Double Play: In baseball, a play in which two players on the offense are retired (or put out) within one continuous play by the fielding of the defense. This usually occurs when a ground ball is hit to one of the infielders, who then turns a force out at second base out and a tag out at first base.
A friend of mine, Adrienne Alison, is one of two finalists in a competition to design and create a War of 1812 monument for Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Her sculpture involves seven figures representing the British Army and Navy, the Provincial Marine, the English-speaking and French-speaking militias, First Nations, and Métis. This undertaking involves both a major art project, developing a concept and sculpting seven life-size individuals as well as a significant history project, understanding the period, the inter-relations between these groups and incorporating proper facial features and uniforms. Indeed, Adrienne has expended considerable effort on both the artistic and historic aspects – a double play.
This got me thinking about homework assignments and major projects in high school. (It could be applied in college, university or even lower school grades.) Why couldn’t projects be done as double or even triple plays? What I mean is having two or more teachers of different subjects assign a common project. Examples include:
- An art project about a historical figure or event (like the War of 1812).
- A written research report/ presentation on an aspect of art, history or science.
- A model of a scientific concept (like the structure of an atom.)
- A debate on an aspect of science (like should genes be patentable?)
- An analysis of the costs and process (business) of creating a sculpture.
Each teacher would then mark and comment on their respective aspect of the project, based on separate rubrics and perhaps a common one as well. For example, the English teacher would mark the project for creativity, grammar, paragraph structure; the Science or History teacher would mark the student’s understanding of the topic, and together they would mark the clarity and overall organization.
First, this would no doubt improve the efficiency of the student efforts; focusing on one well-researched and presented project would be required as opposed to two projects emphasizing different aspects of the curriculum. Second, due to the inherent integration it would improve the project quality and learning on all fronts. Third, it would be more representative of the workplace where individuals, like Adrienne, are frequently called on to integrate different fields. Most people whether artists, historians, journalists, business people, or scientists need to be able to write well, present, debate, research new topics, critically review, analyze, and develop creative solutions to problems within their domain of expertise. The ability to build models, draw diagrams or sketches, create videos as well as time and project management, budgeting, and statistics to name a few are all of great value and can be incorporated into major homework assignments and projects.
Setting up the Double Play could be a real education game winner.
© Duncan Jones 2013 All rights reserved