Why Interdisciplinary Teams Often Don’t Work (though they could….)

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

I came across this the other day (thanks! to Bonnie Bracey Sutton)

Building an Interdisciplinary Identity in a (Mostly) Non-Interdisciplinary Academic World – ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

There are a few things in here that really struck a cord:

You are admitted to a department (or perhaps a program), and in that department, you are educated in the arcane arts and secret handshakes of that discipline.  In the vast majority of your graduate classes, you only mingle with initiates of your own secret academic society.  You becomes familiar with a specific set of journals and a specific set of conferences.  The end result are graduate students (who turn into professional scholars of one kind or another) who are firmly rooted in one particular discipline.

It’s actually worse that that in a lot of places.

Once they become Academics, many routinely ignore literature and happenings outside their own field. These people only see a part of the picture, yet they feel justified in making parochial pronouncements about some topic or other that end up being accepted without question by their peers. This is what happened in the case of computer simulations and computer games in Education (more on that in another post).

A came across this time and time again when I was doing my EdTech thesis – any explanation or claim that came from a researcher with Education credentials was accepted over any other explanation, regardless of experience, and especially over any explanation that came from anyone outside of the Academy.

Academics really are a xenophobic lot, aren’t we? The more I get into multidisciplinary work, the more I see how protectionist and territorial the different disciplines are. This even happens withIN disciplines. One sub-branch will elevate its own significance, and since so much of the Academy is really about competition rather than collaboration, it helps to conclude that the “other” branches of their own discipline must be less worthy.

Most academics really aren’t free at all to speak in ways contrary to the doctrine of their field – at least, not if you want to get anywhere as an academic.

I am SO tired of people who act as though THEIRS is the only discipline (or profession) who knows anything. Ever talked to a mathematician? There are exceptions, but most of the ones I’ve talked to behave as though I am somehow less human because I am not one of them. The same is true of engineers, physicians, computer scientists, and, yes, even educators. To be fair, when it comes to educators, it seems to be worst with educator-academics. Teachers seem to be much less prone to this. Come to think of it, academics are THE worst. It’s almost as if, when they graduate with their PhDs (or EdDs in some cases, which often turns out to be a PhD Lite), someone shuts off their humility setting, and takes out the bone that allows them to say, “I don’t know.”

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Why Interdisciplinary Teams Often Don’t Work (though they could….) — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Becker Blog » Blog Archive » EdTech is an Interdisciplinary Field

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