McCasland--Critical Analysis 1

“The Nature and Dynamics of Relationships in Learning and Teaching,” by Jeff Bloom (2013), is a chapter included in, The Interdependence of Teaching and Learning, edited by Byrant Griffith and Douglas J. Loveless. This chapter discusses three relationships in a variety of contexts pertaining to education, and provides insight to some of the issues being faced by teachers and students in today’s schools. As I read through this chapter, I was able to relate to the points that were made in each section; relationships affect teaching, learning, and schooling in different ways but, in the end, the relationships within each context are all intertwined.

“The essence of relationships is based on function, interactions, and/or meanings” (Bloom, 2013, p. 2). Teachers and students both need the opportunity to make relevant connections between each other and the content being taught. Bloom (2013) states, “Facts and concepts are taught with minimal, if any, attention to the fact that everything can be understood in terms of their relationship to other “things”” (pp. 13-14). I think this is largely because the framework of teaching, learning, and schooling today focuses on the frameworks of positivism, mechanism, and reductionism (Bloom, 2013, pp. 8-9).

Our education system is creating “robots,” and the “robots” who are not “tuned” to perfection enter a survival of the fittest situation. No longer are we encouraging students to think critically about the information that is presented to them. No longer are we challenging students to analyze the validity and credibility of the claims that are made about the content taught. Instead, the focus is on “teaching to the test” so that our students will, hopefully, perform well enough to show that their teacher is a “good” teacher. I could not agree more with Bloom (2013) when he states, “Our obsession with testing hinders learning at deeper levels of understanding. There is no time to provide deep, meaningful, relevant, and stimulating learning opportunities” (p. 12). This is unfortunate for teachers and students because the teaching and learning cycle becomes mundane, which affects the motivation and desire for either party to put forth the effort.

Educators can change the direction of education and the experiences that occur within their classroom by shifting towards the framework of depth, extent, and abstraction. According to Bloom (2007):

  • Depth involves the recursive examination of specific patterns and relationships that are parts of the system under investigation;
  • Extent involves the breadth of the application of metapatterns across contexts;
  • Abstraction refers to the construction of generalized principles (p. 48).

With all of the mandates established by the “educative authorities,” teachers feel added pressure to do everything by the book. However, I feel that if teachers begin to focus on the frameworks of extent and abstraction, depth with follow. Time is a factor that places constraints on the teaching and learning cycle, but teaching in a cross-curricular manner, instead of seeing the content of each subject as separate entities, will help alleviate some of the pressures associated with these time constraints. Cross-curricular teaching will increase the number of opportunities students have to make connections and develop a deeper understand of the content being taught as well.

In conclusion, relationships in the context of teaching, learning, and schooling can be very complex. Bloom (2007) states, “Words and actions need to be situated in one or more relevant and meaningful contexts, in order to develop any degree of complex understandings” (p. 48). Analyzing your own teaching practices and thinking in a more abstract pattern will allow you to provide more meaningful learning experiences for your students. Engage your students in instruction and encourage them to think beyond the boundaries of the information you provide. Time may not allow for in-depth analysis of certain things; therefore, engage your students to the fullest extent during the classroom time you have and encourage them to continue their investigations outside of school. If they are interested in the content and truly engaged, they will be motivated to continue the learning process beyond what class time allows.


Bloom, J.W. (2007). The use of metapatterns for research into complex systems of teaching, learning and schooling—part 2: Applications. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 4(1), 45-68.

Bloom, J. W. (2013). The nature and dynamics of relationships in learning and teaching. In B. Griffith & D. Loveless (Eds.), The Interdependence of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from

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