Monday, May 31, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Synthesis

Educational Theory of the Week covers different theories that teachers use and impact our children. They can easily be applied outside of a classroom setting.  

Last week in Bloom's Taxonomy, we looked at analysis. This week is synthesis, or taking ideas or objects and putting them together. It of course is building on the other parts of Bloom's Taxonomy. A child must have knowledge of the objects, understand (comprehension) the parts of the objects, be able to apply different uses of the objects, and then analyze them objects. (Phew. It takes longer for me to write that out than for children to do it).


You can ask your child several questions when working with synthesis from Bloom's Taxonomy.

Can you put these blocks together?
How would you put these train tracks together? 
What plan should we have for going to the park? 
Imagine what would happen in the story next.

With older children, they would use synthesis when they write research papers or speeches. They would take their ideas and research and combine them into one object--their paper or speech. Little kids synthesize in different ways, such as building or mixing paint colors.

Application to Ty, age 3

Ty builds and builds. When his little feet plant on the floor each morning, he is building with his blocks.

He's become better as he ages. His towers once fell, bridges collapsed, train tracks didn't go anywhere, it was frustrating. No longer!

When building towers, bridges, and tracks, a little boy must know (knowledge) his materials. (Here is the run-down using the taxonomy!)

* After he knows his supplies, he can predict/explain (comprehension) what will happen, like that small blocks can't be on the bottom. * He constructs (application) his buildings by taking all of these ideas into account. * He analyzes where more blocks need to be so the individual pieces don't fall. * Finally, he creates (synthesis) the entire project, like putting the bridge over the tracks and the trees and flowers around the skyscraper.


Synthesis is a huge part of everyday life. It is often expected (as a higher order process it is highly desired in the educational and work fields). How do we make sure our children can reach it?

When we build, Ty and I discuss what worked, and what we could do better. The picture at the top of this is Ty deciding he wanted to arrange his buidling's color with a rainbow pattern.