Sunday, March 29, 2015

Educator Role Definition and Learning Depth

As a high school student, I was integrated into a humanities program. The teachers on the team taught the literature, history, arts, and religion of a similar time period each year. The course of study helped me to integrate ideas and see the world with intersection and depth. This was a rich, forward-thinking curriculum.

Similarly, in many elementary school classrooms, teachers are able to meld a number of content areas together into rich interdisciplinary units to provide students with a similar intersection. And, now we read that Finland is getting rid of "subjects" to also provide students with a broader, richer real-world lens of teaching and learning.

As I think about blended, interdisciplinary study, I wonder about educator's roles in schools.

What is that just right role that blends depth with the intersection of content, concept, and skill?

As an educator who teaches two subjects this year rather than five, I am much more able to reach for depth. Further investment in these two subjects would create greater intersection too. Perhaps, if my partner teacher and I had the time we could create rich, interdisciplinary units that integrate multiple subjects under a meaningful, relevant content umbrella. The endangered species unit at fourth grade met that goal to a large part, a goal that was led by a 2030 study of education.

It's important for school communities to analyze roles and structure with regard to the kind of depth that results from those teaching/learning models. What roles and structure provide the kind of learning depth that develops students' ability to perceive their world with both a broad and deep understanding, an understanding that enables them to navigate this changing world well?