Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas/ call for guest posts

Alright, that’s it from me for 2013. Thanks so much everyone for making this an excellent year. The blog was more than twice as popular as it was in 2012, and I’ve heard from dozens of former or current ACE students and teachers who now view it the same way I do.

I did have another slamming post lined up for today, but I thought I’d give you something to look forward to for next year. I’ll see you on the 3rd of January. If you liked “33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions“, you’ll love the next post.

I’d like to wish you all a merry Christmas, especially to the people from Christian Education Europe and ACE who read the blog (feel free to leave a comment sometime, guys). See you for more of the same in 2014.

I know the religious views of my readers are diverse, so here are my favourite Christian and secular seasonal tunes. To those of you who follow another religion, I apologise for your non-representation, but feel free to post your own favourites below.

I’ll be scaling back my amount of blogging slightly next year, because I should probably attempt to pass this PhD I’m doing. I’ve had a deluge of ACE survivor stories in the past few weeks that I’ll be posting next year. If you’ve had experience of attending a fundamentalist day school or home school and you’d like to write something for the blog, please send me a message.

And happy holidays.

Podcast tonight

Hey everyone – a few things.

First of all, I’m appearing on the Skeptic Canary podcast tonight (7pm GMT; Americans, that’s 2pm EST). You can watch live or download later. If you have questions you’d like me to answer, tweet them to the show’s host, Tom Williamson or email him.

Second, I’ve added another talk to the diary, this time in Brighton on 14th January. I’ll stick the details on the talks page when I have them.

Last of all, I am trying to change the perception (in some quarters) that my opposition to fundamentalist schools is a campaign against Christianity. I am looking to give my talk, “Inside Britain’s Creationist Schools” to Christian groups. If you know any who might be open to having a filthy backslider like me walk among them, please get in touch.

As a first step towards this dialogue with Christians, blog regular Lotharson has written a post about ACE and fundamentalist homeschooling from a Christian perspective. I think many Christians recognise the harm of fundamentalism, and I hope to enlist their help in speaking out against it. There are some people who simply won’t listen to me, but who will listen to progressive Christians. Thanks Lotharson for writing the post; please check it out and join the discussion.

“This is why everyone hates atheists”

I’ll be honest: The reaction from ACE’s defenders to my last post was not uniformly positive.

It began with this:

Facebook argument 1

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33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions from Accelerated Christian Education

“It’s the crapness!” yelled my mother, who almost never says anything more offensive than ‘oh blow’.

“It’s not the doctrine or the terrible science or the politics. It’s the… CRAPNESS!

In hindsight, leaving three boxes of Packets of Accelerated Christian Education (PACEs) at her house was perhaps not the kindest thing I could have done.

“It’s a bubble!” she continued, warming to her rant. “It’s stuck in a 1950s timewarp and it’s all so twee. Do you know what I read in a science PACE earlier? There was a lesson about the first heart transplant, and then it said have you had your heart transplanted by Jesus?

Seeing my mum rant about ACE might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen; if I could capture her on a podcast I’d blast the Pod Delusion into next week. But she’s got a point. What is staggering about ACE  is not the creationism or the conservatism – everyone knows fundamentalists believe that. It’s the fact that it’s just so obviously rubbish, and yet, in the UK at least, school inspectors seem to let this pass without comment.

The most obvious way ACE is crap is in its multiple choice questions (of which there are thousands). Here, for your general amusement, are some I found yesterday. I make no claim that these are the best (or worst) of it. They’re just a few I dug up in a cursory jaunt through the PACEs I have. I could go on much, much longer.

This is what happens when you leave education to people for whom religious conversion is everything and learning is a distant afterthought.

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33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions from Accelerated Christian Education

For boring technical reasons, this post has moved. Click here for the new version.

Homeschool Apostates

They were raised to carry the fundamentalist banner forward and redeem America. But now the Joshua Generation is rebelling.

“Children in these situations are taught that if you talk badly about your parents, that’s a sin, and you’re going to hell,” Lauren says. “So when they finally get the courage and determination to say something, no one believes them, because they didn’t say anything all those years. You end up having to find an entirely new support network of people who actually believe you.”

Homeschool Apostages – Kathryn Joyce, American Prospect

ACE: aiding and abetting child abusers

If you’ve been following my series on Christian reform homes, you’ll have noticed the name Lester Roloff popping up. It is, as Abigail McWilliam puts it, the common thread uniting reports of abuse from ‘troubled teen’ homes across America. Everything comes back to Roloff. Almost all of the homes we’ve discussed were founded by him or one of his former employees and associates, and all of them run on the model of Roloff’s original Rebekah Home.

If you haven’t been following, the reform homes have a pattern: They are single-sex boarding schools on compounds surrounded by chain-link fences topped with barbed wire. Punishments are extreme: extended periods of solitary confinement; kneeling on hard surfaces for hours, sometimes with pencils under your knees; and whippings and beatings of the cruelest kind.

And they all use Accelerated Christian Education. In return, ACE produces educational materials specifically praising the convicted felon and his reform homes.

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