This research investigates teachers' understanding of and feelings about transdisciplinary education and the International Baccalaureate's Primary Years Programme (PYP) as utilized by two remote schools in the province of Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea. A goal of transdisciplinary education is to make learning through inquiry authentic, broad, student-centered, and relevant to the real world. In this study I examine educators’ perspectives of how transdisciplinary education is manifested in the two different and yet related elementary schools.
Both schools are supported by a multinational mining company. One school is for expatriate students and the language of instruction is English. The second school, which is for Indonesian students, follows the Indonesian National Curriculum of 2013, with instruction delivered in the Indonesian language by Indonesian teachers. A single expatriate superintendent oversees both schools.
Teacher experience, teacher PYP experience, implications of the PYP framework, cultural implications of the location, and demographics of the school stakeholders were considerations of this research. To acquire data, homeroom teachers, specialist teachers (music, art, physical education, and language), administrators, and PYP coordinators completed a survey and were interviewed. Additional data were collected through document examination and observation.
A broad range of experience with transdisciplinary education existed in both schools, contributing to some confusion about how to implement the PYP framework and varying conceptions of what constitutes transdisciplinary education. Principles of the PYP were evident in curriculum documents and planning and discussed by the teachers in both schools. Educators at the expatriate school identified with the international-mindedness and approaches to learning in the PYP. Educators at the national school valued to character education elements of the PYP, which they viewed as consistent with Indonesian principles of pancasila. The mission and vision statements of the schools in this study aligned with the PYP in different ways. Challenges faced by educators in these schools are acquisition of professional development, experienced teachers and teaching materials due to the remote location of the schools. While transdisciplinary education was described, it was not necessarily implemented. The findings of this study suggest that transdisciplinary education is a mindset that takes time, experience, and commitment to implement.