Interdisciplinearity LO22696

tabeles (
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 12:36:02 -0400

Replying to LO22661 --

Steve Eskow wrote, in a small part:

> Tom, my problem with your unpacking is that I can't wys afind the
> connection between the problems you describe and multi,inter, trans, and
> cross as the solutions.

1) Promotion and Tenure- I am not proposing that faculty not be
disciplinary- that is the rationale behind a Ph.D., a person with strong
thinking and creative skills in a discipline as a Philosophy. I would
argue that many of the Ph.D's are not awarded on philosophical merit, but
rather on expediency (advanced skills certification) and pragmatics.
Looking at the published literature, most is incrementalism rather than
creative leaps of intellectual thought. The Ph.D. has become diluted- a
real problem as to how to reward true differentiated scholarship rather
than a proceedural effort of knowledge acquisition. And this idea filters
down- a first problem regarding interdisciplinarity, scholarship and all
that The Academy deems worthy in principle.

Secondly, if promotion and tenure were taken out of the hands of the
disciplines at the first level and departments became only one part of an
institutional evaluation where the institution sets the standards, the
overall weight of the readjusted evaluation process would change attitudes
towards many things from teaching as teaching whether disciplinary or
inter/trans/multi/etc disciplinary

Third, as I have posted in another note, if students could understand
which disciplines and what in these disciplines were important to their
armamentarium rather than collecting tools so that they could put a label
on their tool box (I am an engineer/chemist/nurse) and they had to
demonstrate that they not only could use the tools but could determine
when they needed to go to other tools, then the issue of
trans/cross/multi/etc would not be the issue as being discussed here- it
would be a non-issue


Next, "English for Engineers"-- This has less to do with
interdisciplinarity as it has to do with respect for knowledge outside of
one's own discipline. One needs to ask why these courses were created and
whether the students are better off for this creation looking at it from
the long term perspective.


> The issue, then, becomes: is it better to have people to learn their own
> discourses, their own disciplines, in depth first, and integrate after they
> are fluent specialists, or to try to integrate them earlier--say, while they
> are undergraduates?
> And that is an issue of practical pedagogy, not of morality.

Here is an interesting issue which may need its own venue. It has been
pointed out that when British students graduate from high school they are
further ahead than students in the US, but by the time they reach the
BA/MS level, there is a relative equivalency due to differences of
intensity in the post secondary learning environment- a testable
hypothesis in the current environment. It has been an argument which has
been advanced for the broader liberal studies approach. here it should be
noted that only about 25% of US high school grads have gone on to receive
a college degree.

Here we might want to discuss the purpose of education in general, K-12
and post secondary education. Perhaps that may be the real issue. If the
traditional four year institutions are focused on careers, citizenship at
the local->world levels, or some other purpose then the argument may take
a very different turn

For example, there seems to be the concept that a college degree is
equivalent to a high school diploma-a ticket for entrance to the job
markets at a reasonable income level-- if, indeed, the colleges are now in
this role, not signficantly different than vocational schools or other
certificate granting institutions- then Steve Eskow's argument has merit-


tom abeles


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