Here, Charlie Howland, a current BA in Early Childhood student, writes a reflection on the ability of the course to support and promote interdisciplinary working….
For me personally, studying alongside peers that work with children from a variety of backgrounds within social care and education enabled discussions to take place using real scenarios where it felt impossible to find a solution. My peers have been able to offer guidance and a different perspective in relation to such problems. In these situations, the lecture was then able to offer different theory and develop my understanding which enabled me to immediately apply into practice having a positive impact on the children I worked with. It also enabled me to reflect on my own practice and working relationships with the agencies I work alongside and helped change my attitudes towards them in a positive way as I could openly discuss challenges and barriers and resolve issues in a constructive way with the academic support of the lecture.
Holley (2017) suggest that when knowledge is compartmentalised based on institutional decisions the ability to solve problems that may require more than one discipline is lost. Interdisciplinary learning therefore enables students and academics from a variety of backgrounds, to have conversations around shared interests and allows them to make connections between their knowledge and experience (Holley, 2017). I have found much of my learning to be strengthened in this way, developing respect and understanding for the services I work with, better understanding the policy and guidance they work from and the challenges they face which has given me a new perspective in my own role and a new way to improve how I work having a huge impact on my multi-agency partnership. Stentoft (2017) supports this notion when suggesting putting a problem to be solved before the tools to solve them opens up to transgressing disciplinary boundaries. This problem-based style of learning scaffolds students learning.
Interdisciplinary learning does break with traditions of learning as memorising facts and instead emphasises on the knowledge and perceptions that can be drawn in from a variety of different disciplines (Holley, 2017). This break from tradition is what attracted me to the CLL degree course. In addition to the style of teaching, the pathway to embarking on the degree course also differed from a more traditional route. Having no prior formal higher education but having extensive experience working with children and families was valued and allowed me to access the degree. Since the degree was part time based at a location convenient to me with full access to Warwick services and support I was able to continue working and raise a family as well as work towards a degree which has afforded me the ability to progress professionally and personally. This way of working and studying, I believe, has acted as a catalyst of growth through synergy. Having the ability to apply what I learn immediately into practice has a significant impact on the children I work with, since it is all real time and as it happens, working with up to date policy and social climate. In the same way I am able to bring current practice and real scenarios into the learning environment which has a positive impact on the quality and depth of discussion.
Holley, K. (2017). Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Learning in Higher Education Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Education.
NSPCC. (2019). Multi-Agency Working and Information Sharing. Available: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-protection-system/multi-agency-working-child-protection/#heading-top. Last accessed 09/03/2020.
Stentoft, D. (2017). From saying to doing interdisciplinary learning: Is problem-based learning the answer? Sage Journals. 18 (1), 51-56.