The nature of understanding the world is is not meant to be compartmentalized and put into small boxes; rather, to truly understand the larger world, we need to see how it is interconnected. One of my favorite parts of the Middle Years Programme is that it recognizes this interconnection in learning through interdisciplinary units that students take part in during each year of the programme. They must use the skills and understanding they gain from each subject and make connections between them to fully understand the larger issue. The greatest part of this as an educator is witnessing students discover new ideas on their own to see how everything they learn is tied together.
Today I had the pleasure of working with the staffs at ROMS and ROHS to start our work on creating these opportunities for students. During our late start, the staff at ROMS explored different ways to create entry points for students into interdisciplinary learning and had some fun exploring the Smithsonian's new Learning Lab by looking at a collection of stamp designs I curated with is. While stamps don't seem that interesting at first glance, we found a many connections, such as how stamps embody the identity of a culture at a specific time or the technological and design challenges stamps have encountered. We wrapped up the day by starting conversations about where our curriculum is ripe for these interdisciplinary connections to start our work for the school year.
At ROHS, I had fun working with the ninth grade Language & Literature and Individuals & Societies teachers to design an interdisciplinary unit where students study To Kill a Mockingbird as they learn about the 1930s and its social issues. The excitement in the room was palpable as we discussed what we wanted students to take away from this unit and the important connections we wanted to help students discover over the course of the unit, focusing on what is the legacy of justice we want to leave and how our choices determine that legacy. All our teachers focused on helping students understand how our perspectives/ points of view are shaped and the importance of understanding the views of others, truly the developing the essence of being a globally minded citizen.
I'm looking forward to all the discoveries our students will make this year as a result of the work our teachers have put in to help facilitate these connections. If you are interested in another view on interdisciplinary learning, check out Christina Wallace's article "The Case for Interdisciplinary Education" or what IB has to say about interdisciplinary learning.
.Our brainstorm sessions planning for interdisciplinary learning