I Dislike Academic "Lenses"

An eduspeak buzzword in everyone's vernacular right now seems to be "lens". We're always looking at content through different "lenses" these days. I dislike jargon at the best of times, but this one takes the cake.

I don't agree with training students to confine their thinking along subject lines. The world doesn't work that way. Placing a single content piece in front of a class and directing students to change mental gears in order to "apply" different "lenses" is just not interdisciplinary learning. In fact I would argue it is the opposite since the practice encourages students to sandbox their thinking into those subject labels and reinforce the perspective of that "lense". At the risk of being confrontational, it's also lazy since it lets the teacher get away with covering more bases using less (prepared) content.

The model isn't without merit though. Most content is multi-faceted and if the activity is designed with care you can get students to put one eye up against different sides of the prism.

For example, consider the content piece of global warming; aka climate change, aka The Global Pollution Epidemic. Although we could "apply lenses" of English, Science, and Geography in a Grade 10 classroom by devising three separate activities along these lines, a more interdisciplinary approach is to combine competencies across those subjects into one product: research current scientific theory about effects of global warming in a specific region, theorize about how the local geography is a factor, submit an allegorical short story, utilizing facts to set it in the researched region, on the impact of poor environmental policy decisions.

If the students know the end task is in different domains from the beginning, they will inherently apply knowledge and skills from all the domains during the entire activity. No lenses. No confined thinking.

This article is my 5th oldest. It is 265 words long