Critically discuss the interdisciplinary connections in practice.

From my Interdisciplinary Map I have identified my goal is to work with the Maths department on finding links to strengthen student understanding.

This is not the first time I have attempted this, and although the links between my subject (technology) are abundant, tradition I believe has played a part in stopping this from happening. Teachers who I have approached to work with often do not draw the link between what they are teaching and how that interacts with the real world, whereas most of what we do in my subject is real world based. They rank Maths as the core subject, and my subject as  mostly vocational.

When I reference my experience to date against a conceptual model for interdisciplinary collaboration I see many of the qualities/attitudes necessary for success are not present. Ways I see to establish common goals might be to sit in on one of their department meetings, and identify areas of common ground.  As I have done in the past scrutinizing assessment and curriculum specifications for commonality between the two areas for joint projects would also take place.  Finding the right collaborative partners will be crucial to the success of any initiative, and has been a major stumbling block to date.

One thing I have found is Teachers are resistant to things that do not have a working example to reference, they want to be shown what it looks like before they will commit to it, therefore taking the experience of a school that has a interdisciplinary approach embedded into its purpose such as Rolleston College and modelling aspects from their practice would be useful.

Another aspect which is often overlooked is the students themselves, if they see the benefit in a  interdisciplinary approach then they will demand that approach from their teachers. I have recently begun work into using student focus groups (great video on this subject here) in our area to receive quality assurance information on our teaching and learning and to allow students greater agency and autonomy. This could easily transfer over into students expressing how they want subjects to work together for their benefit.

Ultimately I believe we are a bit ahead of the curve on this one, all the research and good work being done takes time to filter through the system, systems of governance and management within the school systems will need to change dramatically to cater for interdisciplinary learning to be effective. Isolated subject teachers even with the best of intentions lack the authority and resources to commit to such change and often this leads to resentment and dissatisfaction, further it is often perceived as straying from a teachers “core” business or teachers sticking their nose where it does not belong. I have experienced these issues first hand. Interestingly when I looked back on some of my teaching notes as a student teacher in what seems like a lifetime ago, a focus on interdisciplinary learning was evident even then, I do not know how much real progress I have made in that time towards it  but,  just because something is hard does not mean is should not be done, and  change does not happen overnight.




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