Integrated Experiential Program

Putting different disciplines together in one program is not a new concept but it does require some decision making. There are many examples of programs, where it is the mastery of each discipline that is the intended objective. Different disciplines can reinforce each other when taught in tandem. One such program at Lord Elgin combined American history with American literature, the one helping in the understanding of the other. John was the history teacher in that program.

Other integrated programs however, aim to be a transformative experience, where the focus, is more on the students growth and development, than the integrity of the disciplines. Think of the disciplines as chunks of fruit. You can mix the fruit like in a salad, each chunk maintaining its integrity, or you can make a fruit cake with the chunks, where the end result transcends the bit parts. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Our decision was that curriculum pieces should be mixed more like a fruit cake than a fruit salad. For us the focus was that the transformation of students was more important than the disciplines. The disciplines were the tools to help students grow both individually and as a community. We often had to work around curriculum guidelines deciding, which disciplines best fit what we wanted to accomplish.

For us, in other words, all the curriculum should lead to experiences.

For example in Bronte Creek:

  • Basic ecology, leadership training, group dynamics and fitness led to working with young students

  • Camping skills, first aid, fitness, group dynamics and canoeing skills led to our wilderness tripping experience.

  • Basic ecology, group dynamics, community organizing and self sufficiency led to a more environmentally sound community and overall awareness of the environment.