Towards a taxonomy?

Ongoing thinking and research is leading me towards a taxonomy of materials and processes for designing and making in schools. With subjects such as D&T growing in breadth and detail, there is now more content (factual information) than can possibly be learned by pupils. With the www at our disposal, content is easy to access through the www so retention need not be an issue. What is harder, however, is selecting what is appropriate and how to manage that knowledge. In what ways is accessing practical knowledge (know how) different than accessing theoretical knowledge (knowing that)?

What would a taxonomy of practical knowledge look like? What is common about working with (processing) different materials? Consider this for starters:

Measuring – using measuring equipment – precision
Changing properties (chemical or physical change)
Cutting – straight – curved – holes / parts
Forming (retain original material)
Joining (retain original material)
Wasting – Shaping / trimming (removing material)
Combining (combining different materials)
Adding (addition of same material)

Language is critical here. Research could be undertaken across Engineering and product design to see what categories are used and if they help.


About Mike Martin

Teacher educator based at Liverpol John Moores University in the UK. Researching subject knowledge of pre-service teachers.
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