Curricular Connections

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Elements of Integration in the Classroom


As informational technologies continue to make their impact, educators find themselves in an environment where boundaries are dissolving and teaching is changing. In response to this changing social reality, educators need to foster an interconnectedness of knowledge and skills. Connecting social reality to teaching and learning also becomes increasingly necessary as schools respond to these challenges.

Curricular "integration is a way of thinking about what schools are for, about the sources of curriculum and about the use of knowledge" (Beane, 1995). Many researchers agree that the intent of curriculum integration is to make curriculum socially relevant and meaningful through a process of integration of the most important and powerful ideas of the disciplines (Ackerman, 1989; Beane, 1995; Jacobs, 1989; McNeil, 1985; Legendre, 1993; and Husén, 1979).

Each discipline has its own way of knowing, its distinct conceptual structures, and its methods of inquiry (Gibbons, 1979). Teachers need to make explicit the unique perspective of each discipline as well as their interrelatedness because students learn best when learning is connected (Glathorn, 1994). According to Jacobs (1989), this provides students with the skills of flexible thinking and dealing with multiple points of view. Husén (1979) believes that there is a need for "highly competent individuals with a broad interdisciplinary perspective and with the ability to think across specialities in trying to solve social and technological problems."

Manitoba Education, Training and Youth recognizes the need for integration which aims at connecting components within and between education and training and social and economic systems to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of programs and services.

The principles of teaching in A Foundation for Excellence focus on creating a supportive learning environment which

  • integrates physical, psychological, and social components
  • challenges students with relevant and motivating issues
  • develops student autonomy through personal, social, and educational problem solving

Teaching facilitates student acquisition of knowledge and skills. Today's students need to develop skills for managing readily accessible information. They need to build understanding by learning how to learn, how to unlearn, and how to relearn. This lifelong-learning process is fostered by an integrative approach which aims at developing self-teaching skills.