Friday, July 6, 2012

Think critically, Texas


In its party platform, the Texas Republican Party considered the role of critical thinking in education, and denounced it.

Critical thinking, the Texans suggest, challenges both students' fixed beliefs and parental authority. That's risky, so they decided that Texas and Texans should be protected from a curriculum that teaches critical thinking skills.

Thinking separates man from machine. Critical thinking uses that unique, precious ability to help choose ethical and moral paths. Critical thinking sometimes asks difficult questions that make us squirm, attacks our most hallowed beliefs, makes us angry or sad or excited, and most importantly, leads to more thinking.

America's founders, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, thought critically before substituting the new ideas of liberty and tolerance for the divine right of kings and the power of state-supported churches. What began as radical thought became cherished American values.

Frighteningly, what happens in Texas may not stay in Texas. Decisions about textbooks and curriculum made in Texas often spread to other states whose education boards follow their lead without thinking.

Limiting critical thinking has been tried before and failed. Texas Republicans will fail as well, eventually. Even in Texas, it will be hard to stop human minds from asking why and why not, but Texas Republicans do seem bent on giving it a shot.

Critically, we cannot wish them well.




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