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Texas GOP Educational Platform Opposes Teaching Critical Thinking Skills 734

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Texas Republican delegates met earlier this month to put together their 2012 platform. Much of this focused on the educational system. Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge 'student's fixed beliefs' and undermine 'parental authority.' Page 12 of their official platform (PDF) discusses their thinking on teaching thinking."
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Texas GOP Educational Platform Opposes Teaching Critical Thinking Skills

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  • by gatfirls (1315141) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:30PM (#40486895)
    "We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas. "
    • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:48PM (#40487145)

      How about letting teachers beat parents instead? It might actually be more effective.

    • by KhabaLox (1906148)

      "We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas. "

      Note that this is almost directly in contradiction to their other stated belief:

      Juvenile Daytime Curfew - We strongly oppose Juvenile Daytime Curfews. Additionally, we oppose any official entity from detaining, questioning and/or disciplining our children without the consent of a child’s parent.

      The "American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty" part is also somewhat at odds with their notion of parental rights always trumping the state's.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:36PM (#40486979) Homepage Journal

    That's just one more reason (as if more were needed) that government shouldn't be allowed in business, education, health care, money, etc., oh well, eventually the society will be so dumb, it wouldn't care about anything but their daily bowl of cheese grits or whatever they eat and a 12 hours of American Football on all channels daily. Eventually... oh wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:37PM (#40486991)

    Sometimes when faced with problems that are confusing and troubling it is easier to think what someone tells you to think, particularly something that touches a deep and dark nerve in your nature, rather than carry the burden and ambiguity of struggling with the facts and thinking for yourself. Repeating a party line is a shorthand way of avoiding real thought. And the predators are always there to take advantage of it. They welcome trouble and often foment crisis in order to advance their agendas.”

    “Anyone can be misled by a clever person, and no one likes to readily admit that they have been had. It is a sign of character and maturity to realize this, and admit you were deceived, and to demand change and reform. But some people cannot do this, even when the facts of the deception are revealed. It seems as though the more incorrect that the truth shows them to be, the louder and more strident they become in shouting down and denying the reality of the situation. And anyone who denies their perspective becomes 'the other,' someone to be feared and hated, shunned and eliminated, one way or the other.”

    This was cited here http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article35340.html from another website...

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:38PM (#40487001) Journal
    With republicans (and a number of conservatives).
    War is Peace.
    freedom is not liberty.
    and most of all.
    Ignorance is strength.

    As it is, critical thinking skills is reserved for top party members or the executives that work in the companies that the party supports.
    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:53PM (#40488543)

      not a troll; the poster speaks the raw truth. hard to swallow if you are on the other side, but it really is true.

      current republicans are the poster children of doublespeak.

      clinging to 2000 year old mythology does not help their case, either. its part of the problem, in fact.

      modern man needs to pull himself out of this religious stupor. the more you try to keep this myth and 'us vs them' mentality going, the more you set us all, collectively, back.

      the word 'progress' is in progressive. note that progressive movement is 100% opposite of the current republican and so-called conservative movements. some of us want to move forward while quite a lot of americans are hell-bent (heh) on keeping us back in the middle ages.

    • by couchslug (175151) on Friday June 29, 2012 @12:18AM (#40490107)

      Of course. If one is able to embrace the nonsense of religion, any other lie is second nature.

  • Critical Thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:38PM (#40487009) Homepage Journal

    It's that ability to look beyond dogma, hyperbole, straw-man arguments, etc. and make your own decisions. Small wonder anyone in political power would rigorously fight people learning to think for themselves, they may find their beliefs change over time and switch party affiliation or (horrors) become independents - evaluating candidates based upon their ability to get things done, rather than what they like to talk about at campaign events.

    • by sco08y (615665) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:54PM (#40487247)

      It's that ability to look beyond dogma, hyperbole, straw-man arguments, etc. and make your own decisions.

      And, you know, read a paragraph.

      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.

      You lose.

      • Re:Critical Thinking (Score:5, Informative)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:02PM (#40488005) Journal

        Funny that, you didn't highlight the other part of it which is just as much relevant if not more.

        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.

        • by arose (644256) on Friday June 29, 2012 @02:35AM (#40490831)
          Let's try to make that even clearer and remove the specific terms, including the well understood "critical thinking" as the defenders of this particular gem consider them open to redefinition:

          We oppose the teaching of [..] programs [..] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

          That is what the paragraph says when you cut away the jargon, so let's discuss the substance, not terms.

