What Is Accelerated Christian Education?
This blog exists, in part, to expose the activities of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) in the UK. Since you have probably never heard of it, here’s an introduction.
Accelerated Christian Eduction is a fundamentalist curriculum from Texas, distributed in the UK by Christian Education Europe (CEE). There are approximately 2,000 students of ACE in the UK, including homeschoolers. ACE students work in silence in “offices” that Ofsted describes as “rather like a modern version of a monk’s cell in a medieval monastery.” Students are not allowed to turn around, talk, or move without permission, which they gain by raising a flag to get a supervisor’s attention. ACE students complete PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education), a prescribed series of workbooks.
Official ACE literature says “students are taught to see life from God’s point of view.” Religious instruction is not a separate subject: “Biblical principles and concepts are interwoven into all aspects of the curriculum [citation].” In English, for example, students are given examples of interrogative sentences [source]: “Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour? Can you ever praise Him enough?” and asked to underline the correct verb in a sentence like “Jesus (is, are) good.”
Seeing “God’s point of view” extends to politics, where students are taught that God’s views are right-wing, and left-wing ideas are therefore evil and godless (Cited in Teaching Redemptively by Donovan Graham, p. 14. I also have PACEs which say this). Students are taught as fact that government healthcare and benefits are not God’s will: “God’s plan is for these needs to be met first by family members, and then by local churches, but not by government programs.” (Social Studies PACE 1094, p. 7. Also cited here.)
Of course, ACE is relentlessly Creationist. Their scope and sequence mentions Creationism multiple times, and Creationist “evidences” are included in virtually every PACE. Here’s their science curriculum overview for PACEs 85-96 (intended for year 9 level students): “These earth science PACEs introduce specific areas of study such as astronomy, volcanology, topography, oceanography, meteorology, and mineralogy with proofs of the Creation. Students learn about the perfection of God’s design for the universe.” Evolution is constantly ridiculed as “impossible” and a “sinking ship,” (Science 1107 p. 24).
So now you know.
This is what Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, says in their September 2011 document “Types of Independent Schools.”
15. Accelerated Christian Education is a system promoted by an international organisation based in the USA known as the ‘School of Tomorrow’, and its aim is to provide ‘a God-centred curriculum’. There is an Accelerated Christian Education headquarters in the United Kingdom in Swindon, called ‘Christian Education Europe’. The organisation does not itself own or maintain schools, but it provides materials for use in institutions which subscribe to its philosophy. These schools operate a non-standard curriculum, delivered in a very distinctive way which many inspectors will find unusual. There is no specific dress code that inspectors need to adhere to.
16. Among the distinctive features of the school are as follows:
An individualised learning style that makes use of printed packages of materials known as PACES (Packages of Accelerated Christian Education), which are intended to ensure that pupils can advance at their own speed rather than as part of a year group. Pupils are expected to complete 12 PACES per year per subject. There are pre-school PACES available for the Early Years Foundation Stage and this is mapped to the Early Years Foundation Stage early learning goals. A table showing the relationship to the equivalent English NC years is available in schools and this provides a useful guide to age-related expectations. Pupils in year 1 follow the PACES ABC’s. Then the full curriculum starts in Year 2, with PACES 1001 to 1012.
The use of an examination called the ‘International Christian Certificate of Education’ in place of GCSE, AS or A levels. These start at PACES level 1085. These are not recognised qualifications but they are listed on the National Framework and range form Foundation to level 3.
ACE schools normally revolve around the ‘learning centre’, of which there may be more than one in a school. The learning centre is usually a large room which has ‘offices’ around its walls. These are rather like a modern version of a monk’s cell in a medieval monastery, and are where pupils work for most of the day. There is a supervisor’s desk, a scoring station where pupils can mark their own work at regular intervals, and a table for the tests which must be done at the end of each unit of work. Adults do not have the title of teacher, but there are ‘supervisors’, who are responsible for answering pupils’ questions, and other adults known as ‘monitors’ who have received training from Christian Education Europe and who participate in regular in-service training. Teachers also have access to a manual, which provides considerable details about the Accelerated Christian Education course and how it is implemented and managed.
Accelerated Christian Education schools have a compulsory core curriculum of five subjects: English, word building (formal grammar), mathematics, social studies (history and geography) and science. There are also optional PACES available in additional subjects such as Spanish, and at secondaryage level there are a number of ‘elective’ subjects which pupils can choose.
Pupils work at their own speed through the PACES in the main curriculum areas, but they are expected to plan their own work each day by setting themselves goals in terms of the number of pages that they aim to complete. In case of difficulty they are able to ask for help from adults by raising a flag on their learning station. At frequent intervals, pupils mark (‘score’) their own work, and at the end of each unit of work there is a supervised test in which they must achieve a score of 80% before they can move on to the next PACE. Pupils who fail to get a satisfactory grade have to re-take the unit. There are very few opportunities for pupils to write at length or for a range of purposes, and when creative writing is undertaken it often follows the distinctive language style and beliefs of the materials. In addition to the PACES, there are structured video programmes available to support some work, particularly in early reading and science.
Not all schools follow the Accelerate Christian Education system completely. Some of the longer established schools have modified the system and will, for example, teach some lessons in a conventional way and enter pupils for public examinations. You may find that teaching appears to be weaker in these subjects because teachers do not have the experience to set clear learning objectives or sequence tasks. Pupils enjoy the interaction but may not always have the self-discipline to manage their behaviour in these more relaxed lessons.
The PACES were originally written so that they could be used by children who are being schooled at home, and it is not uncommon to find such children attending Accelerated Christian Education schools two or three days a week.
17. An important feature of Accelerated Christian Education schools is preparing for the Annual Convention, which takes place in July near Oswestry. In the weeks before this, pupils will spend a lot of time preparing for competitions which cover such areas as public speaking and sporting events.
18. One area in Accelerated Christian Education schools which may be controversial is the International Christian Certificate of Education. This is used to measure the achievement of older pupils who have successfully completed a given number of PACES in the core and optional subjects that they have studied. This certificate is not officially recognised in the United Kingdom, although individuals and institutions have sometimes recognised it as adequate evidence of achievement. It is important that schools should point out that the International Christian Certificate of Education is a non-standard qualification whose acceptability depends on the individuals or institutions concerned.
Posted on April 19, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism. Bookmark the permalink. 103 Comments.
Sounds absolutly horrendous. Even disregading the content of the courses, where is the social interaction between kids? How do you learn to work in a team if you are stuck in your monk’s cell all day?
This possibly explains some of the strange personality types one comes across in Christian circles.
Thanks for commenting. It was horrendous. I don’t want to be accused of twisting the facts, so I should add that this type of work is only done in the mornings at most of the schools, leaving afternoons for other types of work. Even so, educational research (by John Hattie, for example) indicates that this type of instruction is highly ineffective, so the opportunity cost of spending the majority of your learning time on it is huge.
Just discovered your site today. I attended ACE schools in the US off and on from Kindergarten through 7th grade. The experience was, as you say, horrendous, and as an educational system, utterly worthless. I just wanted to add that in the schools I attended, the “office” model was not just used in the mornings, but was an all day long experience. There was no relief from this stifling arrangement save for a few 10-15 minute long breaks and the lunch hour. Occasionally, the “supervisor” would address the group, and we would turn around in our chairs to listen, but that was the only social interaction allowed while in the learning center. I’m curious as to what other kinds of work were allowed in your ACE experience.
I could go on for days about the horrors of ACE, but I’ll stop here. Thanks for this blog. I’m sorry you had to endure the nightmare that is ACE, but It’s comforting to know there are others out there who understand the abuse I endured under this asinine system.
I can say that my first opportunity to work in a team came when I was in university in the US… sadly yet understandably I was ill prepared.
I disagree with you all. I went through a private school (in the US) from 4th through 12th grade that used A.C.E. and it was a phenomenal curriculum. As far as social interaction the school had that very much structured. There were times of the day you sat and did your work, and there were other times that you had social time like “recesses” or simply just “breaks” and of course lunch time. Not to mention the days that you had classes like gym. In a homeschool setting that burden of course falls to the parent but as far as outside the home they have Lighthouse Christian Academy as a resource for homeschoolers to connect and grow socially.
I learned immeasurably more than I would have in public school, especially in today’s day and age and my skill and knowledge far surpassed those of most public schoolers my age. I graduated in 1998.
Thanks for replying.
Im a product of this type of learning. And it was horrible
I went to an int’l school under and using the ACE curriculum. I’ve to say I disagree half-heartedly. In the mornings, we do mostly our “PACE work”, whilst in the afternoons, it’s spent on other classes that involve lectures and activities. Half the day, it’s similar to what other students experience in conventional schools. It really depends on the activities that the school decides to add in the children’s education system.
Though there is this, the negative results that may come out from it is that either the students persevere in finishing a required amount of PACES, or they’ll never get to graduate high school at all.
Have you ever managed to find any data on where the kids who came through the ACE system ended up? It seems like the curriculum is wholly unsuited to living and working in a society like that of the UK so it would be interesting to know where these kids find themselves on leaving school.
Currently trying to find out that very thing myself. There’s a masters thesis about it online, but 1) it’s about South Africa and 2) it’s written by ACE’s own head of quality assurance.
You might be able to put a Freedom of Information request in about this. The DfE will know who the pupils are attending these schools. They will certainly know their attainment, if any (you imply that many of these schools don’t enter children for GCSEs). They might be able to analyse their 16-18 NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) data to identify ACE schools. Worth a try, I’d have thought.
Thanks G, that’s a really useful suggestion.
I attended a church/school in Soest, Holland (1979-1981) that used the A.C.E. curriculum. The curriculum was NOT my complaint; it was the atrocities inflicted on myself and the other students by the random psychopaths/sociopaths hired to operate the school. It was nothing more than a cult school run by sadistic control freaks who used fear, intimidation, witholding food, water, and bathroom breaks, humiliation, solitary confinement, after school detentions than ran as long as 7:00 – 8:00pm, NO extra-curricular activities, NO socializing. 8-9 hours a day were spent in a three-sided 2×2 cubicle with a light in it. The only way you could get “outside” communication was by raising a little flag and start praying to GOD that the freak in charge felt like answering flags that day. The irony of that “Blessed Education” is that when I FINALLY got out of it and graduated, I had no idea how to write a check, pay bills, or anything else of any REAL value. I am now almost 50, and am just now about to get my college education – up until now I wouldn’t set foot in a school. If you have any doubts about this, the “owners” of that school were Ken and Velda Black, and their minions were Bill and Linda Compton.
