Interdisciplinary Learning in the Middle School

By Lauren Anderson, St Leonard’s College Years 7 to 9 Curriculum, Testing and Atlas Coordinator

In our busy adult lives we often wear the ability to multi-task as a badge of honour; to seemingly focus on and carry out a myriad of tasks all at once is often a source of pride. The fact that our to-do list is only superseded by another means that we get used to carrying out tasks quickly and efficiently. The same can often be said of the busy, academic student day where tasks are completed, feedback gained, and the cycle completed again.

Within these busy days it is important to find pockets of teaching practice that allow our learners to explore problems in depth. Building upon knowledge across multiple subject areas and sustaining their engagement to get to the heart of a problem and create multiple solutions. Sometimes this can be as simple as a teacher referring to another subject, “Where have you heard this language before? How would you approach this task in…” which allows the student to mentally cross-reference their skills. By highlighting cross-curricular links students understand that their knowledge and skills work across the curriculum and meaningful connections are made.

In the Middle School we are establishing key events that highlight interdisciplinary learning and allow students to further develop key skills on stand alone projects. Our inaugural Night of the Notables for our Year 7 students is a joint project combining key learning from Drama and History culminating in students presenting their Notable person on the 27 May after a two-day deep dive into historical biographies. Taking time out of a busy, multi focused curriculum engages students on a meaningful level; giving them time to explore tasks in greater detail and work towards a final goal.

Finding links between the skills we use across the curriculum gives meaning to those daily, academic to-do lists, finding opportunities to pause and consolidate learning. Giving students a chance to develop knowledge and present their skills in this way moves them away from the daily set of tasks and instead demonstrates that, while multi-tasking can have its benefits, there is much to be learned from taking the time to explore topics from multiple perspectives in a more sustained way.