Tuesday , August 14 2018

Moving from Craft to Technology Education in Icelandic Schools

Gisli THORSTEINSSON
University of Iceland

Tom PAGE
Loughborough University

Brynjar OLAFSSON
University of Iceland

Abstract: Craft was established in Iceland in the beginning of 1900 as a specific subject aimed at general education. The pedagogical framework was based on Danish school Sloyd. Different curricula focusing on craft were developed until 1999 when craft was re-established as a new technological subject, based on a rationale for technological literacy, innovation and design. The new subject, Design and Craft was influenced by the national curricula of New Zealand, Canada and England and a specific Icelandic model for Innovation Education. Design and Craft education is compulsory for all grades 1- 8 (ages 6-13), but optional for grades 9-10 (ages 14-15). In the new subject students base their idea generation and design on authentic problems and make their artefacts from resistant materials. The design systems were based on electronic circuits, mechanisms, pneumatics and structures. The article describes the establishment of Craft Education in Iceland, its development from 1918 to the present. Then it illustrates the curriculum change from Craft to Technology Education and the present situation.

Keywords: Technology education, pedagogy, Craft, Sloyd, Iceland, technology, Design and Craft, Innovation Education, national curriculum.

Gisli Thorsteinsson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland, in the Department of Design and Craft. At present, he is also a PhD student at Loughborough University, where he is exploring the values of using Virtual Learning Environment for ideation in general school education. Gisli has been the Chairman of the Association of Icelandic Industrial Arts Teachers since 1995 and is associated with the NST Coalition of Industrial Arts Teachers in Scandinavia. From 2000-2005 he was on the Board of ‘Nordfo’, the Pan Scandinavian co-operative researching art and design projects in Scandinavia. In 1999 he was involved in the National Curriculum development for technology education in Iceland and wrote the curriculum part for design and craft. Gisli has written numerous articles concerning design and craft education and has published several textbooks about innovation education.

Tom Page graduated in 1988 from Napier College, and then worked for Ferranti Defence Systems as a design engineer. In 1990, he returned to Napier as a Research Assistant and obtained an M.Phil. In 1992, he took up a teaching post in Computer-Aided Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire where was awarded a PhD in 2002. He has worked with the Open University. Tom is a Chartered Engineer with full membership of the Institution of Electrical Engineering (IEE) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Since May 2003, he has been teaching at Loughborough University. His research interests include learning technologies, electronics design and manufacture and logistics management. To date he has over 260 publications in these areas.

Brynjar Olafsson is a lecturer at the University of Iceland, department of Design and Craft. He has a MA degree in Education from the University of Iceland. His main area of research is Design and Crafts and the relevance of that subject in elementary school. Brynjar has been on the board of NordFo, Nordic Forum for research and development in Craft and Design, since 2005. He was also a chairman for the revision of the National Curriculum in Design and Crafts for the elementary school in 2007

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CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Gisli THORSTEINSSON, Tom PAGE, Brynjar OLAFSSON, Moving from Craft to Technology Education in Icelandic Schools, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 18 (4), pp. 370-378, 2009.

1. Introduction

Handicraft education became a part of general education in central Europe in the seventeenth century. The teaching was focused on practical skills and technology necessary to society (Kanonoja et al. 2000). The course content was based on using materials and skills to produce objects and artefacts. The students learned how to ‘work according to the rules’ and gained various skills needed for working life. Handicraft education brought together carefulness and perseverance with the growth of the whole personality.

The Icelandic Craft subject was established in the beginning of 1900. The pedagogy was based on a model for Danish school craft developed by Axel Mikkelsen in his Handicraft school in Copenhagen. The Danish school Sloyd was focused on bringing physical work in to harmony with spiritual aspects. The development of the capabilities of the individual as a whole person became the centre. Basic knowledge and skill were taught in the beginning to enable more advanced stages in the development of the individual.

Different curricula focusing on craft were developed until 1999 when craft was re-established as a new technological subject under the name Design and Craft. In 2007 Design and Craft was revised. The new subject was based on a rationale for technological literacy, innovation and design. Design and Craft is based on a rationale for craft education, technological literacy, innovation and Design. The main aim is to develop technological literacy in students and ideation skills. The infrastructure of Design and Craft is influenced by the national curriculum in New Zealand, Canada and England.

In the curriculum for Design and Craft influences from the importance of innovation can be seen in students’ design decision opportunities. Students’ originate their ideation on real-life problem-solving and design. This activity is connected to craft based making of artefacts from resistant materials and design systems based on electric/electronic circuits, mechanisms, pneumatics and structures. Technical skills and workshop management is an important part of the curriculum.

The boundaries between craft and technology education are sometimes not obvious. Although many changes have occurred though different curricula, craft pedagogy is still the basis of the Icelandic Design and Craft subject. However, the subject is also technologically based and focuses on idea generation.

Craft typically focuses on the individual and is based on making traditional artefacts, but in Design and Craft subject the focus is on solving real human needs and problems through ideation. Craft education also works more with individual needs whereas technological education develops solutions to solve common needs of people.

The new model for the Design and Craft subject is a relatively young in Iceland. However, it seems to have re-awakened the debate about craft as a part of general education. The initial pedagogical values are still valid but it is important to keep the subject up-to-date. Nevertheless, keeping the subject alive for the future will depend on constant re-evaluation of the content and on-going discussion about the pedagogical values. It is the hope of the authors that the development will continue with both aspects onboard, educational craft and technology education.

This article firstly describes the establishment of the craft subject and the curriculum development of craft education in Iceland from 1918 to the present. Secondly the authors describe the curriculum change from craft to technology education and the present situation. The pedagogical background of the new Icelandic Design and Craft subject is illustrated. Finally the author reflects on the pedagogical value of the past and present.

7. Discussion and Conclusion

Although many changes have occurred though different curricula, Craft pedagogy is still the basis of the Icelandic Design and Craft subject today. However, the subject is also technologically based and focuses on idea generation. Nevertheless, the boundaries between Craft and technology education are sometimes not obvious, but lie mostly in ideological issues. Craft typically focuses on the individual and is based on making traditional artefacts, but in Design and Craft subject the focus is on solving real human needs and problems through ideation. Craft education also works more with individual needs whereas technological education develops solutions to solve common needs of people (Kananoja, 1997), (see Figure 5).

The new model for the Design and Craft subject is a relatively young in Iceland. However, it seems to have re-awakened the debate about craft as a part of general education. The initial pedagogical values are still valid but it is important to keep the subject up-to-date. Nevertheless, keeping the subject alive for the future will depend on constant re-evaluation of the content and on-going discussion about the pedagogical values. It is the hope of the authors that the development will continue with both aspects onboard, educational craft and technology education.

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