Thursday, March 05, 2015

In Response to: Grant Wiggins "5 unfortunate misunderstandings that almost all educators have about Bloom’s Taxonomy"

This post is in response to: Grant Wiggins' post "5 unfortunate misunderstandings that almost all educators have about Bloom’s Taxonomy" (also left as a comment on the blog).

This post strongly mirrors a presentation ( - start at slide 29 for information related to this post) I recently gave that focused on the Affective Domain - the Second Domain that the group that Bloom chaired published (see image above). I love this quote from Bloom about Book 1: 
"One of the most widely cited yet least read books in American education"
 I believe that by focusing solely on the Cognitive Domain with limited understanding of its purpose, and not taking the time to understand the true scope of what the three domains were trying to uncover about measuring learning, that we have done a great disservice to students and teachers in regards to the arts of learning and teaching. At the same time we have over simplified what it takes to measure mastery. By only focusing on cognitive aspects of mastering a topic we ignore other inherit and important skills, inside of the Affective and Psycomotor Domains that help students invest in the learning process and ultimately achieve mastery the cognitive goals, while building skills to connections beyond the limits of those standards. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and unfortunately in the case of throwing around the taxonomy, that is often the case. 

Other Thoughts not in the blog comment:

Some other points I want to leave, but I didn't want to fill a comment box up with.

The goal of the Taxonomies was to:
Measure the ways in which students will change their thinking, their feelings, and their actions.

We just fall so short of doing this in schools - and standardized tests are terrible at doing this (trust me - I have helped write them).

Written Collaboratively at Conferences from 1949 to 1953 - with 34 co-authors and Bloom as the Editor. They sent out 1000 pre-editions for review before publishing the original work. Several of the contributors died before it went to publication (that is how long collaboration took in the 50's).

The book was intended to analyze "relevant and accepted principles" around evaluating learning - which means they are built around best practices of the 40's and 50's - which, if the Taxonomies are still relevant, means a few things:
  • What made good teaching has always made good teaching
  • There is more to learning than cognitive skills
  • We should all be embarrassed for not moving much further past this in 70 years
My final point: We sometimes over think all of this - teaching is about people - start there and help take them go further. Show students that you care about them, get them interested in the topic and how to use the information, get to the point where it has value to them and in the process you will help them leap over the "Investment Gap".