Like many parents who work in the education field, I noticed gaps in the curricula my children were studying in school. Specifically, critical thinking. Fortunately, an election year offers the perfect time to teach (and learn) the fundamentals.
In America there seems to be an increasingly widespread aversion to the act of reading. In support of that aversion voters have elected public officials whose profound ignorance and boundless stupidity threaten our society.
Perhaps people have been "info-numbed," if I may coin a word. There are so many sources of information and misinformation through the Internet and social networking that it has become increasingly difficult to separate solid facts from misleading opinions.
Students need to learn how to ask probing questions -- and how to assess the answers they receive. Students need to learn to think critically rather than blindly accepting everything that is put before them.
By enumerating so many offensive ideas in the "Educating our Children" section of its platform, Texas Republican delegates have provided me with a blueprint to defend my decision to send my kids to private school.
The danger and irony for all of us is that just as the world gives us the information to make more informed and reasoned decisions about our joint fate, we are so overwhelmed that we cannot take advantage of the opportunity.
"Can do" pragmatism was the fuel of America prosperity. But that pragmatism was reinforced with an abiding respect for knowledge and critical thinking. It's hard to do anything in a place devoid of new ideas, a place where dreamers are discouraged from dreaming.
It would be truly unfortunate if twenty years from now we woke up to the realization that U.S. prominence in the world's economy had dropped even farther from where it stood today, because we made the mistake of shortchanging our educational systems.
I'm embarrassed to say that one of the key places where candidates and citizens acquire a taste for -- and skills in -- negativity is higher education. For decades now, we have promoted a culture of criticism in which you show how smart you are by tearing apart somebody else's ideas.
My students will go to college having succeeded in a school system that emphasized high-stakes, low-level tests. They will not be prepared to think critically in college. Those that succeed will do so despite their education, not because of it.
If we want kids to experience a sense of wonder and discover new information, generate novel ideas, and derive their own conclusions after a discussion, then the current educational system is a failure.