The Misconception of Bloom’s Taxonomy

I think the model of Bloom is wrong. I know this statement sounds absurd in todays education. The unsuspecting side effect of Bloom is happening. So, I think this is something we should rethink, especially since it is so widely taught to teachers and in teacher education. I acknowledge that the taxonomy accurately classifies various types of cognitive thinking skills. It certainly identifies the different levels of complexity. But its organizing framework is wrong. Here’s why.

Conceived in 1956 by a group of educators chaired by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy classifies skills from least to most complex. The presentation of the Taxonomy (in both the original and revised version) as a pyramid suggests that one cannot effectively begin to address higher levels of thinking until those below have been addressed. In practice the pyramid is seen as a step-by-step method of thinking skills. Only the most academically bright people are likely to reach the pinnacle. That’s the way it’s frequently taught.

misconception

Many teachers in many classrooms spend the majority of their time in the basement of the taxonomy, never really addressing or developing the higher order thinking skills that kids need to develop. Much of today’s standardized testing rigorously tests the basement. The main focus of learning lies at the bottom steps, which is not beneficial for our students. The pyramid creates the impression that there is a scarcity of creativity — only those who are successful at the bottom levels and reach the summit can be creative. And while this may be how it plays out in many schools, it’s not due to any shortage of creative potential on the part of our students.

misconception of bloom

I think the narrowing pyramid also emphasis that our students need a lot more focus on factual knowledge than creativity, or analyzing, or evaluating and applying what they’ve learned. And in a Google-world, it’s just not true. Here’s what I suggest: we flip Bloom’s taxonomy. Rather than starting with knowledge, we start with creating, and eventually notice the knowledge that we need from it.

Traditionally, students learn many of the foundational principles through lectures, video’s and text book/article reading, and then eventually create their own. What if we started with creating, evaluating, analysing and applying first? I think the best flipped classroom is characterised by students spending most of their time creating, evaluating and analyzing. In a sense we are creating an experience that becomes the friction for the brain, rather than solely focusing on acquiring knowledge. The flipped classroom approach is not about watching videos. It’s about students being actively involved in their own learning and creating content in the structure that is most meaningful for them. Bloom actively places learning where it should be, in the hands of the learner. Give learning back to life!

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