Module 6: Making interfaces tangible - Intra and interdisciplinary working
From project day to everyday life
Interdisciplinary teaching is not something new. In Germany, the Conference of the Ministers of Culture and Education of the Federal States of Germany (KMK) passed a decision in 1972 on the implementation of interdisciplinary elements in secondary level education II:
"Intra and interdisciplinary working promotes the development of structured knowledge required for the general higher education entrance qualification. It enhances perception of correlations and promotes the working patterns necessary for this. Intra and interdisciplinary learning forms supplement subject-related learning and are an indispensable component of high school education."
In the meantime, many curricula include mandatory instructions for interdisciplinary classes in all academic years and school types. However, interdisciplinary phases are frequently not yet integrated into the "normal" lessons. They take place in the form of project days at the end of the school year or are restricted to a few subjects and short intervals.
Recognising limits - overcoming limits
The strict limitation of the subjects contributes to the fact that many pupils do not succeed in correlating to their everyday life and existing knowledge. Newly acquired knowledge is compartmentalised and remains reusable only in a restricted scope. This is intensified by uncoordinated juxtaposition, duplication of term and legal developments - from the viewpoint of the pupil - up to contradictory explanation of the one and same topic in different subjects.
One topic - many aspects
Interdisciplinary working offers the opportunity to focus on a particular subject. The different perspectives and insights into individual subjects facilitate the creation of a differentiated overview. The interdisciplinary aspects can be evaluated, compared and interlinked. Thus, the handout of LISUM, Brandenburg (see below) reads as follows:
"For instance, if the chemistry class deals with the chemical composition of ethanol, then the pupils would correlate the specific problem of alcohol abuse with the question of inheritance of addiction. Such possibilities of correlation can facilitate learning in the class."
From side-by-side to hand-in-hand
Interdisciplinary working promotes and demands consultation and cooperation between the teachers handling different subjects in various departments of the school. This can lead to exchange of experience and knowledge up to joint lessons with new organisational forms.
Walter Hilbrich, Customs Officer (2003), beyond the subject - intra and interdisciplinary teaching and the generic subject complex (ÜTK), State Institute for School and Media Brandenburg (PDF, 1 MB)