Thanks for sharing. This seems to be, well, not a common experience, but certainly I’ve heard many stories like this. The isolated way you work in ACE means abusive teachers find it very easy to tailor it to their ends.
You might be interested in Cat Givens’ story: https://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-dogma-that-followed-me-home/
I can empathize with you entirely. Although I was not in fear of attending school, I am in fear of Christian organizations as a whole. I have not been in a church for a very very long time and cannot bring myself to enter one… Snakes, spiders, rodents hold no fear for me… put in a room with Bible bashing Christians I would have nightmares for years.
Well, here is how me and my family ended up.
In 1975, I entered the 1st grade in a small church sponsored (one room) school located in a very small town. Myself and one other girl were the only 1st graders. (There were less than 20 students in the entire school.) It was like going to Sunday School an additional 5 days per week. Our school did not have a lot to offer. There was no gym, no cafeteria, no band, no sports. Our library was a small bookshelf. Since this was the only school I had attended; I did not know the difference and therefore did not feel as if I missed out on anything. Needless to say – the PACEs looked very primitive back then compared to today. They were slow building, self-guiding and Biblical based. Looking back, I cannot remember anything bad about the school. We were good kids and respected our one (and only) teacher. We had no other text books besides the PACEs. I followed the rules. I completed my PACEs, took my tests and never cheated. (I vividly remember only having to retake a PACE two times in my life.) Twelve years later, I graduated along with the other girl in my class (who I married three weeks after graduation in 1987…Yes, I was lucky enough to marry my high school sweetheart). We both received our “Church-related School” diplomas that were not accredited by the State. (Who needs the government to say if I was educated or not, anyway?) Before graduation, I took the ASVAB Test so I could enter the Military. I do not recall my score but the Air Force Recruiter said I qualified for ANY enlisted career field I wanted. I chose Electrical/Plumbing. After my initial training – I was assigned to an Air Force Base in Florida. Once my wife rejoined me – we agreed to start college. We both took and passed the college entrance exam for the satellite college on base. (This test verified that we were proficient at the high school graduate level and ready to take college classes.) I majored in Business Administration and she majored in Accounting. We attended class for three hours a night – four nights per week. By the time my six year military enlistment was over – we both had our BS degrees. I ended up with a 3.5 GPA and my wife graduated with a 4.0 GPA. In 1993, we returned to our hometown and with (what little) money we were able to save the previous six years; I was able to start my own electrical/plumbing business (which has been very successful from the git-go). She got a job in the Bookkeeping (Accounting) Department at the local hospital. A year later, we bought our house and our son was born. Our daughter was born the next year. Our son started kindergarten in 1999 and our daughter started in 2002 in the SAME church sponsored (one room) school their parents attended! Fast forward to 2012. My wife’s (and I) school teacher retired and was replaced by her own daughter (who graduated the same school and went on to receive a BS degree in education from college). The school still averages around 20 students per year. (And from what I observed… they are still good kids!) Our son graduated this summer and is now attending a regional university (majoring in electrical engineering). He scored 24 on the American College Test (ACT). The average ACT score in our state is 19. Our daughter is starting the 10th grade. (They both have been straight A students since 1st Grade.) Although the ACE curriculum is the only curriculum used by our kids from K-12 – our son is having no absolutely no problems in college. No problems with classwork; no problems with his professors and absolutely no problems fitting in or socializing with his classmates. Never once did we think about pulling our kids out of their “ACE” school and sending them to a different school and never once did our kids ask to move to a different school. I believe success in school work is like anything else in life… You get out of it what you put into it. The original question was how did someone who went to an ACE school end up? Well – I think me, my wife and my family all ended up just fine!
Thanks for the encouragement, i am hoping to start an ACE school back in Nairobi Kenya and was begining to get worried at all the negative remarks, was almost believing its the feeling of many, thanks for sharing
What makes you feel that ACE is the best option for your school? The majority opinion on ACE is that it’s a poor system (see this, for example: https://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/the-strange-case-of-uk-naric-and-accelerated-christian-education/ ).
I can understand the desire to give a Christian education, and the desire to help children develop character, but that’s no excuse to use poor educational methods or teach inaccurate information.
I, too, grew up in A.C.E. My parents started a school in the Philippines because they wanted their children to have a Christian education, and this was that only thing that was available then. We moved to the States when I was 12, and we also ended up in an A.C.E. school. I graduated when I was 17, and went to a university and earned my B.S.in Elementary Education with a 3.45 GPA after 3 1/2 years in college. I did have to adjust to a classroom type environment, but it was not big deal. Then, I decided to pursue a nursing degree, and got a BSN after two years. I must say that I learned a lot from my elementary and high school years and had no problem getting into college. In fact, I got invitations from IV League schools as my A.C.T. scores were high enough. I am currently working as a nurse and homeschooling my two kids. So how did someone from an A.C.E school end up? i think I did just fine, thank you!
Invitations from Ivy League schools, but not enough to know that it’s called the “Ivy League” and not the “IV League”?
This is the best commend i have read. Im preparing to enrol my son in an ACE system school. Funny these negative commendsseem to come from well educated people. Who taught them?
This sounds like advertisment from the very individuals pushing ACE.
I grew up on this ACE garbage in the early 80s. I am shocked to see that this wing-nut propaganda is still around. Thanks for writing this blog and exposing the brain-washing that goes on.
I too went through ACE schools. I found them intellectually stifling and relentlessly uncreative. I felt completely unprepared for college. I had taken a class that was not offered (physics) at a local community college when I was in 12th grade so I knew the education I had received was a joke. About a decade after graduating from high school I did go to college. At that point it had been long enough that colleges did not require an SAT or look at my high school curricula (since I knew they would know it was ridiculous too). I am now writing my dissertation in… wait for it… GEOLOGY!
I as well as my younger brother went through the A.C.E. program. I enjoyed it and would never refer to it as a monk’s cell. It was a classroom and there was plenty of interaction between students as well as teachers. There were some things that could have ben done different, but that goes of any school system. I would not trade the education I received nor the friendships I made for anything. I graduated from that school a year early at age 16, entered college when I was 17 and I am currently a web designer at a top hospital in Southwest Georgia. Education is what you make of it. My brother who also went to the A.C.E. school with me, later transferred to another school after I graduated. He did not finish school, did not receive his diploma and has not worked to get his GED. He always hated school and because of the decisions he has made as far as education goes, he has a tough time. Every child is different in how they learn and children have their ways of learning better in various classroom settings.
Bravo. We use the ACE curriculum to home school our daughter in New Zealand. Over here it is nationally recognised by all of the tertiary education providers and they give children who have studied ACE higher admission priority. Our daughter attends a learning centre occasionally but mostly we work at home, together. Why leave a state school? How about bullying and a 10 year old boy threatening her with a knife! She has excelled academically, in 2 years she has achieved 4 years of learning, and she only studies 3 hours per day. She has developed into a caring, considerate teenager that other parents envy. She volunteers for the Child Cancer Foundation, Disabled Riding Association, is an assistant tutor at Senior Net and has numerous hobbies and friends. I think people should judge for themselves not by the anti-Christian ranting of others.
I’d love to hear more about how they manage to teach a language such as Spanish using PACEs, that seems an impossible task.
I managed about two weeks on their Spanish course before I left the school. They have accompanying videos, I think. At my school, the supervisor was taking the course about a week ahead of us and teaching the pronunciation in a group setting.
How extremely ineffective. It’s bad enough trying to learn a language with a non native speaker who’s been learning for years. Learning a week ahead just wouldn’t cut it in my books.
It’s funny how I came across your blog(this is the third post I’ve read of yours about ACE.) I was outraged at things I found in my ACE books and Googled the subject to see if anyone else realized the same. Thankfully, it seems as though a lot of people see the same thing.
I was going through some old ACE books in order to get my transcripts for my first year of highschool in order and noticed all of the places that I had highlighted wrong information or just blatant lies. It was atrocious! Most of them were in history because that happened to be my favorite subject but Science was chock full of lies as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian. But ACE played no part in my conversion. In fact, it put a bitter taste in my mouth towards any fundamentalist or organized religion. The fact that all of the work is reading comprehension and pretty much no creative writing sickens me. In the few years that I studied ACE I was in no way encouraged to voice my own opinion or do any kind of secular research to find things out for myself. I remember at one point, a “creative writing” project was to write a letter to my governor… My problem here? I was instructed to “thank him and show your appreciation for his policies and achievement”… Which I completely disagreed with.
I’m surprised that I’m as open-minded and critical as I am today considering how brain-washing that education is. Oh and don’t get me started on ACE’s view of Native Americans and their subtle racism.
I noticed a few people asking about the students that go through ACE and where they end up.. My boyfriend graduated with ACE. He didn’t like it but made the best of it and is serving in the Airforce reserves right now.. He’ll be taking college classes on graphic designing at the end of this year and is moving forward in life.
Most of the other ACE students I know of transferred after less than two years of studying ACE.
Me as a Professional teacher,and a baptist believer,ACE is the best and unique method of teaching!
I don’t mean to be unkind, but your English grammar is terrible. Were you taught via ACE yourself?
Seems to me you don’t have to be a professional anything in order to supervise a room full of children virutally chained to writing tables where, according to the sample curriculum, they actually learn very little. Pride before the fall and all that.
I’m trying to figure out what the problem is with ACE? Is it the ACE schools themselves that people have a problem with? Is it the level of education received? Is it people’s dislike of the ‘bible first’ approach to subjects? I’m currently researching different home school curriculum for my children. I haven’t found anything that completely satisfies everything I want in a curriculum, so instead i’m opting for something that would make a good foundation. ACE seems to be good for that. Of course, I’ll be doing more fun things too…field trips, science experiments etc.
Different people have different problems with ACE. My own opinion (I’m a qualified teacher about to embark on a PhD in education) is that ACE offers a very poor quality education, regardless of content. I consider it to be a poor choice for education regardless of your spiritual beliefs.
