## Integrated Curricula: Issues and Questions

"What is it about mathematicians that I don't understand?" That's the
question a puzzled educator asked recently, after noting that in school
after school mathematics faculty were the one group most likely to resist
working with other teachers to develop integrated curricula. Does this
sound familiar?
Curricular integration can take many forms, ranging from interdisciplinary
projects to joint courses (e.g., mathematics for biology students), from
applied algebra in a tech-prep program to a fully coordinated curriculum
involving several subjects for an entire semester. This EXTEND discussion
is intended to explore issues that emerge whenever mathematics joins as a
partner in such endeavors.

Initial dialogue was stimulated by a colloquium discussion at the Center
for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (CRSME) at San Diego
State University on the role of mathematics in interdisciplinary and
integrated curricula. We invite comments on the following questions and
issues, which can be sent by e-mail to `extend@stolaf.edu`.

- Mathematics, most people agree, is not a spectator sport. But
is mathematics a team sport? If so, who should be on the team?

- Do integrated courses help students learn mathematics, or do they
primarily help students see the value of mathematics?

- Does the additional context provided by integrated courses help
students secure their mathematical knowledge, or might it pose additional
challenges that make a difficult subject even more daunting?

- Is it possible to teach a rich high school mathematics curriculum
within an integrated program of study?

- Might discipline-based standards inhibit interdisciplinary cooperation
by setting a high self-contained set of expectations that leaves
too little room for digressions?

- Can rigorous academic standards be achieved through integrated
curricula? Or do standards and integration represent different views of education--one
to strengthen disciplines, the other to diminish their distinctions?

- How can mathematics educators support the mathematical expectations
of the new occupational skills standards and school-to-career
programs?

- How can students who learn mathematics embedded in other contexts
come to see the structure of the subject by itself?

*To add your voice to this discussion, e-mail comments, letters, and op-ed
articles to: *`extend@stolaf.edu` or click here.

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*Last Update: * April 17, 1997