Book recalls time of great change in industrial arts

Brett Bertalli
Country Organiser

One of the interesting archival photographs from the book

Federation hosted a book presentation showcasing the work of industrial arts teachers who documented a time of much change in education in the 1970s-90s.

The book, Industrial Arts Teaching Recollections 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the work of the Industrial Arts Recollections Project (IARP), is a compendium of events of the period and a history of the subject area. Coordinators of the Project, together with several teachers who were interviewed for the book, attended the presentation presided over by Federation Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire.

Retired and currently working teachers, head teachers, deputies, principals, inspectors, consultants, lecturers and a regional director whose combined experiences covered every region in the state were interviewed about their recollections and involvement in teaching and curriculum and professional development in Industrial Arts Education in NSW spanning some 30 years during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Arch Park, one of the project coordinators, gave a short address reflecting on the era when the teachers and leaders of industrial arts collaborated so effectively to develop curriculum and introduce equipment and materials considered crucial to emerging student needs.

“The time covered was one of change and reform,” Arch said. “The Wyndham Scheme had arrived and with it the School Certificate, the HSC, extended school years from 5th Year (Year 11) to Year 12, greater retention rates, electives, new schools and new school designs, in-service courses, changing curriculum demands, staffing pressures, etc.

“In industrial arts, new subjects were introduced: technics in Years 7 to 10 and engineering science in Years 11 and 12. At a later date technics underwent serious revision and industrial technology, a teacher-created and developed two-unit HSC subject, arrived.

“These events acted as a catalyst in establishing a new level of professionalism as it gathered industrial arts teachers in a new form of inclusiveness. The book captures those times and is alive with description, information and ideas, and most importantly, the enjoyment of having had the privilege of teaching in the schools of this state.”

Ms Lemaire received the book, published by the Institute of Industrial Arts Technology Education, and spoke about the importance of several campaigns run during that time and the significance of teacher involvement and inclusive leadership in owning curriculum development.

Mick Eccleston, past Chairperson for the Industrial Arts Special Interest Group, recalled the very successful IA class sizes campaign of the late 1970s. “We had a mass meeting of IA teachers in at Federation when the decision was made on a maximum practical class size of 20,” he said.

“We had a number of very good people who were excellent in putting forward evidence to a full hearing of the Industrial Relations Commission.

“While we were in pursuit of a class size ‘maximum’ of 20, an agreement was eventually reached between the Federation and the Department that ‘No class need exceed 20’ — a determination that remains to this day.”

The book of recollections is now catalogued in Federation Library and available for all members to borrow and enjoy the reflections of teachers working collaboratively to advance Industrial Arts during those roaring days.

Brett Bertalli is the Organiser attached to the Industrial Arts Special Interest Group