The false dichotomy

Horatio Speaks

There are certain concepts that become so much part of the language and the cultural assumptions of one’s profession that they go unnoticed. In education, one of the most prevalent – and pernicious  – is the vapid assignation of the terms “higher order” and “lower order” skills. The labels are linked to what has become known as Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom himself described his work as “the most widely cited and least read book in America.” On the many occasions where I have heard Bloom’s taxonomy cited, I have never heard it questioned or qualified; it is rarely even contextualised. It is simply referred to, usually briefly, as the authoritative rationale for whatever (or whoever) the speaker wants to promote.

The problem with this is that the taxonomy was developed to try to classify educational objectives. The assumption that these skills exist in a strict hierarchy was never agreed by the…

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About Harry Webb

Blogging about education and education research
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