Interdisciplinary Approach and the Contemporary Education

While we emphasize the importance and primacy of learning outcomes in the entire exercise of the establishment of schools, we try to keep school promoters, students and parents abreast of different approaches that add value to education. In keeping with the above goal, the interdisciplinary approach to curriculum is discussed in the article.



It is an approach that is integrative. It adopts approaches and subject matter from various disciplines and invents ways to illustrate a given topic of a particular discipline. It counters the compartmentalization of various disciplines and while preserving the specialty of a given discipline to make the pedagogical style more academically versatile and interconnected. The trans-disciplinary, alternatively termed interdisciplinary approach, uses the concepts from several disciplines to articulate a topic to render it cognitively more accessible to students.

Feasibility and usefulness of interdisciplinary teaching

Many educators question the feasibility of cross-disciplinary teaching methods, especially in higher classes where concepts of subjects become more intricate and require specialized instruction. Bringing in concepts from other areas make distraction and vagueness creep in.

The approach has been researched intensively and the results found were far from discouraging. There is evidently more scope for holistic academic acquisition in trans-disciplinary education but with the rise of complexity in the subject matter the scope of cross-disciplinary teaching diminishes.

However, in the lower classes or throughout the schooling the value of trans-disciplinary education remains. The boards of education have used the tenets of cross-disciplinary education in designing the curriculum and the teachers are also expected to be open to the ideas and let the disciplines interact.

At least, it does not take more than imagination and basic knowledge of other disciplines in the case of, say, social sciences or humanities which, by their very nature, interact. It is almost impossible to segregate the constituent subjects of humanity and build a convincing instruction. For instance, sociology and political science are mutually resonant with economics, at least the applied segment thereof, forming a useful basis for comprehensive understanding.

If a teacher takes instructions in history without giving references from the recent or even current, sociological phenomenon the students will hardly imbibe the essence and scarcely understand the relevance of studying it.

Sciences are not usually taken to be very amenable to interdisciplinary design, however, if we insist to watch from close they seem to be inseparable. Physics and mathematics, biology and chemistry are very close and interdependent disciplines. This is the reason they are taught together, although as separate subjects, in what we call science stream. The interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizes the creation of a fertile field for imagination and original thinking. It is well known that the academia is indebted to the contributions of people who were masters of several disciplines while they are formally known or categorized as the prominent physicist, mathematicians, and natural philosophers and so on.

The information age and trans-disciplinary education

With the advent of IT or information sciences in the curriculum, it has to be admitted that the compartmentalization has become somewhat indispensable. The computer programmers, for instance, require very superficial, if any, understanding or training in other disciplines. True, they are schooled where they acquire traits and knowledge that help them relate to the world which is requisite for being a computer programmer, but as they delve deeper into the world of computers they get increasingly alienated to other disciplines and over time some of them would not hesitate to refer to academics as totally irrelevant to what they are doing.

Their argument may not be sound enough to withstand incisive scrutiny but their numbers are definitely something to reckon with hence their ideas and the culture they inspire.

It will be unfair to say that this line of thought is limited to the computer or IT professionals, it is far more pervasive and is apparent in diverse specialized fields like medicine, architecture, and accountancy.

Differentiating education and training

Who do we need more, the ones well-educated or well-trained? Is there is a difference? Indeed there is a difference it does not require to be well educated to be trained in a trait. Similarly, training in a trait is not necessarily a part of the education, it is the need of the economy and society.

Form politics to the judiciary to law enforcement to Journalism and social or business enterprise both education and training are indispensable and the base that ensures that the individual becomes competent for both is schooling.


Interdisciplinary education in schools makes a difference in learning outcomes. However, the insistence of compartmentalized education is not infrequent. There lies a choice in the implementation of the curriculum. It is evident that the international curriculum namely IB and Cambridge International are inclined towards cross-disciplinary instruction, while national curriculum are found amenable to Interdisciplinary teaching to a lesser degree.

It is up to teachers well-educated and well-trained to lay a foundation where the true potential of the students is found and worked upon but without alienating them from the disciplines they are less interested in, at least not to the point where they develop hostility towards them. Let a student good in mathematics not be averse to literature and vice –versa. The interdisciplinary pedagogical approach has a wider scope, it deserves to be explored and employed to remove contradictions in our education system and take a step where everything that makes sense starts making sense to everyone.


Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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