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Education and Reasoning Are About Cognitive Connections: Total Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Thinking
Education and Reasoning Are About Cognitive Connections: Total Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Thinking

Education and Reasoning Are About Cognitive Connections: Total Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Thinking

As for what a mind does and what education is about, we might consider:

“[Marva Collins] insisted on frequent reading and writing, through which children learn about their world and how what may seem separate matters when taught in subject silos, readily connect in thinking minds.” (From: https://www.thewestsideschools.ca/blog/marva-collins)

In a lecture I listened to, someone said that he saw, live and in person, Marva Collins at work teaching, and corroborated that she was a master of making connections. She’d always be having students connect math to history to physics to philosophy to ethics and so on.

What some might call “personal belief” and a “tangent” are deeply important and relevant to others. Training in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary thinking is, to some, not a failure but a standard of excellence and a “best practice.” For some people and schools, to not make “tangents” is substandard and could be hit with a “policy violation.”

In ”Multi-Disciplinary Approach that Boosts Learning Outcome to the Next Level” (11 March 2022) Shilpa says about the Real School Of Montessori:

“One of the advantages of a multidisciplinary educational approach is that you gain a more comprehensive grasp of the world. A multidisciplinary approach combines aspects of each department into the study plans of the other, rather than focusing on individual divisions and their subject topics individually.

“Multidisciplinary learning isn’t simply a theory of education; it’s a practical manner of seeing the world. Why should school be any different? When you graduate, you’ll be interacting with individuals from all walks of life, so why should school be any different? It will be easier for you to perform in the working world if you can compile and collaborate with individuals from many walks of life.

“There is yet another breakthrough with this approach. Those who experience this process of learning will gain a strong and deeper understanding of the subject. When that happens, a student has a clear vision of what he likes, where his aptitude lies and what he wants to pursue.

“This is completely missing in a subject-based curriculum approach. And why is that the case? It is because when a student learns subjects in isolation, he does not get the kind of exposure to knowledge that is needed for him to take a clear call on whether this subject works for him or not?”

See: https://therealschool.in/blog/multi-disciplinary-learning-approach/

In the November 2015 newsletter Montessori Motion of International Montessori Schools (the International Montessori Schools, Child Development Centres and International Baccalaureate World School), Sandra Van Cauter, Directress Primary Group 1, at International Montessori Tervuren, writes on p. 19:

“To become an effective decision-maker these days, it is crucial to develop a sense of analysis and an ability to synthesise the information flow from the different sources. With an immediate access to information through media and technology, the necessity of memorisation has declined dramatically over the years. This implies a more innovative educational approach, one that equips the children with the necessary connections to analyse, sort out, synthesise, and skilfully use the information.

“The holistic programme we offer in our classrooms allows the children to build a comprehensive picture of all the aspects of the world. It is meant to show the child that everything is interconnected and interrelated. Thanks to this, it becomes possible for him to make the necessary connections, to sort out useful from useless information, to gain an understanding of the world from different angles, and to develop a clear vision of this interconnected web. The hope is that, with time, the child becomes able to base his opinions, decisions and solutions to problems on an increasingly clearer vision.”

And on p. 18: “Reaching this comprehensive or more so, global view is a long-term process that begins with an extensive period of exploration. Indeed, the level of abstraction that is required to make rational decisions can only grow from a very concrete experience of the world.”

See: https://www.international-montessori.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/November-2015-Newsletter-English.pdf

In “From Preschool to Post-Grad: Montessori Education and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy” (20 April 20, 2017), Hannah Gitlin writes:

“My interdisciplinary leanings—I’m pretty sure—came from my 12 years at a Montessori school, where learning almost always happens collaboratively, and across traditional subject lines.

“Though this seems like a pretty hefty task, I can reach back into my personal experience with Montessori education to confirm that the interdisciplinary lessons I learned in Montessori classrooms laid the groundwork for my tendency to want to break down the barriers that separate science from theology from politics.”

See: http://enhancinglife.uchicago.edu/blog/from-preschool-to-post-grad-montessori-education-and-interdisciplinary-pedagogy

”But educators at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assert that memorization alone does not a scientist make — above all, students must be critical, creative thinkers who are honest and responsible with data. In order to train scientists as critical thinkers, the R3 Graduate Science Initiative was recently created in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI), led by director Gundula Bosch, Ph.D.

“More recently, Bosch’s training as an educator showed her the importance of critical thinking, a skill she realized is rarely formally taught.”

