Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I want to attempt a definition of a Trans-Disciplinary Program. Bruder describes it "The transdisciplinary approach is a framework for allowing members of an educational team to contribute knowledge and skills, collaborate with other members, and collectively determine the services that most would benefit a child." He goes on to say "A transdisciplinary approach requires the team members to share roles and systematically cross discipline boundaries. The primary purpose of this approach is to pool and integrate the expertise of team members so that more efficient and comprehensive assessment and intervention services may be provided. (Bruder, M.B. (1994). p71).
In German speaking countries, a trans-disciplinary approach looks to the " integration of diverse forms of research, and includes specific methods for relating scientific knowledge in problem-solving" ( Mittelstrass, 2003). Jean Piaget introduced the idea of trans-disciplinarity as the unity of knowledge beyond the disciplines. The International Center for Trans-disciplinary Research (CIRET) established the idea that trans-disciplinary approaches transfer the methods of the disciplines to each other to examine a problem and is radically different from interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches.
Basarab Nicolescu, a Romanian philosopher, describes three methodological postulates that are necessary to operate from a trans-disciplinary perspective. First is the idea that reality exists on many different levels and must be approached from as many of them as possible. Second, the logic of the middle of reality, where things tend to go, must be recognized and finally, third, the immeasurable complexity of reality. The purpose of trans-disciplinary study is to understand the present world in terms of its social reality. The space between the levels of reality and the disciplines is full of information which we can make sense of only through a trans-disciplinary approach.
Collaboration is also an essential characteristic of a trans-disciplinary approach. Everyone involved in the learning must be a part of the definition of the learning objectives. It is through this collaboration that everyone involved in a trans-disciplinary approach "becomes uniquely capable of engaging with different ways of knowing the world, generating new knowledge, and helping stakeholders understand and incorporate the results or lessons learned by the research" (Wickson, & Carew, . Russell, A.W., 2006).
So a trans-disciplinary approach starts from a simple premise. There are many ways of knowing the world. A TDP group must then look at the world using many different methodologies or ways of knowing. The ways of the poet are as valid as the ways of the research physicist or the historian. They examine reality from a distinct perspective. All members of the group learn and use the different methodologies to examine what "they want to know". The purpose of the rest of the group is to help a learner do that. Sort of how your guild helps you on a WOW quest.
Whatever we do in our TDP sections, we must all be involved, as both teachers and learners. We all want to know stuff and we all have experience in ways of learning, of coming to know. We have to learn what others know as learners and we have to teach what we know to those who want to learn it.