  • by high_rolla (1068540) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:41PM (#40487039) Homepage

    They clearly don't have much faith in their faith if they fear that something as simple as thinking would put it in danger.

  • LOL! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:42PM (#40487059)
    I guess the GOP is afraid of people able to critically think! They are afraid it would be detrimental to their mission! Heaven forefend should someone be able to use rational thinking to defeat idiocy.
  • Misleading Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by myrdos2 (989497) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:47PM (#40487125)

    The actual quote is:

    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.

    It sounds like "Outcome-Based Education" is that you aren't graded by how many hours you spend learning or working, but by the output you can produce. So they're saying you could use this to brainwash students based on the teacher's political agenda? IE, at the end of the class you will show you understand his views, and why everyone else is wrong. When you put it like that, it doesn't seem so bad...

    Of course, what they're really saying is don't challenge our creationist views with your fancy logic. And that's sad.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:00PM (#40487311) Homepage Journal

      Real learning begins when the children leave off what they are fed and begin research of their own, "Why does this work/not work? Where do I find the information." Critical Thinking opens that door.

    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:59PM (#40487981) Journal
      No, Outcome-based education [wikipedia.org] is an educational model that emphasizes testing to show students have achieved the desired "outcome." The debate over OBE boils down to who gets to decide what the desired "outcome" is. Where the /. summary gets deceptive is the when they change the words "have the purpose of" to "may."

      The /. summary (emphasis mine):

      Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge 'student's fixed beliefs'

      The PDF you quoted (ellipses and emphasis mine) :

      We oppose the teaching of...programs...which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs

      The Texas GOP does not oppose "critical thinking skills" that may challenge religious beliefs, they oppose things named "critical thinking skills" but are really just a packaged curriculum designed specifically to challenge religious beliefs. Basically all they're saying in this quote is they don't want schools teaching that there is no Jesus. They do not oppose critical thinking skills, just things called critical thinking skills so their opponents can create headlines just such as this.

      This article is an alarmist red herring. Spun back around, it would be like the Texas GOP creating a program called "Fluffy Cuddly Bunnies" that uses Outcome Based Education, and tests students to make sure they've achieved the outcome of professing their faith in Jesus. Then you came along and say, "I oppose this program" they can write articles with the summary "Myrdos2 wants to impose atheism on all students, hates fluffy cuddly bunnies and is so ignorant that he opposes rigorous testing to make sure our kids are learning!"

      Disclaimer: I am an agnostic atheist and not a Republican. But I don't like misleading articles that use linguistic games to make people look like they said things they didn't.

  • wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:51PM (#40487197)

    I barely made it through the first page of that thing. If I didn't know better, I would call it a poe's law prank.

    Seriously, how does insanity like that shit (really "sanctity of life crom fertilization to grave"? The authority of the family "defined as a man and a woman", and all that rhetoric? Wow. Heil hitler fuckers. Oh wait, this is the us. "Praise jesus!". My bad.) Manage to get taken seriously in a country *FOUNDED* on independent thought and the outright refusal of state sponsored religion?

    Holy fuck batman, joker's got a jackhammer jesus dildo!

    Seriously. What. The. Fuck.

    • Re:wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:33PM (#40487645)

      "sanctity of life crom fertilization to grave"

      Actually, it's only from the moment of conception to the moment of birth. After that, tough shit if you starve, die from a treatable disease, get shot by someone from a higher social class, die in a war for the benefit of the rich and powerful, or get executed for a crime you didn't commit.

  • Trollish summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Experiment 626 (698257) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:58PM (#40487291)

    If you actually look at the platform, the Texas Republicans' opposition is to the Outcome Based Education [wikipedia.org] philosophy. Proponents of this methodology sometimes label it "critical thinking skills" since after all, who doesn't favor that? The summary submitter (and about half of the comments at this point) fall into the same logical fallacy as "If you oppose the PATRIOT Act, you must oppose patriotism!", ironically due to a lack of critical thinking skills...

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:01PM (#40487997)

      If you actually look at the platform, the Texas Republicans' opposition is to the Outcome Based Education philosophy.

      If one were to actually read the platform, one would note that the Texas Republicans -- and this is a direct quote -- "oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs".

      They claim -- as justification -- that all those things are "simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning)", which is factually incorrect (OBE is essentially an approach to the management of education, while critical thinking skills are a skill area; the two are completely orthogonal) but independently of their justification, they do, in fact, state that they oppose teaching critical thinking skills.

