Inverting Bloom's Taxonomy
The magic of Bloom’s Taxonomy, that familiar classification system for levels of thinking (and hence learning objectives), was that teachers could close their eyes and picture it. And with a little help from entrepreneurial consultants, they didn’t need to close their eyes at all—posters of color-coded pyramids became a standard part of classroom decor. The taxonomy was lean and intuitive, but the image of the pyramid gave it staying power. “Knowledge” formed the wide and stable base. “Evaluation” was the terrain of intellectual mountaineers.
Never mind the fact that Benjamin Bloom, the influential University of Chicago education professor who died in 1999, never used a pyramid to illustrate his taxonomy, much less for the purpose of teacher professional development. What mattered was the taxonomy in practice . In a postwar world marked by increasing specialization and fragmentation, the taxonomy was an antidote to chaos. Thinking, despite the many disciplines it came in, could be assayed and rank-ordered according to Bloom’s levels. And there were only six categories, not 60. The taxonomy was easy to remember and easy to use, even more so when it was reduced to a pyramid.
There was only one problem. The pyramid was upside down—at least...
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