How is Thematic Learning different from a Transdisciplinary Approach?
A Transdisplinary approach refers to learning that is authentic and relevant to the real world. Learning is not confined by traditional subjects but is supported and enriched by them. Each Transdisciplinary Theme encompasses a vast swath of universal understandings common to all of humanity and open enough to embrace a variety of content areas. For example the theme; Who we are, explores the nature of self, our personal beliefs and values, our personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health, human relationships, our rights and responsibilities and what it is to be human. This Transdisciplinary Theme is deeply investigated through different questions and explorations throughout the students learning journey, leaving them with a layered understanding of themselves and the connections they have with the rest of humanity.
Teachers, when effectively using this approach, do not compartmentalize learning, but rather explore content within the context of inquiry. For instance, in a non-PYP school children who are learning about the math strand Data Handling may take a 40 minute lesson to have tally marks and graphs explained and then practice on their own through worksheets or extension activities. Children in a PYP context would explore the same content but within a different modality. While inquiring into themselves in the theme, Who we are, the students may notice that they all come from different countries. Teachers would grasp that moment and investigate Data Handling by helping the students create a survey in order to observe, collect and record data about the nationalities represented within in their community.