Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Question: Should we include engineering in our association name?

OLD JOE’S editorial thoughts

It has been a long and complex history between the designers and builders on the planet.  Many of the old craftsman, artisans and guild people were the designer, engineer, and builder.  Many of the builders started out as builders, became engineers and then master builders overseeing projects.  Ford, Edison, Hughs, Gates, Jobs, started as tinkers and in the end were they engineers, designers, marketers or businessmen? Or were they all of these in one.  The problem as I see it is, the highly successful people are a bit of all four. In larger organizations there is a need for all these different disciplines to communicate and work very closely together.  The companies that are most successful today are able to do this.

We in Technology Ed are in a unique spot in the comprehensive educational game.  Because if we develop and execute good programs we can encourage students to bring all these different concepts into one area.  I think that a good modern Technology program should include the where for all, for a student to be exposed to designing, engineering, drawing, building and evaluating a project to see how well it filled a need or solved a problem.  Old IA was craftsmanship based, PLW is only engineering based, and STEM is also heavy on science and math and short on the final product.  That leaves us the shop teacher to bring it all together in one program.

We must also consider the students we serve.  Returning to the high school this year has been an eye opener to me.  In seventh grade you have the entire population and kids try to do what ever you give them.  High school you have a mixed group as well, but I found, students skills and abilities are much more defined. Some students also have difficulties working well with others on a team. What I like and have always liked about group process is that if student’s work together you can bring out the best they have to offer.  This is where PLW, STEM, and old IA miss the mark.  They only focused on one group not the entire body of students we have in a class.  We are the real world of work.  It is interesting to note, when I was in Europe that is what they called the course “ The real world of work” 

We have always had a problem with our name defining what we really are and do.  First there was industrial arts.  I refused to ever use this name as it reminded me of an artist in a factory painting a picture. I called us industrial technology or just plain ”SHOP”.  But when we changed our name to Technology Education we started to get mixed up with computer technology and any other technology that came along. Adding engineering to our name would help a bit but I really do not think it clearly defines who we are and what we do.  The Europeans may be on the right track as we really represent what happens in the real world.  I have found over the years, that speaking to people other than colleagues, that when I tell them I’m a “SHOP” teacher they understand best what I do.  Why do we have all these “workshops” on teacher training days?  Because a workshop is a place where you bring it all together and make something happen.  To bad it never happens in those teacher workshops. 

I think the most descriptive name for us would be “Research and Development Teachers”. This is what we do, bring the designs, marketing, engineering, and production ideas together to develop prototypes for a new or improved product by solving all the problems to make it happen. But to answer the question I guess adding engineer to Technology Education Association would be a bit of  help to explain what we do better. It is the buzzword these days. So we would be known as the “Technology and Engineering Education Association” or NYSTEEA. In Central New York that would be CNYTEEA.  Good luck with this name thing.  Please go to our blog and let Mo and I know what you think.  We will vote on this at the state convention next spring.   OLD JOE

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