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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Examples of interdependence

Our freshmen are currently exploring a unit on interdependence, in which they are learning about the many ways people, animals, natural resources, and things are dependent on one another for successful outcomes in whatever form that may take on, or even for literal survival. Following are several examples that I've given to students or that I've heard from students and teachers.

The many parts in a car or motorcycle engine: An engine is made up of many individual parts, components, and processes. All of these individual pieces are dependent on the others working properly in order for the engine as a whole to work properly. If just one of these parts, components, or processes is not working the way it should, then the entire engine may not work at all.

Dependent on the labor and skills of others: Speaking of cars, I love cars, but I don't know how to work on them. Never really had the time or interest to learn, and even if I did, I would certainly not be an expert. Therefore, I am dependent on the labor and skills of mechanics and technicians when I need my car serviced or repaired. Thank goodness there are good people out there with these highly-specialized skills and talents, otherwise I may not have a car to get to work, buy groceries, and have fun! And speaking of groceries, we are dependent on countless people, and I mean countless, for growing, harvesting, catching, hunting, preparing, packaging, storing, displaying, and selling the food we have to eat. The food didn't just magically appear in the store, right? And the store itself - the physical building - we are dependent on the many talents of architects, engineers, designers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and many others for making it happen!

School band and choir: Each individual person in the band or choir is dependent on the other individuals in their own sections - woodwind, brass, percussion, string, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, etc. - knowing their parts and performing well. In turn, the entire unit - the entire band or choir - is dependent on each of the sections knowing their parts and performing well. If someone is off key or off time, the entire performance may not sound right!

Interdependence among school subjects: Without learning the fundamentals of writing and communication in your English class, it's pretty difficult to earn a decent grade on your paper in science or your presentation in social studies. And without the ability to write, speak and present, do math, and understand the role of government and the impact of the broader economy, you're going to struggle in your business class.

Discussion and reflection questions

Now that we've offered a few practical, everyday, real-world examples of interdependence, ask yourself these questions and think about some possible answers.

If you play any team sports or are involved in any school clubs, can you think of any examples where you're dependent on your teammates or fellow club members, and they're dependent on you?

If you have a job, think about your role at work. How are others - like your co-workers, managers, and customers - dependent on you, and you dependent on them?

The food chain - We discussed earlier how we're dependent on countless people to provide us with the food we buy at the store, but how are humans, plants, animals, and natural resources dependent on each other in regards to the food chain? What do we all need from one another? What are our responsibilities?

Think about group assignments for a moment. In many cases, your teacher is going to award one grade for the entire group, and that one grade for the entire group becomes your individual grade, right? So, if you're given a group project to do, how are you dependent on the work of the others in the group? How are the others dependent on your contributions?

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