By Teachers, For Teachers
“But that’s English work, not science!” students might be overheard saying when their upstart science teacher incomprehensibly decides to teach her students about how to read their textbook better. It’s funny when we notice that students often think about subjects in rather rigid terms. History is history, science is science, and math is math. No crossover between them.
Can we blame students for this perception? We teachers may be the most culpable for fostering an environment that encourages this disconnect between subjects. Often teachers have little understanding of what students are working on in other courses. Often teachers take little time to speak with colleagues from other disciplines. Often teachers host hints of cynicism about what other teachers tell students, feeling like they need to “fix” the misinformation their fellow educators have disseminated.
Unfortunately, the world is not nearly as segmented as our division of subjects suggests. One powerful, tried-and-true way to alter students’ perceptions about the relationship between various disciplines is to focus on creating integrated, cross-curricular instruction between multiple subjects. The advantage is that students will begin to see knowledge as interdependent and connected rather than as individual, isolated subjects. Ultimately this better enables students to achieve higher level critical thinking and collaborative skills.
A variety of methods exist for teachers to apply to successfully integrate their curriculum with other subjects. Here are a few common approaches:
As the skills and information students acquire becomes more heavily interrelated, the more structured students’ learning is. This more easily allows for the metacognitive transfer of knowledge from one situation to the next and supports students’ progressive, scaffolded growth. So instead of thinking about how different your area of expertise is from other disciplines, begin to consider how you can start a conversation with colleagues about what all your subjects actually have in common.