Position Statement on Interdisciplinary Learning Pre-K-4

Article excerpt

The NCTM's Board of Directors endorsed the following position statement on interdisciplinary teaming pre-K-4 at its September 1994 meeting. This position statement was written by a pre-K-4 task force whose members came from the following six associations:

* National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

* International Reading Association

* National Council for the Social Studies

* National Council of Teachers of English

* National Science Teachers Association

* Speech Communication Association

Position Statement

The participating organizations believe in educational experiences that facilitate the development of human potential. Curriculum should center on children's natural curiosity and inclination to construct and reconstruct meaning and on relationships among and within disciplines to provide instruction that enhances skillful problem solving and decision making. The curiosity of young people is a natural catalyst for framing questions, investigating, and constructing understanding. The problem-solving process should include interactions with others in a learning community where diversity of thought and culture is valued. Because many of the questions children ask and many of the problems they investigate will be interdisciplinary, the curriculum must encourage the use of the perspectives, knowledge, and data-gathering skills of all disciplines relevant to the inquiries.

Interdisciplinary instruction, then, is viewed as being derived from a curriculum that is organized around questions, themes, problems, or projects to capitalize on the natural and logical connections within and across content areas. Interdisciplinary curricula are more authentic and contextualized when the curricula reflect real life, which usually is not compartmentalized into neat subject-matter packages. Rather, real life is typically multifaceted, offering new challenges, problems, and issues on which to contemplate on a daily basis. An educational environment that is responsive to the needs of children and relates school to children's lives is likely to be perceived by those children as being more fruitful. As children perceive more value in school experiences, more productive learning and behavior and positive attitudes toward school, teachers, and learning can be expected.

Guiding principles

The participating organizations recommend the following guiding principles for interdisciplinary pre-K-4 curricula:

* Use meaningful connections among discipline facilitate sustained and reflective inquiry that dresses worthwhile knowledge, skills, and understandings. When used, interdisciplinary curricula and instruction should be authentic and worthwhile and should maintain the integrity of content drawn from the disciplines. It is recognized that each discipline has foundational knowledge and methods of investigation that are important to develop so that students can fruitfully apply them throughout their learning. Such knowledge and processes, when judged to be important and timely, relative to students' interests or their cognitive and social development, should be taught as part of discipline-centered studies. …