'This is an Exciting Time for Textiles’ & Other Quotes from the University of Leeds

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Last term, as part of a course on technical textiles delegates visited the textiles department at the University of Leeds. We heard Dr Parik Goswami talk with humour and passion about medical textiles, watched Dr Andrew Hewitt show how amazing non wovens are, and were given a tour by Dr Mark Sumner of some of the amazing textiles facilities at the university, where his focus is on fashion and sustainability.

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Delegates were set the task of collecting inspirational quotes from the three lecturers and these quotes are a powerful reminder of the importance of textiles as seen by a Russell Group university who are world leaders in textiles research and innovation (so much so that we weren’t allowed to take photos because some of the work is so top secret).

Who says it’s a dying industry?

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                                                     (Dr Parik Goswami)

The University of Leeds has a long history of textiles, indeed, part of its origins stemmed from the local textiles industries wanting to compete with the rapid development of new technologies in Europe. Whilst the university recognises that it is a changing industry they embrace the changes and are playing a key role in research and development. Key quotes that were mentioned were:

‘It’s a massive industry’

‘SO many areas in textiles – don't be limited to fashion design’

‘Textile research can have more impact than any other subject’

’25 kilos of non wovens in an average car’

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Science and textiles go hand in hand

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A key theme during the visit was the importance of science within the modern textiles industry but in an applied way rather than as a pure scientist. This again links back to the increase of science at keystage three and four. Key quotes that were mentioned were:

 ‘…..everything from wound dressings to bullet proof vests’ (Dr Goswami)

‘If you can understand the basics of textile science, you can create anything from a football to dialysis fibres’ (Dr Goswami)

‘….to do applied science you don’t need to be a scientist….these people have a lot to contribute to science (Dr Goswami)

‘We need to teach our students something new…..something cutting edge….’ (Dr Goswami)

‘There are all sorts of funky things you can do with fibres…..non wovens is the future’ (Dr Hewitt)

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                                          (Dr Parik Goswami & Dr Andrew Hewitt)

Collaboration is the key

In particular it was interesting to hear Dr Goswami talk about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between departments rather than textiles working in isolation and this is very linked to the ‘broader materials’ approach at keystage three and four. Whilst like me they felt the GCSE D&T 2017 D&T content is far from perfect, they did feel the focus on materials in their broader sense, along with a focus on science and technology is key to future developments in textiles. Key quotes that were mentioned were:

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                                                     (Dr Parik Goswami)

‘Work with people from other disciplines….biologists linking with textiles technologists’ (Dr Goswami)

‘….design thinking….. that means not seeing materials as something limiting….we ask people, in an ideal world what would you want?’ (Dr Goswami)

‘Try to speak the same language no matter what your specialism’ (Dr Goswami)

 ‘Students should understand the links between technology and design and innovation and creativity’

‘….it’s about what students need to learn not what I want to teach’


Challenging gender stereotypes

The passion the three lecturers had for textiles was incredibly inspiring. It was particularly inspiring to hear three men talk about textiles in such a passionate way and it really proves that the barriers within schools to boys doing textiles can and should be challenged.

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On the second day of the course back at the National STEM Learning Centre teachers spent the day doing experimental work and a range of practical activities to help them put what they had learnt at the university into the classroom in easy and affordable ways.

At a challenging time within D&T the visit was a welcome reminder of the importance of textiles and how, despite the government’s focus away from the Arts, a top Russell Group university with an international reputation embraces both it’s historical origins within textiles as well as its future in this area moving forward.

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                                                     (Dr Parik Goswami)

Find out more about the technical textiles and other courses run in conjunction with the University of Leeds and The National STEM Learning Centre


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