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Fri Jan 29, 2016, 05:37 PM

Transdisciplinarity: Thinking Inside and Outside the Box

'Several years ago when I was teaching eighth-grade Latin American history, we were engaged in a unit on the Mayan civilization. During a discussion one day, a student asked, "Is this the same Mayan civilization that we are learning about in Spanish class?"

Her comment made me stop in my tracks. I replied, "Yes, it is the same civilization."

After class, I made a beeline to her Spanish teacher to learn about how she was teaching her unit on the Mayans. We both chuckled when we realized that we were teaching the same topic at the same time. And we were both pleased that the student made the connection.

From that point on, we made a concerted effort to coordinate and integrate our teaching. However, the school schedule did not permit deeper integration of our two courses. We had to settle for integrated learning.

Integrated learning is the most rudimentary level of collaboration across disciplines. At the very least, it allows teachers and, more importantly, students to make connections across disciplines, creating an opportunity for greater depth and complexity.

However, one of the key competencies for the 21st century is to position students with the skills and habits of mind to be transdisciplinary thinkers. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has identified transdisciplinarity as a key and essential skill for the future work force. In their report on future work skills (PDF), the IFTF writes:

Many of today's global problems are just too complex to be solved by one specialized discipline (think global warming or overpopulation). These multifaceted problems require transdisciplinary solutions.' >>>


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Reply Transdisciplinarity: Thinking Inside and Outside the Box (Original post)
elleng Jan 2016 OP
Igel Jan 2016 #1

Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Jan 29, 2016, 06:53 PM

1. During my ACP (or perhaps other coursework)

this was a "best practice" if you could wrangle it.

Mostly they had in mind middle school, I think, since high school curricula are more tightly controlled and scope-and-sequenced.

Personally, I'd be ecstatic if my kids could just make the connection between the algebra they learn in Algebra I and II and the "math" we use in chemistry and physics.

"Mr. Igel, this is a lot like algebra" makes me go glassy-eyed and slack-jawed as I respond, "No, Taylor, it's not a lot like algebra. It is algebra." To which Taylor answer, "Oh" in a bewildered tone of voice.

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