Read the Texas Republican Party’s platform and all will be clear. It’s not the abstinence-only provisions that surprise me, or the gay-bashing, or the aversion to pre-school (Pre-school? Really?), it’s this that blows me away:
“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.”
Read it again. They don’t like education that challenges fixed beliefs and undermines parental authority. If you asked me to write out the purpose of education, I might come up with exactly that.
This attitude is borne out of fear and insecurity that the world is moving on without us. If we let all the minorities catch up to our kids with high-quality Pre-K education, they might compete with our kids for jobs some day! Yes! Yes they will! And won’t that be grand?
If our kids learn to challenge fixed beliefs, they may come to us someday and disagree. They might ask questions we don’t have easy answers to (about faith, and God, and family, and justice, and equality), and we might be forced to admit our bigotry, or at least our ignorance. How terrifying for us, but how necessary!
I hope with all my heart my kids are smarter than me. I will know I am succeeding as a parent when they are asking hard questions, and challenging the things they hear, and putting forth their own ideas about the world. The world will only get more complicated and I want my kids to be equipped to navigate it. That navigation is contingent on the question-asking, problem-solving, creative-thinking, challenging of assumptions that you learn from higher-order thinking skills. Who is going to help me navigate the brave new world if not my children? God knows I have enough trouble with today’s technology as it is!
So, to Texan Republicans, I say… buck up! Your children will be smarter than you, and they will ask you hard questions, and they will teach you new things about the ways of the world as it evolves. You should face them and their questions with respect, because, hey… they’re the future!
Related Post: Oh for the love of education, and student loans!
Related Post: Alfie Kohn on the value of “higher order thinking”