My interdisciplinary connections map

The above mind map shows my interdisciplinary connections the way I see them. It took me a while to organise my thoughts and understand clearly that over many years of teaching, I have learnt from, collaborated with, and given much time and energy to valuable interdisciplinary connections, without which I would not be the teacher I am today.

Interdisciplinary learning and practice

Interdisciplinary learning and collaboration are not new. Historical influences on current practices are numerous including Gestalt psychology, which maintains that all parts of a system are defined by the whole they belong to. This holistic approach applied to 21st century pedagogy reflects the way we integrate ideas and thinking, creating authentic learning opportunities, including project-based design thinking and collaboration, to provide “maximum relevance or meaning to the child” (Mathison & Freeman, 1994). Jones (2009) reviews the advantages and disadvantages of an interdisciplinary approach, which can be applied to students and teachers alike. Advantages include developing leadership and collaboration skills and empowering students and teachers to become positive, lifelong learners, enhancing personal growth and giving them valuable workplace skills. One challenge is giving teachers enough time to develop programmes in which they design projects to enable this learning to take place. Schools are notoriously time and cash poor. Where/how are we going to get the support we need?

The “Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration” below (Mulligan & Kuban, 2015) could be adopted by schools and teachers, enabling a future-focused mindset towards quality teacher professional development and 21st century skills. Workplace conditions are not in a teacher’s control although I am pleased to see our new Community of Learning teachers being given plenty of time to design and implement concrete plans and connections with our fellow schools. Common goals can be developed and are more within our control: For instance, at my school we can choose to work on our own ‘teaching as inquiry’ initiatives (TAIs), or collaborate with other teachers on a TAI, where we learn from and with each other to improve some aspect of our teaching. Qualities and attitudes are 100% up to us. We can identify and develop our own leadership style, growth mindset and efforts to collaborate, communicate and innovate through our interdisciplinary connections. If these three aspects are in place, as below, we have a model for success. We can now apply the concept to our classrooms; to the qualities, attitudes and common goals of our students and adapt classroom conditions to facilitate our students’ own interdisciplinary connections for learning.

A possible potential interdisciplinary connection as my near future goal

I intend to carry on with my studies and do a Master’s Degree. I have been inspired by watching a short video (Thomas McDonagh Group, n.d.) and reading Hardré et al (2013). I have learnt that innovators and early adopters have growth mindsets and go beyond the school walls to develop multi-dimensional communities of practice which are interdisciplinary, inspiring and empowering.

As a lifelong learner, I have had rich experiences of studying and teaching a number of subjects in England, The Netherlands and New Zealand. By studying at university, I could do as the teachers in Hardré’s article did: Use my new knowledge to change and improve my practice with the aim of improving student learning. An important aspect of tertiary learning is online interactions with fellow students – teachers from other schools, disciplines and countries. I would develop my professional relationships to include people from different organisations and communities, in order to support my learning. The advantage of studying part-time is I get to apply my new knowledge in real time, as I have done this year studying at the Mind Lab, thereby making learning authentic and relevant for me.

Resources

Link to my Interdisciplinary Connections Mindmap: https://drive.google.com/file/d/157VbVWa6ZheUl-MEIso49Mq7vEsMcLCh/view?usp=sharing

Hardré, P. L. et al (2013). Teachers in an Interdisciplinary Learning Community Engaging, Integrating, and Strengthening K-12 Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 409-425.

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach – Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI7 (26), 76-81. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf:

Mulligan, L. M., & Kuban, A. J. . (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration

Thomas McDonagh Group ( 2011, May 13). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education (Youtube): Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdNzftkIpA

 

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