Looking back to the future
Mathison and Freeman (1997) describe one version of interdisciplinarity as a combination of disciplines that enhance the learning in one of those disciplines, and by integration transcends a single discipline through an interconnected vision.
In my life, I have had several professions, from graphic artist and designer to multimedia trainer, and magazine producer. Coming to teaching later in life, I have straddled several strands of interdisciplinarity: I trained in Primary provision, and have worked in Primary and Intermediate, and for the past 14 year taught Secondary. My first degree was in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology, and while studying shared a stall in Cook Street Market in Auckland, selling clothes I designed and made. The PostGrad Diploma I took to become a registered teacher was by remote learning, and I have taught via on the VLN via video conferencing. In High School, I have taught Information Management, Computer Science, Electronics, Journalism, Media, and Art, from Deciles 3 through 9. I married a Speech and Language Therapist, Chair an LEOTC Environmental Trust, am on the PPTA ICT Advisory Committee, and the Digital Technology Association committee.
I have always believed in Interdisciplinary delivery, for example delivering a digital Art classes for Year 7, my current combined Electronics and Programming course, or my Year 12 project that combines the students Level 2 English text, with a digital media product, using their English class as stakeholders.
Looking forward from the past
I began the previous section with Mathison & Freeman (1997) and I’ll continue in that theme with their suggestion that “Integrative learning includes; a) disciplines lost in global perspective, b) student/teacher negotiated themes and c) inquiry oriented”
Technology (the learning area) for many years has made use of authentic contexts, taking the New Zealand Curriculum and emphasising the idea that Learning areas should not be silos, but rather integrate using values, key competencies and principles. Technology has an image of itself as “interference by design” and it is precisely that interference that allows us to seek interdisciplinary connection. I like the idea that we all have an “empathetic horizon” that we should surround other people around us with (ThomasMcDonaghGroup, 2011). I written previously about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), and it is with this in mind I consider my next interdisciplinary, collaborative action.
To the empathetic horizon
Within my immediate boundary, I have yr10 and yr11 (Level 1) Digital Technology classes. I also teach yr10 Electronics. Close by the DT classrooms, the Science faculty have been using a space called the “Smart Garden”, a space into which I intend to extend my ‘horizon’. A number of Year 9 and 10s I have spoken with have expressed a desire to get their hands dirty growing things. The students are considering a community project growing fresh salad herbs for a local playcentre, and retirement home. Science have been using the garden to carry out biological experiments and grow seedlings for a silviculture project.
My plan is to have students develop personal ‘smart’ greenhouses (based around Science department trays), designing an enclosure (DVC), developing Materials workshop skills cutting greenhouse plastic, some Engineering developing hinges and doors and ventilation flaps, bringing in Science to look at the growth cycle, watering and feed requirements, and our Careers department with some Horticulture knowledge. My input will be using Arduino, programming, and some electronics to tie it all together with soil temperature and moisture monitoring, automatic temperature flaps and watering system. All up, with careful planning, it has the potential to satisfy a yearlong NCEA course.
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
ThomasMcDonaghGroup. (2011, May 13). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdNzftkIpA