I’ve said many times that, in American political discussion, we debate real liberalism and theoretical conservatism; in other words, liberalism is always expected to defend its actual problems and sacrifices, whereas conservatism is only held to the standard of its purely idealistic form. So, for example, you get the claim that conservatism involves a dedication to old ways and values, to the preservation of tradition.
“We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive,” the platform says, adding that it supports teaching “common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.” In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change — which aren’t controversial at all — “should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.” There’s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
Yes, that’s right: the Texas Republicans are opposed to education that challenges the preexisting beliefs of the person to be educated. You’ll note that this is a total contradiction of several thousand years of educational tradition. It’s an attitude specifically rejected by such traditional figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Aristotle, Jesus Christ, Thomas Aquinas, Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, etc. I suppose the Texas GOP would reply that the Declaration of Independence clearly provides for life, liberty, and the pursuit of remaining totally immune to being confronted with new ideas or information.
You’ll note that evolution is a challengeable theory, but challenging student’s fixed beliefs generally is wrong. I wonder what would happen if a student in Texas had a fixed belief in evolution because of parental authority; probably a time-space paradox that would destroy the universe. That’s the funny thing about this conservative regard for tradition– it’s never clear how long a belief has to be around for it to deserve that kind of protection. I suppose it doesn’t matter how long evolution is the scientific consensus; challenges will just keep getting grandfathered in. I wonder how this will go for students who have a fixed belief that the earth is flat, or that two plus two makes five. I think the technical term for the fixed beliefs of children is “ignorance.” If you guys need me, I’m going to be digging a shelter behind the shed and stockpiling canned goods.