Tuesday, December 2, 2008

That nice little grey area

William Lehman
Theories of Interdisciplinarity
That Nice Little Grey Area
The reading of the multi-author packet highlighted several ideas for application of Interdisciplinarity. Newell defined the differences between Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, and Transdisciplinarity. I think he does a rather good job at it; describing Multidisciplinarity as a collection of know ledges, at ones disposal, Transdisciplinarity as a very comprehensive subject that then becomes its own monster. Whereas, Interdisciplinarity is a middle-ground to these two ideas. I liked the reprint of a definition for Interdisciplinarity from the Handbook of the Undergraduate. (San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997)
I personally liked the one from Carp/Wentworth about our program. “We were never comfortable being a department and cannot be a discipline with a particular object of study, but that we have no subject matter is not true; our subject is whatever makes the world whole.” To me that speaks about the all encompassing nature of Interdisciplinarity and its application to the world. I think it is very important that as long as we know how we can take the unique conglomeration of knowledge we are acquiring and apply it to life/the world around us.
The relevance holds true to my own field of study as well. As an IDS: Asian Studies with a Concentration on Japan Major, I initially had a hard time attempting to figure out the underlying direction of my knowledge progression. But seeing as I found myself inherently drawn towards a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language I think that I found an application to work towards. Then it was just the problem of how to prepare myself to integrate these different pieces of knowledge I had acquired from my time, at Appalachian State, to my Interdisciplinarity. I have found that by melding my brief studies of other languages, my knowledge of second language acquisition and my understanding of what makes one “Japanese” I think my Interdisciplinarity would be better defined into something like a “Scholar in Japanese Identity and Language Acquisitionist.” For I have learned much about Languages, acquiring them, societal impacts, and Japanese society. This makes me great for teaching Japanese to Americans in NC or English to native “Japanese.” But I would not go so far as to cross say I have crossed the line in to Transdisciplinarity in that I am a Japanese teacher of a TESL teacher.
I am certified as one but I still have much to learn in that aspect because the focus of my studies have centered around “Japanese.” And my own personal Pedagogy (http://www.appstate.edu/~wl65727/will_page.html) requires a strong connection to the learner. For one to have a strong connection to the learner it is important to meet them on a cultural and personal level. That is why I would not personally qualify myself as an ESL teacher, but as a good candidate for teaching in Japanese to Americans, or teaching English to Japanese.
Because of my situation I have had to search hard to find corollaries between everyday lessons and their application to my field of study. But it has been possible ever since I decided on my major. Because of what I have to prepare myself for in the future every aspect of my college experience has been a great learning experience. From the odd roommates, to the amazing professors everything can be further applied in life once I am able to reach a summation point (probably my senior seminar portfolio) in which I tie everything together. That is when I will probably be able to consider myself a student of Interdisciplinarity.
However, Currently I would have to say that I am more of a Multidisciplinarian. I have so much knowledge spread out in the different fields of study that I have yet to tie together. But being in my shoes I must be the one to do it because of my intention to go teach abroad and then follow up with hopefully international relations in Northern Japan in reference to territorial disputes between the technically warring states of Russia and Japan. So I will have to also apply my nonacademic experiences of international relations and personal life skills of mediating disagreements, but then applying the my knowledge of historical and cultural influences that could sway the tide, but also learning the new cultural influences of Russo-Identity.
In conclusion, I would have to say that my personal journey through the world of interdisciplinary is still incomplete in that I cannot self consider myself among the few that are interdisciplinary. Besides the fact that there is a limit to the knowledge we can contain and apply I think that it is very important for us to seek to better ourselves through our gaining of all knowledge and consuming it and applying it to the world around us.

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