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Interdisciplinary school Subject (IDS)

An interdisciplinary curriculum equips students with a toolkit for thinking about the complex problems of the world and of themselves as learners. The interdisciplinary school subject is a series of lessons, activities, and projects that aim to combine all typical school subjects into one holistic view of education. Our draft curriculum, in partnership with ongoing grant-funding from Holistic Think Tank, provides teachers with actionable steps toward making change. Further developments of the IDS will occur across 2023-2024.

At a Glance

Interdisciplinary education is crucial for fostering innovative thinking and solving complex problems across multiple fields. In other words, multi-subject learning is required to tackle the problems of today and work collaboratively toward change. Our phase 1 (of 3) contribution to the IDS includes:

629 pages of:

  • 41 far-ranging, broad interdisciplinary lessons
  • 246 extension activities to focus each of these lessons across the entire curriculum, as well as supplement media and extensive projects
  • A pedagogical guide for teaching and using the IDS
  • An impact guide for fostering experiential learning
  • Alignment to community change & concepts of wonder, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Competencies

Holistic Think Tank has created a list of 10 key competencies that guide this curriculum. Read more.

  • Adaptability: The ability to navigate through changing times, environments, and contexts, with an emphasis on the development of Artificial Intelligence and Industry 4.0.
  • Agency: An entrepreneurial, proactive, and diligent attitude based on performance and resilience. The ability to take the initiative and being mission-driven. Knowledge of essential economic and banking tools. Making conscious and wise financial decisions.
  • Sense of Community: A sense of belonging within one’s community, being active in its care and responsibilities. It encompasses democratic action, social justice, and social responsibility.
  • Communication: The ability to communicate effectively and respectfully in written, verbal, and nonverbal manner. An attitude of multilevel understanding of verbal and nonverbal signals sent by the interlocutors. Choosing the appropriate words according to the context, situation, and place. Understanding language culture.
  • Curiosity: about the world, about knowledge, about other people. Permanent awakening of admiration for the complexity and beauty of the world. Positive attitude towards learning and new experiences, along with critical thinking and the ability to analyze sources reasonably. Awareness of the existence of dangers such as propaganda, fake news, and manipulation – as well as the ability to recognize them and appropriately respond.
  • Concern for Nature: Humility towards nature and animal and plant species. Understanding climate phenomena and the relationship between different ecosystems (both terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial). Awareness of climate change, the energy crisis, and species extinction. Readiness to act for the sake of the natural environment and the well-being of the planet.
  • Self-Care: Taking care of one’s own body and physical, mental, and emotional health. Seeing the human body as a psycho-somatic whole. Developing an attitude of resilience to stress and the ability to remain calm and balanced regardless of external factors. The ability to recognize and name one’s own emotions or mental states and the readiness to accept help if our mental state deviates from a healthy one. Similarly, the habit of observing one’s own body and recognizing and responding to signals from it.
  • Civilization & Culture: Sensitivity to art, aesthetic sense, and respect for the heritage of civilization and cultures. The ability to notice and decode cultural codes while knowing they differ in other parts of the world. An admiration for the heritage of literature, painting, music, or other arts. Readiness to receive music, art, and literature, as well as to strengthen creativity in oneself.
  • Humanity: Proactive action for the future not only of one’s own but also of humankind. Morality and ethics anchored in humanistic values. Respect for the other person as well as humanity as a species.
  • Trust & Hope: Optimism and belief in a better future as well as awareness of shared responsibility for building it. The ability to build trust at all levels of interactions – from everyday life, through activities in the local community, to trust in the institutions and systems.

Implementation

The IDS is designed to be:

  • Modular: We know that educators rarely use activities "out of the box." Each lesson is broken down into modular sections to be adapted, remixed, and broken.
  • Extendable: All lessons contain multiple project ideas, media options, and kickstarted activities for typical classrooms to take these ideas further.
  • Progressive: Our curriculum centers progressive practice, including designing within universal design for learning (UDL) and self-directed education (SDL) frameworks.

This content is aimed at a middle school (6th-8th grade) audience, but could easily be adapted to other grade levels. We recognize that there are varying degrees of implementation of an entirely interdisciplinary course, ranging from pick-up activities in an advisory period to a full class period. In theory, the IDS is designed to tackle a selection of lessons over the course of a semester, followed by an extensive project in the second semester.

Resources

We recommend accessing our resources in the following order:

  • Pedagogical Guidebook: An overview of the design of the IDS, the included lessons, different implementation strategies, the design team, and the why/how of interdisciplinary learning.
  • Facilitation Guides (available as Google Documents): Teacher copies of each of the 41 lessons with additional guided information.
  • Student Guides (available as Google Documents): Student copies of each of the 41 lessons.
  • Impact Guidebook: A PBL/experiential-driven guide for harnessing IDS lessons and designing an extensive, multi-week project. We've designed the IDS to implement this project after a series of lessons.

* Please note that the IDS is currently under development in an ongoing grant from Holistic Think Tank in conjunction with the University of Sheffield. This is a draft of phase 1 (of 3) of the Human Restoration Project interdisciplinary school subject and changes will be rapidly occurring across 2023-2024. However, please feel free to offer us feedback! Further, Holistic Think Tank is looking for educators to become involved in this project. Visit their website to learn more.

Each interdisciplinary lesson contains a lesson plan, facilitation guide, project spin-off ideas, additional media recommendations, and ways to integrate each into typical subject areas (mathematics, science, English, social studies, art, physical education). These lessons are designed for students aged ~11-14. However, any could be modified to an older or younger community. All lessons are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike International License. Please attribute this work to Human Restoration Project and Holistic Think Tank.

These resources are still in development in an ongoing grant from Holistic Think Tank. There will likely be formatting and grammatical errors. We're looking for educators to help us pilot these lessons. If you're interested, join us!

In addition to our interdisciplinary lesson plans, Human Restoration Project has prepared a pedagogical and impact guide to facilitate this curriculum.

Pedagogical Guide

An overview of the design of the IDS, the included lessons, different implementation strategies, and the why/how of interdisciplinary learning. We have designed our curriculum to be modular, extendable, and progressive: centering young people's voices in leading curricular outcomes.

download

Impact Guide

Each lesson within the IDS is designed to be extended into multi-week projects, driven by student interest and purpose-finding. Our Impact Guidebook provides a walkthrough of design thinking and experiential learning, equipping educators with the tools to facilitate project-based learning workshops.

download

Looking to create a project but not sure where to start? Pilot our project generator! Each project features a "lead subject" that could initiate the planning of a project, with a lesson from our existing interdisciplinary subject as a starting point.

Click to generate a new idea.

Systems-Thinking Map

Analyze the systems of your own community. What is an issue that exists that needs to be solved? How many people are connected to that issue? How can they be brought together? Make a systems-thinking map to analyze a solution.

View all the project starters...