The philosophy and aims of an educational institution are concerned with the education of the whole person — mind, body, soul and emotion — and with the realization that knowledge is unimportant without the ability to communicate and exchange it. The Harvard Report on “General Education in a Free Society” placed first in its list of objectives “training in the ability to communicate orally and writing the results of thought.”

Ideally the purpose of an educational institution is to prepare a student to educate herself. An institution attempts to do this in three ways:

It exposes the student to philosophies, ideas and personalities (knowledge).

It teaches the skills the student needs to master in order to use his education and to continue his growth.

It provides opportunities for the student to begin producing creative or contributive products of her own stage of education.

With these thoughts in mind, it was beyond troubling to read the many reactions to the recently passed 2012 platform of the Texas Republican Party: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education which focuses on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

A couple of print reactions will suffice. FORBES, July 7 issue by John T. Harvey
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/07/01/texas-gop-platform/ included the following:

Think about that for a moment. First off, do they really and truly believe that teachers and school boards across the State of Texas are designing curricula specifically aimed at training children to challenge their parents? Second, do you know which values and concepts are rejected in the absence of higher order and critical thinking? None! Therefore, depending on the time and place when we decide to stop challenging ideas and meekly accept what we are told, we might thereafter and forever be racists, sexists, communists, fascists, democrats, capitalists, Christians, Buddhists, Lutherans, geocentrists, pacifists, Wiccans, or whatever the prevailing views of that day were. Nothing would ever again be questioned.

And the following is a brief excerpt from THE DAILY TEXAN, July 9 edition, https://www.dailytexanonline.com/viewpoints/2012/07/09/re-thinking-gop-platform

The notion that students should be protected from views different from those of their parents is like putting an entire generation of third graders on a school bus and making sure not a single one ever learns to drive. Thirty years pass, the drivers die and you have a state filled with adults unable to move the bus forward and lead us through the challenges of that future day.

For the three year history of this blog, I have determinedly avoided politicizing my thoughts on education and training. Consequently, I urge you to read the above two articles (with links to the actual platform) for yourself in order to form your own opinions. My sole interest here is to defend education from spurious attack.

I have been fortunate to have had six very precious children — all who grew into high performing, successful adults. None of them were purposely burdened with someone else’s set of societal beliefs. Nor, as children, were they encumbered with a set of hand-me-down fixed institutional beliefs. They were raised, with an exposure to universal values, to be independently free to find their own set of beliefs, and to explore their own thinking processes.

Knowledge continually marches forward. Older beliefs are shed like the shell of a cicada. Finding “the questions” has far more value to an individual than swallowing “the answers.” Otherwise, we’d be living in a world in which we’d all be agrarian and dancing around Stonehenge!

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com