An interdisciplinary connection is one where you utilize contacts and skill-sets across different disciplines to collaborate and find solutions to community problems. Increasingly, education needs to be Thematic, Inquiry or Project-based and Interdisciplinary (Lacoe Edu, 2014). All of these pedagogies have in the past been utilized to some extent in secondary schools. However, never for more than a short teacher-inquiry.
MY NEAR FUTURE INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTION GOALS
The interdisciplinary connection I would like to foster as my near future goal is by linking the learning to real-world problems faced by friends in other industries. While I can see the potential for this kind of collaboration. I have in the past been put off my the necessary collaboration this would require to utilize their expertise for the benefit of my student’s learning. Now with the rise of social media in educational contexts, digital collaborative tools, student-centered and inquiry based learning, flipped classroom and blended learning environments; this is a possibility I want to be a pioneer of.
While you might at first think this is not relevant to education, in our increasingly connected world we as educators must soon if not already harness this toolkit of connectivity for the benefit of our students. Students need real-world problems. They need life and work experience. We cannot cultivate within students a mature and ready perspective on the wider world they will soon become a part of, nor can we ensure they are ready for it if we don’t first bring that world and those experiences into the classroom. The safe environment of the classroom and the contextual conditions provided by the teacher and sector-related knowledge from the interdisciplinary connections being utilized can give our students the necessary environment in which to grow that experience.By utilizing educational interdisciplinary connections, not just within the education industry e.g. across departments or between schools, but by drawing on our contacts outside our domains and further afield to create relevance and to cultivate engagement within our classrooms (Lacoe Edu, 2014). Interdisciplinary connections removes “artificial divisions among subjects…and enables [students] to more easily understand important concepts and ideas” (Barton et al., 2000, p.54).
Some challenges or implications of this would include the obvious:
- how to link learning in this fashion to the current New Zealand Curriculum.
- Educators need more understanding of the curriculum document.
- We are far too assessment driven and as a result, teachers are shying further and further away from that innovative and real-world relevance learning used to have.
- How do we assess learning in this kind of environment?
- While teaching using interdisciplinary connections not only between departments and schools but into different real-world sectors does not mean students necessarily need to leave the classroom environment to participate, current approved assessment tasks simply do not allow for such scope as they circle around what is termed “instructional motifs” or correlations rather than themes or a real-world problem. Most of the time learning activities such as these are recycled year after year and do not meet the needs of the individuals participating in them that particular year.(Barton et al., 2000, p.55). To capitalize on this type of teaching we need to have better ‘ownership of [the[ curriculum” (Barton et al, 2000, p.56).
- Another challenge would be those teachers who have limited contacts across different sectors or who are isolated either geographically or by lack of digital tools in which to collaborate in this regard. As Laura Macleod Mulligan (2015) wrote “it can be difficult to begin or sustain such a partnership” (ACRlog, 2015).
- Lastly, you would need like-minded teachers who are encouraged to de-stagnate their teaching and be open to new opportunities despite the risks involved that they might fail. Barton et al., (2000) says currently teachers are more attuned to activities that “are easy to plan and easy to regulate and manage; in fact, control of the classroom often seems to be the goal of instruction, rather than meaningful student learning” (p.56).
ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration.
Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. The Reading Teacher, 54(1), 54-63.1.
ThomasMcDonaghGroup. ( 2011, May 13). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdNzftkIpA