Back to Kant?

22 06 2006

Much has been made over the two most recent terms of the Howard Government of the need for Australian schools to teach “values”–one of the legacies of Brendan Nelson’s tenure as Education Minister (alongside blackmailing schools to fly the flag) was a $29.7 million push to make “Values Education,” a bullet-point approach to the teaching of ethics, a core element of the curriculum. Conservative columnist Christopher Pearson cites approvingly a piece written by the University of South Australia’s Sue Knight and Carol Collins, in which they question the prominence of “tolerance” in the National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools and emphasise the importance of teaching kids how to engage in “reasoned moral decision-making.” (Pearson’s approval quickly turns to scorn, however, when it is suggested that students might use their capacity for moral decision-making to make judgements about Howard government policies he happens to agree with, such as locking up children in desert camps.)

I wonder, then, if the need to make the teaching of critical thinking a core component (or at least, a component) of the curriculum is not equally as pressing? Bruce raised a similar point in comments on an earlier thread regarding same-sex marriage–a debate mired, by and large on the “anti” side, it must be said, in tortured rhetoric and fallacious reasoning aplenty. One only has to look at Andrew Bolt’s* recent ill-considered venture into the gay marriage debate, in which he wields the time-honoured slippery slope fallacy–for which he has been repeatedly torn a new one by Mr Lefty–by suggesting that legalising same-sex marriages will lead to legalised polygamy, to come to the conclusion that we should perhaps forget Simpson and his donkey, and brush up on our Kant!

An in-depth overview of the place of critical thinking within education can be found here.

*This is surely a jump-the-shark moment for Mr Bolt, recalling Ann Coulter’s similar jumping-of-the-shark in her equally ill-considered venture into the evolution “debate.” Then again, many will say that both of them jumped the shark long ago.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter has been torn a new one herself by columnist Mike Argento.

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2 responses

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4 08 2011
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