Experiencing subject boundaries and interdisciplinary approaches

From project work to the everyday teaching situation

Curricula in some European countries have made compulsory interdisciplinary teaching. But in many cases this has not yet become a fully integrated part of regular school lessons. It is usually practised at the end of term and is limited to only a few subjects and normally does not cover more than a rather short period of time.

Awareness of limitations and the attempt to overcome them

The strictly isolated structure of each school subject is responsible for the fact that a lot of students fail in connecting these subjects with their everyday-life experiences and with previously acquired knowledge. Newly acquired knowledge seems to be stored in a sort of boxes waiting to be made use of in only a very limited range of situations. This fact is often even emphasized by totally uncoordinated items of information and by a rather confusing terminology in explaining difficult subject matters. Sometimes even one and the same problem is explained in a rather contradictory and confusing way in different school subjects.

One topic but many different aspects

Interdisciplinary teaching offers the opportunity to focus on one particular topic. Different ways of looking at and approaching a single school subject add to a more differentiated comprehensive view. All aspects typical of an individual school subject can be evaluated, compared and linked with those of the other subjects.

Interdisciplinary work within the school departments requires a lot of discussions and the cooperation of the specialist subject teachers. This can lead from simply exchanging ideas and experiences to actual team teaching and various other new forms of organization.

Organizing interdisciplinary lessons

The term Interdisciplinary Education is not used homogeneously in the scientific discourse. Peter Labudde et al. use it as a generic term for different subcategories.

The figur below shows the main categories of Interdisciplinary Education.


A relevant information or approach from one specific subject is assimilated into a specific subject-related lesson.


The learning contents of two or more subjects are coordinated in order to learn different perspectives of the topic at the same time.

disciplinary in a strict sense

The focus is a complex topic or problem that is analyzed from different points of view, i.e. from different disciplines.