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Technology Education NZ Conference - Marian Hobbs

1 October 2001 Hon Marian Hobbs Speech Notes

Technology Education NZ Conference, Wellington High School, Monday Oct 1, 9.00am

- This conference is timely. The Government is currently clarifying the direction New Zealand needs to follow. The Prime Minister spoke, in her post budget speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, of needing to develop prosperity alongside a sense of well being. At the end of this month, we will be releasing our decision on how we respond to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification - a new science alongside community trust or nervousness of the unknown.

- Technology education provides real opportunities for New Zealanders to take on the attributes expressed in Helen's speech. They can become more “innovative, creative, enterprising and wealth generating, as well as more collaborative and caring’.

- The third strand of the Technology Curriculum - the relationship between technology and society - is key to this vision. New Zealand students need to consider values, attitudes, beliefs of others and environmental consequences when developing technological solutions.

- A report from IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers), Royal Society of New Zealand and TENZ (Technology Education New Zealand), July 2001 claims that this focus on societal elements is one of the features that makes our curriculum unique. This report also states that this curriculum is considered to be so leading-edge that New Zealanders have made direct inputs into the development of curricula in USA, Hong Kong, South Africa, Finland, and Chile.

- New Zealand may have a world class curriculum, but its implementation involves many challenges, such as:

- Providing opportunities for our top students to be able enter traditional careers, such as engineering and new ones such as systems analysis

- Offering pathways through polytechnics for technicians and trades, such as plumbing

- Encouraging all students to achieve the level of technological literacy required living effectively in the 21st Century.

- Ensuring that we provide the same opportunities for Maori students so that they can participate in the global economy, while still retaining or regaining their language and culture. The implementation of the Hangarau (Maori technology) curriculum plays a key role in ensuring that we 'grow Maori technologists' who take into account Maori beliefs, values and traditions when developing technological solutions and making technological decisions.

- Many secondary schools have taken up technology enthusiastically. But issues with timetabling, staffing and resourcing remain to be resolved. With the implementation of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, there are new issues with assessing students in subjects that have not been taught this way before.

- Some feedback from the curriculum stocktake suggests that the technology curriculum should not be an independent curriculum statement, but interwoven across the other essential area statements. There is real difficulty in weaving across ELA's. Each ELA has some prime objectives, not shared with others. When you interweave you lose sight of those distinct objectives, If we are serious about positioning New Zealand to be a knowledge society then this is a very short-sighted view as technology education is at the heart of 21st Century schooling not at the margins.

- In both sectors teachers have seen the astonishing impact technology programmes can have on a wide range of students. The potential is there to challenge and stretch the most able and motivate the disengaged. I commend the teachers who have been teaching technology for a while to keep up the good work and continue to be excited and ground breaking in their classroom practice.

- The role of TENZ in the implementation and growth of high quality technology education in New Zealand has been critical to date. It will be essential in the foreseeable future. It is an extensive network of teachers and technologists, who are working together to grow technology education through conferences like this, the development of materials and professional development for teachers and the management of a website.

- In the past some of you may have heard me, speaking as a principal, critical of the manner in which the curriculum was introduced. I did not see evidence of the involvement and inclusion needed to get most teachers enthused - but with TENZ, there is the opportunity to connect with the teachers. Some examples of where engineers, technologists and architects have developed strong relationships with the educational community include:

- the development of the technology qualifications in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement

- the development of Pac-It, a resource for schools developed by the Packaging Council with Ministry for the Environment funding¡Xwearing another hat I helped launch it and this year at the awards I saw results of clever packaging that has implication s for waste minimisation and energy use (Cadbury chocolate eggs).

- a myriad of occasions when students and teachers have been engaged in visits, discussions and dialogue with technologists about their work interests and passions, through related organisations such as the IPENZ neighbourhood engineers and the CREST award scheme.

To conclude, technology is about change and the future, what might be or should be. To quote Bronowski 1973 in Kimbell and Perry, 2001.

“Among the multitude of animals that scamper, fly, burrow and swim around us, (humans) are the only ones not locked into their environment. Imagination, reason, emotional subtlety and toughness make us able to change the environment rather than just accept it.

(This derives) ¡Kfrom the ability to visualise the future, to foresee what may happen and plan to anticipate it, and to represent it to ourselves as images that we project and move about inside our head. Humans are not the most majestic of creatures, but we have what no other animal possess, a jigsaw of faculties which alone, over three thousand million years of life, make us creative.”

- This creativity is at the heart of technology education. But the third strand (relationship between technology and society) helps students visualise the effects of their proposed technologies on society (worldwide) and the global environment. By participating in this conference you have shown your commitment to technology education and your students. Participation and networking are part of evolving and developing as a teacher, and through these actions you are demonstrating that you are prepared to change and consider the future as true role models of technology education.

- You have a challenging and full three days ahead of you. May you and your students gain much benefit. And as you do think of a woman, who once concentrated on the arts and now is a minister who has to balance technology, environmental and social issues.


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