Monthly Archives: November 2012

I’m not racist, but…

Sometimes, the comment section is the best bit of this blog.

Whether it’s someone who’s received bad treatment in an ACE school going on a huge rant or an ACE supporter saying I’m a “true retard“, or someone saying, you know, something intelligent, they’re always good.

Like this, which came in yesterday morning. First, some context. This was in reply to my How ACE is Racist post. That post quotes a couple of ACE PACEs which contain some quite unjustified racial commentary. Two of the quotes (written in the 80s, when South Africa was under apartheid) argued that if black people were given the vote, the South African economy would be destroyed.

So it was a delight to read:

“So, have the blacks destroyed South Africa in the 18 years that they’ve had power? It certainly seems so! Our economy is down the tubes, our Rand is effectively worthless, no international investment thats worth mentioning, civil unrest, and so on and so on…. The government figures that are in “power” are milking the people for every cent they can in order to live a life of fatcat luxury… Starting to remind you of another country, or countries, in Africa? Many black South Africans will also tell you they lived better lives under the “Apartheid Regime”, certainly not saying that we should go back there, but then again, Einstein’s definition of insanity is; “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

My children are on the ACE program and frankly, they dont even notice any “segregation” in their learning material. ACE is certainly a whole lot better than the public “government” run schools… I dont trust what the government wants to teach my children, and the quality of education in this country today is shocking to say the least! Reminds me of an ancient joke with a punchline that goes; “give him another chance!”

Whats your REAL beef with ACE? Your blog smells of an agenda against ACE.

My 2c, from someone LIVING in South Africa with children on the ACE program.”

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The case for private Christian education: parental freedom

Finally! Just when I was wondering if I ever would, I’ve heard from a parent who has used the ACE system and sees merit in it. Unlike other people who disagree with me, Lyndell actually engaged with my criticisms of ACE and we’ve wound up having a long and worthwhile discussion via email. I present the highlights below.

I’m hopeful that Lyndell might answer your questions in the comments, but I haven’t actually asked her yet, so we’ll see. Here’s her initial comment:


Hello. Just stumbled across your website as I was looking for overviews of ACE programs. I’m actually considering a return to ACE, believe it or not :-) We started home schooling with ACE many years ago, but changed to some other programs for various reasons. After a few years of working at other programs I can see some of the merits of the ACE program.

Like Dave in your comment section, I am also a “legitimate educator”. I attended public schools and did my four year teaching degree at a secular university. I’ve taught in many different public schools. Years 5, 6 and 7 Japanese, year 10 science, year 10 “remedial” english, year 8 and 9 english etc…. Let me tell you, I don’t see any major deficiencies in the academic side of ACE when I compare it with the material students are learning in the public schools. The grammar in ACE leaves public education standards for dead. Even the year 8 English is more comprehensive than public senior education standards. My children, who went through the ACE reading program, were well above their so-called reading level that would have been assigned to them in public school. My oldest child is in his 8th year of HSing at the moment, so I can’t say what the academic side of things are like in the later high school years. However, there are many ACE graduates who continue on with academic studies without any issues of “gaps” in their education. In fact, my ACE educated nephew was asked by his secular university lecturer to help the “normal” school kids learn how to write an essay correctly. Academics is a non-issue.

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A neutral observer’s view of ACE schools

This is from the Times Educational Supplement, Scotland, July 2007:

“The modest building is home to the River of Life Christian School, where pupils aged 5 to 18 sit quietly in a network of booths and work through a vast pile of booklets throughout their school days.

Standard grade and Higher are unfamiliar terms here. Individualised learning with a religious thread is preferred, built around the American Accelerated Christian Education system. Testing goes on throughout each child’s time at school, but there is no build-up to pivotal exams at a pre-determined age. Staff liken ACE to the International Baccaleaureate.”

Unlike most press coverage of ACE in this country, the writer, Henry Hepburn, reserves judgement, and is happy to point out what seem like positives. In doing so, he reminds me how wonderful an ACE school appeared to me for my first couple of terms.

“Some River of Life methods will raise eyebrows, but the school’s pupils prove it does some things very well. They are polite and caring, older children often spend spare time playing with younger ones, and bullying and indiscipline are almost non-existent. Some pupils are introspective, others engagingly cheeky. Creativity and intellectual discussion may appear muted, but senior pupils are eloquent and contemplative, aware of the school’s religious basis while open to other ideas.

“Many will see the school’s booths as divisive and the reliance on biblical values as inculcation. Staff believe the booths are liberating and that biblical values provide a moral template. What is certain is that River of Life’s pupils are not scripture-quoting clones. Perhaps they are quieter, perhaps better behaved but, all in all, they are not so different from children in any other school.”

Please do read the whole thing. For my money, it’s not critical enough, but that’s exactly why I’m posting it. I’ve given nothing but criticism of Accelerated Christian Education on this blog. I’m not finished yet, but if you’re not persuaded by now that ACE gives us some genuine cause for concern, I doubt I will ever change your mind. I’ll give you my thoughts on the article after the jump, but if you’ve only got time to read one or the other, go for the TES article.

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My Is Belief in God a Basic Instinct?

For those of you that haven’t seen it, you can view my appearance on here.

I’m not thrilled with it, but I think it’s alright. I’m now free to post vlogs on related subjects, which I’d promised the guys and girls at 4Thought I wouldn’t do. Most of the old material I’ve shown you in my vlogs is from the BBC archives. The BBC has absolutely tons of footage from that period of my life – way more than I have. I spoke to my old contacts at the BBC about doing something to redress the balance of all the rubbish I spewed on BBC2 back in the day. Unfortunately, they’ve all moved on to other things now, but they asked the editors they knew if they’d be interested in letting me make a film based on my earlier footage. No one at the BBC was interested, which is a shame. I’m glad Channel 4 gave me a chance to say something, even if I didn’t get to construct a real argument.

A clear conflict of interests

First up, some dates for your diary:

Tuesday 13th November (that’s tomorrow) I will be on 4Thought TV, on Channel 4 (UK), 7.55pm GMT. More info here. The video will be available to see online afterwards, and I’ll post it here. I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m a bit nervous. I was interviewed for about half an hour and it’s going to be edited to two minutes. It is therefore a virtual certainty that I won’t feel they’ve done me justice, but oh well.

Thursday 17th January I will be giving my talk “Inside Britain’s Creationist Schools” at Reading Skeptics in the Pub. More info will be coming shortly at

Now, to business. I am back on the Pod Delusion podcast this week. You can download the episode, or use the iTunes link. I’m on at 18:42.

Here’s the transcript of my talk, for all you people who prefer reading to listening. It’s about conflicts of interest in the way faith schools are inspected – be it Stephen Dennett, or the Bridge Schools Inspectorate.

In Britain, Church of England schools are a part of the furniture. We’re so familiar with them that we tend to assume that faith schools are cuddly, tolerant places which children of all faiths can attend without discrimination. Places where a minimum of indoctrination takes place.

I am concerned, then, about Britain’s minority of independent faith schools which teach in many cases very extreme views, but are subject to almost no scrutiny. I have previously reported for the Pod Delusion on the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, used in over 50 British private schools.

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