Back To School

Let’s take a little tour of the current climate in education in honor of the approaching school year. First, here’s the Texas Republican Party opposing the teaching of critical thinking in its 2012 platform:

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.

Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really.” Valerie Strauss

I was pointed to this article by Terran Lane, a now-ex professor of computer science who left his (tenured) teaching position at the University of New Mexico for a position at Google.  Lane’s essay lists his many reasons for leaving. Here’s what he says about what we might call a culture of administration:

In my time at UNM, I served under four university presidents, three provosts, and two deans. The consistent pattern of management changes was centralization of control, centralization of resources, and increase of pressure on departments and faculty. This gradually, but quite noticeably, produced implicit and explicit attacks on faculty autonomy, decrease of support for faculty, and increase of uncertainty. In turn, I (and many others) feel that these attacks subvert both teaching and research missions of the university.

On Leaving Academia”  Terran Lane

And this is from an article describing some of the material included in textbooks that will be a part of Louisiana’s newly privatized public school system.

Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath…Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America.”—United States History: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1996

14 Wacky “Facts” Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools,” Deanna Pan

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

One Thought on “Back To School

  1. The Grapes of Wrath…Great literature or propaganda? To even entertain such a debate is frightening.

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