LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Republicans reject independent thinking

By Ken Hughes | Published Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Texas Republican Party has a plank in its 2012 official party platform that opposes the teaching of critical thinking skills in all the state’s schools.

In other words, Republicans are loath to have the state’s students do independent thinking, and one must assume, opposing in particular the concept of free inquiry. The plank statement read, “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” The platform further stipulates that “every Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”

How in the name of education at any level can a political party of the 21st century be opposed to “Higher Order Thinking Skills” in any institution even remotely referred to as a school? When called out on it, the party says it was a mistake but is now stuck with the plank until the next state convention in 2014.

Should Republicans remain in control of Texas this coming November, I’ll bet the plank will remain in place. Such action must be considered in accordance with the Republican State Board of Education’s process of deliberately dumbing-down the state’s schoolbooks and thereby other state’s schoolbooks seeking to spread ignorance and superstition.

Paul Kurtz wrote, “Free inquiry requires that we tolerate diversity of opinion and that we respect the right of individuals to express their beliefs, however unpopular they may be, without social or legal prohibition or fear of success.”

Texas Republicans seek to eliminate free inquiry everywhere, beginning with students and much to the eventual disadvantage of Texas and its institutions. Texas Republicans seem to be more at home with the words of Martin Luther who declared, “Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God, to be a Christian, you must pluck out the eye of reason.”

It seems to be headed the same in many, if not most southern states, and the U.S. will eventually pay the costs as other nations replace Americans in high tech and scientific inquiry. That’s the true shame, disgrace and eventual dishonor of the Texas Republican Party’s efforts at officially enforced ignorance and thought-control.

Ken Hughes
Decatur

6 Responses to “Republicans reject independent thinking”

  1. cody lee says:

    What the Republican party wants is children to be taught what there parents want them to be taught, not what some idiot lib thinks they should be taught. This is a red state and will remain a red state.
    paul kurtz also wrote, “We have become fixated in recent years on the criticism of religion,” he said. “And I think that’s a strategic blunder. Not just a strategic blunder, but a philosophical and ethical one, as well.”
    So now we both quoted an idiot.
    We are and will continue to be the greatest state in the greatest country in the world because of God not because of some seculer humanist. Seculer humanist have not and can not contribute to a moral society. These are what John Hagee called “toilet people” I must agree they need a good flush.

  2. says:

    I am a Libertarian Classical educator so, in general, I side with neither major political party. However, I understand precisely what the GOP is talking about here because I have studied the history of Education.

    What is being addressed here is, first, an issue of values. Education is always based upon a value system. Classical education is based upon the search for truth, beauty, and virtue. Of course, this gets tricky because “truth” often depends upon the culture one is in. In a Christian educational culture, one would point to Christ as truth. This appears to be the crux of the GOP’s issue with HOTS and similar programs. Should the public education system attempt to teach any values antithetical to those of a Christian parent? Universalism, environmentalism, and other “isms” are often things that Christian parents take issue with. Should not the school system be able to teach Johnny without attacking his value structures?

    Mr. Hughes mentioned “thought control” in his commentary. Which begs the question, of course, is not the school trying to institute its own form of “thought control” over children, bending them to its ideals instead of the parents? I ask you, who is better able to direct a child’s thoughts? In whose care has that child been given by God or nature? The parent’s of course. It is their divine and natural right to direct their children in right thinking as they see it.

    Which leads to an issue that the editorialist here seems to have overlooked. OBE or Outcome-based education. It’s an educational nightmare which has plummeted our students and schools downward since its inception. OBE is antithetical to thousands of years of educational method and theory. It’s a recent phenomenon and is a resounding failure. I applaud the Texas GOP for defying what is IN FACT dumbing down our children (despite the Mr. Hughes objections to the contrary).

    A cursory look at the history and statistical analysis of American education would reveal this. If Mr. Hughes needs help finding this material, I would be happy to point him in the right direction.

    Classical educators, like myself, tend to put higher thinking skills in context. Part of the major objection to programs such as HOTS is that they do not merely supplement but REPLACE traditional educational pegs: rote memorization, standard methods, etc. Without these initial tools, HOTS is skipping an important step: the Grammar stage of learning. It attempt to move directly to the Logic or Dialectic stage, which is foolhardy.

    I would also like to educate Mr. Hughes in the area of what we deem a “liberal arts education,” the tradition in education for a few thousand years. A liberal arts education consists of a full and well-rounded education in all arenas. Math, science, grammar, Latin, history, literature, music, art, etc. The editorialist mentions that other nations will replace Americans in “high tech and scientific inquiry.” Strangely enough, the greatest scientific pioneers of our past were all classically educated, which is to say, they received a well-rounded, liberal arts education. They went through the stages of the Trivium and Quadrivium as a matter of course and it merely inspired them in science. Mr. Hughes own OBE way of thinking shows his ignorance of the actual educational history of science and scientists.

    Finally, I would like to add that the Martin Luther comment is, of course, taken entirely out of context. Anyone who takes the time to rationalize and create ninety-five major theological theses and then spend a lifetime defending and debating them obviously is neither devoid of or antagonistic toward reason in a general sense.

    I invite Mr. Hughes to a personal, ongoing discussion and discovery about the history of education in the world and America and urge him, before taking on a topic such as this publicly, to do some actual research in the area.

  3. Cody and Cathy, you couldn’t have responded any better. Residents of this statement should be furious over the agenda that is being pushed in our public schools. The only moral fiber that we are hanging on at this point is what is taught in the homes and churches. The school system has no business or right to challenge the parental teachings of the parents. Sadly, gone are the days when the church and the schools were closely tied to help parents steer our vulnerable children.

    Craig Brandon

  4. Ken Hughes says:

    CPud, the word is “their” not “there”, but I must suppose you learned English in Texas schools. “There parents”, where parents?

    Cat, one hears Republican’Ts always talking about “values” as though they hold the only key to values. Is a high-quality education not to be considered important, or just having kids repeat the inanities of their Texas teachers? Much to his credit and my approval, my son is teaching his four children critical thinking and to never accept any idea simply because someone told them. They have the intelligence and ability to examine ideas and statements independently, just as I taught both of our children to do.

  5. cody lee says:

    kpud I would have never guessed someone as brillant as you would enjoy the lowbrow comedy of Mel Brooks,though I did always picture you looking alot like Igor. (That’s pronounced eyegor for you blue state people.)What you spew I would hardly call critical thinking. Seculer humanist at the shallow end of the gene pool.Ha

  6. Children will develop their critical thinking on their own. In their early years, it is the parent’s responsibility and right to want to shape their minds to their way of thinking. It is also the parent’s right to introduce and develop free thinking as the child matures. There is not a set age at which that happens, but it normally would start at puberty and gradually build throughout the late teens. It is not the public school system’s place to try and reshape, or redirect that thinking. That is completely contrary to my rights as a parent/grandparent. I will draw my last and dying breath fighting the liberal agenda of indoctrination in our public school system.

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