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    What does a fish know of water in which it swims all its life? What does a man know of nature of which he is an integral part? The ancient answer is: he knows and he knows not. (cited in Saraswati, 1995 (Ed) Man in Nature)


    The more I have learned in life, and I have learned a lot, the less confident I am in what I know. From this, I conclude that adamancy is a sign of ignorance. M. Ferguson 2010- Polymathica

Saturday, 27 March 2010

technacy: origins and future

Technacy (in Australia) was first coined during the late 1980's and first published in the full version of the Australian Macquarie Dictionary in around 1991. It was also the theme of a Paper published during 1995 in the United Nations Journal, 'Prospects'.

Seemann, K. W., & Talbot, R. (1995). Technacy: Towards a holistic understanding of technology teaching and learning among Aboriginal Australians. Prospects,, 25(4), 761-775.


Putting the word 'technacy' aside for a moment, its the theory behind the word 'technacy' where the power of the idea is to be found. What is also unique, is that it is not simply some 'made-up' word without any substance. If someone was to assume this they would be missing the point that the ideas behind 'technacy' are founded upon some fundamental theories of knowledge - that is; how we come to know something as 'technology'. see the following paper.

Seemann, K. (2003). Basic Principles in Holistic Technology Education. Journal of technology educaion, 14(2).


Understanding technacy effectively requires a shift in thinking and creation of new mental models of the world. These mental models are particularly enhanced through study of, and by using systems thinking in real-time technological activity.

The formation of the word itself was a response to a need to effectively communicate a powerful theoretical idea around technological activity.


The concepts of Technacy were developed and formalised by a group of innovative (in the real sense), researchers and educators working in central Australia. A need for a new word arose as there was no word that could effectively and succinctly convey the ideas that in all technological activity there are essential, minimum elements that are necessarily combined in a dynamic and systemic interaction. In particular was the problem of explicitly valuing the role of the environment in all technological action.

One particularly unique characteristic about techncay theory that distinguishes it from other nomenclature around technological capacity, is that it suggests the explicit role of eco-materials, as an essential interdependent part of any technological activity.

Why was there a problem?
Because, 1- what has been known in many indigenous cultures around the world for centuries, 2- has begun to be formalised into western sciences since the early 1900's, 3- and has been diffusing into the wider business and social world over the past decades; - has taken much, much longer to be adopted into common technology education discourse. The field that is supposed to study technology for the purpose of educating the next generation almost seems to be the last area of scholarly world to realise there is a problem. And its own activity is the source of the problem.

What is the problem?
Ignoring the systemic feedback effect from the environment. Much of western formal education (hence the resultant problem solving response of otherwise "educated" people) has largely been influenced by early industrialised methods, which was defined predominately by de-contextualised, reductionist and specialist thinking. While the industrial revolution has been fundamental to our relatively comfortable lives in the developed world, our "wealth" has come at a cost "whilst we were napping" - Global environmental damage.

Some have been arguing for a shift in thinking within technology education for some years; -even decades. However, there may be reason to assume there has been a failure to act on a new emerging world context in any substantive way. Although some of the activities that school students engage in have changed from production to design, and now finally the emergence of environmental education into technology education..... it may be that there has been no shift in thinking with regards to what actually constitutes an education in technology. Instead we see a continued defence of old ways of thinking simply expressed using different activities.

Some have predicted the demise of technology education as a discipline area in schools. If this was to occur it could be due to a failure in accepting the need to have leadership in changes in thinking, avoidance of letting go of the past ways of thinking, or worse, assuming we've changed without any fundamental difference; and therefore inaction toward a new future. There are theoretical reasons within innovation and general systems theories upon which to base this prediction- if the field has struggled to develop its intellectual (and social) capital. Below are some embedded videos that start to show the kinds of thinking that could have been introduced into technology education more than a decade ago- in some teacher education courses these ideas were introduced as core assessable knowledge. These graduates are poised to lead and shape the future of the subject if the window of opportunity has not already passed by.










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