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Interdisciplinary Studies, Elegant Minds

Melissa Tassoni

Interdisciplinary work asks students to explore topics using ideas, primary sources, and approaches from at least two different subject areas. Upper School teacher Dr. Emily Pickering says that such exploration develops “an elegance of the mind” on the part of students, who must identify and explore disparate concepts and their relationships to one another through a variety of lenses and perspectives. What are some other benefits of interdisciplinary learning?


1 Preparation for an Interdisciplinary World


Interdisciplinary work prepares students for work at the collegiate level, where interdisciplinary studies are gaining in popularity. It also gives students the opportunity to explore and integrate ideas from different disciplines, an important life skill.


2 Making Connections


Interdisciplinary teaching and learning promote higher-order critical-thinking skills like analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation. Learning across disciplines can improve students’ cognitive development by engaging them in complex intellectual tasks that ask them to understand concepts with roots in multiple subject areas.

3 Love of Learning


Interdisciplinary forms of exploration appeal to students, and teachers are energized by the creativity of developing new curriculum and collaborating with colleagues from other disciplines to enrich their own teaching and learning.


4 Creative Assessments


The nature of interdisciplinary work requires new ways of demonstrating knowledge—beyond the typical research paper or multiple choice test. Rigorous assessments ask students to engage in debates, prepare visual analyses of art and film, or use performance to show understanding of a complex concept.
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.