I am a mom of a 7th grade student. My degree is in English and secondary ed. I currently teach preschool. And, I completely understand what you all are saying! I have always felt that it is more beneficial to the child's overall learning if all or almost all subject areas join forces. If the history class is learning about the revolutionary war, why isn't the language arts class reading fiction and non fiction literature from that time? Can't science and even math join in here as well by talking about the discoveries and inventions of the time as well? Isn't that the way you give students a fuller, more critical understanding of the subject area? Whenever my son tells me about the literature he is reading in school, we always discuss the history and cultural mindset of the time. It makes his reading more relevant.
It may seem silly to compare it, but as a preschool teacher, my job is to encompass all subject areas into one theme - to make learning more relevant. As a result the children are completely engrossed in the theme, and I believe, learn much much more. If you do this, then even the vocabulary becomes part of their every day language as well.
Anyway, I assume this is very hard to actually implement, but I believe it would create much more critical thinking in the classrooms.
Good luck to you all - and as a mom, I appreciate your dedication.
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