The emphasis on rote memorisation and isolated facts is particularly concerning. The methods of assessment do not require understanding, which means your child could gain good test scores without necessarily learning the right things. I think a good education should involve access to a breadth of ideas and in depth discussion of those ideas, and ACE does not offer that.
to jonnyscaramanga; I am a student at an ACE school. I agree with quite a number of the things you post on this blog and I want too say thank you for showing me the facts that ACE got wrong and how they twisted reason to fit their goals. I’m not sure this is right place to say this, but not all ACE schools are bad. There are some that I’ve read that are kind of sadistic but that doesn’t mean all are like that. I think it depends on the people running the school. The supervisors at my school would definitely be even more horrified than I am at the sadism in some ACE schools. Its true the ACE curriculum has many shortcomings but some people truly believe it is wonderful(probably because they don’t know what is really going on), and those people are sincere in their desire to educate children properly.
I think if you can make more people know about your blog, more people will realise what ACE is really like.
Sorry if my english is bad. I’m from Indonesia
Hi Squidstar. Your English seems great to me.
Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. A lot of these teachers are sincere, and do want the best for their kids. Unfortunately, I think ACE is a terrible way to provide that education. I wish these well-intentioned people would see that.
I’m glad you’ve read the blog; thanks for commenting.
Jonny you need to do a very good research about the ACE system before making negative comments about the system. Every child learn differently. If you stay longer in the system you know exactly what the system like. ACE curriculum is an excellent curriculum for some countries. I grow and studied in ACE from Early AGE through Grade 12 went to college 1 year graduated with diploma, went to UNiversity for 2 years graduated with Bachelor of Educational Abminstration ,policy, planning and development went 2 years to do my masters in administration and now doing my PHD in educational leadership. I would like to say here that ACE has prepare me well enough to reach this far.
Once you immerse yourself into the ACE system, you discover there are so many gaps in important information in all the subjects, and you may well discover recycled tasks such as after having completed a set of grammar or word building exercises in your current PACE level, you’ll come across it again in the next level up! Kept experiencing deja vu with a marked frequency when going through my children’s ‘prescribed’ PACE work, furthermore the need to refer to mainstream books to fill out the scant information found in the science, history and geography PACEs. The rote memorization became tedious and irritating because there was a serious lacking in variety to keep a child engaged in the seeking and expansion of knowledge. ACE doesn’t work very well on its own, it honestly needs sound facts as a sturdy back up to make it worth something.
I actually really enjoyed my time at an ACE school.
Thoroughout my schooling I spent time at both a ‘normal school’ and at two different ACE school. If anything I felt like I learned more at the ACE school due to the 80% pass rate. In a normal school if you didn’t understand what you had learned and failed a test you just kept moving along with everyone else however in ACE I had to actually know the subject before moving on.
I would never have referred to my office as “rather like a modern version of a monk’s cell in a medieval monastery”. That statement is rediculous.
You make it sound as if there is no interraction with other students but we still had seperate classes such as drama, arts, sports etc. and where we had to perform group activities.
There were definately some things that could be improved on but I believe this is the same with every education systym. Non are perfect.
And at no time did I have any political opinions forced on me.
As for the religious aspect. Well, it is really aimed at Christian families so if you don’t believe in God why would you send your kids to a Christian school? But then in normal school that force the evolution concept. So really thats exactly the same.
Sounds like you just had a bad experience. I’m sure, as with all schools, there are some bad ACE schools out there just like there are some bad normal schools out there.
My experience was a good one and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Minus the traditional education system, what do you think is the education system that meets the child’s needs as an individual, gives him/her a firm foundation (no identity crisis) yet prepares her/him well to face the challenging world?
That’s an excellent question, and one I don’t fully feel I have the answer to yet. I’m studying education at the moment, and I want to answer those kinds of questions. The cop out answer is that I think, for all its faults, the normal education offered by British secondary schools is far better than ACE (although admittedly I’ve grown up in areas where the schools are fairly good).
I’m not necessarily arguing that children being brought up (at home) within their parents’ religious tradition. I think that, at schools, children should learn about other people’s beliefs and values, and the reasons why they hold them. They should be encouraged to reflect on their own beliefs and why they hold them. They should consider what counts as good evidence, and what counts as a good reason to believe something, and why.
I think the education I got after I left ACE was pretty good. There were debates in classes, and in history we looked at different sources and discussed whether they were reliable. That was actually a faith school – Methodist – but even religious education classes were a discussion of different points of view.
I have interacted with at least 10 children who have either gone through or are currently going through the ACE system and I consider them better educated than those who have undergone other systems of education. The fact is that there is no education system which is perfect. ACE in my opinion is an attempt to obey the Bible where the responsibility of teaching a child in the way s/he should go is laid on the parents more than it is to the teachers. It affords the parent that serious role and opportunity to take his/her rightful place in ensuring that the child is grounded in Godly principles-and what would be a better way than through education in the formative ages of the children?
Secondly,most systems have “learning gaps” where a child continues going through other topics even when the previous ones are not properly understood. This does not happen in ACE which is a big plus.
There is an implied wrong notion that the system is likely to produce hermits which is very far from the truth-All of the mentioned 10 children are greatly sociable,confident(an 8 year old was very confident to present to a congregation of 50 adults) and extremely creative. One boy enrolled for International Computer Driving Licence classes at an ordinary college(by the way,ICDL is part of the compulsory courses towards the end of the system) and no other student from the mainstream schools could beat him-Infact,he ended up being appointed by the tutor as a coach to the rest of the students)
I am sorry to say that the system is predicated on Godliness,Christianity and the Bible all of which are not popular so it is no wonder that the it is receiving such barbs and bashes!!
The truth is I am enrolling my daughter into the system as soon as she is ready and I encourage those who would care to listen to go right ahead!!May not be perfect but certainly is the best option given the highly secularized alternative options out there!!
I graduated from a school who was part of the ACE program in 1997 in Emporia, Kansas USA . Even though I graduated a year early it would have been better for me to have dropped out of that school and got my GED. To this day almost 16 years later I have many nightmares about that school. The starcharts, the PACE’s, the congratulations slips, all the plaques I received, and all the other BS as well. I have dreams also to this date of telling off the teachers and they come after me. Though there were some good things in the PACES and had some hard challenge it was not worth going to school there. I wasnot forced to go to school there but always believed I would not do well in a public school. It seemed like a cult that sucked you in. I never got paddled either, but the doctrine could make a sane person puke. This school probably was not as bad as some of the other ACE schools but still their thinking was extremely ass backwards. Graduating from that school was a relief but still the scars are still with me to this date. During chapel they showed scary shows like the Thief in the Night Series,Heavens Gates Hells Flames, and in additional other cheesy lame Fundamentalist Cult movies as well. I asked Jesus into my heart and was baptized and was still scared to death I was going to be tormented in a lake of fire forever. Ace, Racer, Pudge, Sandy, and Christi etc. your ass backwards ways of showing kids how life should be was far from the reality of waits a person out in the real world. You ruined my life. You all sucked me in just like other cults do. I am gay as well and was always told that was a perversion so I stayed in the closet till I graduated. I knew it but could never accept it in Fundamentalism. Told I was worthless, unworthy of God’s love, and deserved to burn in a lake of fire forever. My abuse was more mental and emotional when I went to this school. It took me forever to get my sense of self esteem back and I still am trying to this date. You ACE people would probably tell me that this is from the Devil or believing the Devils lies. No, more like your words and dogma, not necessarily the Devil. If I could do it over again and knew what I knew now I defenitely would have never went to that school. Screw your dresscodes, screw your ass backwards ways of thinking, and making kids look like and act like trolls, If I had a kid they would never be subjected to that type of mental torture. Though I am not an atheist you made them look like innocent new born infants.
Only the most rigid Fundamentalist Christians could be able to say ACE was perfect. Some things were good about it but the bad overid the good. Remember the A, C and E level for reading books and writing a report and would get special privledges. Dont get me wrong some of them were nice people but their rigid old ways of thinking are not the reality of the real world out there today. The Bible is not all literal. We can live in dreamland all we want to with this warped way of thinking but reality typically comes about and when you get into the real world your in for a surprise. Some of the kids in the PACE’s almost seemed to be to the point of almost being perfect as God Himself. Nobody even comes close when it comes to being perfect like God. It would be nice if it could be that way but it is not. I dont think God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit or however one may refer to Them as are more concerned about us seeking Them, admitting were not perfect, and doing the best we can as humans.
Years ago my husband became a ACE teacher/pastor. I knew it was wrong, but I had no voice. Instead I had 4 babies in 6 years, and lived in poverty. He and ‘god’ was in control of my life. 30 years has passed since I got out. My kids did not go to an ace school. I eventually went to art school, I had heaps of counselling, re-invented myself. But ace is a cult that destroyed a decade of my life.
Bad experience in a good system. Do not throw away the baby along with the bath water!
Joe. I threw out the bath water and there was no baby! There never was a baby, and the water? Well it all seemed to evaporate into thin air. There was nothing of significant importance to damage, just a lot of personal internal damage to undo. I, like you, threw around these catch phrases. It’s okay.
I hope you will gain courage gradually to question why you feel compelled to hold on to what you identify as “good”. I think we all fear honest, objective reality, especially coming from the ACE context. What tools do we have to face real life? Joe, people are not making this stuff up. It HAPPENED. It might be happening to you too, and you don’t want to accept the implications of everything that is nagging at the back of your mind.
Mind control is a real phenomenon. I believe each story shared here. It’s courageous people that break the don’t talk rules. Recovery is very slow and often a very difficult process. The wounds are deep. The damage is almost devastating. Isolation caused so much of our troubles. We now reach out a little at a time to undo the whole sordid mess. I’m 37 and not yet over my losses.
ACE has a very damaging impact on it’s student’s minds. It’s the sheer drip effect of mind-numbing un-reality. Hours, days, weeks, years of never-ending torture. Compliance, passivity, robotic decisions–these all describe the effect of a core curriculum that brain-washes the student into one way of thinking.
Come on, a synonym not matching the score key answer is incorrect! You juggle between, leave it and save about 10 min for more mindless work or mark it wrong, remember the “correct” answer, return to desk, erase, correct (hopefully remember correct synonym), return to score station, (lost scoring privileges because of chair left out or some other ridiculous infraction), wait for scoring permission to be granted, return to score station, circle x, return to desk, (forgot to mark the “re-scored box), return to score station; on and on the demoralizing drip continues day after day.
In ACE, the less you question and the harder you try to fulfill all the requirements, the more you are rewarded, at least when you finally manage to please system. It is truly awful. We all tend to be creatures of habit. For those us that are brave to acknowledge the ACE habits formed, we find some habits that are extremely un-useful, but very hard to break.
