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Mary Queen if Scots is an enticing figure, and perfect for interdisciplinary work. How about:

  • a murder investigation – who killed Darnley?
  • a court case – Mary on trial for murder, for enciting rebellion, or just for being a bit of a numpty
  • the casket letters – recreations, contents, real or fakes?
  • role-playing – French spies reporting on life at the Scottish court or Scottish spies reporting on the French court
  • prison breakout – how to escape from Lochleven or Fotheringay
  • codes – how to send secret letters between conspirators
  • battles – recreations of Battle of Langside, Carberry Hill etc
  • local stuff – identify all the places nearby connected with Mary (there’s at least four places locally where she’s supposed to have been either just before or during Langside);
  • the Marian Rebellion – discovering what happened after the Battle of Langside and Mary’s escape to England.

There’s just sooooo much we could do, but it’s not as easy just coming up with ideas.

Interdisciplinary work needs a lot of time, both to plan and to put into action. Each subject has its own ways of working, its own experiences and outcomes to meet and even its own class sizes. Each teacher has their own skillset and own ideas and works at their own speed. And of course, there are the usual issues of resources and time available.

Interdisciplinary work (or IDL) is a whole new discipline in itself, and each interdisciplinary project needs a specific plan all to itself. Everyone involved agrees that while we made a good start last year, we need to make changes. We learned that the best way to work in our own circumstances is to rotate classes through the three subjects involved – Art, Modern Languages and Social Subjects – but we need a new challenge to pull everything together.

We also felt that pupils thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Stirling Castle but that we should use the visit as an integral part of the work, so this term we’re going to use Comic Life software to tell a day in the life of 16th century Stirling Castle with a bilingual comic. Art are designing coats of arms, Modern Languages are working on the story and translation and Social Subjects are researching the period to make sure their work is historically accurate and creating other objects to fit their stories.

Now, if this was a normal class, we’d work in a linear fashion: research first, visit castle, take pictures, write story, translate story, create materials, photograph materials, pull it all together. That would be a rather lovely wee project, covering several disciplines. But with our subject rotation setup that’s not possible.

It will definitely be interesting though.