The word 'interdisciplinary' explicitly provides an idea of what interdisciplinary learning is all about! It combines learning from apparently different subjects (disciplines) and forms a cognitive connection between them to discover innovative thinking leading to better problem-solving skills. While it helps students apply knowledge and ideas of a specific domain to multiple other domains, it is equally beneficial for the teachers too. Through the use of various collaboration tools and diverse resources, teachers can implement interdisciplinary teaching and save time while simultaneously imparting unique learning experiences to students.
By blending ideas and attributes of different disciplines and combining them with individual thinking, Interdisciplinary learning establishes a better and wider perspective in students. As a result, students are able to focus, gauge, and understand any piece of information with a deeper understanding. The interdisciplinary study not only helps develop a strong IB learner profile but, over time, also inculcates critical thinking and portable skills in candidates that help them excel better in every aspect of life.
In some way or the other, interdisciplinarity has been emphasized in almost all IB programmes. Be it the PYP (Primary Years Programme), MYP (Middle Years Programme), CP (Career-related programme) or the DP (Diploma Programme), each programme embeds interdisciplinary studies in a different way. While PYP involves a transdisciplinary approach, nearly all components of MYP permeate with interdisciplinarity. It is important to notice that though CP and DP cannot be termed as pure interdisciplinary programmes, still they possess elements that infuse and emphasize the interdisciplinary learning approach.
Note that the core elements of DP (Theory of Knowledge, The Extended Essay & Creativity-Activity-Service) are highly interdisciplinary in nature while a few subjects (e.g.- Science, Language Acquisition) from the prescribed groups of six subjects (as per IBDP curriculum) also follow interdisciplinary learning.
In order to understand the essence of interdisciplinary learning, it is crucial to discuss the benefits that it imparts to the students. Interdisciplinary learning offers several significant benefits to students.
Encouraging flexible learning approaches - Integrating interdisciplinarity in classrooms means providing a wonderful learning opportunity to students. Interdisciplinary learning involves looking at topics with diverse perspectives leading to better learning skills and mental suppleness. Stimulating mental agility and sparkling innovative thought procedure the interdisciplinary learning approach helps IBDP candidates become great learners.
Invigorating teamwork & communication - Interdisciplinary learning embraces teamwork. Students work in groups and learn the value of united efforts. Interdisciplinarity also encourages communication as students are motivated to express their views and thoughts. Productive collaboration and strong power of expression serve as important life skills.
Fostering complex problem-solving skills - Utilizing knowledge of one domain in multiple disciplines develops fresh innovative thinking skills in candidates. Students learn and benefit by developing the right attitude and approach for solving complex problems.
Stimulates the ability to build connections in varied areas - Most importantly, an interdisciplinary learning approach triggers the unique competency of identifying connections between various topics and areas. The ability to establish/identify connections in different disciplines and topics and relate the same with individual knowledge and information helps students solve diverse issues in the real world.
Creates interest in learning - Most importantly, as interdisciplinary learning is infused with creative engaging methods students get personally connected to learning. They become interested in learning and acquire knowledge not because of some need or compulsion but because they want to!
Sparking creativity, offering wider and innovative perspectives, and strengthening the willingness to learn, the interdisciplinary learning approach certainly offers diverse benefits to IBDP students. Through interdisciplinary learning, they not only get engaged in unique learning procedures but become great learners for a lifetime!