Back to school: How the updated design and technology curriculum educates students for life


One of the tasks of the class I was given focused on such technology: Design a wooden coin bank using the Sketchbook application. The project was anchored on the topic of wildlife conservation, so our coin banks were painted to look like endangered animals.

To sketch our coin bank, we will need to use “shape-taking techniques” as well as “pads” to create a 3D rendered representation of our coin bank. I hoped I had made the right choice to draw an elephant, as the outline of the animal was not too complicated.

While the activity seemed like something I could do in school, the key difference was that I couldn’t do it with colored pencils and a sketchbook. After trying to sketch on an iPad before, I was nervous. The absence of “friction”, usually present in a pencil against paper, requires some familiarity.

As Mdm Elsie Cheng, Head of Crafts and Technology at Edgefield Secondary School, went through the steps of creating an initial sketch, I watched my classmates seamlessly switch from one app to another as they used tools in the Sketchbook app to create remarkably professional sketches. .

In the meantime, I figured out how to adjust the thickness of my brush. Eventually, I also learned how to draw a perfectly straight or curved line with the ruler tool and transform my 2D elephant sketch into 3D. But my sense of pride evaporated when Ms. Cheng instructed us to draw our sketch.

Somewhere between using an airbrush to color the sketch and tracing my contour with a thicker brush, my elephant looked sicker than a designer. In comparison, the sample images of Mdm Cheng projected on the screen could come directly from a Pixar movie. There was no way anyone could reach them in the remaining 30 minutes of the hour, I thought.

A few minutes later I found people who could. My classmates, including Deon, created “rough” sketches that could easily provide them with animation work. I later learned that they were painting on the iPad for the first time.


An hour later, my classmate Maritztella de Guzmán told me that she found the task “really challenging” because “she’s not very good at art.”

She said her class had completed a similar task in an average of 1 – on pen and paper. Still, despite the challenge of “trying and translating what you learned from last year,” she felt she could better express what she wanted to draw now because the Sketchbook app provides more tools.

Similarly, another classmate, Tessa Tay, said she learned resilience from trying to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. She and her classmates “endured and succeeded and we manage to do what our teacher instructed us to do.”

Mdm Cheng, who has been teaching D&T for 18 years, assured me that D&T’s goal is “not to become (students) a designer”. It’s more like thinking like a designer; to learn to apply the “framework of design thinking”.

“It’s a way of framing … the way you think. You can also show empathy for consumers. Because in order to understand the problem, you actually have to go to the consumer to find out what (the problem) is about, “she said.

“It simply came to our notice then. You, the journalist, come to class to test, to have a better (understanding) of what D&T is and what changes we have made over the years. ”

It made sense. If I hadn’t joined a high school class, I wouldn’t be able to write authentically about the changes in the D&T curriculum. Like design thinking, the decision to understand today’s curriculum required being put in the user’s shoes.

Or in this case their classroom.

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