So a recent study got me thinking about the transdisciplinary nature of STEAM, human brains, and the implications for teaching and learning. The authors of the study looked into how abstract physics and engineering concepts were mapped onto existing brain structures that would have been used for basic survival functions in early humans. This is the part that caught my attention:
“…physics concepts are different in kind from concrete nouns, action verbs and even simple abstract concepts. They require new formulations of knowledge that go beyond membership in a known category and include conceptions of nonvisible aspects of the physical world, mathematical knowledge and a combination of complex features into a whole.”
The above quote is a pretty good description not only of STEAM, but of how modern transdisciplinary programs such as the PYP, function.
So what are the implications? Brain plasticity is generally accepted, and is supported by this study. For me, the issue is with how educators break down the barriers between traditional subjects so that learners arrive at bigger, more complex, and perhaps more complete understandings of the world. Collaboration seems to be key.
What are your thoughts?