Discourses in Design Education: perspectives on design and the secondary school curriculum, 1988-2012
Prof Avril Loveless
The Design Archives at the University of Brighton contain records of the Design Council’s involvement with education initiatives during the years leading up to the introduction of the national curriculum, and after its implementation. Using this body of material, alongside other national archival repositories, my research explores the discourses of design education during the formative years of a national curriculum for schools. My involvement in this topic stems from a broader historical interest in how design is presented to children and young people; whether through the formal framework of a national education system, or through objects and structures, the material culture that forms part of their everyday life.
Towards the end of 1987, and in what was described as a ‘ground-breaking initiative’ the Design and Technology Working Group – an official committee formed by government to advise on the rationale underpinning school subjects- proposed an area of the curriculum that supported ‘the principles and practices of good design application, of theoretical knowledge and practical craft skills.’ (DES/WO 1987) However, as seen in recent years, ongoing government reform to the national curriculum framework continues to challenge the implementation of design-related programmes in schools. This research project looks to the past to gain insight into the present, and explores the history of design education in relation to secondary school subjects, tracing the agenda and activity of different groups involved in developing design-related educational policy and programmes. The thesis makes use of archival records, public reports and oral testimony to discuss the ambition, opportunities and obstacles these organisations faced in their attempt to justify and advance a schools-based design curriculum.
Research into this important period has so far evaded thorough critique through the disciplinary lens of design history, and locating the study within this scholarly field presents an opportunity to explore appropriations of design in the context of education, and according to the changing agenda of its professional custodians.
This research project is funded by a University of Brighton studentship.