"Focusing on interdisciplinary teams instead of interdisciplinary people reinforces standard disciplinary boundaries rather than breaking them down. An interdisciplinary team is a committee in which members identify themselves as an expert in something else besides the actual scientific problem at hand, and abdicate responsibility for the majority of the work because it's not their field. Expecting a team of disciplinary scientists to develop a new field is like sending a team of monolingual diplomats to the United Nations."
Check out this Plos Commentary on Antedisciplinary Science. He makes some good points. Interdisciplinary learning is a 'hot' topic at the levels of higher education (here and here), but very little has trickled down to K-12 levels - probably for many reasons (e.g. teachers aren't trained for this, NCLB woes, students failing to meet standards).
Other than general politeness guidelines, most K-12 students don't learn about how to interact in groups. In the name of democratic classrooms, sometimes the emphasis is more on equal treatment than diversity of thinking and problem solving styles. This is unfortunate, though, because it may be that an individual's greatest contribution to a group will be found in their differences - ideas, fund of knowledge, personal history or associations, and thinking style- rather than their traits in common.
Many of the most successful innovative personalities are quite lopsided in their cognitive and social abilities. In fact, sometimes very smart people can make big mistakes by diluting their native talents by brooding and working too hard on their weaknesses rather than devoting themselves to their strengths.
Sean Eddy sounds like a polymath who is accustomed to crossing disciplines regularly-and these sort of folk are often great paradigm shifters in business or scholarly areas. However, there is always a flipside to this. Polymaths are also a restless sort. They are less attuned to incremental development of an area, and they may be so independent-minded that they work better with subordinates (e.g. their workers) than with colleagues.
Creativity by committee can be doomed to fail if the groups themselves are not chosen carefully by some who knows the talents and the personalities involved. Groups can also get cumbersome with increased size and extreme diversity (no one knows what anyone is talking about), and they can be sabotaged if given too little authority, or overly managed or supervised. Members of great groups often need to be recruited and valued for their distinctive roles, contributions, and personalities, and they need a worthy problem to devote themselves to.
As public school kids ourselves, we often found group activities to be frustrating: the experiences were often chaotic (people thrown together), members were not differentiated (everyone try to solve a problem and suggest things), and sociological aspects could overshadow any lesson or process (for instance, domination by a few strong personalities, or apathy or confusion of all).
We wonder, how much time is spent trying to improve collaboration between teachers of different subjects or grades, or offering them practice at collaborative problem solving? It's hard to teach it, if you haven't had successful experiences yourself.
Creative Collaboration - BBC Article