Thursday, September 09, 2010

Integrated Programmes (Epilogue): Disintegrated

I was sitting with two wild men in the rainy lunchtime half a day and half a world ago. We were library-bound, like books or students. We wondered, with all the wealth of our small experience, more than a century combined, why the integrated was not.

We figured it out. You can only have multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary education when the people delivering it are like that. But too many are happy to be in their safe zones, happy to build up barricades and lie that disciplines are cleanly separated, clearly different, and that the value of one will not transfer into the success of another.

We figured it out. It's those dang mathematicians. The old ones were philosophers, visionaries, architects and surveyors for the vaults of creation. The modern ones are accountants, statisticians, people to whom ranking and numerical scores are more important than what is learnt, what is dreamt. The new ones forget that mathematics is no longer a discipline, but a tool.

The reason the Integrated Programmes don't work is that they don't teach synthesis of ideas. Or if they do, it is the incestuous synthesis of thoughts that are siblings, ideas brought forth from the same womb. Everyone is still a brick-layer, not a sculptor.

The only way the Integrated Programmes can work is if the teachers are multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary; the teachers must be able to discuss any discipline, or mash them up together and deal with that. Because in this new world we are in, the pure disciplines no longer are as useful as the ability to meld them in various proportions.

Strangely enough, it was Alexander, the best remembered student of Aristotle, who pioneered this. It is the combined-arms approach. Hannibal at Cannae did it too, and generation after generation until war bled into the sea and sky, and smashed bullets across the face of the earth and into her eyeballs.

If your teacher cannot move through the walls of the disciplines like a ghost, or juggle them like a conjurer, or craft a deck of many things from them, then your education is all wrong. It would be like learning to play a piano one note at a time, with each note taught by a different master, and each one insisting that his note is not related to the rest, or if it is, it is by accidental placement on the same keyboard.

And those dang math teachers (not even mathematicians)? Well, apart from the rare few, most of them are masters of hitting the same note repeatedly, about a hundred times each session, with holiday homework and remedials raising the number into the thousands. It's called 'drill and practice'.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought on the space program: We were supposed to get Star Wars, but we got lots of Big Bang theories instead.

Friday, September 10, 2010 12:33:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

And two Eagles that wouldn't fly. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010 6:11:00 am  

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