Some habits ingrained in us are very destructive to our personal well-being in this world. As much time as school takes up in our lives, we should at least hope to dedicate as much of that time as possible to solid self-empowering habits of thought that encourage a productive adult life after schooling is formally over.
Rigidity within ACE is unreal. It tries to coral reality to a very narrow circle, when all the while the real world surrounds the unreality like a huge, vast and unexplored universe. (By the way, outside this small circle of unreality, it is quite SAFE.) There is a world of opportunity. Very wonderful and caring people exist (many more than we could have imagined). These outsiders are individuals that will never fully comprehend or understand our pain or our trauma, but truly empathize, and show us what reality on the outside can look like.
The punitive punishments encouraged by ACE are warnings of a curricula that is focused on the wrong objectives. I am certain of the damaging effect this curriculum has on it’s victims. We may make new choices, though. We may acknowledge what really did happen. Somehow, we don’t remain victims. We will probably always carry some mark of ACE for the rest of our lives. It will be part of who we were, and to a small measure who we will always be. Let’s just do all we can to not let history continue to repeat itself in the next generation.
I was raised in a loving Christian home not a cult and certainly not by controlling Bible thumpers. I attended public school. The public school system in America is an atrocity. The government has very successfully and intentionally dumbed the average public down. I originally put my three kids in a local and relatively “good” public school in the same town in which I lived as a child. Everyday was a battle with my kids , the teachers and the principal. Their love of learning was stiffled so quickly I can tell you the exact date it happened on for each child. Needless to say I have taken them out of public school and now homeschool. We will be using the A.C.E. curriculum next year along with many other extra-curricula activities and plenty of socialization and outside play. I am hoping that with my loving guidance this can be a positive way for them to be back in control of their learning and thus inspire their desire to “find out more.” We may not always stay with ACE but as a guide to self-taught learning I think it can be good when used properly. There are many instances when it can be a useful tool. No curriculum should be the only means of teaching/learning. FOr those that say ACE kept them in a cult, that just isn’t possible. You always have a choice ( I too was once in an abusive relationship) and it’s the person in charge that can make or break this system. But if it’s the person in charge than it doesn’t matter what curriculum the school used. The cartoons in the curriculum are a guide for behavior. So many people take this out of context. Haven’t you ever been told by an adult to be repsectful and to listen to your parents? I think that’s a pretty common lesson by parents no matter which side of the pond you live. Many children here in America are disrespectful and detached from the family/parents. These mini examples show some children that may not know what is expected of them, how to treat others. While it isn’t for everyone, I hardly think it’s as bad as most are making it out to be. It’s not the students, the curriculum, the building that make a bad or poor school…
Kate, you might benefit from reading my response to Joel. I could not more forcefully disagree with your position on ACE. It’s extremely unfortunate that you feel this way after finding a site like this one. When the signage is warning “CLIFF” and you say no cliff exists, well this is truly scary.
ACE is an insidious poison. A little poison, even in moderation, even with cautious over-site, even thinned down, mixed with other wholesome nutrients is a terrible thing for me to think about. Your mind seems made up. Something is wrong. How can you be so right? Kate, it is in fact much worse than this site portrays. These are samplings of personal experiences of the bravest. The greater majority cannot process what happened to them. They are still stuck. The majority are truly victims of the most terrible misfortunes.
“Dumbed-down”? What if I read your comment as ‘mother has very successfully and intentionally dumbed each of her children down’ by the use of the ACE homeschool curriculum?
“CLIFF” ! Do you have a right to take your innocent children over that CLIFF with you? Fact is you do. How unfortunate. I advocate the right of your children to a brighter future than ACE. PLEASE.
I’m a father of a eight year-old. He’s loving our local public school, and his teachers are stellar individuals. He’s currently doing work that ACE did not introduce until I was in third grade. By the way, for 1st grade, I think that’s quite notable. He’s getting the material too. He’s not bored, or overwhelmed with repetitive, meaningless work. He’s a kid. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that I can describe my son as enjoying a normal childhood.
great testimony. thanks.
I am 35, a successful physician, an entrepreneur, a teacher, and, I’d like to think, a creative yet critical thinker. I went K-12 to an ACE School. My father and mother were university professors at Indiana University and both started and administrated the school that I attended. Our teachers were loving people, many of which had children in the school. I graduated from high school at the age of 14, local secular community college at the age of 16 and Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) at the age of 18. I graduated medical school, residency and began practice in 2001.
At no time did I ever feel disadvantaged in my secular higher learning. I had no problem with critical thinking, nor did I have difficulty with creativity. Are all stories from an ACE school like mine? Absolutely not, but neither are the stories from my wife’s public high school nor my business partner’s prep school.
You have implied(and I think mentioned outright) that the “majority opinion” of the academic community indicates ACE is a poor curriculum. However, as a learned person, you know that the 10 references you list could hardly count as a “majority opinion” in education when there are literally hundreds of thousands of people in the world who specialize in education. Besides, individualized learning is VERY VERY different from the typical practices in the educational world, and it absolutely unequivocally threatens the future of hundreds of thousands of educators in the world with the information age that we have come into.
I would also remind you that, especially in education, most would agree that developers of curriculum always have a bias. ALWAYS. There is no way around that. No curriculum can possibly be TRUE to all people, because in our society truth is very relative to the philosophy that you choose to ascribe to. So the only curriculum an individual will find to be TRUE will be one with which they have a shared bias.
A great example is to look at country bias of the cause of wars, or a partisan bias for the reasons for election outcomes. Even scientists can’t agree on why things happen sometimes. Is truth defined as whatever the majority believe that the evidence shows? Even though some think enough evidence can help one to be certain about something beyond a shadow of a doubt, we discover later that they were wrong. I don’t know that I philosophically believe that “evidence”-based conclusions are always the correct ones.
If you are not a person who believes in the BIAS that is taught in ACE, fine. That isn’t for you and I regret for you that anyone in your life subjected you to it. I think your campaign might well as be waged toward those people instead of towards a curriculum that was developed 30 years ago.
I would point out that written words on page do not suppress your free speech nor do they punish you for expressing the wrong ideas. Unfortunately, only actual real live people to that.
Most won’t think to have “opposing ideas” to an idea that is read in a curriculum until university. If they do, I would think no matter what school one went to, most of the formation of the “opposing ideas” are done outside of school.
I regret your bad experience with people, but do NOT maintain that ACE has a perfect curriculum. I do think that it was the best curriculum for me, and I have been quit successful as a result of it. I know many others who would say the same thing.
As a side note about your comment policy, hopefully I have amazed you with something genuinely new that I have said, but perhaps you have it all figured out already. 😉
I grew up in a small ACE school from 5-12 grade (actually finishing a year early). After graduation I went to Bible school and traveled the world for several years then settled down and got married. Over twelve years later I decided to go back to school and get my BA, 3.76 avg (currently working on Masters). When I took the college entrance exam I scored high in every area and had no requirements to take any refresher courses. I never once thought that I was ill-prepared for life or social situations. In many ways I believe it was helpful to learn to set my own goals and do my own work. I have learned to manage my time wisely.
The only reason I am actually looking up info on ACE schools is for my own children. I hear so much bad about ACE PACEs, much like this site that it scares me to use it. But I think back at my own education and think I turned out pretty good. I made a good life for myself despite my “ACE education” as well as many of my classmates–one is a medical doctor, another has a doctorate and works for a large international company, and another is a program developer–just to name a few successful ACE graduates. (I actually don’t know of any of my classmates that have become bums–all successful in different ways.)
All children are different and have different learning styles. What works for one may not work for another. But over all life and education is all about what you choose to put into it and take from it, not what is necessarily given to you. In every area of life you will always find those that will rise above the worst situations and leave those behind that choose to wallow in the muck. Your choices in life will make you who you are. Don’t blame you horrible life on a few bad years in an ACE school–get over it and make the changes that need to be made to make your own life successful!
Lamuncea, I also am a traveller and starting a masters degree in philosophy Its worth pointing out that yes, some people excell at ACE. I don’t think ACE inherently makes people stupid. I believe genius is wrapped up in us all. But the point is that ACE has a hidden agenda besides just academics. English paces are actually very advanced. I have a BA in English, and in my upper-level linguistics we didn’t cover as much grammar as we did in middle school English PACE (transitives and intransitives, who else does that in 7th grade English?) I would say the same for math. If you had a math teacher (most ACE schools do not), then I don’t think their algebra program would be bad. (I did chalkdust for algebra 2. Its SO much better with an interactive teaching system; the ACE videos are sleep material.)
But again, even if we assume that ACE is 100% perfect academically, I still take issue with ACE because of its indoctrination. Unless you believe that women have to submit to their husbands, that dancing is a sin, that kids should be used as evangelism props (soul winning paces), etc, then ACE is a bad choice. The history and science paces are the worst, where its assumed that the reformation leaders were perfect and evolution is false. You went through the PACES, so I don’t need to tell you that. But the point is, even if ACE kids came out academically ahead, I don’t think its worth it.
I can see that some kids prefer the contained environement. I do not care for filling in dots and writing everything in complete sentences. Its dumb. So I think adacemically, there are so many better ways. But if it works for some kids, that’s fine, but again, there are other homeschool textbooks out there without all the fundamental agenda.
I dont’ appreciate the “get over it” part, though. Boring textbooks is not the part of my life that I’m struggling to come to grasp with. The struggle is learning to live without fundamentalism because we spent all my developmental years in fundmantalism. Now I live in a mainstream world that isn’t fundamental, and that’s hard. I also have to learn to live in a social world, and I was isolated and never learned to socialize outside fundamental circles. You said you started ACE at 5th grade. I have this odd theory that the most key years to social development is the early years, not the later years. I could be wrong. Either way, I know that fundametnalism has held me back. Part of the fundamentalism came from the content inside the textbooks, but it also just came from the entire fundamental worldview.
Put your kids in private school, or homeschool them with a non-fundamental cirriculum. There is so much more available than when you and I were kids.
I also don’t believe ACE is more advanced that public school. I am just saying if it was, I’d still be against it. But ACE’s literature program is all missionary stories and filling in impossible answers. IMO, the middle school literature program is ACE at its worse.
Lana, I totally understand your point of view of indoctrination and legalism that is taught in the PACEs. I guess I never felt it hurt me to the point I believed I was going to hell if I didn’t abide by all their rules. I always thought it was so ridiculous as I read through the comics and stories. ACE over-simplified life into easy right and wrong categories and I agree that isn’t how true life is.
