About the Project
MAKING HISTORY; Planning for the Future
The Philosophy of Interdisciplinary Lesson Planning
It is of growing concern to educators to provide students with classroom experiences that are at once both relative to their understanding and relevant to their daily lives. Educators are being routinely tasked to provide hands-on experiences that demonstrate the use and function of life-skills and processes that are accurate models of real-world situations and scenarios, as well as immediately applicable beyond the classroom. Students of any age do not experience life as a series of discrete phenomena; however, public schools have historically sought to instruct by explaining the world in terms of these discrete phenomena, with little regard for the synthesis of knowledge across disciplines. In truth, students experience new situations in their life as a whole and must be able to interpret these situations as a whole. It is this manner of thought that has led to the interdisciplinary concept of education. The interdisciplinary approach to education seeks to present students with experiences that demonstrate the interconnectedness of disciplines. This approach provides students with added depth and insight through exposure to multiple disciplines within a single lesson or series of lessons, actively promoting cross-curricular educational experiences for students. The primary reason that this approach remains unrealized is due to the fact that many teachers lack knowledge that extends significantly beyond their field of endeavor. Often an interdisciplinary style of lesson or activity is presented as team-teaching where each individual instructor contributes from his or her discipline. Problems can arise when an instructor does not have the opportunity to study the perspectives of the other tem members. The resulting lesson effectively remains a series of discrete phenomena where the student is expected to synthesize a result. However, just the opposite is true in a real-life situation. In a real-life situation the object of the experience is itself the synthesis. It becomes the goal of the interdisciplinary approach to guide students to learn about the concepts and factors that led to the creation of the object, which represents the synthesis of knowledge. It is the process of active participation in one's education that draws knowledge and worthwhile understanding from the experience. A student who encounters a tree does so as an active experience rich in tactile and sensory value. The tree itself is an active agent of biology, and subject to the influences of its immediate surroundings. Classroom instruction in the Hydrologic Cycle, and the economic, socio-political, and conservation concerns of our national forests, neither convey nor translate into understanding how this single tree functions as an active agent in its environs. The student must experience the tree first so that he or she has a frame of reference to which concepts can be related. Students must therefore encounter, disassemble, and reconstruct within their minds the knowledge found in any situation, and in doing so find and make the experience relative and relevant.