We Oppose Critical Thinking – The Republican Party of Texas GOP (You Don’t Say…)

Today, I finished the discussions we were having about cultural relativism, before tomorrow’s introduction to teleological ethics. Bentham, Mill and so forth. One of the examples that was raised in class was that of corporal punishment for children. We were terribly pleased that it’s no longer a common practice and that time and a greater understanding of what constitutes effective discipline has wised us up.

Critical thinking skills. Philosophy. Respect for young people. Kiss them goodbye Texas, thanks to your Republican Party?

The Republican Party of Texas released its 2012 platform (link to pdf), where they outline their policies on education, taxation, and other economical issues. No longer minimum wage! Farewell to taxpayer funding to all levels of education! Marriage is only between a natural man and a natural woman! Feel free to immigrate to Australia as fast as you can! Okay, I added that last part…

Here’s a few highlights – and I assure you, you should be checking out the range to get the full horror:

“We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive…” instead promoting teaching a “common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.”

Oh and those “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change? They should be:

” …taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.”

Of particular interest to me, as a philosophy teacher for primary to tertiary students:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs…


Because they:

“…focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

In addition -  “Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas,” – in fact, they think there should be more authority given to deal with disciplinary problems. Even though it’s been shown not to work, according to the American Psychoanalytic Association, who “strongly condemns” the practice, as “corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects.”

I’m currently writing an article for the JREF website on the benefits of critical thinking, particularly one methodology called Philosophy for Children. I’ll be trying not to flinch if I think of Texas while writing it.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • w00dview

    Why are you surprised that the Republican Party is against critical thinking? Why do you think they want to gut public education in general? They know that a well educated citizenry would look past their right wing lies and Christian dogma. Without an ignorant populace, the Republican Party would be an irrelevance and they know it.

  • feedmybrain

    Argh! Challenging fixed beliefs!

  • http://peopleofpublictransport.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    And then they’re on the home stretch – outlaw the concept of “question” and they can call their work done.

  • roggg

    …“corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects.”

    Not in Texas. See, it says so right there in their platform. Effective in Texas. How is that hard to understand?

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    Oh and those “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change? They should be: “…taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.”

    But… they are. All science is subject to change as new data is produced.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Sorry. I cut the quote – as Buford wrote, but not to have it rewritten for political gain or religious reasons rather than progress in our understandings via scientific means. My bad!

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    Has anyone else read The Handmaid’s Tale?
    It’s getting a bit to prophetic for me. No surprise that Texas is ground zero.

    • Kylie Sturgess
      • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

        You know up here in Canada we certainly have our own wingnuts but the USA is getting scarier and scarier to be next to. We used to look at you as the silly but mostly harmless odd neighbor that you just smiled and waved at while ignoring the strange things you do. Now it’s more like that creepy neighbor that you try to never look directly act and cross the street to avoid. Sorry.

  • doktorzoom

    I did a post at Wonkette about this; the main thing to remember is that they don’t mind critical thinking as long as you come up with the correct–i.e., Christian Fundamentalist–answers.

  • Buford

    Teaching a “common American identity” might be OK if were truly common, but we know that they want the atandard to be “Walker, Texas Ranger” even though that is not common at all.

    All scientific theiories are always taught as “challengable” – That’s what science is. But that doesn’t mean it can be challenged by the Bible or high school students.

    They never want to challenge fixed beliefs that they support, but they constantly want to change those who disagree (see the Common Model above)

    So, corporal punishment is now “effective” by legal declaration in Texas (shows that lack of HOTS they want so bad)

    I’m actually working on emigrating to Australia, but not from Texas.

  • http://www.tetherdcow.com Reverend Anaglyph

    I found it less painful to stick needles in my eyes than to get all the way through that pdf.

    It’s like reading a litany of everything that’s wrong with the world. I love their attitude to ‘sex eduction’ : abstinence until marriage. That’s not ‘education’ that’s just sticking your head in the sand.

  • Bishop

    “…focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” WTF!

    I am stunned by that statement of pure fear and again reminded that some parents think their children are merely extensions of their own personas and must be subjected to unquestioned indoctrination. They like to keep themselves and their children in their simplistic world view that in binomial – good/bad, black/white. Anything else is introducing complexity and further fear/angst.

  • hiro

    I’ve been questioning why a group of people would raise children in a way that guarantees a population of superstitious dolts. Although I have not evidence for this, I can’t believe that those of privilege and power are really going to do this to their own children. Perhaps they have an out such as private schools or something. But someone will have to be a leader to utilize this class of zombies.

    In the meantime, this will produce a crop of followers and sheep, unable to discern any reality other than that the leaders provide. It just seems like a situation similar to the darker parts of the middle ages. The heck with the founding fathers, lets crank that time machine back to when the church was really powerful.

  • d cwilson

    Amazing that they consider “fixed beliefs” that remain fixed no matter the evidence to be a virtue, but science is bad because it’s “challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.”

  • ravenamos

    Is there any saving these people from their own stupidity? What will it take, and what can we do, to stem the tide of ignorance? It’s clear these people are unwilling to learn. Its clear they don’t realize the same science that gives them cell phones and computers and gasoline also says that global warming is true, that education is the only way forward, and that shitting in the nest stinks…? I despair for our country, and I don’t want to stand idly by while it slides into the crushing void of intellectual oblivion. What can I do?

  • http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com Jonny Scaramanga

    Doktorzoom, your wonkette post is awesome and hilarious!

    It makes me think I should focus more on making my blog funny. I’m trying to be taken seriously, so I write factually, but maybe people will be more entertained, and therefore read more, if I make them laugh.

    On topic, I’m actually glad this has been made public, because I like it when their aims are stated this nakedly. I’ve been trying to prove this is how the Religious Right thinks for a while, and now they’ve made it explicit.

  • StevoR

    I’ve always suspected this was true but I never thought I’d see them boldly admit it and make it officially part of their platform!

    (BTW. I just shared this on facebook but that doesn’t appear to be, er, appearing on the button here.)

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Oh darn, is this blog broken again? I’ll get someone to give it a kick. Thanks for sharing it though!