Monthly Archives: May 2012

ACE and Racism, Part 2

I’ve previously noted that, during the reign of apartheid in South Africa, ACE taught that the policy was justified. If the blacks got control of the economy, said ACE, they might destroy it.

I recently bought a copy of an updated PACE to see what they say now the system has fallen in South Africa.

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Guest post

Head on over to the Virtual Schooling blog today; I’ve written a guest post about Accelerated Christian Education, which summarises all the research into it so far and what the academic community has had to say on the subject.

5 Even Worse Lies from Accelerated Christian Education

Top 5 Lies Taught By Accelerated Christian Education has had as many views as all my other posts to date combined. Luckily, there’s plenty more where that came from. I bought several brand new PACEs with my own money this week so I could check what is currently being taught. Most of the evidence here comes from these newly purchased PACEs; this stuff is being taught today. By the way, if you wish to support my project, buying me a PACE (they’re about $3 + p&p) would be the most helpful way. Alright, let’s do this.

5. The Second Law of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution.

“The first and second laws of thermodynamics demonstrate what the Bible tells about the creation of new matter or energy. Things change, but they degenerate. These laws also demonstrate that the Genesis account of Creation is consistent with scientific evidence.”

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Criticism of ACE from Christians

Defenders of Accelerated Christian Education often dismiss criticism as coming from those pesky secular humanists, the source of most of the world’s evil. Yet on Christian Education Europe’s website, they admit they “have been surprised and disappointed by a general lack of interest ­– if not antagonism – found in some churches” toward their mission. If I were them, I’d think about why.

Child Abuse

I’ll start with a book that makes me want to cry with relief – Ungodly Fear by Stephen Parsons, a vicar. This book, subtitled “Fundamentalist Christianity and the Abuse of Power,” describes my old ACE school in the first chapter. It isn’t mentioned by name, and the staff have pseudonyms, but it’s unquestionably my school. I am titanically grateful to see it recognised in print that this type of school is abusive. It is described as authoritarian, “a regime of being ruled by fear,” with ruthless discipline. “Most days at least one child would get the paddle. So on average, each child would get hit with a spoon at least once a month.” The book describes a child being humiliated by a member of staff in front of the whole school. The author suggests the staff’s counselling techniques were in fact intimidation.

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How the Loch Ness Monster Disproves Evolution

In 2008, UK Naric, a private company but a government agency (it holds a contract with the Department for Educational Standards), judged that the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) is comparable to Cambridge O- and A-level standard. This was greeted with much crowing from Christian Education Europe.

I was gobsmacked. In my day, the ICCE was called the National Christian Schools Certificate (NCSC). I completed enough credits for NCSC Level 1, allegedly equivalent to GCSE standard, in 1999, before transferring to a proper school and completing actual GCSEs. I can tell you now: there is no way the two are comparable. I’ve since completed my post graduate certificate of education, and that remains my professional opinion.

I wrote a very lengthy letter to Naric (which my colleague John Gregson posted in full with an analysis here) detailing why, in my view, any education involving ACE is unacceptable. In my letter, I mentioned that, in one PACE, ACE use the existence of the Loch Ness Monster as evidence against evolution.  Without thinking much of it, I emailed a CC to the Times Educational Supplement. It wound up on the cover of the following week’s TES.

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Listen to the Pod Delusion

For the last two weeks, I have appeared on the Pod Delusion podcast. It is excellent and you should check it out. 

This week, I am on a show that also features Hugh Grant and Harriet Harman MP (although in a different segment from mine). I’m discussing the Word of Faith. I don’t say much I haven’t already said here, but if you like listening rather than reading, check it out.

The previous week, I talked about Accelerated Christian Education. Again, didn’t really say much I haven’t already blogged about, but I concisely explained the situation here.

How to Con a Christian

Voltaire said those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. The philosopher might have added that they can also empty your wallet.

“For every pound you put in this offering bucket, you will get a hundred back.” This is the doctrine of the hundredfold return.

I hate telling people I used to believe that. The reason I hate telling them is the thought that went through your head when you read that first sentence:

“No you won’t!”

You didn’t even have to think about it. It’s just not true. If you put a pound in an offering bucket, the net result is that you have one less pound in your pocket, and that is all. I will always envy you for that. You didn’t lose twenty years to it, and I did.

For me, it was the indisputable truth and anyone who couldn’t see it was just deceived by the devil. I hate seeing the blank, unimpressed looks on people’s faces when I tell them this. This was the whole of my life for two decades, and you can dismiss it in less time than it takes me to say it.

How is this? As you can (hopefully) see, I am not stupid. How can it be that men with slicked back hair and expensive suits have conned hundreds of thousands – in Britain, not just America – with something so blatantly, transparently false?

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Accelerated Christian Education on BBC Radio 4

In 2010 I was asked to speak to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme about Accelerated Christian Education.

Here’s the segment that went out (it’s a little over five minutes long):

In case you can’t listen, I’ve transcribed the words of the three people interviewed: Me, Professor Michael Reiss, and Christian Education Europe‘s Arthur Roderick.

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How ACE Promotes Right-Wing Propaganda

In all the fuss about its racist and Creationist facets, an equally serious flaw of ACE usually get missed: The Orwellian political brainwashing that makes up ACE political material. With no alternative points of view even considered, I was still following ACE political ideologies long after I’d rejected their theology.

In secondary education, telling children what to think in any matter of conscience is unethical. It doesn’t matter if the ideology promulgated is liberal democracy or Nazism. On matters where there exists a range of acceptable opinions, students must be encouraged to question and debate.

As it happens, ACE’s politics are sufficiently poisonous that it won’t be difficult to persuade you of their unacceptability. It’s the kind of Religious Right Republican extremism you’d expect, leading one commentator to observe, pithily:

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Is Accelerated Christian Education Individualised?

By far the strongest claim ACE can make is that their students can work at their own speed. It was this aspect of the curriculum which appealed to me and my parents and ultimately led to my attending an ACE school for over three years.

It sounds fantastic. If you’re bright, you never have to be frustrated by waiting for the rest of the class to catch up, and if you have special educational needs, you don’t have to struggle. Perfect. Even the Guardian’s Natasha Walter, in a generally damning article on ACE, writes, “What is undeniably attractive about this curriculum – even for the sceptical observer – is the way that it moves at the same pace as the child. With ACE, children are assessed on entry and progress at their own speed, working through booklets and doing the tests at the end of each one before they can move on to the next.”

There’s only one problem: It isn’t true.

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