A TRANSDISCIPLINARY DIDACTIC APPROACH ON WATER

Mirela Muresan, transdisciplinary, global education magazine, unesco, acnur, unhcr,Mirela Mureșan

Institutional Filiation Moise Nicoara College, Arad, Romania

E-mail: mirela_muresan@hotmail.com

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ABSTRACT

This article describes a transdisciplinary didactic project which took place in Romania concerning a different approach on learning and understanding the complex topic of “water”. The target group was the high-school students (age 14-18) from the “Moise Nicoara” National College, from Arad.

The project aimed to offer an example of good didactic practice for achieving a holistic integrative view on the knowledge about water. The transdisciplinary methodology was used in order to cross the artificial boundaries of multiple disciplines and to gain a deep understanding of the importance of waterin the history of mankind.

Key-words: water, transdisciplinarity, high school, understanding, reflection.

The frame of the project

The Romanian Ministry of Education established “a different kind of school week”, which usually takes place in every April, before the spring holyday. Classes do not follow the ordinary timetable, the official curriculum of each discipline respectively, but a new, different programme – conceived by the teachers in accordance with their students’ interests and needs.

The Center for Transdisciplinary Applications in Education (C.A.T.E.) from the “Moise Nicoara” National College in Arad has built up and designed some transdiciplinary projects related to this special week. One of theese projects– designed for high school level students – had as a topic “A transdisciplinary “reading” of the water” and was designed and coordinated by me.2

We do hope that this approach will offer some good practice examples to the all other teachers or schools/colleges interested in the implementation of transdiciplinary teaching and learning in the high school didactic practice.

The project targets focused both on experiencing a transdisciplinary teaching-learning methodology and on setting up a holistic integrative view of the knowledge of water, developing a positive, desirable attitude which should contribute to the education for the quality of human and planetary life. The project contents were conceived and structured in order to get a synthesizing view on many dimensions and significations of water, able to transcend the borders of the known disciplines; the main outcome was to help teachers from different disciplines to teach together, as a team. The interactive workshops alternated explanations, power-point presentations, debates, topic-oriented visits, artistic creations and performances.

The thematic units (contents)

The contents of the project were structured in three topic-units as follows:

1.- The Philosophy of water(sacred dimension)

Water in cosmogonical “scenarios”

Water in folklore rituals, in religious rituals

Symbols of the water: living water/dead water; holy water, healing water

Christening water and Flood water

Water wisdom: syntagms, proverbs, sayings

Water messages: crystallization experiments ( Emotto)

2.- Water life (profane dimension)

Water as chemical substance; properties

Planet water: roles, functions, dangers, threats

Water crossing the human civilization evolution

Water and the human body; intra-uterine water

3.- Aquatic imaginary aspects ( artistic dimension)

Water images in literature, music, painting, dance etc

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The three modules pointed out many and unexpected properties and meanings of water and generated a great deal of discussions and debates: teachers and students as well were challenged to answer many questions and problem-situations that came out from the new information issued during the presentations. The answers to the final questionnaire form, which was conceived as a feed-back, fully confirmed this aspect. Here are some problems students confessed they will keep thinking about: the role of the water in the act of creation, the religious meanings of the water, the water in the human body, the subjective images of the water in artistic representation, the vital link between human being and the water, the spiritual force of the water, the significance of the Flood, the water magic power, water gives life but also kills, why does water have so many powers?, why does water react to feelings ?, is there water on other planets ?, how was water created?, why is man wasting so much water instead of appreciating it ?, Does water have feelings?, and so on. Moreover, a student has sincerely admitted: every time I will use tap water, from now on, I shall think twice in order not to waste the water that came in my house with such difficulty, thanks to so many centuries of civilization.

This interrogative-reflexive part – started in students mind – seems to be the major gain of the project. Thus, there was a privilege for all participants (teachers and students) to get and give information, to share their own opinions, beliefs, to confront ideas, due to this different school week.

Description of the activities

Water was “read” by their mind, heart, sensorial attitude, into a valuable process of transdisciplinary knowledge.3 The visit to The Water Tower4 of the town and its museum facilitated the real knowledge of the objects and instruments that were used during the centuries by the rural and urban civilization concerning the use of water; the creative workshops facilitated unexpected “meetings” between poetry, music and painting in the artistic imaginary frame of water; the presentations revealed the magic powers of the water as they are known in folklore, mythology and also the astonishing Bible significations of the water and its use in religious rituals; the scientific outlook on water brought forward for discussion its physical-chemical properties, its role in the human metabolism and in all living beings. Emotto’s experiments presentation was a great challenge too. Students could also express their artistic vision on water – by words, colors and sounds –: they selected the proper music for a given poetry text they were reading, they painted their own”view” on water, starting from a blue drop of paint, and transformed it in their own soul’s colors; they wrote incredible essays-answers to the final question of L. Blaga’s poetry “Song of the origin” (What shall I be then?, Shall I be a cloud? Shall I be sorrow?); They have imagined an ocean storm as in Turner’s paintings – using the fingers and palms only, to produce the sound of the rain drops and then the sound of the thunders; a valuable symphony was created and performed using “water glasses” ( different glasses filled with different measures of water sound different). The series of unexpected experiences concerning the knowledge of water could go on indefinitely.

