Yes we’re good at designing and make stuff, but can you write about it?

Published 16th December 2019

Written by: Andy Mitchell

I certainly don’t consider myself to be good at writing but the other day I was embarrassed to be complimented on something I’d produced. I responded by saying that’s it’s less than one’s ability to write and more one’s ability to read and reflect on the writings of others that is important.  For that is essential to inform the thinking that underpins what you in turn write yourself. Without doing the former, one is less likely to produce anything of much worth at all - unless unlike me you are particularly gifted. 

D&T has a considerable literature supporting it.  That said it needs more and the problem is, these days there are less people teaching the subject or involved in peripheral positions such as teacher education.  Consequently, there are people available to write about it.  That is anything more short pieces on blogs and in social media such as this. The days when the English Department for Education financially supported teachers and encourage them to complete action research projects are long gone. Remember Best Practice Research initiative earlier this century?

Embarking on even a small action research project carried out in school can for many be a daunting task. However,  simply writing a description about interesting things you and your students are you are doing in D&T, how your department is thinking about the subject’s development and what plans are being made for its future well-being in your school, can make for interesting reading by others in similar situations.  All the better of course if you can substantiate it with illustrations of current students work and activities that you are undertaking.  That might include curriculum resources you have written, it might be the teaching environments you have planned and constructed, or it might be a description of how are you have set up a new course or qualification to meet changes in requirements.

But what can you do with that piece when you’ve written it? What purpose does it serve? More importantly where can you make sure it can be accessed and seen by as many others as possible. Wonderful though social media is, in my opinion actually having something published and printed still has value. That value can extend to your own school - headteachers for example, love it when positive things are published about the institution they lead. This can only be good for your department and of course you.

In my time at the D&T Association I supported many teachers writing interesting articles about what they were doing in school simply by asking questions and offering suggestions - often simply to increase clarity. The need for these features in the D&T Association’s magazines is greater than ever before. It is vital that we are able to exemplify good D&T practice, where it is happening and how when it is supported, the positive effect it is having on young people’s education. And it’s really not that difficult to do. Every one of us will have an idea for something we could write about,  

something that we are passionate about and want to share with others. So why not set out briefly what that is and send it as a proposal to Willy Adam, Editor of the D&T Association D&T Practice and Designing magazines. These are published three times a year and reach an estimated 14,000 readers.

That’s just one way to support the subject, not just in your own school but nationally even internationally. In the light of the significant challenges D&T faces, it needs all the help it can get, both from outside the community but importantly from within it.  Shouting about what we do, helps not just those who understand it already but crucially gives them something in print to refer other to.

So maybe don’t write it, over the Christmas break. Reserve that for having much-needed fun and spending time with your family. But in those quieter moments, at least consider what I’m suggesting and ask yourself, what could I write a brief piece about that would be of interest to teachers outside of my own school?

The other thing to do of course is get a dog. I do a lot of thinking and write a lot of my thoughts in my head while on dog walks. The trouble is increasingly I’m finding it more and more difficult to remember what I put! I quite like the idea though, that Bob, is in a small way responsible for my very meagre remaining contribution to the subject. 

comments powered by Disqus
Back to Blog