Monday, July 9, 2012

Everything's bigger in Texas... except education.

Recently, the Texas GOP published it's official political platform. In it they stated...

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.

Seriously? They just came right out and said that they are opposed to critical thinking (and thinking for yourself in general)! It doesn't take a genius to guess why they are making this statement, though. It's partly about keeping Texans 'in-line' and partly about attempting to wedge religion and GOP ideals into school wherever they can. It's likely that the GOP would like to cry foul that the teaching of evolution is challenging fixed beliefs. Never mind the fact that evolution is supported by mountains of evidence... If little Billy believes in creation, they don't want that challenged. But I must ask. What is bad about having your fixed beliefs challenged? If your beliefs are true, then the challenge should be no worry. If fact the passing of the challenge would actually make your beliefs stronger. And if your beliefs don't stand up to the test, why would you want to believe something that's not correct? Yes Texas GOP, lets just assume that everyone shares your fixed beliefs like you seem to be doing. It looks like they certainly assumed this, because their own platform would 'protect' things that I'm sure they would also be against. What if a student doesn't believe that the Holocaust ever took place? Under the GOP platform, we shouldn't inform them otherwise. What if a student believes in a geocentric flat Earth? Nope, can't correct them! What if a student thinks Allah created everything? You okay with that GOP? Because your platform says that you can't challenge that belief either. But much like the Louisiana religious voucher situation, they didn't think things through. (Which is rather appropriate since they are opposing thinking skills.) The intent is to shoehorn in THEIR beliefs and weed out anything that could challenge them. But, the way the platform statement is listed, it would actually protect ALL views and beliefs from scrutiny. In my opinion, that is a very bad thing. We go to school for the purpose of learning. If we start right out by protecting the students beliefs and knowledge from being challenged or expanded, then you've effectively removed the very purpose of the education system. We go to school to learn. History, math, science, literature, writing, art, etc... We start out a mostly blank slate, and learn facts along to way that expand our knowledge and view of the world around us. Furthermore, if we learn to think for ourselves and use the lessons we were taught...  That is a beautiful thing. But unsurprisingly, the Texas GOP would like to attack education again, by forcing in a political ideology, at the cost of actual facts and education. Now THAT is a travesty.

-BH

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