What is it about?

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP), for students aged 11-16, requires teachers to include interdisciplinary units in each year of the program. These units are created by teachers and are specific to the context of each school. This paper reports the impact of this requirement on the workload and perspectives of teachers who worked in five small MYP schools in Norway and Denmark. These schools all had fewer than 100 MYP students. It found, on average, that teachers estimated that over 17 hours were required to design and evaluate an interdisciplinary unit, and a further seven hours were required to assess and moderate student reflections. Although the collaborative process of developing unique, school-based interdisciplinary units was consistently valued by teachers, school administrations typically allocated three hours of collaborative planning for this task. Strategies that would support their practice, suggested by teachers in this study, include allocating additional collaborative planning time, organizing teaching schedules around the interdisciplinary subject linkages, providing collaborating teachers with spatial proximity in their shared workspaces, and offering teachers involved in interdisciplinary unit implementation greater flexibility to attend staff meetings.

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Why is it important?

Interdisciplinary teaching is relatively rare in secondary schools. However, because it prepares students for education futures, modern curriculum movements are advocating interdisciplinary connections. Small schools are uniquely enabled to offset some of the complexities of interdisciplinary practice that frustrate larger schools. When staff collaborate, this builds consensus cultures in schools. In isolated, independent international schools, such cultures contribute to the longevity of their professional communities.


Teaching and leading in the context of a small Norwegian MYP school proved to be a career highlight for me. The insights of this study helped me forge a new direction after retiring from full time work in schools, and begin my PhD on metacognition. Read the companion article from this project here: https://www.growkudos.com/publications/10.1002%25252Fcurj.229/reader

Ms Annie Termaat
Deakin University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Nurturing interdisciplinary practice in small secondary schools, Cogent Education, June 2023, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/2331186x.2023.2225003.
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