ID Class: A Sample of Interdisciplinary Studies
All Bloomfield Hills High School, grade 9 and 10 students have a class called Interdisciplinary Studies, ID for short, as one of their 8 classes. ID has always been reserved for students to connect with teachers, get work accomplished, and make up tests or quizzes. Now, for grade 9 students, Learning Community teachers are supplementing ID with new and unique topics during a portion of each class, providing opportunities for teacher-student interaction and relationship-building.
In grade 9 Learning Community B, David Jenvey, a World History teacher, provides mythology lessons. Special Education teacher Nick Riggs focuses on study skills. Kathy Locano supplements 9th grade Language Arts curriculum with ID lessons on literary devices, such as allusion. Mary Davis-Birkholz extends the Biology classroom with lessons focusing on the applications of biotechnology. Students experience five- or six-week rotations so that throughout the school year, they see all their core academic teachers in these supplementary ID lessons. Teachers are able to provide lessons on topics they do not have time for in regular academic classes, and often they are passion projects, so students gain a better understanding of their teachers’ interests.
For example, Jenvey’s choice to teach mythology connects to their World History studies of Greek and Roman culture, and helps students learn about the universal nature of mythological stories. Jenvey explains to students that myths have cultural importance, staying power, and often explain something about the human condition or creation. These traits of myths are true across cultures and time periods.
In Mythology Lesson 4, Jenvey reminds students of the eight typical features of a hero or heroine in mythology, and helps students see how applicable those features are to the stories of Achilles, Perseus, and Atalanta. Students also analyze differences between how men and women are treated in these stories, as a reflection of the patriarchal society from which they’re born. Jenvey reflects, “I believe it is important for students to understand how important the use of stories aid in human development throughout history. The very human need to explain the mysterious touches every aspect of history, and no doubt influences the paths humans choose to take. I am very grateful to be able to have the time outside of my classes to be able to allow students to explore the power and significance of stories.”