Friday, June 16, 2006

Bloomin' ideas

Reading II, boring as usual. A girl I know from a couple other classes asked, jokingly, if I'd do her math homework for her. I said, in all seriousness, that I would --- anything to alleviate the mind-numbing tedium of this class.

Here's the stupid teacher term of the day: Grand Conversations. This is EC-4 jargon for "sitting around talking about a book."

Anyway, in class we went over a few things, most notably Bloom's Taxonomy of learning. As recently as last year (in Ms. P's Classroom Management course), we learned these, from lowest to highest, as:

* knowledge level --- simple memorization and regurgitation of facts
* comprehension level --- explaining, summarizing, etc.
* application level --- sorting, classifying of facts
* analysis level --- breaking knowledge into parts: comparing, analyzing reasons why
* synthesis level --- predicting, hypothesizing, planning
* evaluation level --- judging, evaluating, ranking

But according to current teacher Ms. L, Bloom's Taxonomy (which was created in the 1950s) was revised back in the 1990s, ands it's this new Bloom's that we're expected to learn. (Why, then, did the Classroom Management text list the old-style Bloom's?) The revised terms are, again in order of lowest to highest:

* remembering (describing, listing)
* understanding (explaining ideas, classifying)
* applying (using new knowledge, executing new ideas)
* analyzing (deconstructing relationships in new ideas)
* evaluating (hypothesizing, judging, experimenting)
* creating (generating new ideas, planning, designing)

I think the new Bloom's is a more efficient and compact way to describe knowledge, at least in terms of the language used. Developmentally, I find that au fond classifying "levels" of thinking is a rather ridiculous exercise. Why label ideas at all? Why say that one idea is "only" application, while some other idea is somehow a higher order of thought simply because it involves analyzing? Yes, in general, debating a moral issue, for example, is a more advanced exercise than, say naming the dates of the Civil War, but who cares? On the other hand, some memorized knowledge is hideously complex and requires great mental acuity, like medical terminology. Some judging and creating involves ridiculously simple thought and can be done by preschoolers; for example, "was the third little pig smart to use bricks for his house?" So again, why label?

That the labels are nearly meaningless is evidenced by my textbook itself, which lists sample activities for each level --- but the same activities appear again and again through the levels. It's a very fine line between "retelling" and "dramatizing." To me, the very act of retelling a story creates something new, even if the teller adds and subtracts no new ideas in doing so. Isn't "comparing and contrasting" (supposedly an analysis level skill) a form of judging?

Look, just use your Remembering level skills and memorize the damn Bloom's already.

Oh, all right.

1 comment:

United We Lay said...

I know it all seems horribly boring and like crap right now, but trust me, you'll use it when you're in the classroom. I've been teachign for six years, and I still fall back on a strategy I learned in my Master's classes once in a while. I would suggest that you keep your course materials. The first year can be hectic, and sometimes you can't think fo anythign to do, so you fall back on something you learned in school.