Vlog: Accelerated Christian Education on Ancient History

… in which I get fired up and go on a bit of a rant.

Education is about learning concepts and how they interrelate, to build a personal understanding of how the world works. The disjointed facts approach taken by ACE can never generate this. The method of education is as much at fault as the content.

This is my third vlog. There others were on:

The latter has received fewer views despite being clearly the better video, proving that the success of my posts has little to do with what I say and a lot to do with whether I get mentioned on Andrew Brown’s Guardian blog or retweeted by Roger Ebert:

That tweet drove 3,000 hits an hour. Even in the new, democratic Internet world of communication, you still can’t compete with the power of celebrity.

So it would be delightful if you’d tweet about this. Especially if you have half a million followers.

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on July 30, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I was taught via the Abeka system and I look back on it fondly. But I have the benefit of only having taken two years of Christian education and I had the benefit of knowing it was religious history and not world history. It is a system of indoctrination and it is a movement against modernism. For what it is worth, in that context, it’s a kind of romanticism in that its reactionary and keep in mind that Christian identity like identity of any kind in modern society reinvents itself thru mimesis. You are an example of that reinvention as am I.

    • I don’t know a lot about A Beka; they don’t really have a UK presence. But it’s mentioned a lot in literature on ACE, and if anything the content sounds even more horrendous, politically.

      From reading, it also seems that it’s mainly based on rote repetition of drills. My understanding is that the teacher reads out what the class has to learn, and the students repeat it back until they have it memorised. Is that accurate?

      • I was only 11 and 12 at the time but I don’t recall much of that. I remember that we took turns reading from the chapters and everyone or most everyone got a chance to read from the material aloud. I think its possible we did some repetition of material but I would have to ask my mother if that was actually the case. She taught my science class and we did use a chemistry set for experiments that my grandparents bought her. Let me call her and ask and I will get back with you in a few days.

  2. Have you ever seen Schlafly’s World History Lectures? Amazingly, it seems slightly better than this.

    • American History comes right after this. However, In 2007, ACE changed that course from head-to-toe. They use to be short like the World History that is mentioned on the video. Now, the average book is 50 pages and to answer a one page question or less, you will have to read through 5-15 pages. When the announcement of 4th edition was released, minor changes were made to American Hist. again.

      To quickly summarize: after World History97-108(which will become 1109-1120 due to World Geography being 1097-1108), American History follows right after 109-120(now 1121-1132 as of 2007). Since they will update Social Studies 1061-1072 in September, World History will be “freshened up”, but with the same old plus longer paragraphs knowing A.C.E.

      • Thanks for the information, Thomas. I know the PACEs are in the process of being updated, but ACE weren’t helpful when I emailed to ask what the time frame for the new versions being released would be. American History is not of much relevance to me, as students in the UK rarely take it (a new, British history course is being rolled out over here soon).

        I’m currently in the difficult position of wanting to review the PACEs, but not wanting to complete my review only to find that everything I looked at has been replaced. Do you have any word on when, for example, 4th edition biology will be out?

  3. I’m in something like shock. I remember material being used that looked much the same. Cartoon-strip characters explaining the basics included. Thing is though, I remember it from when I was around seven years old—and even then they were only used as an introduction; they didn’t comprise the entirety of the lesson.

    As you say, irrespective of the nature of the ‘facts’ being taught, the teaching is in no way appropriate for fourteen-ish year olds. Christ (ahem), they’re not even going to turn out people with a good knowledge of the Bible! (Might be worth mentioning, for non-Brits, that sixteen is school-leaving age—just to put into perspective how close kids being taught this drivel are to finishing their education.)

    • Yeah, it’s important to point out that in ACE, because kids work individually, they work at their own speed. So although this is intended as a year 10 book, you might take it sooner or later, depending on personal progression (I did it when I was 12 or 13, because the PACEs are blindingly easy and I raced through them).

  4. When I think about what my conservative and fundamentalist family members think I am irrepressibly reminded of Dicken’s Mr. Gradgrind, despite the fact that they have never read Dicken’s and I didn’t read it until I left I always think of him.

  5. This is not at all like what I learned in history Even elementary school history was better than this. But some of it does resemble Sunday school lessons for 6 year olds.

  6. Do ACE schools in the UK offer teaching for A-level equivalency? If so I was wondering about the transition from yr 12/13 to university, and how possible/successful that is for someone who is predominantly ACE-educated.

    So, so irritating to see the Bible being used as a historical source, when it is clearly and definitely not, not, NOT a history book!!!!

    Sorry, personal rant over.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Depends who you ask. UCAS don’t offer any points for the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), which is what ACE graduates receive. Ofqual, the UK qualifications body, doesn’t recognise it either. But, as I’ve already blogged extensively, the UK government agency NARIC has deemed the ICCE to be of comparable academic standing to Cambridge International A-level standard (see, for example: https://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/accelerated-christian-education-validated-by-uk-government-agency/)

      This is a travesty, because the schools have used this to gain the appearance of credibility and advertise that their qualification is just as good as A levels. NARIC is the body that universities go to for advice on the validity of international qualifications, so it does mean ACE graduates can get into university in some cases.

  7. As an educator and writer of teaching resources, this hurts my heart and my brain. My youngest sister and one of my brothers went to an ACE school for a short time, until my brother staged a rebellion. Ironically, not because of the quality of the education, since he had long ago learned how to play the system to ensure he spent almost no time doing any actual school work, but because he wanted to play cricket, and to play schoolboy cricket you need to be at a school that played sports! Honestly, I always thought they were exaggerating.

  8. What struck me while watching this vlog is that perhaps if ACE actually did teach proper methods, evalutation of sources, etc, etc, then perhaps those who are taught under the system would be more inclined to question it, to find the holes that are present in the logic and thinking. To me, it seems like it is intentionally dumbed down, seems like one is forced into jumping through those hoops and learn these factoids that aren’t even consistent with each other, so that one does accept, so that one had not the tools to question what they are being told. That might just be my cynical perception of it, but I cannot think of any other valid reason why children would not be being educated with essential life skills, why they would not be given an engaging and otherwise beneficial education.

    • I think you’re right, although I doubt ACE would admit it to themselves that baldly. But if you read David Berliner on this subject, for example, it’s clear that there are many fundamentalists who believe that learning how to think – indeed, anything other than rote learning – is a bad thing.

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