I understand, but also feel many exaggerate their ACE school experience, that many have had some horrid experiences in the rigidness and overbearing teachers within the schools. When you have a system of legalism, you will have those that use it as a measurement of “good education” rather than the quality of truly meaningful teacher/student relationships.
I actually do homeschool my four children. I have used ACE here and there but also felt I could do better. I have never used the science or social studies because I felt they always lacked in many ways, both being taught from a very idealistic point of view. I have never been a history or science kind of person (more a math and English) but I always felt ACE was very biased in its teaching and wanted my children to learn history and science with a bigger world view. This is not to say that I don’t believe in the Bible or Creationism, but rather that just to say evolution is downright ridiculous and has no merit can be a fallacy as well. Both are a belief system and there is neither full scientific proof for either. But I will save that for another conversation 🙂
I am thinking of using ACE for my one son (the whole curriculum-eek) because he is very much a child who needs to know exactly what is expected of him and wants to fill in the blanks and be done. He puts in little effort in everything that he does and doesn’t care about results. So I am thinking with ACE at least he will get a good education without me having to fuss over all his work constantly. We tried it for the last month or so (a couple of PACEs) and he said he actually likes doing it–well except for the cheesy characters! He is constantly telling me, “Really, Mom, guess what ACE did today…..like anyone would really do that!” I really don’t think he will be ruined for life because he already knows what is right and we are a family that values free thought and he can freely ask about anything without being “put in his place”. I always let my kids know my point of view and why as well as, the best I am able, another viewpoint and then allow them to decide on their own.
Just a side note, every age has social development points that are essential to life. My degree is in Child Psychology 🙂
I did start ACE school at 5th grade and for me that was actually what has made me more confident in life. Before that at a traditional school I was always behind. I didn’t catch what the teacher wanted us to do, hated to read and was labeled as the stupid kid. ACE helped me realize my potential. I learned to read at my own pace and then later excelled in many areas. When I started ACE, I was put in 3rd grade level PACEs, except for Math which I was ahead a bit, then ended up graduating a whole year early! So basically I did 10 years worth of school in 7 years. Today I love to read! I love to work on my own and I still do Math problems just for fun! Obviously, some students aren’t independent learners and do better with a teacher and that’s okay–we’re all different.
Overall, ACE has a great education philosophy (though it may not be for everyone) but they need to present material in a more unbiased worldview. I’d say if you can’t stand fundamentalism and feel this will present a major stumbling block in your life or your child’s then stay away from ACE otherwise, don’t throw out the baby.
Lamuneca, thanks for getting into a serious discussion about this. I would actually be more critical of ACE from an academic point of view than Lanam but I can see how the style of individual study might suit certain children. Another commenter, Anna Hayward, has talked about how an ACE “office” style environment works well for some autistic children, although she is opposed to ACE.
But it’s important to realise, I think, that the fact that you have done well in college since ACE does not prove that ACE is a good system. It may be that other factors enabled you to do well. It may be that you are extremely clever, or had additional tuition in other areas. It may be that the college course was rubbish (this is all hypothetical, before you get offended!). It may be that you would have done even better if you’d had another kind of education. It may be that ACE prepared you well for that specific college course, but there are other areas where it didn’t serve you so well. A good education is not only measured by how well you do in college.
ACE tests are almost entirely about filling in blanks. Let me demonstrate the problem with this by giving you an example in Latin:
aut viam inveniam aut faciam
Re-read that until you can remember it. OK?
aut viam ________ aut faciam
Did you say inveniam? Well, congratulations. If this was ACE, you’d get a point. But do you understand what it meant? Unless you happen to be fluent in Latin, of course you didn’t. That’s the problem with filling in the blanks. It doesn’t prove that the student has understood. It only proves that they memorised.
Lana is correct that the English grammar goes way beyond what most schools teach. Some ACE advocates argue that this makes it better. I disagree. There’s a big weight of research evidence saying that decontextualised grammar exercises don’t improve people’s writing. Here’s one study. I could give you a bunch more, but unless you have access to a university library, you would need to pay to read them. Even people who advocate teaching grammar in schools, like Geoff Barton, agree that the type of exercises ACE uses are an ineffective way to teach it. Barton calls them “lame and tedious”.
So I think ACE teaching that stuff doesn’t make ACE better; it makes ACE worse. The time students spend on those grammar exercises, which don’t aid writing skills and aren’t useful for most students, they could spend doing creative writing or reading a good book.
So I really don’t see that there is a baby to throw out. I’d be intrigued to hear anyone’s suggestions as to what it might be, honestly, because so far no one has shown me.
I definitely agree that ACE probably isn’t the best type of education out there, but it does have its merits. Generally speaking, education is simply the imparting knowledge or skills to another so that they can acquire a skill to be successful. Education is more than what is taught in a classroom. We are constantly learning (or should be). It doesn’t stop when you turn 18 and graduate high school.
When I think about education, I think the best education is the one that fits the child the best–an education that allows the child to be who he is and encourages him to strive to be better. There are advocates of all kinds of education styles and all of them will have leaders with wonderful credentials. And then you will have equally all those that oppose these same education styles. You will have children who become great successes and their stories are plastered on billboards to promote ‘their’ style, but then again there will be those that are complete failures using the same system. The truth is every child is so different and a parent or a school system can’t possible fit ALL children in the same shoebox and expect a perfect fit.
Reasons why I believe ACE is successful:
*It is individualized in the sense that you are able to work at a slower or faster pace than your classmates or at a higher or lower level in a specific subject.
*When a school follows ACE standards, it actually does have many good incentives–weekly ‘field-trips, awards, special privileges, etc.
*Your failures are not publicized.
*Each PACE is repetitive, which should make a small amount of information stick in your mind to encourage success.
*You are taught to set your own goals and accomplish them.
*You are not as easily distracted because you have your own quiet space to work.
*You learn to work on your own without the need of someone telling you the next step–self-motivation.
Not so good stuff:
*Does not allow for individualized creativity.
*No true thought-provoking tests/questions.
*No critical thinking or logical reasoning.
*Not a good science curriculum-overly criticizes evolution without any true evidence of its own view.
*Not a good history curriculum-a very biased view and only covers history that fits in this view.
Like I mentioned in another post, ACE worked well for me. Is it the best out there? No. Is it the worst out there? No. As an adult I can look back and see some things that weren’t so good and probably wish in hindsight that it were better, but can’t that be said about anything in life? All I know is how this curriculum has worked for me. I didn’t do well in school and thought I was pretty stupid until I entered an ACE school and realized that I could learn and I could get good grades. And by the way, before that, I went to a top rated school with a wonderful curriculum that many say is one of the best out there. But for me I didn’t succeed in it.
Education is what you decide to put into it as well as what you choose to take from it. No one can make you learn, nor can they give you every tool to make you successful. It’s all in you.
I attended a ACE school in Australia for 3 long years, I believe the teaching system works great and stops children from getting “lost” or “falling through the cracks” which is the case for many children in the conventional systems, including myself. It allows children to work towards a goal and to time manage from a young age. The paces are repetitive which helps to learn not just remember and then forget the information after the test. I would not be able to wright this with out being put in to this system. The sad fact is I hated every minuet at that school, the Students were evil bible bashing brats who would preach the bible at your face and commit every sin thinkable at night, buy the time I had left the school I was anorexic and suicidal, what can I say being told daily that I was going to hell for eternity (by students and teaches) takes its toll, that was among the many taunts and actions that I was faced with. I wasn’t a big fan of the class room seating and the fact that the art consisted of 12 paces all with no creativity or skill required. I was lucky enough to do art by distance ed, and was able to be the teacher for other students to learn art once a week, under restrictions. The library consisted of a book shelf with only christian based books, no general reading and we did not have access to science lab’s, workshops or home education (cooking, sewing) areas. we did have a sports area. I was lucky I was able REPEAT my last 2 years at a state school.
Thank you for posting Heidi. I’ll share this in a compilation of survivor stories at some point.
oh wow!!! I’m so glad I found your blog. I am currently trying work out whether I will do the ABC’s kit with my daughter who is grade 1 at school. My husband and I thought we should do it as a top up to her schooling. She is a behind with her learning as we haven’t done much with her and we thought this program would do the trick as I went to an ACE school in Australia for 4 years and my husband did it as part of homeschooling in Australia from grade 1 to 7. His experience is extremely positive however, he’s not a teacher and doesn’t understand some fundamentals of education. My experience has been positive too, however, I hated the fact that I had to mark my own work and I would sometimes mark myself right when I was actually wrong. I loved the fact that it was learning by rote. However, as I have done 3 years of a bachelor of education I agree with you that learning can’t always be in isolation etc as you said above. Also, I’m a little wary now that if she learns the alphabet sounds with the symbols etc she is not going to learn how to read without them. Also not learning how to read a word based on the letters around them. eg. C can be the ssss sound when ie comes after the letter. ACE I don’t think teaches this?? What do you think?
I’m not actually very well informed on the whole phonics vs. whole-language debate; I know that ACE favours phonics while the educators I respect don’t tend to use them, though. I just don’t think ACE offers a rounded education. There is far too much rote learning (some of it of facts that are distorted or just plain false), to the expense of almost all other learning. I also think it is an unacceptable level of indoctrination.
So here’s my story. I was raised a Christian, and we were Fundamentalists, but we were Fundamentalists in the now-forgotten positive sense of the word. We took care of widows and orphans to the best of our ability, we treated everyone nicely, regardless of their beliefs. We went out of our way to help the victims of disasters and fires and whatnot. We opposed Abortion, and occasionally protested, but we never called people names or abused anyone. We paid our taxes, and we were utterly apolitical as a church. Basically, we tried to do all the good stuff Jesus commanded, we didn’t go in for hype or negativity in any form. We believed the Bible to be the literal word of God (Hence 7 days of creation meant an actual week) but it was a pretty good religious experience to have. I’m not a fundamentalist anymore in that I don’t literally believe much of the Bible, but I am still a Christian. I recognize lots of people had bad religious experiences growing up, I wasn’t one of them. I recognize there’s a well-deserved negative connotation to Fundamentalism, by my experiences seem to have predated the general slide to crazytown the movement as a whole is said to have experienced.
Public schools in the US in the ’70s were unbelievable garbage. We learned nothing, and spent all day getting beat up, bullied, or bullying others and beating them up. Student interaction was utterly chaotic, teachers were demoralized and frequently incompetent. There was little or no attempt to control them. I was not learning anything, and I was getting traumatized on a daily basis, so my folks hauled me out.
