“The world of professional practice is changing rapidly. The boundaries between disciplines are moving, new disciplines are being invented at an unprecedented rate and the boundaries between disciplines and becoming more porous. Today and in the future, the environments that practitioners are working in, or will be asked to create, will require people who are skilled in the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries.”
Possible interdisciplinary connections
An avenue for taking this type of community interdisciplinary approach would be to connect students with professionals. Talent development, a second part to our curriculum, allows students to investigate/research/participate in a project based on their strengths and passion. Projects often last over multiple terms. As a teacher it can be difficult to have an in depth understanding of the array individual student projects - connecting students with professionals in their project area would not only ease the teacher’s workload, but give students an insight into a profession of interests and help gain a perspective from that discipline.
The logistics of organising such connections is complex. The aligning overlap between the components of Mulligan & Kuban’s (2015) model for successful interdisciplinary - qualities/attitudes, common goals, and workplace conditions - would be a small slice when considering a business/company and educational institution relationship. For an initial trial into a professional community/educational relationship, beginning with known professionals may be beneficial e.g. friends and family of the teacher, or of the students and their families. As the educator, a template and outline (similar to a business memorandum of understanding) for expected interaction with students would be a start. This could be developed with the professional, and possibly the student. Regular (twice termly) catch-ups and reflection on the process - with and without the student - would help the educator to adapt the process.
The benefits of such a collaboration are great, and the motivation and excitement from an educational perspective are high. Yet to make this work, as a teacher you can envisage the complex, time consuming and intensity of the process. The support of many of the other connections listed in the above network would be important. And ideally, carrying out the project as a postgraduate thesis working alongside a teacher with similar aspirations and goals would not only ease the time burden, but give the project an academic rigour a solo teacher simply cannot support when working full-time.
MindLab (2017) Week 31 - PRACTICE - Professional Context - Crossing Boundaries. Accessed https://app.themindlab.com/course/release/2661-week-31-practice-professional-context-crossing-boundaries
Mulligan & Kuban (2015) A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Accessed http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./