      And, looking beyond that, their further reason for opposing teaching all those supposed relabellings of OBE -- the potential to threaten students "fixed beliefs" -- is something that does not make sense for OBE at all (since OBE is content-neutral), but directly relevant to critical thinking skills (actual critical thinking skills, not any that would be a relabelling of OBE.)

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        If one were to actually read the platform, one would note that the Texas Republicans -- and this is a direct quote -- "oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs".

        You've eliminated an awful lot of the actual sentence that you are quoting without any indication that you have done so. The rest of that sentence contains "which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

        Why did you stop reading in the middle of the sentence? You're deliberately ignoring a large part of the entire statement. A part that contains significant meaning, I would add. In other words, your claim that it is

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:05PM (#40488031) Journal

      They are explicitly saying that they oppose this HOTS/OBE/whatever because, I quote, it "have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority." I don't care what OBE is. It may well be that it can and should be challenged on common sense grounds. But these dicks are saying that they're challenging it because it doesn't let them indoctrinate their kids.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:54PM (#40487935) Homepage Journal

    Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge 'student's fixed beliefs' and undermine 'parental authority.'

    As a parent, I don't want complete unquestioned authority over my kids' thoughts. I've made a long-standing habit of flat out lying to my kids and getting them to catch me in it. When one of them says, "Dad, I think you just made that up", then I think I've done my job as a parent.

    That doesn't mean I want complete, unquestioned disrespect. To channel my dad, it's my house and my rules. But I fully expect to have to defend my opinions to my kids. Even if they ultimately disagree with my point of view, at least I've taught them why I believe the way I do. And if I'm not able to satisfactorily explain and defend those opinions, maybe I need to reconsider them.

  • by WilliamBaughman (1312511) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:57PM (#40487955)

    Keep reading! You can find the PDF here [amazonaws.com] via the Texas GOP Convention site [texasgop.org]. I had to track it down myself because it was so unbelievable; it seemed like Huff Po had fallen for a juvenile prank.

    We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

    Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

    I just goes on

    Voter Rights Act – We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.

    and on

    We urge amendment of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send the government any personal information about their contributors.

    and on

    We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.

    It covers everything from banning red light cameras, opposing mandatory animal identification, and opposing Federal highways through Texas to rubbing salt in wounds like the restoration of plaques honoring the Confederate Widow’s Pension Fund to the Texas Supreme Court building. No wonder these people are so upset. They're beset on all sides by people who want to speak Spanish or burn American flags or say that gay bashing is bad or let African Americans and Hispanic Americans vote. You know, people who don't want to say "under god" in the pledge of allegiance, or who think that religious monuments shouldn't be erected on Federal land. Maybe they should feel under assault, people who think like they do are dying off because they just don't make bigots like they used to.

    • by FrootLoops (1817694) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:18PM (#40489323)

      I've never understood why divorce gets so much less attention than gay marriage from these people. It's an order of magnitude more "threatening" to marriage, yet the platform gives divorce all of 2 lines. The gay bits total 26 lines--actually more than that if you include things like an oblique Boy Scouts reference.

      Anyway, you some of the best parts (emphasis mine):

      Immunizations All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

      Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We believe that parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage.

      Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

      Juvenile Daytime Curfew - We strongly oppose Juvenile Daytime Curfews. Additionally, we oppose any official entity from detaining, questioning and/or disciplining our children without the consent of a child’s parent.

      Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.

      Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice. [ed: note the non sequitur]

      Traditional Military Culture – To protect our serviceman and women and ensure that America's Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.

      To be fair it's not universally awful; some of their positions are somewhat reasonable:

      Internet Access - We support a free and open internet -- free from intrusion, censorship, or control by government or private entities. Due to the inherent benefit of anonymity, the anonymity of users is not to be compromised for any reason, unless consented by the user; or by court order. We also oppose any mandates by the government to collect and retain records of our internet activity.

      Still, there's sure a lot of crazy in there.

  • by OhSoLaMeow (2536022) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:51PM (#40488525)
    I have a son who is autistic. Nevertheless, he recently complete a community college certificate course in Culinary Prep for Disabled Students. One of the major portions of the classroom study was "critical thinking" and covered:

    Is this the right thing to do?
    Is this the right time to do this?
    Is this the right person to do this to/with?
    etc.

    You get the point. Decisions that we make daily we tend to take for granted because of our (mostly) fully functional mental capabilities. Challenged persons do not have that same level and must be taught how critical thinking.

    BTW, he graduated with honors and made me one proud Dad.

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