Friday, November 5, 2010

Interdisciplinary Baggage

At a recent professional cluster group meeting (PCG), we were wrestling with the difficulties posed by attempting to develop interdisciplinary Challenge Based Learning projects.

As Gerry, a top science teacher, noted: the term  "interdisciplinary" (or multi-disciplinary) is too freighted with baggage.  It immediately invited one to see obstacles to collaboration, since our curriculum is organized by department courses and we are scheduled into department meetings  

We realized that we preferred idea of joining "cross-school" teams to which we bring our entire skill sets as educated adults.  This point of view allowed us to imagine shedding department labels (e.g., "science teacher") and committing to a commonly held passions with other adults and students.  Then, after crafting a challenge with our cross-school teams, we could weave the project into our course curriculum.  

As another astute educator recently remarked to me, "Language is powerful; change is sneaky."   I think Gerry's observation makes it more likely that we accomplish some dynamic changes to our school curriculum.

"collaborative drawing (detail)" Flickr CC photo courtesy of scalefreenetwork

1 comment:

Nadia said...

I agree with "Gerry" (Mr. Meloche, right?). We see the same thing in science - "interdisciplinary" usually means a lot more meeting of nothingness. Instead, people should be grouped around ideas that they want to explore together. You also see it in the medical care of patients - transitioning diabetic patients from pediatrics to adult doctors is always tricky - you need to focus on diabetes, not on whether the person is a kid or an adult.

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