Interdisciplinary Thinking – 21st Century Skills
Interdisciplinary thinking skills and dispositions enable students to develop processes for thinking in the areas of understanding, curiosity, truth and evidence, fairness and moral reasoning, creativity, self-management, and decision making. There are various important but complex problems, phenomena and concepts that are not easy to understand or resolve when approached from single disciplines. Climate change and world poverty are clear examples, but equally, a full understanding of identity, public health, human rights, or knowledge can only be constructed by applying multiple perspectives and ways of thinking. While disciplinary depth is essential for investigating these complex issues, they also require what Howard Gardner calls a ‘synthesising mind’. Students require skills that enable them to engage in interdisciplinary translation and synthesis, as part of teams or individually, in order to develop more complete pictures than would be possible from any one disciplinary perspective. This will enable them to have a mindset for the world they will live in as adults – “A mind for the future”.
Interdisciplinary education must supplement disciplinary teaching and learning so students can learn how to respond to challenges that transcend disciplines and work in the confluence of multiple disciplines. As a school, we are educating students for both disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise and this reflected in many aspects of our educational program. At the recent 2018 Information Evenings held at school for Year’s 8-10, I discussed the need for education to be transformative and explicitly teach students skills such as thinking routines, problem solving and creativity. We also outlined our new subject offerings, the broader pathways for students through Years 11 & 12 and the changing nature of workplaces and tertiary options.
I am often asked by parents, what can I do at home to support the development of these skills? To support your son or daughter in interdisciplinary thinking you can access the wide variety of activities and programs provided in our local area and beyond. These are a good way to continue learning outside school in ways that is not considered “boring” or “homework.
Activities outside of school support interdisciplinary thinking and give students a wider context in which they can develop their mindset for the future and I have listed some resources below. As our partners in the educational journey of your sons and daughters your participation, engagement and interest in how their minds are developing will value add in ways that enrich both learning at home and at school.
Honoris et Excellentia