Monday, June 20, 2016

Crossing boundaries and creating connections (Week 31)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Crossing boundaries and creating connections

Activity 7: 'My interdisciplinary connection map'

The world of professional practice is changing rapidly. The boundaries between disciplines are moving, new disciplines are being invented at an unprecedented rate and the boundaries between disciplines and becoming more porous.

Today and in the future, the environments that practitioners are working in, or will be asked to create, will require people who are skilled in the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries.

One of the most important skills one will need to learn is to become “self-aware” as a teaching professional and to understand the context of your own discipline: it’s strengths and its limitations. When you can clearly define your actions as a teaching practitioner and the context of your practice you will able to move across disciplines to other areas of practice where you can make informed contributions on the practice of your own current and future practice along with emerging practice disciplines.

Interdisciplinary practice allows individuals who are based in their practice discipline(s) to focus on collaboration and participate in finding solutions to the increasingly complex problems occurring in the world today. When working in an interdisciplinary manner we need to draw on multiple perspectives, practices, epistemologies and methodologies to identify how these can be utilized to solve real world problems.

A map which demonstrates my current and potential interdisciplinary connections

Two of the potential connections from my map as my near future goal(s) are:
Master's Degree: I have always been interested in Educational Leadership and (now being part of the Senior Management team), believe that by studying for my masters it will allow me to pursue this topic further and develop my knowledge and skills.
GAFE Summit: I would like to attend one of these events to focus further on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning.

The benefits and challenges of working in a more interdisciplinary environment
Jones (2009) stated that “the interdisciplinary approach is a key concept to the advancement of school curriculum at all levels”.  Although this approach has many benefits, it is also [now] debatable if this approach is the best path for an educational programme. Whereas this approach can positively enhance communication skills, it also has the disadvantage of being time-consuming in lesson planning. Jones goes further and argues that “having more than one instructor can create problems in the sharing of responsibilities.

However, in a Boyer and Bishop (2004) study the interdisciplinary approach was used as a technique where students learnt to be the teacher and they had to connect with peers from other grades. The outcome was positive, as older students had the opportunity to take up a leadership role and younger students were able to get help from the older ones.

Another benefit is that when students master higher order thinking skills by being taught with the interdisciplinary technique they became the interest of wealthy businesses and top colleges.                                                                               
According to Jones (2009) “Interdisciplinary techniques are not only important for a student to learn any one single discipline or solve problem in a synthesized manner, but it also enriches a student’s lifelong learning habits, academic skills, and personal growth.

Duerr, of “Interdisciplinary Instruction”, justifies the importance that broadness has to student’s futures in the way that “Their cognitive development allows them to see relationships among content areas and understand principles that cross curricular lines. Their psychosocial development gives them the ability to understand people and to look at situations from various viewpoints” (Duerr, 2008, p.177).

When expertise is shared across connections it means that expertise outside of the scope of immediate connections is more accessible and the consistency of integrating disciplines can be attained over many platforms. As Mathison voice that by integrating this interdisciplinary approach we will have “Better collegiality and support between teachers and the wider community of disciplines” (Mathison, 1997, p.20).

Nevertheless, the benefits of an interdisciplinary environment is not without its challenges. Our education system is [still] very much structured, which makes the integration of an interdisciplinary environment a bit unrealistic in some instances. Interdisciplinary connections can also be time consuming as building and sustaining professional relationships outside day to day connections can seem hard and exhausting.

However, in my opinion, the benefits of working in a more interdisciplinary environment outweigh the challenges far more...

Boyer, Bishop, 2004. “Young Adolescent Voices: Students' Perceptions of Interdisciplinary Teaming,” RMLE, v.1. Retrieved from:

Duerr, Laura L., 2008. “Interdisciplinary Instruction, Educational Horizons.” Retrieved from:

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from

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 This review of literature of interdisciplinary studies can help you explore more about the interdisciplinary approach used by teachers in their class.

~ "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford ~


  1. An interesting post! I love the idea of interdiscipilinary connections based on a theme but it seems that those that I have talked to who attempt this often revert to their subject silo as it is such a challenge to sustain. I wonder what the secret is to make this awesome goal achieveable?

  2. Thank you for your input Christine! I think careful thought and preparation is required for this process of 'transition'. When facing challenges or when unrealistic expectations is set, it might happen that people revert to pedagogies that they've been used to when they were at school or to “the way we’ve always done it”. I guess there is no easy fix/solution.

  3. I really enjoyed your post - I am also looking at the Masters after completing this round of Mindlab - I think you will find the connections to what you are doing in the SLT very valuable! Thank you for sharing your post. I liked your perspective on interdisciplinary connections and I agree that structure is one of the challenges schools and teams face.

    1. Thank you for reading my post and for your feedback Stephanie! It is great to see that you are also looking at the Masters after completing this PostGrad study! It is only onwards and upwards from here on...

  4. I think its about, "less is more" when planning a interdisciplinary curriculum. Collaborative approach is key and timely check ins and sharing where everyone is at with the implementation is vital. That way people can see and hear how the other is going, whats working, whats not and being flexible. These are just some of the practices we use or our connected curriculum approach.

    1. Thank you Rosina! It is great to read your ideas and thoughts around an interdisciplinary environment and how you approach it.


  5. I'd like to thank you for this post, it was definitely one of the more difficult concepts I've come across through the post-grad. I've battled with this entry more than most, and wasn't exactly happy with what I produced, at least in comparison with my others entries. You've managed to shape this entry that was more concise and clear than the majority of the readings I battled through. Well done, hope to see you at graduation.

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback Michael! It would be great to see you at graduation too.