Benjamin S. Bloom was born into the tumultuous time period of World War I. Yet, his early life was shaped in many ways by the typical Eastern American experience. Born on Februray 21, 1913, Bloom grew up in Lansford Pennsylvania. He was a small and unassuming man with a sharp wit and a deep desire to learn.
He attended Penn State University and later earned a PhD from the University of Chicago. At the time he developed his famous taxonomy, the United States was at the forefront of educational theory. From John Dewey’s Progressive school to the boom in Information Processing Theory to Skinner’s science of Behaviorism, the U.S. paved the way in educational theory. As a Board Examiner from 1943 to 1959, Bloom developed his famous Bloom’s Taxonomy. Unlike other theorists, his grew out of a pragmatic need to re-tool the assessment of students. Indeed, Benjamin Bloom was one of the first theorists to advocate the absolution of norm-referenced tests.
To him, all learning must be individualized and criterion-referenced. Eventually, on their own, students would reach the same level. Bloom had an affinity for science and statistics, which enabled him to classify information quickly. Those who knew him would often remark on his messy office, filled with books, notes, scribbles of information and statistical research.
Although his theories have been largely adopted by the more traditional teaching movements (especially in standards-based instruction and in the Core Curriculum Movement), Bloom considered himself a progressive. His style of teaching was interactive and encouraging to new ideas of research. Indeed, he was more Progressive than people could have guessed. Before Social Learning Theory existed, Bloom suggested that the environment played a major role in a student’s learning. Before differentiated instruction was an educational buzzword, he believed in tailoring instruction to an individual’s needs. In his later years, Bloom became an educational activist. He worked as a consultant for India and Israel. His advocated an educational system based upon higher-level thinking and a progressive style of teaching. Later, he testified before Congress about the importance of early childhood development. To him, one of his greatest victories was the creation of the Head Start Program.