Conclusions

I intend to sum up the presentation of this project aiming at the water “reading” by quoting two participating students’ opinions as a conclusion.

“Our meetings during the program “A different school week” from project called “A trans-disciplinary understanding of water” started with a question. We had to ask a question about water; the answers came later, participating in the project. I was taken by surprise. Why a question about water? I thought that what I already knew about water was enough, simple and clear: well-defined chemical composition, colorless, tasteless, without smell, indispensable to life.

I think the students raised over 30 different questions about water. And the answers came from chemistry, traditional customs, biology, history religion, literature, music and art. It has been an interesting journey, one that opened my mind and taught me to dig down deeper into a subject, before I draw any conclusions.

We studied the dissolution of a substance in water by acting in a theater play. I was amazed finding out that the structure of crystallized water can change depending on our feelings. I understood that water is essential for life, but not from the usual classes. We expressed ourselves by painting and we discovered the symbols of water in old Romanian sayings, folk rituals, by listening to the holy teachings of religion or by admiring William Turner’s paintings.

Do you have any idea what can result from a drop of water and a little bit of color? Snap your fingers, imitating raindrops, read a poem and listen to music. You will feel “different” for sure!” ( Paul Crisan, 10th grade)

The different school week… I was waiting impatiently to see how it would take place and to my surprise, I was truly pleased by the activity I had chosen. “The transdisciplinary view upon water” project, or more simply put by us, students, “water”, was a perfect example for us to see Transdisciplinary in action. We learned about the purpose of water as a fundamental element of this world, and not only that: we studied the importance of water from a philosophical and artistic point of view, as well as a religious and a scientific one. We also familiarized ourselves with its utility in the history of human civilization.

What grew on me the most were the debates we had in each session, sessions in which the teachers began a certain topic of interest and from that point on, everything derived to new perspectives, openings, thus leading up to even newer questions. The thought which stood by me constantly was the one to search deeper, to dig more thoroughly in the hope and with the purpose of knowing more. And it was these debates, in which took part both students and teachers, that had a major influence upon my understanding and fulfillment of my everyday life.” (Stefania Dumulesc, 10th grade)

The photos bellow are a semnificative example of some of the activities which took place during the project. They also reveal the general atmosphere of a total different teaching-learning process.

PHOTO 1. What does water mean anyway?

 What does water mean anyway? romania, global education magazine

PHOTO 2.Inside of the huge water tank of the town

Inside of the huge water tank of the town, romania, global education magazine, water,

PHOTO 3. Visiting The Museumof The Water Tower of Arad

Visiting The Museum of The Water Tower of Arad, romania, global education magazine

PHOTO 4.The special music of the water

The special music of the water, romania, global education magazine

PHOTO 5. A drop of the soul color

A drop of the soul color, Romania, global education magazin

PHOTO 6. An old Romanian folklore ritual for a magical calling of the water

An old Romanian folklore ritual for a magical   calling of the water, romania, global education magazine

Everybody knows that the present educational system- all over the world- is mostly built on disciplinary teaching-learning basis: disciplinary curriculum and assessment, disciplinary specialization of the teachers, disciplinary diplomas etc.

The topic of this project offers the opportunity to look for some proper answers to the following question: could the transdisciplinary methodology be applied within the frame of a disciplinary system of education? We are still looking for this answer. But something certain came out from this experiment: the transdisciplinary didactic approach on water is a better way for understanding the importance of the water for every individual. It offers a holistic perspective on it and at the same time the chance not only to achieve information about water but to understand and feel what water really mean. It is the first step for reaching a responsible individual and social attitude concerning the vital water for us all.

REFERENCES

Mureşan, M., ( 2010) coord., Transdisciplinaritatea de la un experiment spre un model didactic, Junimea, Iaşi, with a foreword written by Basarab Nicolescu

Mureşan, M., Flueraş,J.( 2010) J., Towards a New Paradigm of Education in he 21st Century Society‏, The International Journal of Learning, 16, Issue 8, http://ijl.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.30/prod.2343

Niclolescu, B.,(1999) Transdisciplinary Evolution of Learning, Talk at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Annual Meeting, Montréal, Canada, , Round-Table „Overcoming the Underdevelopment of Learning: A Trandsdisciplinary View”, with the participation of Leon Lederman (Nobel Prize of Physics), Jan Visser, Ron Burnett et al.; accessible at http://basarab-nicolescu.fr/on_line_articles.php

NOTES:

1 “Moise Nicoară” National College, Arad, Romania

2 Mureşan, M., ( 2012) A Transidsciplinary “Reading” of the Water, in “T” Journal, no.2, edited by The Trasdisciplinary Center of Educational Applications from “Moise Nicoara” National College, Arad, http://www.moisenicoara.ro/t-journal-no-2/

3Mureşan, M., Flueraş,J.( 2010) J., Towards a New Paradigm of Education in the 21st Century Society‏, The International Journal of Learning, 16, Issue 8, http://ijl.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.30/prod.2343

4 Follow the link: https://aradheritage.wordpress.com/heritage/the-water-tower/

This article was published on 22nd March 2015, for the World Water Day, in Global Education Magazine.

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