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Senior English And The Benefits Of Using An Interdisciplinary Approach

1841 words - 8 pages

Article Summary
David Fletcher’s article ‘Interdisciplinary perspectives in teaching secondary school English’ discusses the issues around English being taught as an isolated subject. Fletcher recommends that English teachers strive to integrate other subjects into English, and suggests that this will result in student engagement and better results. While he acknowledges that English’s more traditional goals should still be achieved, they should “be pursued in conjunction with the added interest that various disciplines can offer” (1980, p. 81). Fletcher addresses the interdisciplinary debate by drawing from other scholars, giving evidence as to why interdisciplinary approaches are ...view middle of the document...

The following section discusses the mix of English with other humanities subjects, such as history, psychology, communications, theatre, sociology, and science. Fletcher claims that the integration of these subjects will give students a broader knowledge than traditional English, involve them in a range of genres and mediums, and stimulate discussion.
The final section of the article is focussed on English linking with social concerns. Fletcher stresses the importance of English teaching social context, and giving the students ideas to consider outside of the text. Fletcher suggests that English should help students gain knowledge of things like advertising semantics, labels, legalese, contracts as well as social issues like women’s rights.
Overall, the article addresses the issue of “discipline-centred” approaches to teaching, and states that the way to better results with student learning is through a more interdisciplinary approach. The article gives recommendations as to how we can achieve these results.

Colleague Response
The article garnered interesting responses from my colleagues on the online forum, with most agreeing with the article’s content. After briefly summarising the article, I posed the following questions to my peers:
1) What benefits or downfalls can you identify surrounding the use of interdisciplinary perspectives in English?
2) Have you seen/used/experienced any examples of interdisciplinary practice in the classroom, and why did it work/not work?
3) What ideas do you have for integrating other disciplines into your own English classroom in the future?
4) This article was written a number of years ago, from an American perspective. In what ways can we apply it to a current New Zealand context?
1) In order to collate the response, I will discuss each of these questions separately. Question 1 had a lot of similar answers, my peers all seemed to agree that interdisciplinary approaches were beneficial. In particular, it was frequently stated that interdisciplinary approaches makes content more relevant for students; teaches life skills; makes English more engaging and interesting; deepens understanding by giving context; shows students how multifaceted English is; shows students English’s practical applications; and encourages students to read.
There were two downfalls that were identified, the first was the issue of making more work for the teacher, particularly in relation to the career education. Stacey suggested that “teaching students English in ways that relate to their chosen vocation would be a difficult undertaking, simply due to the fact that in a classroom of 28 students, each individual is likely to have different career aspirations, or hasn't a clue what they want to do after school.” The other barrier was to do with the little flexibility of the curriculum at a senior level where these theories are ideal, but there would simply be no time to integrate them into rigidity of NCEA assessments and student...

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