Dr Vishal Sharma
“Our job is to create a holistic environment where a learner can make connections and integrate a diverse array of knowledge and skills by which our societies can flourish and live more pleasing lives.”
Interdisciplinary Education is the backbone of National Education Policy (NEP)-2020, that Government of India is going to implement in the coming months. Interdisciplinary education draws on multiple disciplines to acquire a deep and thorough understanding of complex issues,synthesizing their contribution to understanding, and then integrating these ideas into a more complete, and hopefully coherent, framework of analysis.
The concept of Interdisciplinary education is not new to the world rather it is rooted in the long standing tradition of our ancient education system that dates as far back as Vedas and Puranas where there is a concept of an integrative approaches in education for holistic development of an individual. Our ancient Universities like Takshashila and Nalanda had presented the multidisciplinary approach of teaching-learning and ancient Indian literary work such as Banabhatta’s Kadambari described a good education system as knowledge of 64-Kalaas or arts. Among these 64-kalaas were not only subjects such as singing and painting, but also ‘scientific fields’ such as chemistry and mathematics, ‘vocational fields’ such as carpentry and cloth-making, ‘professional fields’ such as medicine and engineering, as well as ‘soft-skills’ such as communication, discussion and debate.
Let’s understand the importance of Interdisciplinary education in today’s scenario: one major question that tickles the mind is, if students are science or engineering specialized, why do they need to know about history, geography, sociology, ethics, writing, and design? Shouldn’t they just focus on the subjects that will prepare them to get a job and live a wealthy life? Current education system is strict on the disciplines and students does not have freedom to shift from one discipline to another. For example, there is a clear Radcliffe Line between arts and science stream and students have no freedom to move say from arts to science or most specifically from non-medical to medical. These educational approaches reflect that a standard curriculum have become too segregated along disciplinary lines. But in an increasingly complicated world, students find it difficult to understand the diverse forms of knowledge and unable to make relations or connections between them.
In the 21st Century, there is a need to go beyond this strict education curriculum and move towards more integrative approach in which students opt for several disconnected courses in different disciplines outside their major. In this integrative model of learning, the knowledge, modes of inquiry, and pedagogies from multiple disciplines are brought together within the context of single courses or entire programs of study. It will be the job of a teachers to enrich students to understand the connections between these disciplines for more holistic learning experience.
Recent researches have shown that these integrated approaches across disciplines might better prepare students for career, jobs, life and transforms them into good citizens and ultimately into blissful societies.For example, the ethical dimensions of writing software that collects people’s personal data without their knowledge or the importance of intuitive and aesthetic design in the engineering of a profitable smartphone, learning about biochemistry by creating sculptures based on protein-folding research,developing a deep understanding of neurobiology through the process of writing haiku, improving their communication, visual literacy, critical thinking, and empathy through art observation are some of the approaches that Universities have adopted worldwide for holistic development of their students.
Therefore, the integrated approach along with skills such as improved written and oral communication skills, teamwork skills, ethical decision making, critical thinking, and the ability to apply knowledge in the real-world-are the important traits that all students of the 21st century should possess upon graduation for their success in career and life.
The final challenge lies on the shoulders of Educationists who will be the real instrument for teaching students and help them understand the connections and relationships between diverse forms of human knowledge and impart them the expertise to apply that knowledge in solving real-time problems for making this planet a worth place to live. Hence, I propose the urgent requirement to introduce STEAHM Education instead of STEM, where ‘A’ stands for “Arts” and ‘H’ for ‘Humanitarian’ added to the standard STEM acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for more holistic approach of learning.
(The author is HOD Electronics, MAM College, Cluster University of Jammu and Former, Fulbright Climate Fellow, USA)
Interdisciplinary Education in the Light of NEP 2020 – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism
Dr Vishal Sharma