Design, innovate, create…

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By Gill HopeSenior Lecturer in design and technology, Canterbury Christ Church University College

When teachers talk about the creative curriculum, design and technology is often left out. And yet creativity and innovation is what D&T is all about!

children looking at project

Children will be more innovative and creative in design if they are given plenty of opportunities to discuss their ideas with others

So where does creativity fit into D&T – and what it the true meaning of ‘design’? The scenario on the right may be a fictional one but many teachers share these rather fuzzy views. Mrs Near-Retirement makes an important point: making models in history and geography is NOT the same as designing, and such activities often have very low levels of child choice or design opportunities. The final words of the mission statement for design and technology in the National Curriculum are ‘to be innovators’ – and the idea behind splitting D&T activities into Focused Practical Tasks (FPTs) and Design and Make Assignments (DMAs) in the QCA Scheme of Work is to give children sufficient knowledge, skills and understanding of materials, tools and techniques to be innovative in their designing.

When planning D&T activities, ask yourself the question: ‘What are the children designing?’ If the only choices they make are which hieroglyph to put on their slippers, then the opportunities for creativity and innovation are minimal. Children need to learn specific skills and techniques (as FPTs) but then need to be given the freedom to use their imagination to create quality products. For example, before making puppets, children can practise sewing on some scrap felt. As they learn to sew and become confident with a needle, they can also begin to think about the design of their puppets. Giving children the chance to learn and practise skills enables them to make informed design choices.

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