The Vision Of Education: It’s A No-Brainer

July 16, 2012


“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (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.”  – page 20, Republican Party of Texas, 2012, official platform on education.

Grade School

You saw him at the mall, didn’t you? And downtown? And on TV? How much “proof” do you need, Professor Thinkypants?

Sarah: Mrs. Williver, is Santa Claus real?
Mrs. Williver: What did your parents tell you?
Sarah: That he’s real.
Mrs. Williver: Then he’s real.
Sarah: But it doesn’t really make sense.  The time; the getting in to homes.  It doesn’t seem logical.
Mrs. Williver: He’s real.
Thomas: Mrs. Williver?  My parents told me there is no Santa.
Mrs. Williver: Right. There isn’t.
Sarah: Wait, you just told me
Mrs. Williver: He’s real.
Thomas: Which is it? You’re telling us two contradictory things, Mrs. Williver. He can’t be real and not –
Mrs. Williver: DETENTION.

 Middle School

…and so tomorrow we’ll start our unit over the causes of The American Civil War.  Have you all brought in your homework, so we can add what your parents think to the textbook’s blanks?  Let’s see, we have: “Slavery,” “Slavery,” “Slavery,” okay, fine, “The North wanted cotton,” um, sure, okay.  I can work with that.  “Silver”… Silver?  Uh, Randall, do your parents think it’s called The Silver War?  I see.  I’ll just add that as another name for it here… okay, we’ve also got, “Slavery,” “Northern Aggression,” “Robert Stanson.”  Huh?  Tammy, isn’t that your dad’s name?  Did he just sign this without reading it?  Um, I’m not sure how to handle this.  I’ll figure it out.  Moving on: “Freedom isn’t free,” “Northern aggression,” “The”…  *sigh*… “The Gays.”  Really.  Um, I, um… okay, we can work that in somehow.  “Taxes,” “Communism,” and “Fart.” 


High School

“I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘Alright then, I should just do as I’s told and fergit all this Higher Order Thinkin’.’ And I turned Jim in, and went back home and apologized to Pa.”

Teacher: “And so when Huck reaches this moment, as he tears up the letter, deciding that he will go to hell rather than betray Jim, what’s happened here?  What’s led to this moment? How has Huck changed from what he was taught, to what he’s discovered to be true?”
Dan: “Well, I’d just like to point out that none of this trouble would have happened if Huck hadn’t run away from his father.” 
Teacher: “Uh, his violent, alcoholic, ignorant father? The one who abused him and tried to exploit him?”
Dan: “The one who tried to teach him.”
Teacher: “But what is Twain showing us about the power of thinking for ourselves? About rejecting what we’ve been told, in order–“
Shira: “Huck gave all his money away. He’s a socialist.”
Teacher: “Actually, that’s not what socialism—“
Shira: “Also?  It’s a crime to not turn Jim in.”
Jacqueline: “And, he says the N word.”
Teacher: “Right. Twain uses that term deliberately to force us to confront—“
Jacqueline: “My mom says I couldn’t read it, and that I should read The Pelican Brief instead, because it’s a book too, and it’s better.”


Voters Ballot – Presidential Election, 2032
Instructions: You are about to vote for president.  You must only vote for one candidate.  If you are not sure if you are allowed to vote, check your iVote app.  Once you have voted you can’t vote again.
Your vote is not the only one.  Please remember that voting for a candidate does not guarantee that he will win. 
When voting, remember the slogans they said, and vote for the best slogans.
Warning: It may not be physically possible to do the things the candidate promises to do.  The candidate may know this.  Please consider what’s possible to do before believing the candidate.
Reminder, you must actually push the button to vote for the candidate.  Simply thinking about who you want to vote for is not a legal vote.
If you can’t remember the candidate’s name, simply push the picture of the candidate you like best.
Finally: commercials are available to tell you who to vote for.
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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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70 Comments on “The Vision Of Education: It’s A No-Brainer”

  1. Life With The Top Down Says:

    For some reason putting the aftermath of being dumbed down into a realistic scenario really just scared the crap out of me. I mean, it’s one thing to think about it and get shivers, but this…this is a whole other……oh wait, what’s that date the Mayans were chatting about on their stones…can’t get here soon enough.


  2. Ape No. 1 Says:

    My parents tell me that your post is quite clever.


  3. 1pointperspective Says:

    My Dad doesn’t talk much, but my Mom says Africa is a country. She’s not from Texas, she’s from Alaska. Is she still right?


  4. speaker7 Says:

    If I were able to think for myself, I would think this was a fantastic indictment of the dumbing down of our educational system.


  5. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    I couldnt get past the first paragrah because of all the words. But did you just call people in Texas dumb? ‘Cuz they got guns.


  6. Go Jules Go Says:

    Orchard writing suits you, B! Is it the hazelnuts? Do they make you even more clever? Can you send us some? Do they taste good with soggy tomatoes?

    My parents taught me to ask a lot of questions. ‘Interested is interesting, Jules,’ they always used to say. They also taught me not to let facts get in the way of a good story, so this memory may just reflect a quote I read on a bag of tea once. That’s also a lie. I don’t know where the hell I read it.

    You need a new category for some these recent posts, like: Laughing But Scared Or: Crying on the Inside.


  7. Regina Says:

    Quite possibly the scariest thing I’ve read… ever. But I’ll have to check with my parents and get back to you on that.
    I particularly enjoyed the section right above it, about “Controversial Theories” that stated teachers and students should be able to challenge and discuss topics… hmm… must be something they do on “Bring Your Parents to School” day.

    In the meantime, projected headline for 2032: “Housing Market Crashes Again, as 60% of Americans Refuse to Move Out of Parents Home”.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I’m confident that the “Students should be able to challenge topics” is a diplomatic precursor to every “Well, you’ve presented a lot of data and history and analysis but I’m entitled to my opinion!” statement hurled at the teachers.


  8. Tez Says:

    Is the quote from The Republican Party of Texas for real? I’m in Australia so not familiar with USA politics. It must be a joke, right? Please, please tell me it’s a joke.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Yeah, it’s actually from their mission statement. I included a link to the actual document, because I agree – it doesn’t sound real.

      The US is not in a good place, politically. There’s this anti-intellectual backlash – from both major parties, not just Republicans – that’s deeply frightening for our future.


      • Tez Says:

        Oh, I am so sorry. And I thought Aussie politics was bad. I’ll have to temper my criticisms a bit, maybe, perhaps, possibly – bugger it, no. I’ll hang on to my higher order thinking skills (my mum said I can) and attempt to “keep the bastards honest”. (We used to have a minor Political party that used the preceding phrase as a philosophy – the party withered away. Sigh.)


  9. earthriderjudyberman Says:

    In the 60s, the mantra was “Question authority.” It seems the public would be less inclined to do that today if it allows itself to be led by political ads and mass-media hype.

    Your scenarios are, indeed, scary. But I don’t think they’re that far off.

    I teach 7th grade Language Arts (English) and find one of the most difficult concepts for students is inference which involves critical thinking skills. This is not just some high-faluting concept to be shunned. It involves everyday decision making. Employers also would find these skills more valuable than the ability to bubble in answers on tests.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I teach college prep, and the two principle things college look for are essay writing ability, and critical thinking skills.

      And you’re right, critical thinking is not some “elitist” concept, it’s what makes us adults, mentally. The inability to analyze and make critical decisions is an inability to construct and independent life.


  10. susielindau Says:

    This is a scary world and the future? Well I hope it doesn’t get that bad…
    I had no idea Texas was that backward. And to think of all the crap Arkansas takes for education or lack thereof.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, if you follow the whole “everything’s bigger in Texas” idea, it makes sense – they have the same ideas as other states, they just seem to get outsized there.


  11. madtante Says:

    “Simply thinking about who you want to vote for is not a legal vote.”
    Got into a spat with The Duchess last night over the US being the best country in the world. I almost fell out of my chair. “At WHAT?” Just because she remembers the 50s doesn’t mean we’re in the same situation.

    We should be #1. I don’t get where the US lost its drive to BE number one and not just say it. Calling myself tall does not make it true. I’m the tallest female in mum’s family but 5’2″ is not “tall.” Just because I’m taller than dwarves doesn’t make me the tallest.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Have you seen Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom? It’s flawed, but fun for the same reason West Wing was fun, as a sort of fantasy show.

      The first scene of the first episode involves a news-anchor having a meltdown during a Q&A with college students. One asks why he believes America is the greatest country in the world. He finally explodes that it’s not, by any standard by which societies can be compared. He says that it should be, and could be again, but that the only 3 areas the US leads in is incarcerations per capita, percentage of people who believe angels are real, and defense spending (equalling the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies).


  12. mistyslaws Says:

    Well, I could comment on this post, but my parents do not know about my blog, blogging in general, or this fancy new thing called the interwebz, so I guess I’ll have to get back to you.

    Also, is there an app for that?


