Social change: How should technology education respond?

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Rapid social change creates a powerful challenge to individuals and educational institutions. Technology education is not an exception. To be a useful and authentic learning area, technology education should constantly re-examine its rationale in order to formulate responses to changing contexts to improve the quality of learning for students. The more perspectives used for this process, the better the results should be. This article explores several facets of social change that can influence an understanding of the aims and nature of technology education and that might contribute to its development. Social change is a very complex and dynamic phenomenon that can be considered from a variety of perspectives and is reflected in a number of processes. These processes are different in different types of societies. In relation to the topic, the following processes that are relevant to Western societies (it is acknowledged that for different type of societies, e.g. Islamic, Chinese, social context will be different) will be analyzed: (1) The shift of emphasis from engaging society members primarily as producers to engaging society members primarily as consumers; (2) The colonisation of the cognitive and moral spheres of human life by the aesthetic sphere; (3) The integration of people into the technological world and (4) The shift from the Welfare state to the Competition state. These processes have been identified on the basis of their potential influences on the development of technology education and, as a consequence, the students who study it. These processes are in tension which creates even greater challenges to technology education. Several implications of the above analysis in terms of conceptualizing technology education are discussed. It is suggested that social change can be addressed through technology education if the educational goals of it are 'to broaden minds and develop all pupils in the creation of a better society'. For technology education classrooms, these specifically mean the involvement of students in democratic debates on the future outlines of technological development; development of their social and ecological sensitivities; avoiding orienting their solutions exclusively to the standard of business efficiency and profitability criteria; helping them to distinguish real needs from desires; discussing the role of designed objects in the life of contemporary society; putting more emphasis on other than the aesthetic aspects of life that can provide existential meaning for people; challenging the way people are manipulated through advertising and cultivation of their desires; developing an active/creative attitude towards problems (not re-active); teaching students to formulate problems (not only being involved in problem solving); challenging consumer-oriented design; looking at design as one source of inspiration, not as a source of economic utility; and developing social responsibility. Copyright © 2005 Springer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-215
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


Pavlova, M. (2005). Social change: How should technology education respond? International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 15(3), 199-215. doi: 10.1007/s10798-004-5867-2


  • Cognitive
  • Identity formation
  • Moral and aesthetical aspects of design
  • Rationale for technology education
  • Social change
  • Work ethic


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