Interdisciplinearity LO22711

Steve Eskow (
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 14:22:00 -0600

Replying to LO22683 --


>I may say:
>Any call for interdisciplinarity needs necessarily the advocat of
>Any call for mastery needs necessarily the advocat of
>Steve, I see that we are talking about values and the wholeness of such
>values. If you could follow my thoughts, then the answer to your original
>question "To what problem is interdisciplinarity the solution?" would be:
>To avoid Fachidiots. If you can acknowledge the sincerety of that
>solution, then you may appreciate the importance of your role as the
>advocat of mastery of a discipline in a whole new light - the light of
>the value of interdisciplinarity.
>How do you like this?

I like it very much.

We need to svoid the dilemma of the Fachidiot on the one hand and the jack
of all trades on the other.

The experience of those academics--including me--who have experimented
with so-called interdisciplinary approaches to avoid Fachidiocy is not as
promising as we hoped.

I'd like to give you a quotation from the American pragmatist philosopher
John Dewey, a genius now out of fashion.

"The danger, to my mind, lies elsewhere. It is possible to freeze existing
illiberal tendencies and to intensify existing undesirable splits and
divisions. At a time when technical education is encroaching in many cases
upon intelligent acquaintance with and use of the great humanistic
classics of the past, we find that reading and study of the 'classics' are
being isolated and place in sharp opposition to everything else. The
problem of securing to the liberal arts college its due function in
democratic society is that of seeing to it that the technical subjects
which are now socially necessary acquire a humane direction...The
outstanding is interusion of knowledge, of man nature, of vocational
preparation with a deep sense of the social foundation and social
consequences of industry and industrial callings in contemporary society."

"Interfusion," perhaps, not "indisciplinary: diffusing the liberal into
the teaching of the technical.

Too often the "interdisciplinary" means adding a course in Great Books to
the engineering curriculum, which is addition, not interfusion.

How do you like this?

Steve Eskow


Steve Eskow <>

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