Systems Thinking – Breaking Down the Silos
It strikes me that the “array” of things that go into building a learner’s schema is ignored in the very structure of our educational system. We have “silos” for math, history, etc. The same is true in CSUN’s school of business – silos for marketing, operations management, etc.; although I see more evidence of cross-subject synthesis in our undergraduate curriculum than I have seen in other programs (it is commonly found at the MBA level).
In the college classroom, I’m repeatedly reminded of the benefit I attain from multiple means of approaching my subject matter. Because I have recently spent time in grades K-8 and know where students learned various things, because I spent 20+ years in domestic and international business environments, because I know and have taught accounting, finance, and economics, because I continue to consult in a venue utilizing these and other subjects … because of all of this, I can connect otherwise isolated accounting concepts I teach at CSUN to a variety of things. I know from various feedback mechanisms that this is beneficial to my students and their retention.
While it is not reasonable to expect teachers to possess wide arrays of knowledge across subjects, this issue nonetheless points up the need for more collaboration among them. That’s how it is being done at CSUN’s College of Business and Economics. Our educational system needs to be changed from at least the middle-school level upward. We need to integrate subjects. Given the independent nature of teachers and the difficulty merely obtaining meaningful collaboration within a grade level or subject, this is a tall order, indeed. But it is clear that learning opportunities are being squandered by our failure to address the “silos” and bridge the barriers among them. Not doing so fails to address the scaffolding opportunities required to better facilitate lifelong learners and deep understanding versus memorization.