Teacher travels to US to improve Technology education

Press Release – Techlink

A DEDICATED teacher has gone that extra mile to improve Technology in New Zealand schools by flying to the USA to see how they do it.MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher travels thousands of miles to improve Technology education

A DEDICATED teacher has gone that extra mile to improve Technology in New Zealand schools by flying to the USA to see how they do it.

Kylie Merrick, Head of Fashion and Textiles Technology at Wellington High School, has just returned from the long haul trip to visit three New York high schools and a museum education programme in a bid to help improve Technology education back home.

Kylie, who has been a Technology teacher specialising in Fashion for 16 years, spent 17 days in the busy city with help from a Travel Scholarship from Wellington High School.

She explained: “It was a fantastic experience and the benefits from this visit are huge, from observing and working with colleagues from another hemisphere, to being inspired and developing connections with people in the same fields. I have developed connections with teachers who I will continue to work with. I worked in the schools in the mornings and then in the afternoon I was able to go and do touristy things, like seeing a Rangers game or going to Mood Fabrics, from Project Runway.”

Staying in Manhattan, Kylie visited two specialist technical schools – Fashion Industries High School (FIHS) and Art and Design High School (ADHS) – which focus on Technology subjects and have strong industry links. She also worked with Millennium High School, which flies high at the 13th floor of a skyscraper, and The Metropolitan Museum, which has a very strong educational department and offers Technology internships and programmes.

Kylie explained that unlike in New Zealand where subjects may cover a range of areas, the subjects in the USA are divided into separate classes, such as Architecture, Graphic Illustration, Cartooning and Fashion Manufacturing.

She said: “The way we teach our subjects in New Zealand helps prepare students with skills that help them become well-rounded, diverse and adaptable young people. My students have been hanging on every word I have been telling them about what I saw and did and what the work was like. Yes, the students I saw might have all had industrial sewing machines and mannequins, the latest Mac programs and photography equipment, but then they were not as able to think as laterally and make do and be creative with what they have as students can be here.

“We just can’t compete with the philanthropic aspects and the scholarships and community links they have in New York. Singer Tony Bennett has an arts scholarship where students get to work on an internship program with famous people and highly-recognised professionals. And Marc Jacobs donates the fabrics he doesn’t use to FIHS for students to use and works with them on product development projects.

“From my observations the New York students are, at times, on a vertical ladder and only do one aspect of a topic. Students in my classroom can go from screen-printing their own fabrics, to fashion illustration. The nature of the Technology Curriculum here is more diverse and allows for a more lateral undertaking.”

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