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the dreadful dangers of learning to think: a cautionary tale

August 9, 2012

Martin Pribble invited me to write a guest post on his blog this week. Here’s a snippet:


Last week, an article in the Washington Post reported on the 2012 platform of the Republican Party in Texas and, in particular, its scarily backward education agenda. In part, the platform statement reads:

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.”

The GOP is right, of course. Teaching kids higher order thinking skills does empower them to challenge the fixed beliefs imposed on them through religious and parental authority. And so it ought.

Not so very long ago, but in a life far away, I was a Christian fundamentalist and homeschooling mum. No doubt that admission will conjure for you images of knee-length plaits, long skirts and minibuses and you wouldn’t be far wrong. But imagining that I was also an entirely unintelligent religious redneck would be a mistake. Deluded is not the same thing as stupid.

In fact, I considered myself rather intellectually diligent; my faith and the lifestyle I had built around it were sustained by the belief that I had done a great deal of solid thinking about them both. I was a keen Bible student; I understood hermeneutical principles and was quite adept at using scholarly Bible study tools. I believed my views to be founded on solid truths that I had subjected to dispassionate reasoning before I’d embraced them. I could not see that my thinking was bounded by invisible stainless steel walls, that I engaged in rigorous intellectual wrestling only inside terribly narrow boundaries. The myriad assumptions upon which Christianity is based were simply invisible to me.

Read more here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. W. Lotus permalink
    August 10, 2012 1:00 pm

    I LOVED this post and can relate to it very well. Thank you for sharing; it encourages me!

    Also, as someone who is bisexual and who knows the pain of facing the polite homophobia of my fundamentalist Christian family, thank you for choosing your children over an ancient book.

  2. Paul permalink
    January 17, 2013 10:24 am

    What do you think about the book “Raising Free Thinkers”?

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