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Stephen Colbert Skewers Texas GOP's Attack on Critical Thinking

The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge!

Stephen Colbert is back from vacation and he's taking on "the large Hadron Collider of denying science": Texas. Earlier this month the state's Republican party caused a dust-up when they stated in the education section of their 2012 platform that they "oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills," as well as "critical thinking skills" because they "focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

In his "The Word" segment (starting at about 1:10) Colbert points out that "the minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge and the source of this toxic cerebral sludge is our schools." Texas, says Colbert, is the bright spot in the universe, nobly attempting to save our children from gym class and evolution. He then goes on to hilariously blame Galileo's challenging the idea that the sun revolves around the earth for making critical thinking popular.

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Are Private Schools Stifling American Innovation?

Parents pay top dollar for private school tuition, but the posh existence they're buying may actually hurt American ingenuity.


Costs continue to rise at the nation's private colleges and universities, but while soaring tuition gives most of us sticker shock, paying $40,000 a year as early as kindergarten is the norm for many families in the 1 percent, who assume their children will receive a better, safer education in private school. But according to writer and cultural critic Naomi Wolf, parents who treat private-school education as a commodity stunt their children's long-term prospects.

"Many educators in these schools complain that parents'—and, increasingly, students'—attitude to educators is that they are consuming a costly luxury product, and that the teachers work for them," Wolf writes in The Guardian. She describes students telling school administrators that "you work for me; I am your employer."

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How Poor Performance in College Sets Students Up for a Lifetime of Difficulty

College students not used to being asked to study are struggling in the real world.


Last year, a controversial academic report-turned book touched off a debate over whether college is worth the money. The book presented years of data showing that students' critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills don't improve in college because many of them aren’t required to devote much time to their studies.

Now, the book's authors, NYU sociology and education professor Richard Arum and University of Virginia sociology professor Josipa Roksa, are back with a follow-up study showing that the lowest-performing students from Academically Adrift are more likely to be unemployed, have large amounts of credit-card debt, and be financially reliant on their parents after graduating from college.

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The Five Best Projects from the Gates Foundation's Education Technology Competition

Here are our five favorite projects from the Gates Foundation's education technology grant competition.

On Tuesday the Gates Foundation announced 19 winners of the second phase of its Next Generation Learning Challenges grant competition. The NGLC's priority is using technology to improve college readiness among low-income students, and what makes these new grantees noteworthy is that they're working on targeting the critical seventh- through ninth-grade years—well before students can either drop out or fall too far behind in higher level math and science. Each project is also aligned with the new Common Core Standards, which are all about developing higher-order thinking skills. While all 19 grantees are noteworthy, here are five that really stand out:

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Why Teachers Need to Become Leaders

If more educators develop leadership skills, it might be the best reform solution we could hope for.

There are plenty of business books written about leadership, but not every employee (or CEO) is a great leader. Likewise, although every teacher stands in front of a classroom of students, they're not all leaders in their schools. But they should be. With their newly released Teacher Leader Model Standards, the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium wants to jump-start the conversation about "the knowledge, skills, and competencies that teachers need to assume leadership roles in their schools, districts, and the profession."

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Checkmate! Chess Program Makes Kids Better Thinkers

Looking for an effective way of teaching kids critical thinking skills, as well as history, math, and reading? Try the world's oldest game.

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Looking for an inexpensive (and fun) way to teach students much needed critical thinking and analysis skills, as well as history, math, and reading? Introduce them to one of the world's oldest games: chess. First Move, a 6-year-old Seattle-based organization that has helped put chess in almost 20,000 second and third grade classrooms in 27 states, provides a two-year curriculum to make it easy for educators.

First Move's executive director, Wendi Fischer, takes on a persona called "The Chess Lady" to give students lessons in how to play the game. Students also learn the medieval origins of chess—everything from the role of the church and how bishops advised the kings and queens to how pawns represent the historical (and expendable) peasants. Actually playing the game then helps students develop the ability to focus and think ahead, and reinforces math concepts like coordinates and quadrants.

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