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Guest post: Restarting Design and Technology

This is guest post by Steve Parkinson, co-founder of Teach Design.

A huge issue with education is the missed opportunity to be able to connect with industry, something I refer to as the ‘real world’.

Having worked in Design & Technology and Engineering education for nearly 10 years, there seems to be a tendency for schools to do ‘school-like things’ which are not truly representative of what really happens out there. Having done a lot of work about this in my recent thesis, this missed opportunity is one of the major factors hindering a modern Design & Technology and Engineering curriculum.

It’s amazing to be collaborating with the Restart Project in what looks to an exciting opportunity for Teach Design and UK D&T teachers. The collaboration not only connects the ‘real world’ with education, but also acts as a conduit for one of the most important issues presenting design and manufacturing on a global scale.

The Circular Economy is an opportunity for education and industry. Working with the Restart Project is going to make this opportunity accessible to more people both in industry and education though the creation of high quality teaching resources over the next academic year.

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Our first meeting brought us together at the Restart Project’s HQ in London. When me, Louise, Jon, Jim, Ed, John, Annette, Al and Will met Janet for the first time, you could tell this was going to be something special.

Starting with a teardown workshop, it was important to explore existing products to discover the materials, design strategies and design secrets.

Unpicking ‘poor design’ is the staring point for thinking about re-design.

How do we re-design products so they are easier to maintain, repair, remanufacture and recycle? These questions bring key strategies for designing for a circular economy to the forefront including designing for disassembly and systems thinking.

The workshop was an eye-opener and our hand-selected teachers from the Teach Design Foresight Group were without doubt enthused and amazed. What an opportunity to be working with the Restart Project to produce resource that will disseminate and teach thousands of pupils to design out waste. We are looking forward to the next year!

Teach Design is an initiative aiming to improve and modernise Design and Technology and Engineering education throughout the UK. The Foresight Group is made up of D&T teachers who applied to be part of a group contributing toward the Teach Design mission statement. The Foresight Group is funded by the James Dyson Foundation.

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