Aims | The Child | Task of teaching | First steps to integration
- Introduction
- The child in   the centre
- The teacher
- The learning   environment
- In the   curriculum
- Conclusion

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Integration of technical education in primary education


4.   The enriched learning environment


a. materials

Schools are sometimes using the reason of “having-no-materials“ as an excuse for refusing to work on technical education. By materials, we mean written material and suggestions for lessons.


Though a lot of materials have been published of late teachers have not found their way to this. An active promotion or an active policy on advertising these materials is important. A separate problem with these materials is that a lot of these materials are indeed too prescriptive and leave no creativity to the children. (Here is one of the challenges for this project).


What is especially needed in schools is the concrete use of materials to make products and special education materials for technical education.


The only project with concrete material use is “technoboxes”. These boxes contain a lot of priceless materials. Schools in general are very pleased by such suggestions, because of the fear of expenses.


Education materials in this area from publishers are most of the time expensive and not an option for schools.


If they opt for publications, then an outbalanced choice will become very important. Though used in many schools “Legodacta” is – beside high quality material -  also vulnerable. Vulnerable, because if one piece is missing then the complete product can not be made at all.   


Another solution for the materials has been developed by children museum ZO&ZO. The background idea is very creative: children make together an education museum themselves and organise tours through the museum for other children. As a matter of fact visits to museums and having guest lectures must be possible.


Exciting education materials – with which everything can be discovered. In relation to the project one can think of: exciting education materials, machines on which everything can be discovered, which offer playing possibilities (not usual in store toys), creative activities which arouse ideas for children and their teachers.    


Student teachers can be excellent supporters. For them – it is our experience – working on a needed product is far more motivating than working for a grade. Co-operation with the industry (which we are doing in this project) is of big interest in order to translate theory into lasting professional education materials.


However, part of “the job”, the solution for the problems , is to open eyes, to have teachers seeing the opportunities for technical education in teaching methods, in the classroom and in the school environment.


It is even possible to do the opposite: a school for primary education in The Netherlands (“de Wichelroede” in the village of Udenhout) has put technology at the core of the curriculum. Every other subject is related to it.


Showing teachers examples of “good practice“ can help. Sometimes even simple instruments like a camera work.

In this project we think both must be realised. 


b. conditions

A very good condition, but almost never used, is: extra support. Sometimes in Holland it is possible to work with class assistants. A less common solution is working with student mentors: pupils or students who are some years older support activities of younger children. 

One of the pillars in the “Technotalent” project is the use of older kids/students. There are also experiments with vocational education students supporting kids in secondary education. 

The profit is the level of acceptance on one side and education experience on the other side.

Teacher students with technical knowledge and students of technology in higher education can support teachers. In an earlier project both groups of students worked together and the results were amazing.


To the conditions for the physical environment belong: an arranged and furnished discovery room for technical education for teacher-training colleges or in museums or in leisure time centres.  Edulabs also: rooms with all kinds of experimental situations linked to IT equipment belong to that condition. These rooms are very stimulating. Schools will look at the costs for such a room, but must also look at the possibilities for the creativity of children. Room and instruments can be so professional that children get intimidated. The teacher feels incapable anymore to work with it. Children get an overdose. 

When introduced, room and instruments must be very friendly for the consumer and the use must be supported in several ways.


Finally, it is possible to design and make this physical environment with the help of the children.

Recently, in the Hague, one school experimented with children grade 5 and 6 (age 8 and 9) , together with teacher students to build a town of boxes to play with for children age 6 (grade 3). This town of boxes had also the intention to invite children to add all kind of technical supplements to enrich their playing. The lack of quality is compensated by the motivation and involvement of the children.


Though it is not part of this project to design complete education arrangements at a large scale, neither is this a necessity for teaching technical education, yet it is important to stay close to the daily practice in schools. This can be different for country to country and from class to class. We have to look for the best opportunities for technical education. 

E.g., in an international ERASMUS course in The Hague, one of the teacher-training college students, coming from Portugal, being educated as “social/cultural animators”, had the opportunity to do an extra practice period about technical education. She became more and more enthusiastic and will introduce technical education in her future practice.

For The Netherlands it will be important that existing practice for the younger children (4 and 5 year old) will be enriched with the practice of technical education while working in corners. A corner for technical experiences must become part of the daily activities.


- workroom


Practical workspace is a necessary condition to work with technical education. Teachers are very much against the mass which leaves after such lessons. The solution is partly in a good organization  and  having the courage to give children independence.

It is undeniably an advantage if a school has a separate room including all facilities available for the technical activities. Moreover technical education can be put in a schedule (e.g. for older children) and will not disappear within other subjects, though it is – as earlier stated – one of the aims to have technology in many subjects. It is a matter of strategy.

Such a room can also be available for working on all kinds of other themes and subjects (including technology). In The Hague there is the example of the “Gelderlandschool” where it works as described.

But even a simple corner or a special niche and a movable cart with materials can work.