—Revolutionizing with R3: A New Ph.D. Program Seeks To Train Scientists As Critical Thinkers
See: https://biomedicalodyssey.blogs.hopkinsmedicine.org/2018/03/revolutionizing-with-r3-a-new-ph-d-program-seeks-to-train-scientists-as-critical-thinkers/)

“These shortcomings, they say, may also contribute to some of the prominent problems in the biomedical sciences, including poor reproducibility and a rise in retractions.

“To address these issues, the researchers encourage science graduate programs to adopt interdisciplinary curricula that include philosophy and history.

For their part, Casadevall and Bosch write that science education reform should result in scientists who are:
-broadly interested, creative and self-directed, as were some scientists in the era of Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Linus Pauling
-versed in epistemology, sound research conduct and error analysis, according to the “3R” norms of good scientific practice—rigor, responsibility and reproducibility
-skilled in reasoning using mathematical, statistical and programming methods and able to tackle logical fallacies

-able to think innovatively and across disciplinary boundaries.

“ ‘This curriculum is designed to give students the think-outside-the-box skills to build bridges among the science disciplines and between science and philosophy,’ Bosch says.”

— Barbara Benham, “Biomedical science education needs a new philosophy, Johns Hopkins researchers say” (3 Jan 2018)
See: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/01/03/biomedical-science-education-reform-casadevall-bosch/

What some might call “personal belief” and a “tangent” are deeply important and relevant to others. Training in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary thinking is, to some, not a failure but a standard of excellence and a “best practice.” For some people and schools, to not make “tangents” is substandard.

“Science students learned the facts of their specific field without understanding how science should work in order to draw true conclusions.”
–David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Book description: “David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.”

See: https://www.amazon.com/Range-Generalists-Triumph-Specialized-World/dp/0735214506/

“Part of the problem, [Arturo Casadevall] argued, is that young scientists are rushed to specialize before they learn how to think. They end up unable to produce good work themselves and unequipped to spot bad or fraudulent work by their colleagues.”
— David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Again, training in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary thinking is, to some, not a failure but a standard of excellence and a “best practice.”

“Going Broad—Not Narrow—is the Best Route to Lasting Success: An interview with David Epstein” by Brad Stulberg

Excerpt: “I’ll say that the single most surprising study in the book, to me, was conducted at the U.S. Air Force Academy: The Academy provided a unique environment for studying the impact of teaching quality on learning, because students have to take the same sequence of courses and the same tests, and they are randomized to professors, and then re-randomized for each subsequent course, so you can truly track the impact of teaching. Basically, the study found that teachers who are the best at helping students do well in their own class now also systematically undermine the future development of those same students, who then go on to underperform in future classes. That’s a deeply counterintuitive finding, but it’s also a theme in the book—that behavior which causes the best performance right now can damage longer-term development.

“I think something that applies at every level of athletes is that they should introduce variety into whatever they’re doing. A good symbol to keep in mind is Cirque du Soleil, which, by the way, includes plenty of former Olympians. They experimented with having performers learn the basics of disciplines outside of those they actually perform and found that, among other benefits, it dramatically reduced their injury rates.”

See: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/going-broad-not-narrow-is-the-best-route-to-lasting-success-an-interview-with-david-epstein

“I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today — and even professional scientists — seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is — in my opinion — the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.”

–Albert Einstein (Letter to Robert A. Thorton, Physics Professor at University of Puerto Rico (7 December 1944) [EA-674, Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem]. Thorton had written to Einstein on persuading colleagues of the importance of philosophy of science to scientists (empiricists) and science.)

See: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

“Few [scientists] are philosophers. Most are intellectual journeyman, exploring locally, hoping for a strike, living for the present.” –E.O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Scientists — or teachers.

From the book description: “Using the natural sciences as his model, Wilson forges dramatic links between fields. He explores the chemistry of the mind and the genetic bases of culture. He postulates the biological principles underlying works of art from cave-drawings to Lolita. Presenting the latest findings in prose of wonderful clarity and oratorical eloquence, and synthesizing it into a dazzling whole, Consilience is science in the path-clearing traditions of Newton, Einstein, and Richard Feynman.”

See: https://www.amazon.com/Consilience-Knowledge-Edward-Osborne-Wilson/dp/067976867X

”Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr. (From MLK’s 1947 article “The Purpose of Education,” published in the Morehouse College campus newspaper The Maroon Tiger. See: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/purpose-education)

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