I thought it could be useful to start a list of frustrations that people are feeling - a place to vent so that we can all share in it (and perhaps suggest links to useful places to sublimate the frustration…)
A common frustration that I’m hearing is: “How can we engage with a syllabus that has a 25% external exam when we don’t even know what the exam will look like”
I was initially really excited about the new Design syllabus because I have been trying to develop Design thinking, divergent creativity and problem-solving for a number of years, but have constantly been hitting my head against the wall of ‘manual arts’ paradigm.
Over two years, I have built up a department where we are doing exactly what is being done for the Design Syllabus - except that we are actually putting the solutions into action.
This year, I have handed over my Year 11 Design class to another teacher, am winding down the Technology Studies Syllabus with Year 12, and am stepping aside from teaching Senior School because I don’t want to be associated with the Design Syllabus. I will be teaching Design and Technology until I have figured out whether I will move interstate to teach, move overseas to teach or move back into a Design field. The big kicker for me came when one of my students said “You’ve taken the one subject I love and turned into the subject I hate most”. Here are some of the reasons I’ve fallen out of love with it:
We are at a small private school, and our parent body are asking what value this has in the real world, it is already being considered valueless.
We are losing students who love solving problems and following them through
Children take new materials, technologies, techniques that we show them and this piques their creativity, leading them to explore new avenues, and come up with creative uses
We are gaining students who have no interest in design, but who love drawing, and see art as too hard because of the Art Theory and Art History components.
We are doing the same thing in year 9 that we are doing in the new Design Syllabus, except that in year 9, we follow it through.
I don’t see how the current Design Syllabus challenges attention to detail.
It is essentially art and craft club.
It discriminates against those who love creating with their hands, basically saying that they have no intellectual routes to follow, but need to become tradies. I have two qualifications, love making things, exploring new materials, and new techniques. If I had been educated in Queensland now, I would have not been able to do this.
The teacher who is taking over refuses to let the students make anything because he lacks the skills and doesn’t want to learn them.
Some schools are looking at stripping budgets which will have a ripple effect on the Design and Technology subjects abilities.
The left brainers, especially in the management of schools see only the outcomes, not the processes, so they are happy that we just tick the boxes and move on…enough is good enough. Anyone who has ever worked/studied design knows that designers seek perfection through an iterative process. If that is all the QCAA wants, that is what we will produce.
I have a family friend who is in management of an international corporation that has over 45 000 employees worldwide, and he was saying that here in Australia, we have an abundance of people who can come up with ideas, but have no idea about how to implement them. And this, I believe is the major shortcoming of this course.
Having looked at the new syllabus from the rest of the states, we are the only ones not following through on our ideas. The International Baccalaureate follows through, and so does the GCSE in the UK. Now that we have gone down that route, there is no turning back, no ability to reinstate any form of maker culture, awareness of manufacturing, etc. I suspect that there is a political motive too; perhaps the cost of training new teachers; teachers not prepared to take the risks; teachers not prepared to give up control of the workshops/prototyping labs etc; savings in materials, tools and equipment. Take your pick!
Hopefully, others are having a more positive experience.
It sounds like what you have been doing over the last two years (bringing design into manual arts) has been a really good program.
I’m aware that you’re actually teaching in high school and I’m not but I just wanted to share my thoughts in response, with the disclaimer that what I think really doesn’t carry much weight here.
Looking at my first year design students at uni (I teach interaction design) and what they need to know to become designers, I believe that the Design Syllabus as it stands does have a lot of real world value. I wish my students came into uni already having the skills and mindsets that are in this syllabus, because I feel that they will need them whether they want to pursue design in uni or in the industry.
Having said that, my opinion matters far less than the opinions of teachers (who make the subject possible), students (who choose whether to take Design) and parents (who influence students). These opinions truly matter.
My great hope is that Design will be seen as its own subject area rather than where it sits in comparison to manual arts. For me the thought experiment is “if this subject had been brought in and the previous subjects that you mention had been kept, how many of these objections would remain?” because there are two separate issues here: one is about the quality of the Design Syllabus, and the other is about which subjects students should be offered.
I think that these are truly significant issues and this challenges my optimism about how schools are choosing to enact the Design Syllabus. I hope that the @QCAA reads your post and has some ideas about how to address them. I know that in some schools they are really treating the subject with rigor–making sure that the teachers taking over are enthusiastic, with (high level) skills for making finished products in at least one design discipline and with a real commitment to inspiring students to go into design beyond their school level.
Your point about the fact that schools and students will become good at producing what is assessed stands.
I do hope that there is some kind of review process after the first year goes through the whole subject, to see if the assessments align well with the kinds of outcomes from this Syllabus that are desired.
I hope that others in this community have something to offer this thread as I feel that there are some Big Issues here, and it’s good if they are discussed directly.