A student’s Real School journey and stages through inquiry, discovery and innovation were analyzed and described in our students learning journey post. Through these various stages of learning students explore various concepts. The essence of these projects is that these concepts are not just limited to Physics or Arts or Math.
Learning without Boundaries!
When Kejal was studying boiling points of various liquids while researching about what can prevent milk from boiling over, she will also come across other subjects such as Physics. For instance how water in the milk can be boiled in vacuum pressure that will prevent milk from scalding.
When the student integrates principles and concepts from various subjects it helps them combine and connect what she/ he learns rather than compartmentalize knowledge.
More Relevant & Contextual
With this multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach students are breaking a critical barrier to learning – relevance and context.
Questions such as “ What am I going to use this for” or “what’s in it for me” is answered because when students dig deeper, dabble and experiment with various concepts they learn how seemingly unrelated content and theory fit together into the bigger scheme of things.
Deeper Understanding of Subjects and Concepts Leads to Informed Future Career Choices
There is yet another breakthrough with this approach. Those who experience this process of learning will gain a strong and deeper understanding of the subject. When that happens, a student has a clear vision of what he likes, where his aptitude lies and what he wants to pursue. This is completely missing in a subject-based curriculum approach. And why is that the case? It is because when a student learns subjects in isolation, he does not get the kind of exposure to knowledge that is needed for him to take a clear call on whether this subject works for him or not?
There was a student who was intrigued by media and journalism. When she wanted to pursue a career in Journalism, she realized that she needed a sound understanding of math and statistics. And it does not just end in calculating percentages, she also had to interpret and analyze data. Who would think that math and mass communication had such a connection? Pick any profession and you will need to use a multitude of skills, An attorney may not only need to master the several laws and civic procedures but he also has to have a deep knowledge of behavioural economics.
A pilot needs to have geography and meteorological knowledge. Real jobs require professionals to have knowledge of more than one subject. Then isn’t it logical that when learning the basics of any subjects, the right way to do so is by connecting the concepts from various subjects? And if that is done, a student will truly know where his interests lie and not just blindly go the Engineer or the medical route.
The Secret to Helping Every Kid Succeed
Students with the Subject-based curriculum are ushered to finish chapters despite having an insufficient or limited understanding of the content. The questions at the end of the chapter or a quarterly or final do not give a true reflection of the child’s understanding. There are serious gaps in their ability which is left unnoticed and the child moves from one class to the other until a time comes when these gaps are difficult to bridge.
Then there is this other side of the bell curve who are exceptional performers who are denied the opportunity to explore beyond the standardized curriculum. A teaching approach that is inclusive of all subjects and crosses the boundaries of curriculum and discipline is ideal for both these groups.
Understanding the Subject
A student cannot make progress unless s/he has a good grasp of the concepts. This understanding is not defined by grades or marks. In this student-centred approach, the student decides how much to learn and what pace. The facilitator adopts an inquiry-based learning approach where the student learns by way of asking questions. You see, the end of the chapter questions does not actually come at the end of Chapter 1 of a biology book or Chapter 10 of a Math book. Asking questions is an important factor of learning and has a pivotal role in expanding the learning and understanding for the child.
Confusion Leads to Clarity
Physics and mathematics are deeply interwoven, yet are entirely two separate ideological entities. Similarly, biology works only because of Chemistry and vice versa. Because everything is deeply interlinked yet stand in isolation. There is a lot of confusion when concepts and theories from these subjects are used hand in hand. And that is one of the main reasons that schools have separate curriculums for each of the subject. A child can get into a cycle of the unending loop of questions and answers all linked to each other in a wider perspective.
One of the philosophy behind Problem Based curriculum is that Ambiguity and “Productive” confusion can lead to a more varied understanding of concepts.
Arthur Graesser and Sidney D’Mello professors of psychology conducted an experiment with under-graduation students. The students were shown 2 animated bots. Each student was asked to assess and study the scientific merits while engaging in conversation with the bots.
The Professors then tried to “induce confusion” by programming the bots to contradict each other and call on the student to intervene.
The students who got the confusing messages showed “significantly higher learning gains” than those who had discussed the problems with more agreeable bots.
According to Professor Duo, confusion is critical to learning. Because a student to clear the confusion inevitably puts effort in working through multiple solutions, thus enhancing his knowledge and high order thinking abilities.
With the multidisciplinary approach we are not trying to induce confusion purposefully, but letting students struggle with confusion in a natural manner as they understand, try and test various concepts in real-life scenarios. Confronting and embracing confusion is a critical skill to shape them into effective learners.