The intrinsic problems with the taxonomy are that it implies both a order to these different objectives and a commonality between, for example, analysing a graph and analysing a poem. The extrinsic problem is when others have tried to use the order of the taxonomy to imply that some objectives are superior to others:
This is rough because it leads to the kind of professional development sessions where teachers are told that they are asking too many lower order questions and they need to ask more higher order ones.
Let’s squish this down into something that perhaps better aligns with what we now know.
We know, for instance, that applications such as critical thinking and problem solving rest on a foundation of relevant domain knowledge. The schemas held in long-term memory probably do not distinguish between knowledge and its application in any meaningful way. However, it is possible to conceive of teaching approaches that would neglect either sufficient knowledge-building or sufficient application and so it is perhaps a meaningful distinction for teachers. Where knowledge is lacking, we need to cycle back from application and build the relevant knowledge base before returning to application. That’s what the curly arrow is intended to show.
However, this only deals with what David C. Geary would term ‘biologically secondary’ knowledge – cultural knowledge created recently in our evolutionary history that we have not evolved to acquire such as reading, writing and doing mathematics. All biologically secondary knowledge co-opts what Geary terms ‘biologically primary’ knowledge – knowledge that we have evolved to acquire such as speaking and comprehending our mother tongue or following basic social norms. So let’s add that:
This shows the importance of biologically primary knowledge as a foundation for biologically secondary knowledge. It also implies that if biologically primary knowledge is lacking then we need to fix this.