An ACE school was nearby, and I went there. The system worked great for me: I could work at my own pace, student interaction was supervised. We had two breaks a day and a long lunch, we had non-terrifying PE, and if we got done with our work early, we could just sit at our desks and read, or build models or whatever, provided we were quiet about it. It was frankly pretty awesome after the hell I’d come out of. The second year I was at that school, a new administration took over, and they were pretty loony. They were extremely strict. No child abuse, but they gave 15, 30, 45, and 60 minute detentions for fairly trivial offences, such as forgetting your tie on chapel day, or not speaking in class. This had always been an option, but it wasn’t execrised much in my first year. This meant you couldn’t ride the bus home, and had to have your parents pick you up, which was more of a punishment to the parents than the kids. That second year 25% of the student body quit and went to other schools.
My 2nd ACE school was better than the first. Bigger, more organized, but in addition to demerits and detentions, they had an incentive system where you could earn longer breaks, or hang out in the library, or even play in the rec room. Again, this was pretty awesome, until in my 3rd year, there was a regime change, and the school was taken over by an incompetent authoritarian, the detentions returned, and again like a quarter of the students quit or were driven away. I left mid-year.
My third ACE school was about the same as my first one, with the addition of being Charismatic, which put me off a bit, and I had one teacher who was a bit loony about the Illuminati, but I had no bad experiences there. Just the same, I decided to go to a public high school, where the beatings resumed almost immediately. I changed public schools, and that got better. Last year my son started in an ACE school for much the same reasons I did, and I volunteered there.
My point being: I had no particularly bad experiences, and a lot of good ones. There is definitely a trend of the schools going off the rails and becoming dictatorial, however. I have no difficulty believing your bad experiences happened, as a result. Unquestionably their science is terrible, and their social studies, while not universally terrible, is narrow in scope and basically ammounts to rote memorization of triva. Their English and Math is pretty good. Their Bible studies are, paradoxically, terrible and everyone recognizes this.
As to the ‘lack of student interaction’, I never felt that. And how is sitting in a cubicle as a kid different from sitting in a cubicle as an adult at your job? I suppose because I’ve got a telephone at my job, but apart from that, not much. I guess what I’m saying is that I recognize the system is generally sub-par, hilariously so in some cases, and I believe your experiences are true and your reservations are valid, but compared to the utterly horrid experiences in public schools around here, it was really our only option, and it’s generally been a positive one. For us. Obviously that’s not universal, however.
Hi I was just wondering if it is possible for an adult to go through the ACE Program if they wish to go back to school or online as I am a parent and I did not finish school. I have been told that I can go back to school but I also work. But I do have time to do study at my own pace. Many programs I have looked at require a high school diploma which I do not have. My question is would I be able to start all over again and work online or via correspondence?
I see no reason why you couldn’t, but have you read this blog? The majority of posts and comments are from people giving reasons why we feel that ACE is a terrible option. I assume you’re in the USA, so I can’t comment on your other options, but frankly I’d say having no high school diploma is in many ways preferable to having studied ACE.
I was only in ACE for a year, maybe two. Fortunately, I had very caring and loving teachers. The “learning center” was in the basement of the church my family attended at the time. My parents actually ended up leaving the church, for what reason, I am unsure. I then began a homeshooling career with primarily A Beka Book curriculum and eventually ended up going to Pensacola Concentration, I mean “Christian” College. In my opinion now, these ruined my ability to think outside a very limiting system of belief and dogma.
All of these education systems have one very disturbing thing in common: control. They force (and I fully intend the meaning of that word) the student to learn in such a way as to constantly enforce the idea to never question their beliefs, to look down on those who do not think or belief the way the student does, and to be assured that all other belief systems are wrong and those who believe them or believe nothing (GASP, not Atheists) are all doomed to misery on Earth and eternal damnation in Hell. Regardless of your personal opinion of the quality of ACE or A Beka Book (and both have major failings), they absolutely exhibit the overarching necessity for Fundamentalists to control those that ascribe to the ideals and beliefs of Fundamentalism.
My daughter attended a private Baptist school for one semester. They used ACE, I just realized after reading this blog. This was back in the late 80s. Wow. The reason we pulled her out and returned her to public school was that she did only the math PACEs, and no one noticed. She ended up getting a full scholarship to Temple University, and is now a high school math teacher. She’s always loved math. Thank God she never did any other PACE!
Ha! Glad you made the right move.
I attended a church ACE school from 5th through 12th grade. I received most of my education from Paces and entered college with a HUGE advantage over my public schooled classmates. I give great credit for my success in life to my ACE education. I learned excellent study skills through ACE and excelled in college. Many of my life long friends were also ACE educated and I can not point to anyone as an example of failure to excel in all areas of life. In fact, I can list many great success who have gone on to do great things in life. From those aprox. 35 students who I spent my 4 high school years with, all in our 40’s now, I can list several college professors holding Doctorates in their fields of study, a rocket scientist employed by NASA, several teachers, 2 commercial airline pilots, several officers in the armed forces one now stationed at the Pentagon, a couple registered nurses, a lawyer, a few pastors. All who wished to go to college did and did well. Only a few opted for a trade school and they have successful careers.
Of course the school we attended was run with excellence by teachers who loved us dearly and many still work at the school now in operation for aprox. 35 years. ACE is a curriculum that must be operated and supervised correctly and for our school it was.
That sounds great tll. In fact it sounds rather extraordinary, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, according to Carl Sagan. Would you provide a little more information? What is the name and location of this ACE school? What are the names of the people from your class that you mention? If you don’t want to give names of people that’s fine but at least tell us what colleges and universities they went to and what their degrees where in. What airlines do the pilots fly for? What college did you go to? Verifiable answers to these questions would go a long way in making your claim more believable. Thank you.
Lets face it the system is not for everyone, and aside from the curriculum there are many factors that make an ACE school bad or good. These factors may be your supervisors, degree of strictness, or the students themselves. Generaly speaking though it is a curriculum that has more room for improvement.
Room for improvement. You can say that again.
My brother, sister, and I attended an ACE school for two years from when I was 9 – 11 years old. Though we thought the Bible based curriculum was ridiculous and mocked the comic characters no end (out of earshot of my parents of course), those two years had a very positive influence in my life.
Prior to ACE, I had been enrolled in IB International Schools. The educational level was very high, but I found that I was always being held back and bogged down by the typical multi-child classroom environment. ACE’s office system, which you consider isolating and confining, actually encouraged my academic growth by allowing me to focus on my studies and go at a faster pace. It taught me to plan out the amount of work I wished to complete and stick to my goals. I did not rely on gaining my knowledge from a teacher alone, but quickly learned that personal dedication to studying and proper time management was key to academic growth. It is not surprising that by the time I went back to public school at the age of 12, I was a year ahead of my peers.
In some ways I wish that I had been able to continue in the office model. The typical classroom environment does not prepare students properly for university or for leading a life of personally motivated intellectual growth. I have watched countless friends struggle in self study and proper time management. If in groups or under the supervision of a professor or boss they do fine, but at home left to their own devices they just can’t focus.
I can understand that people would be concerned and disgusted at the thought of Biblical teaching and Christian values being woven into every facet of a child’s education. Religious teaching aside, the academics of the ACE program are phenomenal and really allow gifted and talented students to zoom ahead. There is a strong emphasis on memorizing long passages of written word, which is an awesome mental exercise that little valued or practiced in our Google generation. If I could manage to tease away the overarching religious material in ACE’s program I would have no problem letting my children attend one of their schools.
I always wondered why in books like The God Delusion Professor Dawkins was so vociferous in his opposition to creationists. I thought then that given the superior arguments and evidence of science, creation and intelligent design would die out eventually. Now I see I was wrong. You cannot argue with a religious fanatic. Religious fanatics do not adhere to logic and actually are brought up NOT to think for themselves, and they can always dismiss the evidence you present to them as the work of Satan or the product of a “liberal” agenda. Everything that does not adhere to a Bronze Age belief system is “liberal” these days. Well, if the recognition that the solar system is billions of years old and that there were no dinosaurs on Noah’s ark because the non-avian dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and the Flood never happened and the ark never existed is liberal, I am a liberal. We must stop this insanity. There has to be a limit to this nonsense. If you believe a god made the universe in six days, that the solar system is less than ten thousand years old, and that solar fusion is a myth, there really isn’t a lot that separates you from a literal, flesh and blood Neanderthal. I mean, you’ve rejected the most important things humankind has painstakingly learned since the time of the Neanderthals. So, what’s the difference?
I get angry reading this stuff. I mean, look at the opposition, how pathetic they are. They are so obsessed with dinosaurs, as if dinosaurs are particularly ancient. Compared to the other stuff in the fossil record the dinosaurs are actually a rather recent group. If these idiots have problems with the dinosaurs, what do they have to say about the therapsids and the synapsida (i.e. mammal-like reptiles) that gave rise to the mammals and that were around before the dinosaurs, or about the sharks, which were around well before the ancestors of the dinosaurs and all terrestrial vertebrates left the water for land, survived in the seas and oceans while the dinosaurs rose and fell, and are still in the oceans? What do they have to say about the profitable application of the mathematical field of game theory to evolution, or the use of evolutionary algorithms in software architecture? Of course, to a fundamentalist, the synapsida are a “liberal” delusion or “liberal propaganda”, or the work of the Devil, or “lies from the pit of hell”, and they probably have a lot of the same things to say about game theory and evolutionary algorithms for that matter. After all, questioning experts has become a default position in the right. Universities are dens of sin to them. Faith and the stubborn adherence to ideology are more important to them than reason or evidence. These people are interested in good old religious dogma, not education or learning. These people would reverse everything science has achieved since the time of Galileo. They are denigrating the West’s great patrimony.
It turns out Dawkins wasn’t vicious enough. Our opposition to creationism, ID, ACE, A Beka, Bob Jones University, Christian madrasas, the religious right, the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson and so on must be extreme, unremitting and relentless. If they can shout, we must shout too. To see why we must become more strident, go to Conservapedia.com and look up their respective articles on the solar system, evolution and (sic) junk science.
