Bloom’s taxonomy outlined tenets of education that became a model for curriculum developers since the 1950s. Bloom divides learning into domains, then breaks those domains into tiered levels. Such division promotes learning as a hierarchy with more basic skills, such as recalling and identifying facts, acting as prerequisites for higher skills like analysis or synthesis.

This taxonomy inspires a sequential learning model. Before students read, they must learn phonics. Before students solve math word problems, they must learn the computation. In this order, a student must demonstrate mastery of a skill often outside the context that skill will be used. Every skill taught is cleaved neatly from the other and taught separately. These skills are then amalgamated into distinct subjects like algebra or literature by junior high as teachers assume students have reached mastery of them.

The cognitive skills Bloom outlines are important, but the model in some ways promotes an inherent segregation of skill sets. We spent a lot of time as educators teaching prerequisite concepts and leaving it up to the students to put together the puzzle pieces. Of course as a fourth grader I hated math, when I was told to plow through worksheet after worksheet seemingly in total isolation to my other work in school.

What if we dismantled the segregation? What if instead of courses, students worked through material that was tagged? A math problem could be tagged with #multiplication, #inference, and #evaluation just as a Sherlock Holmes novel could be tagged with #literature, #deduction, #chemistry, and #vocabulary. Such a cloud of tags could help students make associations across subject areas, helping to spark the natural deepening and maturation of their cognitive skills. This to me, seems a much more intuitive course of instruction.

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