Integrated Curriculum Ideas


Several homeschool parents have asked me for an example of integrated curriculum ideas for them to use.  While teaching high school English, I felt obligated to expose my students to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  My own high school teacher made it the most boring book I had ever read.  He would read aloud in different tones each day, then ask us to write what we thought.  That was the extent of his “teaching.”  When it was my turn to teach this novel, I took this approach: The students followed world maps of the global journey of the whaling ship, Pequod.  They researched cultural differences between the Puritans of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the South Islands natives of Queequeg’s type.  There were numerous examples of new vocabulary for them to look up.  There are also terms linked to cultural practices such as St. Elmo’s Fire that the student’s were asked to study.  Many had fun learning the math and practical applications associated with the art of sailing a large vessel.  There is still an extensive museum about the whaling industry located in New Bedford and they are thrilled to send information, pictures, and answer questions.  Of course, we studied the transcendental philosophy to which Melville subscribed, a fascinating cult in itself.  Melville brought moral values to the novel in spite of his involvement with transcendentalism, probably because of his New England background, even using scriptural allusions and analogies. This integrated curriculum was the common kind of learning in all grades of 50 years ago.  “New” programs of the same are labeled “whole” curriculums, or “balanced,” even “infused.”  I’m just glad to see some school returning to it!