Monday, June 16, 2008


There is a theory about learning or rather a description of learning stages called Bloom’s Taxonomy which I was taught over thirty years ago at Teachers Training College. Simply put it is a hierarchical process that starts with receiving basic knowledge, comprehending that knowledge, applying that knowledge, then analysing and evaluating the knowledge and finally synthesizing and creating something unique – an insight of some sort, a new way of thinking, seeing or doing something.

In the visual arts a great synthesis would be the production of a new and original work of art. A greater synthesis would be to create a new “school” of art. Baroque · Classicism · Cubism · Dada · Expressionism are all examples of this.

I think that what is true for the individual also works for groups as well. The knowledge and experience of a group or movement can be synthesized into something that is greater than its individual parts.

A similar process takes place within all individual and / or group endeavours and activities whether it is philosophy, boat building, science or knitting.

I see this process in my work as a teacher at its most fundamental and individual level. Children who arrive on my classroom doorstep have the enthusiasm, biological hardwiring, the influence and learning from the family culture and maybe preschool experiences. Most have a smattering of prerequisite learning to build on, many have nothing. We climb the big mountain together and at the end a great and wonderful synthesis takes place. This is an old synthesis for many but for those who inhabit the early world it is a brand new magic key. Out of small beginnings is forged the colossus of Reading, Riting and Rithmetic.

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