Sunday, 19 June 2016

Crossing Boundaries*

Week 31 - My seventh post for Applied Practice in Context:  My interdisciplinary connection map

I believe in the NZ Curriculum. It is a forward thinking document that encompasses future thinking, local context, and learners not only as individuals but as citizens of the world.

Which connections will I address first?

My literature review was about self regulated learning (SRL) because we are now trying to develop innovative learning practices to meet these aims. It’s time for a shift from passive learning (or lack of learning) of reluctant school goers, to active, owned learning. While I see all the connections on my diagram as intrinsic to the whole, I need to talk about two that are near future goals. Embracing digital technologies is one of the connections from the map. Enhancing what we do in positive behaviour for learning, is another.
I listened to a webinar this morning: a chat with Grant Lichtman, author of “#Edjourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education”. He talked about the need to reinvent the current school model and that many schools are behind the times in thinking about the world their students are growing up in.
Our students have been born this century, when the world wide web and computers were already very much in use.  They don’t know a time without computers and don’t understand teacher hesitation in using available technologies.  I use my smartphone, ipad and laptop for research, collaboration, connection, and publication; and I want instant results because I can have instant results.  My students have similar expectations.
Besides teacher reluctance,the other issue is available funding.  I do my best to advocate, educate, assist and innovate wherever I can.  I’ve got our executive officer applying to trusts and our technician installing Chromixium into some old laptops that have passed their use by date.
Positive Behaviour for Learning is a values programme that our school has been involved with for seven years.  Like all programmes, there comes a point where you inject more time and energy - and even funds - into it, or you start over. At the start we gathered community, teacher and student voice on what our key values should be and developed the statement: “Mokoia is a community which values respect, relationships and honesty for learning.”  Reading Hipkins et al’s “Key Competencies for the Future” has made me think more deeply about how we view these values and what attitudes our students really hold.  I am acutely aware of what we call cultural responsiveness and whether we can embrace what Hipkins et al call the range of “discourses” we encounter and need to be comfortable with; can we adapt and appreciate cultural values that differ from those we are born into? Are we good digital citizens? Are we respecting our environment?

Working in an interdisciplinary environment

We now understand that we learn when two conditions are met:
Firstly, we want to learn. We have an authentic reason for taking on board new knowledge or skills.
Secondly, we can make connections with our previous knowledge. We make better sense of the new learning. We get that “aha!” moment.
It makes sense then that learning does not happen readily when knowledge and skills are taught in isolation.  It’s why we realise that we need to look at the authentic use of literacy and numeracy across the curriculum when we decide how literate or numeric a learner is. Can they select from their knowledge and skills to solve problems? Real life problems usually involve a range of disciplines or learning areas, and we need to be able to select appropriately.  Life events do not occur in siloed subject areas, and we are realising that we need to give learners authentic situations to practice with.
However, as our class reading emphasises, each discipline has its particular literacy.  We depend on expert knowledge for some problems and situations. We depend on the development of that expertise too, so it’s important that our learners are exposed to the full range of disciplines. You never know when your class harbours the next Einstein. Take a look at this:

The education model that most of us are familiar needs to change to ensure we have engaged learners prepared to solve today’s issues with today’s tools, and able to adapt and learn for the issues of tomorrow.  It seems clear that we need to engage our learners in authentic situations and an interdisciplinary model is the one that fits best.
* "creating something new by crossing boundaries" - definition of "interdisciplinary" from


Hipkins, R., Bolstad, R., Boyd, S., & McDowall, S. (2014). Key competencies for the future. New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) Press.
Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from
Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning [video file]. Retrieved from
Lichtman, G. (2014). # EdJourney: A roadmap to the future of education. John Wiley & Sons.
Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from
TEDx Talks (2001, April 6). TEDxBYU - David Wiley - An interdisciplinary path to innovation. [video file].Retrieved from

TEDx Talks (2015, March). TED2015 - Neri Oxman - Design at the intersection of technology and biology. [video file].Retrieved from