Texas GOP Platform: Don’t Teach Kids Critical Thinking Skills!

Remember when Texas State Board of Education member David Bradley criticized teachers and scholars who were crafting new language arts and reading curriculum standards for Texas schools back in 2008? Having students actually think about what they were reading didn’t seem like a good idea to Bradley:

“I’m sorry. This critical thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”

Well, Bradley’s fellow Republicans appear to agree. The 2012 Texas GOP platform adopted this month in Fort Worth includes the following gem:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

So the Texas GOP worries that teaching kids to think is a threat to parental authority. Who knew?

TFN’s analysis of the Texas GOP platform is here.

8 thoughts on “Texas GOP Platform: Don’t Teach Kids Critical Thinking Skills!

  1. This is what all two-bit banana republic dictators hope for—a population that accepts everything the regime says as truth and never questions any of it. It speaks volumes about who the right wing extremists and their followers in this country really are.

  2. There’s a piece here where the TX-GOP communications director is trying to back away from that a little bit. "I think the intent is that the Republican Party is opposed to the values clarification method that serves the purpose of challenging students beliefs and undermine parental authority". Though he admits they're stuck with the mistake, since that was the platform adopted.

    Of course, there's no mention in the platform of the "values clarification method," which (from a quick Google whack) was apparently introduced in the 1960s and out-of-vogue even by the late 1980s. Instead, the platform language refers to critical thinking, Higher Order Thinking Skills, and Outcome-Based Education. So, even given what the spokescritter says, it implies that the GOP is actually opposed to anything that goes to "challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority“. Furthermore, it suggests that they’re not interested in whether that is the intent for introducing it, but merely whether it can “serve the purpose” — language even worse than the original. And, as it happens: Yes, one inherent hazard is that critical thinking can challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs”. Such challenge has little effect when the beliefs have a solid foundation; it’s only when the fixed belief is such absolute crap that it can’t have a solid foundation that there’s going to be an impact. Similarly, it can challenge parental authority if the parent is abusing that authority to sign off on “the sky is green” crap. (Well, except in a few places near the leakier petroleum refineries.)

    However, that’s only a problem if you value “authority” over “truth”.
    Oh, wait…. this is the Texas GOP!

    1. Oh, wait. I was reading from a copy of a copy that omitted the parenthetical; “values clarification” is one of the methods mentioned in the actual platform. D’oh!

      I suppose it’s a lesson on why you should always check primary sources….

  3. It’s small wonder that these guys are against critical thinking. It’s the biggest single danger to their incredibly screwed-up worldview. If critical thinking were more commonplace, no one would ever vote for their candidates again.

  4. “… undermining parental authority.” Isn’t that special. A casual observation of the “Lord of the Fly’s” behavior of many teenagers indicates to me that they’re raised by other children, not their own parents.

  5. The greatest allies of the conservatives and Christian Right are fear and ignorant. These two seem to feed on each other. If a person is ignorant he/she is usually afraid, and this causes them to be afraid of knowing.
    The conservative political leadership knows this and uses it to gain political power. They seem to need scared and ignorant people to support them. They seem to be very scared of intelligent people to can exposed their lies.

  6. Yeah, uh, critical watchanacallit skills? I was never teached that.

    In my head, the Nazi theme song started playing. Don’t teach our kids to THINK CRITICALLY? That is what brings wonderful things such as “my parents say that the Holocaust never happened and that is what I think too.” or “My parents think that some people are not as good as other people and that is what I think too.”

    Generational prejudice works that way and is abhorrent to people who CAN think critically and intelligently.

    Methinks that Buba, the guy who represents east Texas, comes from that mindless bunch. Gomert, I think his name is. Gomer is what his name SHOULD be. That guy has zero thinking skills, but I guess so are his constituents.