereof) is also an obstacle for teachers in the area of ETE. Beside
knowledge, teachers are also lacking experience in this area. As teachers are
generally active people, we suggest that teachers learn by doing, learn by
seeing their colleagues working with children. It will motivate them, and this
way of in-service training will be very effective. Beside this, becoming
competent in theoretical knowledge is absolutely required.
A fifth obstacle is the lack
of new input. We believe that teachers once they have started, need support and
new ideas and certainly the sharing of experiences with colleagues. Exchange of
ideas looks rather important. Having examples of good practice is a minimum.
A final obstacle might be,
that there is no time for (E)TE in the curriculum. As earlier mentioned we
think that (E)TE must and can be embedded within other educational