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An Analysis of the Technology Education Curriculum of Six Countries

An Analysis of the Technology Education Curriculum of Six Countries


In Australia, technology is one of eight subject areas studied in schools. Technology is divided into four content areas, called strands: designing, making, and appraising; information; materials; systems. The strands are considered to be interrelated and are the basis for curriculum monitoring, revision, and reform.

Rationale and Content

The curriculum is based upon the rationale that people face technology everyday and therefore they must learn about it.

National Goals

The overall goal is to respond to the current and emerging economic and social needs of the nation and to provide those skills which will allow students maximum flexibility and adaptability in their future employment and other aspects of life. This includes the development in the student of:

· Skills of analyzing and problem solving

· Skills of information-processing and computing

· An understanding of the role of science and technology in society, together with development of scientific and technological skills

· An understanding of and concern for a balanced development of the global environment

· A capacity to exercise judgment in matters of morality, ethics, and social justice

The Importance of Technology

Through the study of technology, people will become more innovative, knowledgeable, skillful, adaptable and enterprising. This will enable people to:

  • respond critically and resourcefully to challenges
  • devise creative ways of generating and applying ideas
  • translate ideas into worthwhile outcomes
  • find innovative solutions to community needs
  • focus on the design of techniques and products
  • deal with uncertainty in an informed way
  • cooperate in flexible teams
  • appreciate cultural differences
  • learn throughout their lives
  • use local, national, regional, and international networks

Implementation Goals

Technology is to be included as one of eight broad areas of study:

· the arts

· English

· health and physical education

· languages other than English

· mathematics

· science

· society and environment

· technology

The theory and practice of technology are integrated. Study is to be interdisciplinary. Technology involves the development and application of ideas and principles from other areas of learning such as the applied sciences, engineering, and business and commerce.

Technology should be studied by both girls and boys during the compulsory years of schooling (years 1-10). Secondary school programs are more specialized, often leading to discrete programs as students progress toward year twelve. In upper secondary years, many technology programs focus on further education and life and work outside school.

Other Observations

Technology programs can be structured and delivered either as discrete programs or combined with other areas of learning. Technology programs in primary schools give students a broad foundation for further learning. They are taught by classroom teachers, sometimes in association with specialists or resource people, with varying allocations of time to allow different activities.


The National Curriculum in England was revised in 2000 and became statutory over a three-year period. Compulsory schooling is divided into four Key Stages. Key Stage One (grades 1-2, ages 5-7) and Key Stage Two (grades 3-6, ages 8-11) concentrate on English, mathematics, science, design and technology, information and communication technology (ICT), history, geography, art and design, music, and physical education. In Key Stage Three (grades7-9, ages 11-14) and Key Stage Four (grades 10-11, ages 14-16), citizenship and modern languages are added, with one language required.

Rationale and Content

The overall rationale for design and technology education is the need to prepare pupils to participate in tomorrow's rapidly changing technologies. Through technology education they learn to think and intervene creatively to improve the quality of life. They become autonomous and creative problem solvers, as individuals and as members of a team. Through needs, desires, and opportunities they develop a range of ideas in order to design and make products and systems. They combine practical skills, aesthetics, social and environmental issues, and reflect on and evaluate present and past design and technology, its uses and effects. Through design and technology they become innovators and discriminating and informed users of products. Specifically, pupils should be taught to:

· develop, plan, and communicate ideas

· work with tools, equipment, materials, and components to make quality products

· evaluate processes and products

· know and understand materials and components

The specific objectives become more demanding with each higher Key Stage. At Key Stage Four one more objective is added: to know and understand systems and control.

Implementation Goals

Technology is one of the core subjects in the schools and is to be studied by both girls and boys. A national examination is required, resulting in a General Certificate of Education upon completion of compulsory education. Technology education is to be integrated where convenient, for instance with the arts, mathematics, and science.

Other Observations

There are nine attainment levels that become hierarchically more difficult. Very specific information on the quality of pupils' performance is included. The specifications for the ninth level are very rigorous.


Technology education is a compulsory subject for the four years of the junior secondary level (ages 11-15). At the time of the study, there is a detailed curriculum only for class levels six (11-12 years, adaptation level), five (12-13 years, first central level), four (13-14 years, second central level) and three (14- 15 years, orientation level). A specific plan was not in place at the primary level.

