Education for the future

Integrated Curriculum

Posted by teachersnote on February 3, 2010

“The integrated curriculum is a great gift to experienced teachers. It’s like getting a new pair of lenses that make teaching a lot more exciting and help us look forward into the next century. It is helping students take control of their own learning.”

– M. Markus, media specialist, quoted in Shoemaker, September 1991, p. 797

“I’m learning more in this course, and I’m doing better than I used to do when social studies and English were taught separately.”

– Student, quoted in Oster 1993, p. 28

This teacher and student express an increasingly widespread enthusiasm for curriculum integration. While not necessarily a new way of looking at teaching, curriculum integration has received a great deal of attention in educational settings.

Integrated curriculum is an educational approach that prepares children for lifelong learning. There is a strong belief among those who support curriculum integration that schools must look at education as a process for developing abilities required by life in the twenty-first century, rather than discrete, departmentalized subject matter. Thus, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association to focus upon broad areas of study. It views learning and teaching in a holistic way and reflects the real world, which is interactive. In general, integrated curriculum or interdisciplinary curriculum include:

  • A combination of subjects
  • An emphasis on projects
  • Sources that go beyond textbooks
  • Relationships among concepts
  • Thematic units as organizing principles
  • Flexible schedules
  • Flexible student groupings.

Why is curriculum integration important?

  • Students see relationships among ideas and concepts as they plan and experience a theme-based inquiry.
  • Relationships between in- and out-of-school topics become obvious to students.
  • Communication processes become authentic as students engage in thematically based learning activities.
  • Students are encouraged to share ideas. As they listen to one another, their personal bases of ideas are expanded.
  • A sense of community develops as cooperatively designed student activities are created.
  • Students become more responsible for, and engaged in, their own learning.
  • The teacher assumes the role of facilitator rather than information dispenser.
  • Respect and cooperation among peers are expanded through interaction
  • Many grouping patterns naturally emerge.
  • Assessment is authentic, continuous, and related to learning endeavors.

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