Yesterday the Texas Republican Party released their platform. It’s terrifying. It starts out innocently enough saying that they plan to uphold the constitution and that everyone is created equally. However, that’s the end of the good stuff. As I tweeted out yesterday there’s a portion that says that they do not support teaching children critical thinking or anything that could lead them to question their current belief system or parental authority.
I can’t think of a better definition of science than critical thinking, questioning current beliefs and authority. When a scientist makes a discovery that doesn’t conform to the current scientific paradigm(program) accepting the results for the experiment REQUIRE these abilities. Looking at the faster than light neutrino fiasco of the past year is a perfect example of this. Scientists saw a result that was highly suspect (faster than light speeds), but they were willing to accept it, if it passed enough tests. They were critical of the results, didn’t accept it on face value, they were willing to question the current paradigm (relativistic physics) and the authority of nearly 100 years of work based on that paradigm.
This is also a case of biting the hand that feeds. Texas’s growth has been fueled through science, technology and research at businesses. With Houston as the center of the oil world, which is driven by better science of getting oil out of the ground, new technologies to do so and the research for increasing the conversion rates from crude oil to gasoline and other goods, you’d think that Texas would understand why it’s important to have scientists. While Texas doesn’t have as many Tier 1 research universities as California (3 vs 9) these three are extremely powerful and wealthy. UT is the 3rd richest in the country and Texas A&M is the 10th. They are both research powerhouses in the academic world. Creating policies that negatively impact the education system that feeds these schools is only going to hurt their abilities to compete in the future.
The Texas Republicans also want to “Teach the Controversy” with equal air time for every side of the argument. In this case when they get to evolution I hope the controversy they discuss is the recent disagreement between Evolutionary Biologists Richard Dawkins and EO Wilson, because that’s the biggest one going on in Evolution right now. However, I know this is not what they mean. They plan to teach the “controversy” of creationism in science class. This is as dangerous as not teaching critical thinking.
If you couple the lack of critical thinking with teach the controversy approach, you have a recipe for disaster. You create students that are unable to really understand the differences and take what the teacher believes at face value. If the “biology” teacher is a creationist (which has happened in some states) then they will not adequately teach evolution and the students will not understand why creationism is wrong and evolution is scientifically accurate. They will be unable to critically reason the differences. This is a terrifying prospect.
These are not the only areas that Texas Republicans are showing that they are out of touch with the youth of America. The DailyKOS has further analysis a lot of the bad policy stances that are coming down the road in Texas from Republicans.
Believe it or not, I agree with you 😉 (well, about the need for critical thinking). Not teaching critical thinking is dangerous –not just in the world of science, but in all areas of life. I'd venture to say, however, that the teaching of critical thinking has been lacking for quite some time and that this isn't a new idea only brought up by the Republicans of Texas. Perhaps this approach is new as a platform issue, but not new to the world of public education.
(kid interruption) "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas JeffersonIf these Texas Republicans believe that creationism is the "truth", then there should be no fear of teaching the children critical thinking, because they will reach the truth in the end, right? That seems to make sense enough to me. It is frustrating that so often in this life, we are told not to question, not to wonder, not to ask. These questions, these wonderings, these conversations, they help us stretch and grow and ultimately, make us stronger. I find that when I come to something that may differ from my current point of view, I ask questions, I become determined. Determined to find the truth. The facts. I find it, I see the facts. I understand in new ways. All in all, what a disservice to the children of Texas.
I completely agree with you. The need to question is really foundational to our country. Our founding fathers were great seekers, philosophers and thinkers, especially the one you quoted there ;)My fear is that this is going to spread to other states (In some cases it's too late; Louisiana is using the Loch Ness Monster to "disprove" evolution).
for goodness sake, the loch ness monster, how?
Basically they argue that since Dinosaurs are still "alive" (claiming that Nessie is real based on photos and sonar) that this refutes evolution. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/loch-ness-monster-used-debunk-evolution-state-funded-190816504.html
seriously? hahahaha that's kind if funny.