Perhaps the best way to neutralize these people would be actually to give creationism and evolution the equal time these extremist, mediaeval idiots have been calling for since the 60s. Students vary in motivation and so I expect that in such a system, lazy students more interested in video games and watching Marvel Comics movies, and who think of school as a fashion show, will at first not notice anything has changed, but the most motivated and diligent students would soon come to see the parallel creationist classes as extensions of those classes where mythology, literature, and, in the lower school grades, Jack and the Beanstalk are taught. Creationism sounds remarkably like fairy tales, after all. It’s got that wish fulfilment component. It even has magic and dragons coexisting with people. Kids are impressionable, but they also know a fairy tale when they see one, and as the Flynn effect has noted, they are becoming more sophisticated. The absurdity of this creationist stuff is so obvious. Anybody raised in the Western world, where there is a clear conceptual distinction between fiction and actuality, will be able to tell that creationism, presented unvarnished, is nonsense. I mean, every Western eight year old knows Iron Man and Superman don’t really exist, and that a man can’t fly. After some years of equal time, creationists themselves will quietly withdraw their courses and stop fooling around in the courts. The automatic salvo of denunciation any creationist lawsuit generates among scientists is giving the creationists not only respectability and visibility in the media but the insulation they need to keep reproducing their kind and indoctrinating more children. It’s how roaches flourish. Open a window or turn on the lights and the vermin starts to run for it.
With equal time, even the lazier and shallower students could end up going to the creationism classes for the fun of it, for the laughs, and because it sounds like the comic books, and that could actually stir their interest in science and proper learning. For the fundamentalists, equal time will be a disaster, an example of being careful about what you wish for. The most likely result however is that they’ll double down on the madrasa strategy. They’ll abandon the public school strategy and their “schools” will become even more extreme and a more stringent prison for those trapped in them.
Science is based on open debate. Open debate will actually destroy creationism. Debating them on TV doesn’t work because TV is a medium that favors shallowness and style over substance. You can “win” a TV debate by simply appearing more eloquent and confident, or even better groomed, than your opponent seems to be. The complex chains of reasoning and evidence that hold evolution and science in general together can’t get their best treatment on television. The best forums for taking these idiots on are in books and in the schools, and websites and blogs like this one. Keep up the good work.
Saludos a todos, he leido bastante acerca de las horribles experiencias que han vivido algunos de ustedes, lamento mucho lo que han experimentado, les escribo en español, porque yo entiendo a la perfección su ingles, esto es una muestra que ACE en español, funciona. En el país de México, las tres mayores universidades y las más prestigiosas, aceptan el curriculo de ACE, si buscas TECNOLOGICO DE MONTERREY, o UNVERSIDAD DEL VALLE DE MEXICO, sabrás a que me refiero, además quiero explicarles brevemente: en las montañas altas de GUERRERO en MEXICO, hay tres grupos etnicos, MIXTECOS, TLAPANECOS y NAHUAS, su idioma no es ESPAÑOL, y gracias al programa de ACE, los niños pueden aprender el IDIOMA OFICIAL DE MEXICO, y esto mi querido amigo, es el más grande logro para un indigena mexicano, aparte de que hay graduados en medicina, ingenieros, abogados, etc; también hay taxistas, albañiles, pero honrados y con la característica participativa que la ciudad necesita de un habitante, el amor que tenemos por estos niños es más grande que mis propios anhelos, que los de mi amada esposa, el amor que sentimos por estos niños, provocó en mi, que dejara mi carrera artisitica y mi esposa su carrera como quimica, todo tiene y gira en torno al amor, el amor cambia las vidas de estos niños, aman su lugar en el centro de aprendizaje, se esfuerzan por cada cosa, los padres de estos niños no son cristianos, y aún de ese modo prefieren que sean educados por ACE, la denigración que sufren por las escuelas publicas es horrible, sin embargo con todo lo que hacemos por ellos, esos tragos amargos desaparecen, ahora mismo los niños gozan de una escuela hermosa, viven con nosotros todo el ciclo escolar, y pasan unas tardes gloriosas interactuando con los demás en el patio, juegan soccer, volley-ball, basquel-ball, y muchos juegos más, tenemos campeones deportivos y de enseñanza, hacen examenes de ÏNEA que es un subsistema de gobierno para estos niños y lo pasan con exelencia, el mismo subsistema nos ha invitado a participar con ellos en cuanto a la calidad de aprendizaje de ACE. Creo que con esto es suficiente para dar mi punto de vista hacia ACE, la exelencia para estos niños.
Here’s Google Translate’s attempt at the above comment. Anyone who can offer a better translation is welcome to do so – Jonny
Greetings all , I have read a lot about the horrible experiences that some of you have experienced , I’m really sorry you have experienced, I write in Spanish , because I understand your English perfectly , this is a sign in Spanish that ACE works . In the country of Mexico , the three largest universities and most prestigious , accept the curriculum ACE , if you want TECHNOLOGICAL MONTERREY, or UNVERSITY DEL VALLE DE MEXICO , know what I mean , well I want to explain briefly in the high mountains of GUERRERO MEXICO , three ethnic groups , Mixtec , and NAHUAS tlapanecos , your language is SPANISH , and thanks to the ACE program , children can learn the OFFICIAL LANGUAGE oF MEXICO , and this my dear friend, is the greatest achievement for a Mexican Indian , except that there medical graduates , engineers, lawyers , etc., there are also taxi drivers , construction workers, but honest and participatory feature that requires a city dweller , the love we have for these children is larger than my own desires, that my beloved wife, the love we feel for these children had on me , I left my career and my wife Distinction his career as a chemical , and everything has to revolve around love, love changes lives of these children, love their place at the heart of learning , strive for everything , the parents of these children are not Christians , and even thus they prefer to be educated by ACE , denigration suffered by the public schools is horrible however with everything we do for them , those bitter days away, now the children enjoy a beautiful school , live with us throughout the school year and spend a glorious afternoon interacting with others on the playground , play soccer, volleyball , basquel -ball, and many more games , sports and education have champions make exams INEA is a subsystem of government to these children and pass with excellence , the same subsystem has invited us to participate with them in regarding the ACE learning quality . I think this is enough to give my view to ACE , the excellence for these children.
I’m currently a third-year college student in the Philippines. From my first day of kindergarten until my last day of high school, I’d been under the ACE curriculum.
I admit that there are a lot of times when I wish I had experienced any other curriculum. Aside from the fact that my school was rather small and low-budget, thus we didn’t have much extracurricular and out-of-school activities, I realize that ACE isn’t very comprehensive in that it only allows linguistic learners to thrive in it. Basically, all you do in ACE is read and write. Even in Math, your understanding of lessons depends on your ability to follow the written examples correctly.
There was, however, no lack of social interaction. Maybe it was just my school, or even my classroom, but despite us having our individual offices, we were actually allowed to talk to each other. Not for cheating, of course, but everyone was friends. We could lean over to ask our seatmate something, and sometimes chat at the Scoring Station. We also had non-PACE subjects to cover those classes mandated by the Philippine Department of Education but were not available in PACE form, plus we had computer classes at a local info tech college. We at least had these daily, albeit minimal, encounters with the “normal” classroom experience.
I appreciate the values education incorporated into the PACEs, because once I got to college I did notice that my old schoolmates were generally more principled than my new peers. While the classroom setups were a bit of a culture shock to me, I adjusted soon enough, and people are often surprised when they find out from what school I graduated; they are even more surprised when I try to describe the curriculum to them. A “holier-than-thou” attitude, though, is to be cautioned against among ACE students.
Like any curriculum, ACE has its ups and downs. Some people thrive on it and become accomplished, well-rounded, critically-thinking individuals; others plainly suffer under the regulations. Maybe it was my third culture kid background that gave me my edge, or maybe it was because I innately love reading and writing. People are different, so of course not one curriculum could be everybody’s cup of tea.
I too, have graduated from a school using this curriculum. (in 2010) And let me tell you, all they do is brainwash kids from a young age to believe in creation as a fact and completely ignore evolution or any other scientific facts not mentioned in the bible. Compared to what I’ve heard around the world, schools in the philippines (my school anyways) are a little bit more lenient towards the students. Although this system varies throughout the years, i.e. at first they announce a new rule or want to enforce an old one they either forget about it or just don’t care anymore a few days or weeks after. There are a few positive aspects though: (if I may say so myself) I have better English-language skills compared to my classmates in university who are also required to take years and years of the English subject in public or private schools in this country. What I don’t understand though is why they haven’t completely adapted the system. For example, in this country we have to take a few additional subject specific to this country. Philippine history, Filipino (language), and a subject during grade school (that I forgot the name of) about the philippine culture. But in the sixth grade, we also have to take American history and American history alone. I understand how that would be relevant to Americans but I’d much rather have knowledge of worldwide history imo.
I was put into an ACE school from grades 2-5. Let me say it was like being in prison for 4 years of my childhood. I learn from others so learning in silence in my own little cubicle only made me get behind in school. I can not explain the nightmares I have had about the depressing solitude..yes we did have a few group activities throughout the day but overall it was a terrible way to learn. Please do not put your child through this torture. I am 39 years old and I can say that those 4 years were the worst of my life and I was just now washing dishes thinking about ACE school and decided to google it to see what came up. It took me to college to catch up on math…I resent that big time! My mom was a “teacher” and my dad was “the principle”. This was back in the 1980’s. They were trying to shelter their daughters from the world. The day mom and dad told us that we were moving and we would be going to public school was the best day of my life…freedom. Normalcy. Looking back, I feel this type of school should be illegal because of all of the isolation it involves. If you do not want your kids to resent you when they’re older, then don’t put them into this type of prison school.
I graduated from ACE and got a wonderful education…went on to become an English and Math teacher myself. We began our school as ACE when my husband and I started it 25 years ago. Eventually we changed over to a traditional classroom setting. There are pros and cons with both. We are about to start a school for less fortunate children, and for those we believe that ACE will benefit them. They won’t be forced into a classroom setting where they may not be able to keep up with others. ACE can be tailor made to fit the individual student. And about the setting – what’s wrong with a little character training and discipline. I dare say those of you who are doing something of value with your lives had some of those in your lives as a youngster, and that’s why you are where you are today. There’s always a pro and con to everything….a different perspective.
I found this sight accidentally because my son is struggling a bit in school right now…so I plan to take him out of the classroom setting and use ACE to better meet his needs and catch him up….then eventually put him back in his grade.
I grew up on Christian curriculum. First various Christian curriculum from preschool- 7th grade in home school, and then at a Baptist church run A.C.E. school from 8th-12th grade.
