Skip to comments.Bloom's Taxonomy: “What do you think about X?”
Posted on 06/20/2014 11:34:47 AM PDT by BruceDeitrickPrice
Sixty years ago, Benjamin Bloom came up with what he said was a superior way to categorize educational goals and activities.
The Taxonomy was famous for reducing everything to six steps: remembering; understanding; applying; analyzing; evaluating; creating. Note that "remembering" (or "knowing") is the first and LOWEST step.
Bloom concocted this taxonomy to describe education at the college level. College professors, however, ignored the Taxonomy. Meanwhile, the people in charge of our public schools put this thing on a pedestal. Why? Because the Taxonomy scorned what had always been considered the most important step: knowing information.
Bloom and his Taxonomy ended up being a favorite theory among "progressives" who had, from the start, been anti-knowledge and anti-content. Here's what's top professors Arthur Gates and Edward Thorndike wrote in 1929: "Artificial exercises, like drills on phonetics, multiplication tables, and formal writing movements are used to a wasteful degree. Subjects such as arithmetic, language and history include content that is intrinsically of little value."
The Education Establishment was hostile to knowledge, any and all knowledge. The question was, how did they make this hostility respectable? That's where Bloom's Taxonomy came in. Here was an allegedly scientific picture of what happened in a child's mind. The least important aspect was learning facts.
It's not clear whether Bloom knew his Taxonomy was a sophistry. Perhaps other professors perverted his noble intentions. The end result is the same. The symbolism of putting learning or knowledge at the bottom of the pyramid was clear to everybody. It was the trivial step. Why not just skip it?
(To restore sanity to Bloom's Taxonomy, put the word "facts" in each of the steps: memorize facts, understand facts, apply facts, analyze facts, evaluate facts, create facts. Then the message is fundamentally correct: start with facts and stay focused on facts.)
Our Education Establishment, however, went in the opposite direction, pretending that knowing was lower-order thinking, so children should jump ahead to HOTSHigher Order Thinking Skills.
A fact-free world is like teaching a child to play tennis without net or tennis balls. You tell the child "Work on your forehand," but the child is not actually playing tennis. How can he improve? In effect, Bloom's Taxonomy gives schools permission to be bad schools! Bloom's Taxonomy, by focusing on what is supposedly happening inside the child's head, suggests it's the child's responsibility to organize and master information in the most efficient way.
What nonsense. It's the responsibility of educators to organize information so that children can learn it quickly and easily. Instead, we have nihilistic hacks hiding behind Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom's Taxonomy is a misdirection, much like magicians and con artists have always done. The burden is on little children to be efficient, so adults can be sloppy.
Thanks to Bloom's Taxonomy, knowledge is bad and memorization is a four-letter word. Students are supposed to do 'higher-level' thinking about things they know nothing about. One outspoken critic stated: "Bloom's taxonomy is a serious impediment to education in America. It needs to be uprooted and eradicated if we want to educate children in a way that actually works .[T]ypical Evaluation questions take the form of "What do you think about x?" and "Do you agree with x?" These questions are often accompanied by praise for what education literature misidentifies as the 'Socratic Method.' The result of this strategy is to occupy class time with vacuous opining." http://vega.jeffco.edu/szak/handouts/BookerBloom.pdf
This critic points out that, "In Book VII of his Republic, Plato said that real higher order education, education into what he called the dialectic, couldn't start until the student... had mastered conventional wisdom."
Finding that my instincts align with Plato has prompted me to present Price's Taxonomy. It has only two steps: 1) teach kids lots of information; 2) teach kids to compare, explain, prioritize, and make deductions from that information. Historically, every teacher knew that the real game was geography, history, science, the arts, etc. Kids learned thousands of facts in elementary and middle school, and in the process they learned how to manipulate information. At that point, children are engaged in higher-order thinking.
Most of what public schools chatter about is nonsense. As the outspoken critic summed up his views: "The Taxonomy, in its call for higher order thinking, has become a tool for subverting the transmission of knowledge."
Bloom's Taxonomy illustrates a phenomenon I call pretend-precision. What after all is the difference between "understanding facts" and "analyzing facts"? Teachers in training, and indeed entire school systems, are kept busy trying to understand pointless distinctions like that. Basic problem: the Education Establishment is knowledge-averse. This is a serious psychological condition that often leads to blooming idiocy.
Good related articles:
"Bloom's Taxonomy Sucks": http://virtueacademy.us/education/dogma/blooms-taxonomy
"The Crusade Against Knowledge / The Campaign Against Memorization" http://www.improve-education.org/id70.html
I recall one of my teachers showed us this taxonomy; I believe it was Mr. Raymond in 5th grade. He asked where we thought we got in most of the class work. We thought it went to the fourth of fifth level, and were shocked when he admitted most of the education system was geared to to level one. He was a no-nonsense guy, having been in one of the first tanks ashore on D-Day.
I doubt you’d get too many teachers who would be as candid today. Heck, they probably think their spoonfeeding of liberal dogma counts as “creativity.”
I've probably had an inner dislike of x ever since high school algebra.
I was first exposed to Bloom's taxonomy some 20 years ago and it seemed pointless to me, but for about 12 years had a chairman who was a big believer in it and similar systems.
The whole “anthropogenic climate change” nonsense would never have gotten any traction whatsoever if people actually took the time to connect what they should have learned in basic science classes into a coherent understanding of how the earth works.
A good teacher uses Bloom’s taxonomy in a variety of effective ways and understands, from tons of experience, that knowing/remembering is the most vital aspect. Most teachers who have experience know the fallacy of the so-called “best-practices” as well.
We see all of this educational “expertise” recycled regularly over a period of years. There’s not a great deal that is *new* in the realm of teaching practices...except perhaps in the area of brain research.
I’ve always approached and understood Bloom in the same way as Maslow’s Hierarchy in that lower levels had to be satisfied in order to work/live/learn at the higher levels. In other words, knowing/memorization creates a baseline to move on to the other levels where the information can be manipulated to achieve needs, wants, or desires. The article author’s two-level approach is also a valid method, along with the recommended addition of the word “facts” to Bloom to create better context for the taxonomy.
They were a pretty good band.
I have never seen “taxonomy” written this many times ever.