The notion of "integration" has commonly been used in education, but it tends to indicate a fairly mechanistic if not awkward approach to bringing together several different subject matter areas. On the other hand, "transdisciplinary" may err on the side of being too academic. However, "trans-" does capture the sense of spanning "disciplines" or subject matter areas. But, all of this awkwardness arise from the way we have separated the way we think about knowledge. And, now we are trying to find ways to put knowledge back together again. So, here we are with "transdisciplinary."

The idea here is that children don't think in "disciplines." They think in a mix of disciplines or transdisciplinarily. They are systems thinkers. They are pattern thinkers. But, schools drill them out of their natural ways of thinking.

Here's a simple example of a transdisciplinary approach to teaching. Keep in mind that this is "my" example. The students really have a large part in determining what actually happens. And, the items are presented as a list. In reality, they all get "smushed" together as they arise in the heat of the moment. Read through the list, add some of your own ideas, and then try linking some of these ideas together. How do these ideas fit together? If you print out this list and physically draw lines between the items and label the connections, you will begin to see how ideas begin to flow between one another. Gregory Bateson referred to this as "multiple perspectives—loop processes".

By the way, if you want to fall back into the traditional disciplinary way of thinking, you'll see biology, chemistry, physics, geology, social studies, mathematics, economics, ecology, drama, music, art, art history, and (hidden) physical education. In addition, kids are involved in taking action in helping communities and in helping feed people.


  • Earthworms
    • Behavior
    • Anatomy
    • Natural history
  • Soil
    • Soil types
    • Characteristics
    • Percolation rates
  • Plants
    • Photosynthesis
    • Respiration
    • Anatomy
    • Reproductive cycles
    • Seeds and planting
  • Sun and light
  • Water & Water Cycle
  • Community
    • Identity
    • Social justice
    • Community transformation
    • Community development
  • Hunger
  • Health, Nutrition, Diet
  • Dyes, Fibers
  • Composting
  • Methane Production and Use
    • Energy
  • Oxygen — Carbon Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Paintings of Gardens
  • Representing Gardens (drama, music, visual arts…)
  • Local Marketing of Community Gardens
  • Economics of Community Gardens vs. "Big" Agriculture
  • Energy Costs of Local Agriculture and Gardens vs. "Big" Agriculture
  • Water Use of Local Gardens vs. "Big" Agriculture
  • Water Catchment Systems
  • Natural Insect and Animal Control
  • Wild Edibles


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©2015 Jeffrey W. Bloom

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