Tuesday, March 22, 2011

November 1994: In Praise of Interdisciplinary English

Question: What is “interdisciplinary English”?

Answer/Quotes: “In the public eye, English is one of the ‘extras,’ along with art and music, especially in comparison to math and science, which, no matter how poorly taught, are perceived as vital to our technological welfare (and warfare).” P. 60.

My alternative proposal…is that we not destroy English (or ‘language arts’ or whatever we choose to call it), but re-store it to the status of a liberal art: meaning, a subject, whose primary function is to develop powers of expression and critical inquiry.” P. 55.

We don’t need an English that simply serves the needs of other fields and professions, and we don’t need an English divided into basic skills and literary analysis. We must see our subject as an interdisciplinary liberal art.” P. 57.

Our discipline is unique in its potential to make meanings on ‘so many different things.’ We can be the leaders of the interdisciplinary future.” P. 58.

Imagine a Wonderland where English teachers taught a project on, say, nuclear waste disposal and did not have time to cover As You Like It. Or where they looked into the small worlds of microbiology, and failed to get to Emily Dickinson or Mark Twain. Would the universe collapse? What if we didn’t teach ‘Thanatopsis’ this year? Would the students be worse off? I think we should have the courage to find out.”

Comment: There is gold in past issues of English professional journals and this article is gold. If we broadened our approach to the research paper to topics of interest to the students, we might begin the process of “interdisciplinary English.” RayS.

Title: “Interdisciplinary English and Re-forming the Schools.” Stephen Tchudi. English Journal (November 1994), 54-61.

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