This year, I decided to enroll in a cross listed course that crosses the disciplines of English Language and Literature, Women and Gender Studies and Intercultural Studies. In my 4 years at Brock University I have not yet come across a course that crosses so many disciplines and also incorporates aspects of History and Political Science. The reason, that this course is cross listed across so many faculties is the wide scope of knowledge that comes from each topic, event or reading. Not only are we currently learning the historical information of political warfare in Latin America, we are reading first hand accounts and narratives of women who escaped their countries with very little family and cultural heritage to claim as their own.
In reading this weeks chapter in Interweaving Curriculum and Classroom Assessment: Engaging the 21st Century Learner there was a large focus on rich assessment tasks, and using curriculum to educate across disciplines and grade levels. I believe that integrating different subjects for a more holistic education is going to benefit our 21st Century learners in the long run. When it comes to learning, with a holistic design, students are more immersed in all the subjects that they are accustomed to. But instead of splitting up English, Drama, Music and History (for example), if we can integrate classes to build off of each other and explore how they can inform the other, students will have a more seamless education. I believe there is a lot to be learned from different areas of expertise and that with a community of teachers working together, the students will thrive. Just as my University course is allowing for an understanding of everything from women’s rights to literature and from the history of Latin America to the political unrest still there toady, I believe adolescent education can follow suit.
Another aspect of the Brock University course that I enjoy so much is our discussions of interdisciplinary education. This also comes in the form of research methods and the move of academia to include all aspects of culture in its constraints. We discussed; for example, arts based research. This research uses “artistic processes and forms in one or more stages of the research process” (University of Alberta). In this framework, a painting could be used in demonstration of cultural significance in which ones research may be following. In another, the play used by a researcher could become the framework for discovery, using it as a jumping off point. Below I have attached the outline for arts based graduate research at the University of Alberta for you to take a look.
I think why this research perspective struck me is because of its inclusion of a variety of disciplines for one common goal. But why do we not use this in our undergraduate studies? Would this be applicable in the high school setting? Could we ask students to use and interpret art forms for their own understanding of a specific topic? I think yes. I hope that as we continue in our educational journey as perspective teachers we will be exposed to more methods of integrating other disciplines into our teachable. Personally I am a strong believer in the importance of drama and music being integrated into all aspects of academia. In this thought; however, I hope that other disciplines can teach me on how to integrate their learning objectives into my own classroom.