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Council of the National Academy of Engineering
April 6, 2000
The United States depends on technology to maintain the health of its citizens, the safety of its borders, the strength of its economy, and the smooth functioning of its government. Despite this dependence, U.S. society is largely ignorant of the nature, history, and processes of technology. The result is a public that is disengaged from the very decisions that are shaping our technological future.
This lack of technological literacy is of great concern. It both limits the range of opportunities available to individuals and increases the chances that we are assessing incompletely the potential benefits, as well as the potential risks, of technological development.
People gain an understanding of technology in a variety of ways, including through formal coursework in school. Carefully developed educational standards, such as Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology, are a key tool for creating lasting, systemic educational improvement. These standards, developed by the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), suggest what all K-12 students should know and be able to do regarding technology. The standards represent an important step in developing technological literacy.
The standards are not a blueprint for developing new, stand-alone courses. In fact, much of the content of technology will need to be integrated across the existing curriculum - in math, science, social studies, language arts, art, music, and other subject areas. Nor are the standards meant to be the last word on technology education. Rather, they should be thought of as a living document subject to periodic reevaluation and revision.
The ITEA standards have undergone a lengthy development process, including a careful review by committees of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council.
The Council of the National Academy of Engineering strongly supports the Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology and urges their implementation.
For additional information please contact Greg Pearson at 202-334-2282.