Literature Review

The Rationale and Need for Integrated Curriculum

From a Christian perspective, all knowledge is integrated. The division of knowledge into subject areas is a human construct (Van Brummelen, 1994). ďGenuine learning involves interaction with the environment in such a way that what we experience becomes integrated into our system of meanings.Ē (Beane, 1991) Beane describes two aspects of integration. First, integration implies wholeness and unity rather that separation and fragmentation. Second, real curriculum integration happens when our students face personally meaningful questions and become involved in experiences related to those questions. These are experiences that they can integrate into their own system of meanings.
While our school day has stayed the same, the amount of knowledge has grown. As you plan your curriculum, you wrestle not only with what should be taught but with what you should eliminate from your curriculum. The length of the school day has stayed about the same since the 1890ís. We need to rethink the ways we teach. Knowledge will not stop growing. (Jacobs, 1989) One possible solution is integration. By integrating curriculum, we should be able to more wisely use our time with our students.
Education is not to be looked upon as separate bodies of knowledge with little relationship to one another. A common concern among students is the irrelevance of their school work to their lives. Only in school do we separate the using of math, English, and science. Outside of school, we encounter problems, gather data from all our resources, and come up with solutions. This should be our goal in the classroom. We need to periodically create learning experiences that demonstrate the relationship between the disciplines. This will heighten their relevancy. (Jacobs, 1989) When the students see the relevancy of the material, they are more motivated. They will also become creative and inventive thinkers. It provides an opportunity for a more relevant, less fragmented, and more stimulating experience for students.
While I agree and promote curriculum integration, we need to make sure it is not forced. Activities need to be meaningful and need to meet our objectives. Activities need to be educationally significant. They should be desirable even if we were not integrating. Activities need to be done so to ensure that all students can learn and succeed.
Knowledge of our students is essential to personalize learning. We need to know their learning style, their strengths and weaknesses in content and social skills, their family background, their personal interests and needs. These are also helpful when designing work groups.
We also need to consider the following attributes of the learner as we design our curriculum. Our students are creative. Integrative curriculum usually lends itself easily to developing this attribute. Our students are active and purposeful. They need to see how things relate to them. If they donít see the connection, they donít see why they need to learn that information. Our students need to exercise dominion. As we allow them to make decisions, create, choose topics, etc., we are allowing them to act in a purposeful way. Our students are rational. They seek to understand and intellectually relate to what is around them. We need to provide opportunities for our students to develop their thinking skills. This can easily be done in an integrated curriculum. As we are allowing our students to develop in these areas, we are allowing them to reflect the image of their creator. (Graham, 1992)
God gives us a good example of unity and diversity. As you consider God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, you see three distinct parts with individual functions and yet they are clearly one. You canít relate to one part without considering His relationship to the other two. This is an example of how we should view our curriculum. Individual subjects yet so closely interconnected that you have to also see them as a whole body of knowledge. They are diverse but connected.
The curriculum needs to be designed so that the Bible addresses all other sources of the curriculum. Learning must be personal and real for the students so that they will seek to understand their role in it. The Word of God needs to permeate the curriculum not just show up in Bible class. Otherwise we