Rationale and Content

Technology education aims to clarify the interconnections among work, products, and human needs, and the effects of technology on society and culture. When studying technology, pupils must face concrete situations requiring application of know-how and implementation of skills. These skills are enriched during the study process. Specifically, technology education gives pupils an opportunity to:

· become acquainted with technical systems, their implementation and use

· learn to use the correct language of the discipline

· become acquainted with the special methods of technology, where a variety of solutions can be found for a specific problem

· learn how to use developed expertise in different situations to solve a problem

· use equipment and control systems in a rational way, by following safety precautions and the laws of ergonomics

· observe development, different means of production, and different technical solutions to a similar technical problem

· observe and build connections between the schools and enterprise

· take a critical stand and participate in the technological world without emotional obstacles

In primary schools, simple mechanisms, electric plans, energy production, and production in general are studied. Students engage in small projects, particularly those using computers. In secondary schools, production, marketing, needs analysis, and professions in production and service are covered. Experience with applications of CAD/CAM is also included.

Implementation Goals

Integration with the French language is considered particularly important. This includes terminology, word processing, critique of commercials, and wise consumerism. Relationships among the French language, science, and social studies, with considerable emphasis on computing, are stressed. The time devoted to the study of technology range from 90 to 120 minutes per week. Technology education is to be studied by both girls and boys.

Other Observations

Technology education is taught by class teachers at primary level and subject teachers at secondary school level. The aim is to use three-fifths of the total study time for hands-on activities or learning by doing. Technology studies must continue from primary school to secondary school without any gaps in the coverage of topics.


The Technology Action Plan for The Netherlands was implemented during the years 1993 to 1997 for primary schools (pupils aged 4 to 12). Financed jointly by the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science, and Economic Affairs, the purpose was to stimulate attention to technology within and outside primary schools. Importance is given to combining thinking with doing.

In the Netherlands, all pupils go to the comprehensive school, "Basisvorming," until the age of 15 or 16. After national debates of what the content of basic education should be, the present curriculum was published in 1998. There are at least 15 subject areas to be studied, with one of them being technology. There are five general objectives to be achieved within all the subject areas:

  • working on interdisciplinary themes
  • learning to carry out a plan and task
  • learning to learn
  • learning to communicate
  • learning to reflect on the learning process and the future

Technology is studied from three different perspectives:

  • technology and society
  • technical products and systems
  • designing and making products

Rationale and Content

The overall purpose of the technology education curriculum is to enable the students to:

· become familiar with those aspects of technology that are significant to an understanding of culture, to the way in which pupils function in society, and to the development of pupils' technical abilities

· acquire knowledge and understanding of the function of technology and its close relationship with natural sciences and society

· become actively involved in applications of technology

· learn to design and develop solutions for human needs

· learn how to use a number of technological products in a safe manner

· be given the opportunity to explore their abilities and interests in technology

The specific objectives are organized under the headings of technology and society, technical products and systems, and the design and making of products.

Implementation Goals

Technology education curriculum should offer equal opportunities and appeal to both boys and girls. At the primary level it is not a separate subject area, but is integrated with crafts, arts, and natural sciences. At the secondary level it is a subject area of its own, but it is also integrated with mathematics, science, and social studies. In the first and second years of secondary technology, it is studied for two teaching hours per week. At the secondary level, 180 teaching hours are allocated to technology education.

Other Observations

National tests are given upon completion of the secondary school program.


In Sweden, the equivalent to technology education is called "teknik" (technics). According to the national curriculum of 1994, technology education aims to develop in pupils an understanding of the essence of technics, particularly, an understanding of the impact of technology on production, society, physical environment, and living conditions. Technical expertise becomes an important prerequisite for the control and use of technology.

Pupils are expected to achieve basic technical competence (grundläggande teknisk kompetens). This competence results from gaining knowledge of the role of technical development, historical perspective, and reflection on the solution of technical problems. In addition, there is need to develop an ability to analyze and value the relationships among human beings teamwork in the context of society, technics, and nature. Students are to understand the way technics is used and its effects on the environment. A number of ethical questions dealing with basic values are also addressed.

