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Critical Pedagogy 4th Ed – Bloom’s Taxonomies

Except from: Wink, J. (2010, 4/e, p.156) Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the REAL WORLD. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


How to Do It

  • Choose a specific demanding piece of text before the activity.
  • Assign and read it in class silently.
  • Divide the whole group into six smaller groups, each representing one of Bloom’s levels of taxonomies.
  • Assign each small group to relate its assigned level of taxonomy to the reading assignment.

The Experience

First, none of the students could remember all six levels. Can you name them right now? We had a good laugh about this and decided that we needed to shift into a truly generative mode of learning. It was coffee break time, and we assigned ourselves the task of generating the six taxonomies with our colleagues. When we came back to class, each of us was able to recite all six taxonomies: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. This may have taught more about generative, constructive, interactive teaching and learning than anything I could have done.

Each small taxonomy group shared with the whole group. For example, the knowledge group shared its knowledge; the comprehension group shared its comprehension; the application group explained how one could apply its learning, and so on. It became a process of students realizing that they had grown quite familiar with Pennycook’s ideas, which had seemed so abstract, esoteric, and even infuriating only a few hours earlier. I am always a bit hesitant to share Bloom in a book about transformational teaching and learning, as he represents a much more prescriptive approach with roots reaching to behaviorism. However, it is always how we approach our work with students, and now, after doing this activity with multiple groups over the years, I have always noticed how critical the thinking becomes, particularly during the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation phase of the process.

As I reflect on my hesitation to share Pennycook with this group of EIL teachers, I am now aware of how much they were affected by his message and our approach to accessing his message. Although we read several other demanding texts during this summer school session, none hit as close to home as Pennycook. Nothing related more to their lives. These easy methods made the students reflect critically not only on the use of English in the international context, but also on the unexamined role they might be playing in this process.