The Washingon Post noted that the 2012 Party of Texas platform supported:

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 Texas GOP chair explained that they weren't against critical thinking, but against Outcome-Based Education which they argue is relabeled as critical thinking.

Some fear "outcome-based education" could be used by instructors to steer students towards a specific view of subjects from economic policy to social issues.

"An argument could be made that 'outcome-based education' actually causes children to think less," Munisteri said. "Because what it does is give them the goals and the conclusions first and teaches those, as opposed to traditional methods where you give kids the facts and information so they make their own conclusions."

There have been several states that have passed laws to encourage critical thinking.

Is any political party against teaching critical thinking in schools?

Why do they oppose teaching critical thinking?

  • 1
    I think the chairman has explained it all. What to add here?
    – Anixx
    Jun 17, 2013 at 5:15
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    So, to improve the question, IMHO, we need more than one localized anecdotal tidbit to go off of. We also likely need a proper definition of 'critical thinking'. It should also be noted that Texas is pretty much the decider when it comes to national text-book-based curriculum so there's likely a lot more to this one particular story.
    – user1530
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:59
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    @DA., anything stand out to you? I personally like Critical Thinking Defined by Edward Glaser. ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to...
    – user1873
    Jun 18, 2013 at 4:05
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    which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, ...
    – user1873
    Jun 18, 2013 at 4:06
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    to reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.
    – user1873
    Jun 18, 2013 at 4:07

2 Answers 2


Every political party is against schools teaching critical thinking whenever such applied thinking disagrees with them, as it so often must. Republicans dislike critical thinking about religion, pollution, taxation, economics, racism, sexism, defense, etc. Democrats dislike critical thinking about waffling, multiculturalism, globalism, speech codes, hate crimes, populism, new age religion, defense, etc. Both sides dislike critical thinking about schools and political parties, generally for the same reasons.

On those occasions where critical thinking coincides with their goals while frustrating their opposition, they're all for selectively teaching that. And such selective thinking is partly why American textbooks are just the way they are.

  • waffling? What's that?
    – TRiG
    Oct 10, 2018 at 17:54
  • @TRiG, Quoth Wikipedia: > "...a derogatory term; to describe, for instance, a candidate or politician who is considered to easily switch sides on issues to curry political favor (i.e. "flip-flop"), as an easily flipped breakfast food with the same name – hence the waffle famously used to represent President Bill Clinton in the Doonesbury comic strip."
    – agc
    Oct 10, 2018 at 18:16
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    Huh. To me, waffling means "talking at length in a roundabout fashion".
    – TRiG
    Jan 14, 2019 at 11:50

What the average person might see as being given the tools to make one's own judgments, others might see as indoctrination. In this specific case, Texas is comparing standardized testing with its one-size-fits-all philosophy and milestones everyone has to meet to the standardization of logic towards an objective truth.

If truth is objective, that means that there's a chance that a parental figure might be wrong. If the parental figure is wrong, then the State is lifting itself up as the parent's superior. Many Texans would say that that's way too much power for a governmental entity to have, and that the parent should always be the final arbiter of what a child learns.

It is thus that the pre-Trump Republican sees diversity in viewpoint and frame-of-reference as good for a society of self-interested individuals. This isn't an attack on the concept of critical thinking per se, just on the one-size-fits-all nature of objective truth.

While Democrats' goals are lofty and probably more in line with the ideal of critical thinking, they do open themselves up to creating a whole bunch of people with the same metaphorical tools and coming to the same metaphorical conclusions. Is this right? It depends on if you think truth is subjective or objective.

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