Turning Things Upside Down

Over the course of your education, do you feel as though you have learned an unnecessary amount of facts?

Were you taught a bunch of information that went in one ear, stayed long enough to pass a test, and then out the other ear?

Well this is exactly how many teachers are structuring their classes. We have been filling our students minds with information that may come in handy during a trivia game but that knowledge is not being applied in greater depth. Anyone who has been keeping up with the current state of education would know that Common Core is in constant debate. Both sides bring legitimate arguments to the table when discussing the success of our students through Common Core. One thing that cannot go without mention is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s has been a standard that has impacted the way that teachers have assessed their students. The famous upside down pyramid has set a course that is followed when organizing these assessments. Although this has been a standard for quite sometime, Wineburg’s revision has been gaining support and creating discussion on the switch of assessment approaches.

For so long now education, especially history has been creating assessment by focusing on facts and details rather than in depth analysis. Wineburg says, “…┬áthe aim is not merely to collect what is known, but to learn how to think about problems in a new way”. We are doing our students a disservice by filling them with facts and letting them just assume that that is all that they need to take from our classes. The way that Common Core has been implemented has created a disconnect between what is being taught and what our students are tested on. Standards ask for students to analyze, examine, compare and contrast, ultimately digging deeper into the foundation of history that we seem to be emphasizing on so much. The structure that Bloom’s has presented teachers is by focusing solely on what knowledge we can deposit into our students minds. Is this really what is beneficial to our students? Teaching to a test is limiting our students to what they are capable of doing. We are setting up the expectations that being critical thinkers is not necessary only collecting shallow knowledge is. Wineburg has realized that Bloom’s Taxonomy is necessary, but maybe it needs to be flipped upside down. Knowledge is important but what our students do with that knowledge needs to be our focus now.

Although teaching our students to realize that thinking critically is important, is it necessary to teach our students to be historians?