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.

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a former 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 regularly presents a news and current affairs show on RTRFM's The Mag (tune in on Tuesdays!).
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. She files her nails while they drag the lake.