One of the few things I liked about the school was the curriculum. It allowed us to progress at our own levels. For example, when I started in 8th grade I took a test that determined I was at a 3rd grade English level. So I started on 3rd grade PACEs, and was able to work my way up to graduate at my grade level. I got so good at English at one point that I was able to skip the 10th grade level completely.
We also were allowed to score our own work. We would do a page or two, reach a certain point, and the score keys were located in the center of the room, and we could score them. If we cheated or copied answers, then chances are you would fail the final PACE test, and end up having to repeat the PACE.
As far as social activity, we got two 15 minute breaks, plus a 45 minute lunch. At my school we also got to leave 1 1/2 early on Wednesday. Plus we had special days like ‘Chapel’ on Wednesday’s, which was a brief sermon in the church area, plus Gym on Fridays. Sometimes we got to spend the last hour of the day playing basketball or football if we had our work done.
Some of the morals they tried to present I disagree with. Such as saying Rock and Roll is a work of Satan, that we should wear nothing but dress clothes, and many other things. For the most part, however, I actually liked the curriculum.
The pastor/principal/main supervisor however, I can’t stand. judging people based on political views/weight/skin color/nationality is just the beginning.
I think where Christian education is being taught whether in paces or by an individual the devil will use anyone to bad mouth .
If you’re prepared to believe that there is a powerful being (the devil) who can use people to attack the truth, how do you know it isn’t you he is deceiving or using?
I was studying under this “style” of education for 8 years. The isolation that ACE encouraged VIA engaging with teachers made it very difficult to be open (and even define my own beliefs) and engage with my teachers on a college level. Thank you for bringing more light to this (dare I say) oppressive and stunting mode of education.
*spoiler sandy dies
This is a much-needed post, one I’ve circulated to friends over the years in trying to explain how global and curiously pervasive A.C.E. has become as a curriculum, adapting to shifts in contemporary fundamentalist culture, the growth of charismatic churches and aggressive right-wing politics linked to US hardline Christianity, and the anti-secular/social/government rise of homeschooling.
My father was a US military officer; we moved constantly. From the pre-K on I was enrolled in Baptist schools, by the 3rd grade I was placed in a school that used the ACE curriculum. I never experienced US public schools and was immersed in two peculiarly isolationist cultures: fundamentalist Christians and US military bases. What a combination, indeed! The Bible and the Sword.
I graduated at 16 years old from a school in N.J., having finished two years worth of work in one year–a frenzy of study compelled by an urgency to escape and save my life. I had to escape the educational, ethical, and social hypocrisy of the system I’d been raised in. A few days after turning 17 I began my college studies at a secular university. While difficult, it was a huge relief just to be released from the daily, grinding friction of the ideological war waged against young people at every turn in ACE schools.
My schools varied, as many other commenters have noted above. Leaving aside the intense bias of the curriculum itself, the school has some good qualities: inter-generational socializing (due to lack of class striation), self-motivated learning and control over work speed, low risk/consequence for failure due to being able to repeat units (PACEs), and dyadic learning with one-on-one work with a supervisor. Of course, this last is contingent on having a competent teacher. Many Christian schools in the US depend on an incestuous recycling of reproduced labor–graduates from the school go off to one of the major tin-plate Christian “universities” with their fraudulent claims to being centers of higher education, and come back to teach in their alma maters. Thus they reconstitute the same bad techniques, flawed logics, and reinforced notions of having a spiritual calling that magically endows their every word with divine force.
It is easy to dismantle the ACE system through its structures. To take on its ideology is the greater task, and perhaps more critical. As soon as I began to become politically aware at about 12 or 13, I started to question the constant assertion of a divine plan in everything. I graduate school in 1989, so the Social Studies PACEs were still furiously alive with anti-communist vomit. A key moment of realization was when I went to the base library to look up the history of the KMT as they fled mainland China from the “godless” communists. A counter-revolutionary army so vaunted by the scriptwriters in Texas was shown to be merciless, brutal, and capable of horrible massacres of native peoples in Taiwan. So this is how those blessed by God to face-off against the Commies do it: by soaking the ground red with the blood of those who are different and who made any assertion of autonomy. Once I’d punctured that little bit of historical revision, the whole manufactured universe of history quickly fell apart. Though I never encountered Howard Zinn, I basically took on the task of checking and then disputing nearly every major fact my school curriculum put forward as truth. I read voraciously, and this is how ACE served me best: by goading me through its arrogant lying into a campaign of self-education and fearless critical thinking. I began speaking out loudly in our weekly assemblies. At break time I spoke out about the iron rule of the Scripture that was being selectively applied to train us all as a class of mindless believers. I became a regular guest in the principal’s office for a while. When direct debate failed (and how could he win? Truth claims made on God’s Word are so much vapor) I was given regular detentions. Stand and face a wall for up to an hour at a time.
I learned how to teach myself and how to be ever-vigilant against easy assertions of truth. But at the same time I came to respect how Christians in these small, close communities took care of themselves and sought out ways to determine the course of their social and ritual lives and those of their children. In many ways they reflect back a stalwart kind of independence and it this experience I credit with turning me into an anarchist. These lessons came at the price of also enduring and undoing the ideological violence that undergirds this independence.
The trick here is to evaluate ACE for how it is flexible, how it can be creatively used as an educational model, but then work tirelessly in combating its ugly untruths and hateful claims to a particular vision of the good. It took me many years–well into college–to accept evolution (so tentatively and fearfully at first) and even more to admit my homophobia and begin work to dismantle it. These are the greatest wrongs that can be done a learning individual. To inculcate them with a view of the world so truncated and premised on correct ways to live within the body (and a hierarchy of “godly” bodies!) is the rawest kind of evil.
I’ve got a PhD in Cultural Anthropology. I’ve lived and worked in Asia for many years. The outsiderness I experienced both because I went to ACE schools and the alien identity I developed within their walls likely made me more capable in adapting to other cultures and worlds and gave me a patience to analyze and contemplate the social lives being enacted.
So, to this extent, I benefited from my fundamentalist education. It made a weird kid immeasurably weirder. But it also produced me as a fierce enemy of organized religion and especially the white-supremacist, homophobic, colonial, misogynist, and capitalistic champions who support, attend, and champion these types of educational systems as crusades doing “God’s work.”
I did this program for 11 years. It taught segregation in the comics as well. All the black kids went to a different school!
Beyond this, the scoring table was ridiculously easy to manipulate, so a student could fudge his way through an entire work-book with a perfect score, and then get to the test and be unable to replicate his “success” (My lowest score was 4% on a test after cheating my way through a whole work-book).
The Literature work-books were (in my opinion) the greatest affront to good sense, however. The concept was that they had to find novels and other books that “perfectly aligned with the Word of God”, or they were not appropriate reading material. As you can imagine, this was borderline impossible.
Shakespeare? – Nope!
Salinger? – No way!
How about “Lord of the Flies” (an allegory in many ways)? – Sucks to that asmar! We couldn’t read that!
What we read was Swiss Family Robinson (couldn’t read Robinson Carusoe! He became friends with a black man!), and The Hiding Place, along with a half-dozen non-fiction books about how evolution was wrong and an atrociously written pile of crap (who’s title eludes me) about a town where everybody follows God’s Will (likely written by an ACE associate to fill in the literature gap).
At 12 years-old, I knew I was getting screwed over. I was an avid reader, and used my paper-route money to buy the “verboten” books. This was a move my mother, ever the moderate, heartily encouraged.
I enjoyed “Lord of the Flies” and “Catcher in the Rye” without the strain of a classroom.
Eventually the school dropped the ACE program, and my mother (who was a teacher) came on as the librarian. Together, we quickly assembled an awesome library, filled to the brim with literature of questionable morality. We were one of the 1st schools in Canada to get Harry Potter banned (I stayed on as a literature advisor, and fought tooth and nail against the ethics committee for every single book in that library), although the ruling was overturned the following year.
Stay far away from ACE. It is garbage.
i attended this type of schooling at a very early age and i was just recalling some of those memories and decided to try and look it up, my memories are quite vague due to my age at the time.
it seems like most people think this system is completely horrendous and worthless.
i have always been one to complain about how education in generally is structured and it seems very clear to me that everyone has a different style of learning.
for me, being a more introverted and independent minded person, i think that this system would have worked better for me. you focus more on your own work and there is less pressure to get better grades than your peers.
when i went into the more traditional style i thought it was crap.
most education system are conceptually lacking to begin with because they don’t focus on the individual, they treat everyone the same and expect they all achieve the same results.
everyone is different and having different education systems is extremely important in my view.
Dear Jonny: Thank you for posting this site. I was brought up from China and came to the West after I graduate from high school. I went through an education system which teaches me “no god” from grade 1 to grade 12. Many lies were taught in social studies and history text books. I also had to go through political class (citizen education) every week. After I came to Western countries, someone told me about Jesus. I invite Jesus coming into my heart. What a big change to me since I accepted Christ. However, it took me more than ten years to change many things which were taught from grade 1 to grade 12. I am looking for a better education curriculum for my kids which were born in Canada. A.C.E. education system may have many faults. However, I still believe it is a better education system than the Communist education system I received as an atheist in China. Could you recommend some better Christian education curriculum?
Thank you for listening my story.
Actually, the model looks a lot like Virtual Aristotle… A system where supervisors serve as assistants rather than professors seems like the perfect way to get more attention for those who need it most… Subject matter is dead wrong but I can see the merit of each student having a more intimate relationship with their teachers… I bet we could even kick this thing up a level by using computers to handle the raw correction and parsing work… Let teachers get back into actually teaching (rather than the more binary effect our current model uses)
I went through the ACE program from age 7-11. I can’t remember what all was taught in the curriculum but I know struggled since there were no real teachers. It was like being self-taught. Read and answer questions and then grade/correct it yourself. Way too much homework and too much repetition on stuff that once learned you should go on to the next thing. It did not help my social skills, as classmates were separated by dividers and we did not have interaction during our work time which I think children should have to learn from each other and their teacher (which I didn’t have). I did not learn to ask questions, I was just to fill out my PACE. This also did not promote critical thinking and use working memory which is absolutely necessary to really learn something. You can easily remember terms and do multiple choice very easily in short term memory but that does not mean you actually learned anything. They also did some sort of computer programming which I really don’t remember much of, just that we enter in text from a book into a computer = learned nothing.
I do believe in Christian education but I would not use ACE not as I was taught and possibly not at all.
My children attended an ace school in south Africa. Now in a public school my son who is nine misses the ace school..he misses his friends there. My daughter works better now.
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