The mastermind, or architect, behind the humanistic reorganization of the American school curriculum, by dividing it into the “cognitive” and “affective” domains, was educational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999), who got his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1942. His famous book Taxonomy of Educational Objectives outlined everything teachers must know and do in their classrooms if they are to convert their pupils into humanists. He wrote (pp. 10, 12):
The taxonomy is designed to be a classification of the student behaviors which represent the intended outcomes of the educational process.... What we are classifying is the intended behavior of students — the ways in which individuals are to act, think, or feel as the result of participating in some unit of instruction.
Back in the old days when I was in primary school, my teacher was not interested in my feelings about arithmetic or cursive writing. She just wanted us to memorize the arithmetic facts and write the words neatly and correctly. Bloom goes on (p. 26):
By educational objectives, we mean explicit formulations of the ways in which students are expected to be changed by the educative process.... The philosophy of education of the school serves as one guide, since the objectives to be finally included should be related to the school’s view of the “good life for the individual in the good society.”
That’s how humanists view the purpose of life: to achieve the “good life in a good society.” The aim of the cognitive domain, Bloom writes, is to “develop a basic knowledge of the evolutionary development of man. ... A knowledge of the forces, past and present, which have made for the increasing interdependence of people all over the world.... Knowledge of a relatively complete formulation of the theory of evolution.” (p.71)
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)