In its hope to teach students on the different aspects and knowledge field, education can offer institutions and the curriculum in most institutions and countries across the world offer different subjects and disciplines to students. The hope is that with this diverse set of knowledge, students can become useful and productive members of the society, and that they will be able to infuse within them, the various sets of knowledge offered in school, and put it into good use (Wicklein& Schell, 1995; Harb, 2007). While the diversity in knowledge offered is commendable, its delivery is usually disjointed, making it difficult for students to reconnect the diverse knowledge sets when need requires (Wicklein& Schell, 1995).
Curriculum integration offers an opportunity for the ease in the recollection and comprehension of the diverse sets of knowledge offered in institutions through different subjects (Wicklein& Schell, 1995). Particularly, the integration of literature into math, science and social studies has been encouraged, given the complexity of the subjects (math, science and social studies), and the difficulty students find in understanding these subjects (Bafile, 2001). By incorporating literature into the sciences therefore, students are capable of incorporating the fantasy world in literature to the sciences and therefore not only aid in comprehension, but also make the lesson more interesting, and allowing the teacher to introduce math and science concepts in a more interesting manner (Marshall, 2005).
However, even in the praise of the approach, it is important to note that the practice requires great levels of collaboration and close working among departments to create a successful product. Curriculum integration is therefore labor and time intensive, requiring both dedication, collaboration and listening from parties involved for its success (Janet, 2012).
One of the benefits of curriculum integration is the idea of building continuity and relevance across all the subjects taught in school. Students therefore see the necessity of each of the subjects and do not therefore only give weight to particular sets of subjects, especially the sciences. Additionally through integration, there is a chance of sparking both teachers’ and students’ interest in subjects such as mathematics, which many (students and teachers alike) is not comfortable with (Bafile, 2001).
Integration also saves teachers’ time and the frustration of having to relate abstract mathematics and science concepts to what students have no idea about. Thus, through integration, it is possible for math and science teachers to relate the abstract concepts with the students’ lives and other subjects such as literature, enabling them to teach these concepts in much more detail and at the same time arouse the students’ interest and motivation (Harb, 2007).
Integration more than anything else, also provides a manifold of perspectives to a concept even in science and math, therefore allowing student to evaluate the correct concept. The excitement provided by integration allows students to capitalize on their curiosity and through that enable learning. In addition, this helps in building values and morals that transcend the numbers and figures in their books (Harb, 2007). An integrated curriculum therefore more actively engages the students in learning, providing a better reflection of the realities and experiences of the students in the real world (Rennie, 2009).
The intensity in time, labor and personnel required for integration presents of the hurdles to achieving curriculum integration. The intensity of the process therefore usually discourages any attempts for the integration process (Janet, 2012). Further, a large part of the society is wary of the supposed watering down of the curriculum through integration (Rennie, 2009). The argument here is the fact that traditional disciplinary-based curriculum has been successful through many generations, and that it provides an unadulterated form of education, especially for mathematics and science (Rennie, 2009).
Teacher training, moreover, is based on the disciplinary form education. For this matter therefore, many teachers lack the skills, knowledge or qualification for implementing an integrated curriculum (Rennie, 2009). Most teachers are practically competent only in their subject, and therefore lack substantial pedagogical content to integrate other disciplines within their teaching subjects. Additionally, some of the teachers hold rigid beliefs on schooling and pedagogical practices, and may therefore not want to change to the traditional “tried and tested” methods of teaching (Rennie, 2009). Some administrative policies are additionally opposed to changes in curriculum delivery methods, in addition to school traditions, especially those with stringent discipline-based faculties.
Curriculum integration presents an opportunity to unify different discipline, and even more important encourage many more students to enroll into science and mathematics based programs. By relating knowledge across different disciplines, students and teachers get to appreciate the relatedness of all subjects. The approach is particularly efficient in teaching abstract concepts, given that it relates not only to other subjects, but also to the daily occurrences in the students’ lives. This helps in both comprehension, integration and retention of knowledge among students. This is in addition to easing the work of the teachers having easier and practical avenues of relating knowledge from the students’ own experience to new concepts he/she wants to introduce.
Bafile, C. (2001). Math and Literature: A Match Made in the Classroom. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr249.shtml
Harb, J. K. (2007). A Lesson Learned: Integrating Literature into the Content Areas. Eastern Michigan University Digital Commons.Retrieved from http://commons.emich.edu/honors/152/.
Janet, H. (2012). Curriculum Integration: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint. International Educator, 21(5):48-51
Marshall, J. (2005). Connecting Art, Learning, and Creativity: A Case for Curriculum Integration.Studies in Art Education, 46(3):227-241
Rennie, J. (2009). Disciplinary versus Integrated Curriculum. In Fraser, B. et al (eds). Second International Handbook of Science Education. Toronto: Springer
Wicklein, R. C. & Schell, J. W. (1995).Case Studies of Multidisciplinary Approaches to Integrating Mathematics, Science and Technology Education.Journal of Technology Education, 6(2). Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v6n2/wicklein.jte-v6n2.html