An investigation into the relationship between design thinking and skilled knowledge in craft education

  • Maho Sato

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research is about craft education in schools in England and Japan. In the specialist literature, skilled knowledge has always been identified as the main outcome of craft learning in schools, but contemporary rationales for craft education include fostering children’s design thinking understood as a process of developing creative ideas. At the time this research began in 2005, Japanese government policy for craft education emphasized creative problem solving and designing together with making skills. However, developing design ideas and skilled knowledge may be conflicting aims. There was very little guidance for Japanese craft teachers about how to teach creative thinking and more theoretical discussion about design in England. So I studied how design thinking is taught in England with a view to this contributing to craft education in Japan. The research method was qualitative and comparative. In the first phase, analysis of policy documents for Art & Design and Design & Technology and fieldwork in three primary and five secondary schools was conducted in England. In the second phase, policy documents for Art & Handicraft, Art, Home Economics and Technology & Home Economics were analysed and fieldwork was conducted in the first two subjects in seven primary and six secondary schools in Japan. Then the findings were compared and analysed qualitatively. This research confirmed that skilled knowledge is central to craft education in schools in both countries. There was a significant influence of school subject domains on how crafts were taught in class. The lack of any specification for thinking skills in the learning domains for craft education in Japan may explain why there is less emphasis on teaching design thinking than in England. I concluded that it is possible to teach design thinking and skilled knowledge successfully together in craft projects. However, it is difficult to apply this in practice in school contexts because they often lack relevant staff expertise, time and authentic materials and tools. At the end of the thesis possible ways of teaching design thinking and skilled knowledge together are suggested in the form of a domain model of art curriculum and an interactive design process model. Some strategies for teaching design thinking identified in England could provide a basis for future curriculum development in Japan.
Date of Award2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorDorothy Bedford (Supervisor) & Katsuji Mogi (Supervisor)

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