Integrated Curricula

What is an integrated curriculum?

A curriculum design that supports integrated learning, a theory that helps students make connections across curricula by connecting skills and knowledge from a variety of academic fields and experiences. Integrated curricula take an interdisciplinary approach toward education, connecting multiple academic disciplines to teach a given subject or lesson. Links can be made among the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, history, music, and art.

Integrated curricula are also known as interdisciplinary teaching, thematic teaching, and synergistic teaching.

Background

For the past half-century, integrated curricula have been a hotly debated topic in the field of education due to the pressures of state mandates, fragmented teaching approaches, validity and relevancy in the classroom, and the disconnectedness among academic subjects.

The driving motivation for implementing integrated curricula is the desire to move away from teaching isolated facts (memorization and recitation) and instead teach in a more constructivist style, where knowledge builds upon previous knowledge and spans across disciplines. Theorists such as Piaget, Dewey, and Bruner have also motivated this movement due to their support of holistic learning and progressive teaching. Also, the pressures of the 21st century have kept this issue active and current.

In the 21st century, there is a need for flexible, well-rounded knowledge as well as higher-order thinking skills (critical thinking) such as thinking creatively, visualizing, analyzing, and interpreting within multiple disciplines and subjects. To achieve this, educators began to align teaching of content with the teaching of thinking through an integrated approach to ensure that these 21st century demands were being met. However, there is still a polarity that exists among those who view integrated curricula as a positive movement in education and those that see more problems than positives with an interdisciplinary approach. 
 

Click to see the PROS and CONS of an integrated curriculum