Rationale and Content

The primary objectives of the study of technology education in Sweden are to:

· study the history and development of technical culture, and the effects of technics on people, society, and nature

· develop an awareness of the technics in the world around the student

· reflect upon and evaluate the effects of choices of different technics on human beings, society, and nature

· update technical knowledge of the structure and use of technics for practical situations

· have a positive interest in technics and confidence in their own abilities to solve technical problems

The objectives to be achieved are stated in such a way that they describe what pupils should have learned by the end of grades five and nine. Meeting these objectives provides a basis for making choices about careers and further education.

The primary teaching methods emphasize practical work and exploration. Students are to be engaged in doing tests and observing results, planning, constructing, and evaluation.

Implementation Goals

Technics is to be studied at both the primary and junior secondary levels. It should be integrated with history, science, and social studies, and offered equally to girls and boys. The study of technics:

· should promote development of perspective regarding the effects of technics on individuals, society, and nature from a historical and international point of view

· should illustrate interaction among humans, technics, and nature

· should convey that the purpose of technics is to alter, store, and control

· should present a component - system point of view

· should include construction experiences in a workshop environment for the identification and solution of problems

Other Observations

The curriculum documents indicate a belief that the technical culture is mainly based on the tradition of know-how that has been achieved through practical work. Current technological development is based more on scientific research and systematic development than has been true in the past and this should be reflected in the school curriculum.

United States

In the United States, there are national standards for various core subjects. At the time of the study, standards existed for English, language arts, geography, music, art, social studies, foreign languages, mathematics (curriculum and evaluation standards were approved as early as 1989), and science (national standards were approved in 1996). The most recent subject for which standards were developed is technology education. They were approved at the beginning of the year 2000. The Technology for All Americans Project has been engaged for the past several years in research and development for technology education. In 1996, an initial statement and policy document called Technology for All Americans: A Rationale and Structure for the Study of Technology was published. This publication provided the basis for technology education in the United States and became the philosophical foundation for the Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology. These two documents are intended for state and local curriculum planning.

Rationale and Content

The principal rationale for technology education in the United States is that every citizen should be technologically literate and, thereby, is able to use, manage, and understand technology. Technology is defined as human innovation in action. The framework for technology education is based on the universals of technology. These universals are considered to be significant and timeless, even in an era dominated by uncertainty and accelerated change. At the time this study was started, the universals were comprised of knowledge, processes, and contexts. Though these universals changed with the release of the final version of the Standards, they nonetheless represent the initial philosophy.

Implementation Goals

· technology should be integrated as one of the core subjects from kindergarten to junior and senior high schools, and even beyond

· technology education can be integrated with other school subjects, especially with science and mathematics

· technology should be compulsory at every study level, for girls as well as boys

· local conditions, aspirations of individuals, career goals, and abilities should influence the development of the curriculum for technological literacy

· the ultimate goal is to realize technological literacy for all

Other Observations

The Standards for Technological Literacy underwent an extensive review and consensus-building process that extended over a lengthy period of time. The National Academy of Engineers and the National Research Council, very influential and important organizations, were closely involved in the development of the Standards.

Summary of the Curricula of the Six Countries

The curriculum documents of the six countries vary significantly. On the one hand are lehrplan-type documents (from the German word for curriculum) that provide very specific details of what should be taught and how it should be taught (used in Australia and England). On the other hand are curriculum standards-type documents that specify the goals that should be met, but do not specify the actual curriculum (used in Sweden and the United States). Standardstype documents are more general and allow a great deal of flexibility. France and the Netherlands use guidelines that are combinations of the two types, having a standards-type emphasis but with many lehrplan-type components. All of the documents described above were published relatively recently. The curriculum documents of Australia and Sweden are the oldest, dating back to 1994. The curriculum for lower-level classes in France is from 1995 and the curriculum for upper-level classes from 1997. The attainment targets of the Netherlands were revised in 1998 and 1999. In England, the curriculum was revised in the year 2000. The curriculum standards for technology education in the United States were published most recently (2000).

According to the technology education curricula of the six countries studied, technology should be studied by both girls and boys. In all of the curricula the importance of studying the effects of technology on society are emphasized, and Sweden particularly emphasizes the importance of the history of technology. France is the only country that does not directly refer to studies of the relationship between technology and the environment. In all the countries, learning how to plan, produce, and evaluate is emphasized. The ability to tolerate uncertainty is included in the curricula of Australia and the United States. In the Australian curriculum the importance of life-long learning and learning of innovative skills is clearly a focus.

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