The Texas GOP recently made news after adopting a hard line approach against teaching critical thinking skills in schools. The rationale behind this approach is that such skills “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
Our founders must be turning over in their graves. They understood so well that a democratic society requires citizens who can think critically–who can analyze, interpret and draw conclusions backed by evidence. In fact, they themselves–George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin–were critical thinkers. Had they not been so, we might be speaking with British accents today!
This is yet another example of why National History Day is so important. And Texans can be quite proud of the tens of thousands of young people who participate in NHD each year–and this year especially, taking home top honors in six categories at the national contest. And they did so by conducting research and analyzing information–by thinking critically.
NHD students know that learning history by memorizing prescribed information and names and dates may help when playing Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy, but it is meaningless and boring.
Students who think critically do not do so to undermine their parents’ authority. They do so to face new challenges and find ways to make the world a better place. Just ask the parents of any NHD student.