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Pedagogy as a Process Unit E – Transformations

This unit speaks to the integration of a selected aspect of the curriculum at the Form One
level. It speaks to curriculum integration as an important for the reinforcing of curriculum
content, as students can transfer knowledge from one subject area to another for greater
retention of information.

A basic definition is offered by Humphreys (1981) when he states, "An integrated study is one in
which children broadly explore knowledge in various subjects related to certain aspects of their
environment". He sees links among the humanities, communication arts, natural sciences,
mathematics, social studies, music, and art and identifies skills and knowledge as being
developed and applied in more than one area of study. In keeping with this thematic definition,
Shoemaker defines an integrated curriculum as education that is organized in such a way that it
cuts across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into
meaningful association to focus upon broad areas of study. Part 1 of this unit will outline an
integrated approach to curriculum delivery at the Form One level, between Social Studies and
VAPA to teach a lesson on Multicultural Society.

Part 1 - Curriculum Integration

The school is fortunate to be outfitted with a VAPA building equipped with rooms for the

effective delivery of VAPA subject areas. There are two Art rooms, Music rooms and a

Drama/Dance room. All equipped with instruments and furniture to facilitate the delivery of

each discipline.

The topic to be integrated was Multicultural Society. The students were charged with the

task of presenting a song, dance or play a musical instrument from the ethic group to which they

were assigned.

The Dance/Drama teacher and one of the Music teachers were approached for their

assistance in the delivery of the group assignment. This was not a difficult task as these teachers

teach related topics in their curriculum delivery as they discussed the benefits to the students if

they were able to cover related topics across subject areas. As a result, they took the opportunity

to integrate this assignment into their scheme of work and evaluate the performance as part of

their course work assessment.

The students were engaged in lessons on Multicultural society and the teachers were

present to perform various examples of art forms that were brought to Trinidad and Tobago by

our various ethnic groups.

The students were then placed in groups and given the assignment to present some

cultural item that was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by their assigned ethnic group. In

conducting their research the students decided upon a cultural item they wished to perform.

Upon approval, I advised the VAPA teacher related to their choice, and the students were

assigned accordingly. The teachers assisted with the formulating of the concepts for the teaching

of the topic. The content in all subject areas were discussed and linkages were made for the

preparation and teaching of routines, songs and the playing of a musical instrument as it related

to a particular societal group.

The groups would practice during their classes with the relevant teacher to perfect their

presentation. The group to present an East Indian cultural item chose to play the dholak. The

African group chose to do a bele dance; the European group learned a dance of Spanish origin;

and the Syrian and Chinese ethnic groups learned a song and dance respectively, representing the

ethnicities assigned.

The students were excited and practiced religiously to perfect their routine. An

appropriate date and time was selected for the lesson and all teachers involved were present to

enjoy the performances.

This exercise was able to shed some light on the effectiveness of curriculum integration

and improved teacher relationships. In discussing the idea with the VAPA teachers, they

expressed feeling ostracised as their subject areas are often regarded as being of little

importance, or that they are the subjects assigned to the less academically inclined. As a result,

they were excited to assist in the integration of the curriculum content.

Curriculum integration can change that culture, and used as a tool for reinforcement,

given the interrelatedness of all subject areas. The students who participated in this exercise

were able to make linkages and remember the lessons, as they crossed various subjects as they

were delivered using an integrated approach.

The syllabi of various subjects do contain interrelated topics and should be taught

simultaneously or collaboratively where possible. I support integration as it facilitates

comprehension and retention of topics.

The challenge with curriculum integration is the passion that individual teachers

prescribe to for their subject area. The notion of some subject areas as holding esteem positions

of importance exists and as a result the teachers of these subjects view them as more important

than others. This hinders curriculum integration. There are teachers unable to regard subjects as

interrelated given their limited exposure to content across subject areas. This can be addressed

with proper curriculum management and collaboration by Heads of departments, which can be

prompted by integration initiatives such as this.

Integration initiatives will foster staff collaboration and work relationships with the

integration of subject areas and team teaching strategies.

This lesson was a clear example of how easily subject areas are interrelated and can be delivered

in like manner. Both the students and the teachers benefitted from integration as they both

obtained a greater understanding of content and how it can be applied to various subjects.