Bloom’s Taxonomy: Has Knowledge Become Outdated?

September 15, 2011

Bloom’s Taxonomy: Has Knowledge Become Outdated?

During the middle of the twentieth century a psychologist name Benjamin Bloom created a classification system to identify levels of thinking.  This arrangement is known as Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Intellectual processes are ordered from the most basic, “knowledge” to the most complex, “evaluation”.  Recently, Bloom’s Taxonomy has been updated to reflect modern research and educational principles.  The two versions are illustrated below.                 The rapid growth of technology has contrived tools which gather, sort, and announce information at levels far superior to human beings.  With the addition of smartphones, iPads, and other tablets, we can now utilize these tools regularly throughout our professional and personal routines.  So, the question becomes, has technology caused knowledge to become outdated?   Knowledge Is Outdated The wealth of information that is at our fingertips, made possible due to the latest technologies, lessens the need for memorization of facts.  Therefore, higher levels of thinking can occur without one possessing the knowledge base that was once necessary for past generations.  Ask yourself what’s more important:
  • to know the Pythagorean Theorem or to know how to use technology to access it?
  • to know the date of the Boston Tea Party or the ability to use technology to access the information about it?
  • to memorize the Periodic Table or the capability to use technology to find it and compare elements?
These are very simple examples, but they strengthen the argument that wrote knowledge is no longer necessary and educators should skip the “knowledge” level of Bloom’s Taxonomy and move directly to higher level thinking skills.   Knowledge Is Necessary How would you feel if you went to a doctor who needed to search the internet to identify your femur bone?  I would feel uncertain about his ability to accurately treat me, for sure.  Rote knowledge is necessary because it provides the foundation of information required to move into higher level thinking skills. Individuals will rely on a base of facts to pull from as they perform higher level thinking tasks throughout their lives.  To say we should regularly rely on technology to replace the most fundamental intellectual actions is highly irresponsible.   The arguments for and against the need for knowledge can be strong.  However, educators should walk the narrow line between the two.  We must continue to require students to perform the timeless tasks of memorization, while also challenging them to use the latest technologies to enhance their ability to perform higher level thinking skills.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.