We all want our kids to be prepared for the 21st century.  But what are the skills that are needed in the future? Unfortunately, parents and teachers are more likely to expect kids to answers questions like who, what, where and why. To respond to these questions the kids need only to memorize the facts. To memorize the facts, kids need not understand them. Is memorizing good enough?  Or mere understanding is good enough? Thinking is done through words and pictures. In the ever-evolving world, kids need to have more than just remembering skills. There is a need for critical thinking skills which will allow the child to think independently, find and fix mistakes, solve problems, evaluate alternatives and reflect on their own beliefs. We need our kids to be the best at critical thinking
and problem-solving skills.  But how do we encourage those skills? This cannot be achieved by reading a book or completing a worksheet.

True education is to learn how to think, not what to think – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Learning comes with the ability to ask questions. The art of asking questions is an ancient part of good teaching and one of the rudimentary skills all teachers should be able to master. Knowledge and awareness are an intrinsic part of each learner. A skilled educator must reach into learners’ hidden levels of knowledge and awareness in order to help them reach new levels of thinking through thoughtfully developed questions. Blooms Taxonomy provides various questioning levels to understand thinking level for children of all ages.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is named after Benjamin Bloom, he and his team of educational psychologists published it in the year 1956. They studied various classroom activities of children and the goals that teachers had while preparing those activities. This study concluded that all educational objectives could be placed under three domains, Cognitive Domain, Affective Domain and Psychomotor Domain. Cognitive Domain was developed by this team which is split into a hierarchy of six levels of thinking which are Knowledge, Comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. This was later revised as Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analysing, Evaluating and Creating.

Why parents should understand Blooms Taxonomy.

In the field of Education, Blooms Taxonomy is most widely used for preparing lesson objectives and assessing the students. It is important that parents understand them. However, parents are not introduced to this to be used while interacting with children. As parents, we all want to encourage our children to think for themselves. We don’t want them just to remember and understand facts. We need them to move beyond that. We need children to interpret the facts, recognise pattern, drawing valid conclusions, making the right choices and being able to apply and defend them. For the right mind to nurture, the right environment is essential. Education needs a collaborative effort. It is not possible for teachers to do everything to develop thinking skills in children. As parents, we can also help our child to use critical thinking skills and work on exercising their mind so that they can evolve their thinking skills.

Knowledge/ Remembering: The recall of information.

This is at the bottom level of the Taxonomy. Questions are asked solely to test whether a kid has gained specific information from the lesson. Definitions, naming dates, naming people etc are all examples of questions in this level. Eg. Define momentum.

Comprehension/Understanding

This is the most emphasised levels in questioning the students at the schools. The kids will understand the facts, interpret them and put them in their own words. Illustration, demonstration, and Classification are done here. Eg. Demonstrate the working of an electric motor.

Application: Applying the knowledge to a new situation

Kids will have to apply and use the knowledge they have learned. They might be asked to solve a problem with the information they have gained in class, to create a viable solution, or illustrate an idea or concept with the use of a diagram

Analysing

In this level, kids will be required to go beyond knowledge and application and actually see patterns that they can use to analyze a problem. The kid will have to identify motives or causes from real-life stories.

Evaluation: Judgements about the value of material & methods

Kids are expected to assess information and come to a conclusion such as its value or debating the pros and cons of the information in front of them. We ask the child to form an opinion about the topic and defend it. Eg. Evaluate or assess a character in a story

Creation

This is the highest level of thinking. The kid is asked to put together several bits of old information to form a new idea. Such as, ask them to create, design or invent a new item, proposal or plan. This requires a bit of creativity and the ability to think in the abstract.

What can we do as parents to increase higher order thinking skills?

•Encourage your child to conduct an interview or survey. Ask them to make a flow chart, family tree or role play a real-life situation. (Application)
•Motivate the kids to assess a character and its actions in a book. Talk to them about giving and accepting criticism.
•Ask children to prepare a case study on any of the Educational Pedagogies and defend them. (Evaluation)
•Plan and design curriculum for any additional subject you would like to introduce in the school(like Farming, Cooking, Wildlife, Photography, Animation, Carpentry, Life skills) (Creation)

Let us learn how to ask questions and lead discussions geared to each level of critical thinking. After asking several higher level Bloom’s Taxonomy questions, during various conversations, we will get a feel for our child’s ability to think critically. Give the child extra thinking time to respond because the child is not used to higher level questioning or using their brain for this type of thinking, it may take some time for them to process and to respond. With practice, higher level questioning will become easier for us and our child.

Bibliography

Ms Alison Cullinane, Sept 2009, “Blooms Taxonomy and its use in classroom assessment”, National Centre
for Excellence

– Sneha Balumani
Sneha is a graduate in computer science and engineering, but being inspired by J Krishnamurti’s teaching she is now aspiring to become an educator, learner that led her to do the short course on Holistic education in Bhoomi college. After unlearning and relearning the whole concept of education and sustainable living, she is currently exploring various curriculum and alternative schools.

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