  13. mj monaghan Says:

    “Everyone should be reading if, or when, he publishes a new post, go back and read his archives, and share with the WORLD. Critical reasoning skills will certainly diminish, you will be asking your parents for advice, and possibly never leave their basement.”
    Un-Official platform on WordPress Education, 2012


  14. Wilma Says:

    My mother always told me it was impolite to ask a person how they voted, which now leaves me like a ship without a sail. It occurs to me that it was impolite because asking would cause a person to feel the need to explain their logic, and there, quite obviously, isn’t any.


  15. Audrey Says:

    Aren’t you glad they’re finally teaching critical thinking skills in school? Oh…um…nevermind.


  16. Life in the Boomer Lane Says:

    The educational system in this country is representative of mostly everything else: What’s in it for me (or my kids). Money talks. What appears so, isn’t. Expediency at all cost. The problems we have are because of them (Latinos/Democrats/illegal aliens/Republicans/space aliens/black people/insert whatever group you wish). Aside from that, I think we rock and the ability to read or think is seriously overrated.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      It’s startling how quickly people who fight and fight for education funding stop IMMEDIATELY after their children graduate. Really? You’re not even going to ease into abandoning education?


  17. mkultra76 Says:

    I think this is a brilliant post. Damn. There I go, thinking again. Can’t…shake…independent…thought!! 😉


  18. becomingcliche Says:

    Once again, you have nailed it.


  19. asharee993 Says:

    This sounds exactly like what I just graduated from…I wasted 13 years of my life in K-12.


  20. thesinglecell Says:

    This and the almost certain understanding that there will be no way for me to support myself is what makes me kind of not mind the idea of dying really young.


  21. Love & Lunchmeat Says:

    Oh dammit! I’ve already written my “Santa Claus and Seahorses” post… but it comes frighteningly close to the beginning of this post. (As a kid, I thought both were fake. Yeah, not my brightest moment, but a funny story…) Dammit again.

    As for the blog content, come November I haven’t decided if I’m going to vote for Santa Claus or Mark Twain. My parents tell me Mark Twain is better qualified, but I can see myself being bribed with the right toys, especially if the elves are willing to make shoes!!


  22. List of X Says:

    There’s Bible, Limbaugh and Fox, why would children need any education besides that?


  23. KOKAY Says:

    Reblogged this on Manila Pop!.


  24. Paul G. Eberlein Says:

    What better way to “indoctrinate” (oops, we mean educate!) the population than with the equivalent of a “mandatory 13-year prison stretch” (oops, we mean K-12!). After all, we need to prepare future generations for “conformity” (oops, we mean critical thinking!) and “incarceration” (oops, we mean lifelong learning!).


  25. The Bumble Files Says:

    Isn’t it true Texas wants to become its own country? I was reading a couple of your comments. My husband is a professor at a community college. Lots of his students can’t put two words together, but they have such a sense of entitlement. I think it’s pretty sad.


  26. Valentine Logar Says:

    Isn’t that document horrifying? Being from Texas I hang my head in shame but am grateful my children are adults and out of the school system. Unfortunately my DiL wants to be a teacher, just finished her degree when I showed her this document she started to cry.

    There are worse parts of it though. Far worse parts.


  27. Facetious Firecracker Says:

    I’m absolutely terrified. Terrified to share this on Facebook, that is, because I fear that some of my “friends” may see no problem with it. As a music teacher, I can’t help but put this into terms of my discipline. “What do you mean, play the music expressively? Tell me exactly how to play it, and that’s how it’ll be done. Actually, my mom said it should have been written this way. We’ll just do it like that at the concert. Also, here’s a note from my mom with what we’ll be playing on the next concert.”


  28. Richard Wiseman Says:

    “Four legs good two legs bad.” or is it “Four legs good two legs better” I know I’ll ask my dad… oh hang on he’s dead…I’ll ask my mum… oh hang on my kids shopped her to the thought police… does anyone know what I should think?


  29. artzent Says:

    This is very funny but also so sad that I come close to crying. I have to believe that not all Texans are so backward. Back in the 50s my grandpa used to say, This Country is going to hell in a hand basket” I just wonder what he would say now!


  30. Barbara Backer-Gray Says:

    Maybe he’d say, “This country is going to Texas in a handbasket”.


  31. Elyse Says:

    I came to this post way late. It is brilliant, B-Man. More so than usual.

    To just ratchet up the scary, what goes into school books intended for Texas goes into those for the rest of the country, because of the bulk ordering from the state of Texas. So if you don’t like what’s happening in Texas, just wait. It could soon be coming to a school near you.


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