A recurring theme on my blog is… collaboration! And again I find myself really encouraged and refreshed by a great conversation I had yesterday.
Just to set the scene a little. Ever since I completed the degree in Learning, Technology and Research, which was completely conducted online, I valued the importance of collaboration. People, who I had never met at the time (and most of them I haven’t met yet), became close friends and collaborators. We learned together, gave each other much needed encouragement at times, and peer reviewed each other’s work.
Sometimes we worked together with people who were inquiring into completely different areas as ours, but most of the time you found yourself collaborating with researchers from similar areas. The conversations we had would often lead to substantial learning, a type of learning that you would never get from sitting in a lecture at any university.
Back to the point then: Collaboration, to me, is one of the best ways for professional development. I always seek connections and people willing to collaborate.
So it is not unusual for me to visit schools and contribute in forums. I blog, I twitter, I ask and I ask even more.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with Chad. If you look back to this post here, he is the one with the amazing insight into trans-disciplinarity.
Our conversation was mainly about how much the PYP is allowing us to be transdisciplinary. More precisely really, how much does the system allow us to!
My challenge is still that the PYP, as an international curriculum framework is very vague. We talk about “within the unit of inquiry” and “outside the unit of inquiry”. I believe that as we move up the age range, the “outside the unit of inquiry” becomes less.
Schools implementing the PYP differ greatly. There are state schools with official mandates, national curriculum needs and demands, and there are free, private schools, that do not have any requirements. I am part of the latter. As a private school in Italy, we are not recognized by the government and we do not need to meet the Italian curriculum. Luckily. That gives us free reign. We have much more freedom in our programme of inquiry, in our timetables and in the way we approach things.
I understand that most schools will not have this freedom and thus, the PYP needs to be a flexible “framework”. This brings with it another question: How is quality and reliability ensured? That is a question for another time though.
Back to the conversation, we explored the three aspects that the PYP promotes in regards to Language: Learning Language, Learning Through Language, and Learning About Language.
This approach is based on language alone.
In Maths, the aspects are similar: Constructing meaning, transferring meaning, and applying with understanding.
I have to agree with Chad’s statement that this triad approach can apply to all disciplines.
For example Science: Learning Science (Right, this might be, in my understanding, the scientific vocabulary, scientific method,…), Learning About Science (historical and theoretical approaches), and Learning Through Science (well, as you know, APPLYING WITH UNDERSTANDING, such as making use of the scientific method to learn).
I also think that this applies to The Arts (both the responding and the creating strands fit in here!), PSPE, and Social Studies.
Having those three approaches to a discipline, it is important to evaluate which of these is suitable for a transdisciplinary approach, and which ones are solely “outside the unit of inquiry” approaches.
I really look at the perspectives of the knowledge and sign systems as more of the learning through aspects of these subject areas. Does that make sense? Therefore it is only about 1/3 of the curriculum for that subject. This would definitely be interwoven into the “within a unit of inquiry” time. However, to address the others and fully develop them, you would need some “outside a unit of inquiry” time
Taking Chad’s thinking here, it would mean that Learning Through “Subject” or “Applying with Understanding” are the tools for transdisciplinary approaches.
What does that mean for the way we schedule our days? What does that mean for when we get older? Do we need to develop those skills ONLY outside of the units, or can we develop disciplinary skills within a transdisciplinary approach?
How does this effect our school day? How does the Early Years or 5/6 year-olds classroom differ from the 11 year-olds?
All things to consider further. A lot of ramblings here but I hope to hear other thoughts on this!