Learning across subject disciplines

Learning across subject disciplines
Kelli Meeker, MYP Leader

ISZL's MYP Leader, Kelli Meeker, reflects on a Grade 8 project which crossed subject disciplines to consider a task from every angle

Grade 8 students brainstorming

How does the environment and sustainable living influence politics, both globally and locally? That was the question explored by our Grade 8 students, who examined complex questions across all subject disciplines. 

Interdisciplinary learning is one of the most exciting parts of the Middle Years Programme. In the wider world, complex questions rarely sit in the realm of one academic subject, and we encourage students to think across all subject areas, including science and humanities, on a chosen issue. 

Students engaged in a simulation where they were involved in the government and politics of their own Swiss village. Working in groups, they formed a political party seeking to persuade their voters that they had the right answers. Each student took on a local government role.  Students needed to consider their village’s cultural, social, structural, and political needs, also taking the environmental impact into consideration. The task required students to balance their individual goals with the needs of a whole community and this is just the type of complex thinking interdisciplinary units provide for our learners. 

Post-it notes with ideas. One reads "Slower pace of life", another "we make the best squirrel roesti"

During the two-day immersive experience, students used thinking routines and compassionate systems tools to understand the complexity of their tasks. First, the teams started with identifying and understanding parts within systems, closely examining examples of ecosystems in which small changes made significant impacts. This helped students to experience first-hand the impact of shifting small parts within a system. 

Day two saw the students learning from experts on politics, organisational strategy, impacts of climate change, persuasive techniques, sustainability and the ski industry, and delivering messages with hope! And, students turned their learning into action by consolidating their disciplinary knowledge into interdisciplinary understandings by advocating for sustainable visions for their Swiss ski villages. 

The culminating event was the delivery of their political party's speech and, you guessed it, an election! In developing their speeches, students considered the following questions: 

  • How will you respond to the climate challenges of your village? 
  • How will you address the concerns of the local town’s people? 
  • How will you incorporate an improvement of social and cultural structures?
  • What will your financial plan look like to implement your changes?

The students were engaged and afterwards reflected on their learning experience - as you can see from the pictures below.

A student gives a presentation in the science lab
Two students present a slideshow from the 1999 party


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