Sightseeing in “foreign lands” (Integrated Studies PD) #ASI2012

How will we achieve integrated studies if we continue to stay in the safety of what we know?  How often do we connect across disciplines for and with our learners?  When was the last time we attended a conference not in our discipline?  How will we find common ground if we do not seek it?

Year after year, I attend the T³ International Conference – a conference for math and science teachers.  But…when have I attended a conference focused on art, English, history, physical education, etc.?  We must become tourists in foreign lands – sightseeing to find connections and opportunities.

As a math/science type, can you imagine going to a humanities conference?  Since our students are seeking relevance, shouldn’t we all attempt to study the human condition?  Shouldn’t we all strive to be called humanists? Shouldn’t we search for connections beyond the safety of the subjects where we have developed expertise?

I was shocked by what I learned attending “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised? American Culture: 1970-present,” held June 7-8 at The Lovett School. The Lovett School‘s American Studies Institute was founded in 2004 to encourage teachers and students to enrich their understanding of America by searching beyond the confines of a specific discipline. To give you an idea of the topics, ideas, and opportunities to connect ideas, here is a list of the speakers with their talk titles.

  • “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: The Long View of Race and the Remaking of American Democracy”
    William Jelani Cobb, Spelman College
  • “The Revolution in Art: New Media, New Voices”
    Jordan Clark, The Lovett School
  • “Remix and Fusion: Understanding Music in the Digital Age”
    Stutz Wimmer, The Lovett School and Randy Hoexter, Atlanta Institute of Music
  • “The Revolution in Economics: Business Strategy in a Global Economy”
    Jeffrey Rosensweig, Emory University
  • “The Revolution in Politics: Why America is Politically Divided”
    Merle Black, Emory University
  • “News in Real Time: The Revolution in Journalism in the 21st Century”, Mary Louise Kelly, National Public Radio
  • “Revolution in Gender Politics? From the ERA to Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin”
    Beth Reingold, Emory University
  • “Hip Hop, Slam, and Postmodernism: The Revolution in Poetry”
    Patrick Hastings, Gilman School, Baltimore
  • “The Revolution in the Classroom: A Case for Interdisciplinary Studies”
    John Gregory and select faculty,  Asheville School
The two days were mesmerizing!  The storytelling was spectacular.  Mary Louise Kelly kept me on the edge of my seat as she used her process of reporting the Fort Hood Shootings to illuminate the revolution in journalism.  She described the story as it unfolded and how she reported it.  I was most impressed when she paused to describe how much she’d gotten wrong in the early reports – how and why.  Wow! 
And…there was lots of math – LOTS.   I found calculus in the graphs generated by Stutz Wimmer as he digitally manipulated a voice recording to “make it sound better.”  The rate of change was discussed over and over again. There were graphs – lots of graphs.  See the speaker notes from Jeff Rosensweig and Beth Reingold to find just a small sampling of the graphs that were used to interpret patterns and trends.

On March 3, 2011, I published s=v*t + 0.5a*t^2 ~ Wanneer heeft u vorige bezoek? about the language of mathematics.

Our colleagues, the teachers of foreign languages, want their learners to be prepared when they visit another country.  We want our learners to understand the culture, the climate, the traditions and the customs as well as the language itself.  Is this true for me, a teacher of mathematics, the language of science? I dare to say that most, if not all of my colleagues teaching foreign language have been to a country where the language they instruct is spoken.  Have we, the teachers of mathematics?

Are we teaching a language when we have never visited the lands where the language is spoken?  Has it been so long since we have visited these lands that we have forgotten about the culture and the traditions that are important?

In March of 2011, I was thinking specifically of integrating math and science.  After attending Lovett’s American Studies Institute, I think we should be thinking bigger.

What about visiting lands where we have not studied the language?

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