Petrina, S. (1998). Multidisciplinary Technology Education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 8, 103-138.
Petrina, S. (2004). The politics of curriculum and instructional design/theory/form: Critical problems, projects, units and modules. Interchange 35(1), 81-126.
Though I don’t agree fully with the multidisciplinary technology education curriculum Petrina (1998) lays out, I do feel the same intense desire to fundamentally change the curricular structure of our educational system. However, in a defeatist mindset, as I read the article I thought only of how he was pipe-dreaming because it would be impossible to make sure large scale changes. It’s truly impressive to see such a large scale initiative moving forward.
I will focus on the major reservations I had about Petrina’s (1998) multidisciplinary technology education curriculum as it started to dissolve into his own view of the world. This was surprising to me as I had also read Petrina (2004) and knew him to hold suspect those who wish to force singular worldviews on others. Though I appreciate and actually agree with Petrina’s final vision of personal responsibility, I think his approach is a better model for a class on being a “simple,” “frugal,” “modest,” “socially-active” “Marxist” than as an underlying curriculum for all multidisciplinary technology education. I have had to reconcile my leftist leaning self with the reality that those who see the world as an essentially competitive environment are not necessarily wrong, nor are they non-reflective thinkers. What if training an entire generation of children to be nurturers only left them completely vulnerable to those who act with force? Does it seem feasible that the competition, greed and violence tied to some survival instincts can be trained away with the right curriculum?
Petrina’s (1998) article reminded me of my days as a 20 year old Freshman Composition teacher at Auburn University: new to the exhilarating feelings of liberation that come from a paradigm shift, like a feminist evangelist, I filled my English 101 curriculum with lessons designed to have students encounter the other, question assumptions, and, eventually, reveal the gender inequities of the current system. Later, I questioned my right to bring my personal political point of view into the classroom. As an instructional designer, Petrina (2004) seems to think I might skip straight to the process and delivery of the course and ignore the political implications of curriculum and content. In his own outline for process and delivery, Petrina (1998) clearly leans toward not only considering political implications but forcefully pushing a particular agenda.
I very much appreciated the education in curriculum theory history Petrina (2004) provided and believe the type of critical thinking and engaged learning that Petrina (1998) proposes in his curriculum is a great start towards an improved educational system. I would just like to see that model opened up to value individual differences and the complexity of human nature.