News from a spy in the ACE camp

Every now and then I get an email from someone who is currently in Accelerated Christian Education and hating it. In some ways, these emails are tragic. I think it always sucks when children are given a deficient education, but it’s worse when there’s an alternative available and it’s against the child’s express wishes. In other ways, they’re kind of awesome. It gives me hope that the ACE indoctrination program isn’t working, and it means these students won’t have so much unlearning to do later in life.

Tyler Stoltzfus is the most articulate of the students I know combating the system from within. This is his story.

Tyler Stoltzfus

Tyler Stoltzfus (photo credit: Michael’s Portraits)

Hello, everyone. My name is Tyler and I am currently undergoing my senior year in an ACE school called Gospel Haven Academy. I’ve been enrolled in this school for what I shudder to call my entire academic career. (If you don’t like the high school PACEs, you should see their kindergarten counterparts.)

I hasten to say that, next to most of the people I’ve read about or talked to, my experience has been downright pleasant. In fact, until about halfway through my sophomore year, my opinion of the ACE would’ve been wholly different to what it is now. (Most of my classmates are still of the opinion that this is a decent curriculum.) I accredit this partly to the type of community in which I’ve grown up. It’s a small town with the largest settlement of Amish in the world. My father grew up Amish. My mother was not herself Amish, but both of her parents were. (I don’t mean to brag, but I even speak a little bit of Dutch myself.) As you’ve probably guessed, we were never exactly on the cutting edge of science. Most of my peers, when asked, would tell you that they’d love to go to the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, and learn about the science behind creationism. (As if there was some.) When the ACE PACEs told us that before the flood, there was a large water canopy surrounding the earth, we believed them. I consider myself extremely lucky to be, as far as I know, the only graduate from my school that understands that we share an ancestry with apes, and that the evidence for this is overwhelming.

For any supporters of ACE in my audience, I feel like the point needs to be made that presenting pseudoscience to impressionable children is wrong. In my humble opinion, telling a proven myth as a fact is a form of child abuse.

For a long time, (and I wholeheartedly attribute this gap in my understanding to my time in ACE) I didn’t realize that if something is unreasonable, you just shouldn’t believe it. The relentless war on reason within Accelerated Christian Education is not only enduring. As far as I can tell, it is succeeding.

As one of the “lucky” ones who got to participate at ACE’s International Student Convention (ISC) more than once, I can confidently say that for the whole time during every rally, during performance competition, and during any type discourse between me and an adult from some other school, or, God-forbid someone on staff at ISC, it was one of the most repressive feelings that I’ve ever had.

I remember clearly one specific time while eating dinner in the cafeteria for which you had to go through dress check to get your food, some of friends and I were scolded for not having our top button closed. A man came up to us and said, and I quote, “Now, fellows, I know that we don’t always see the little things — but God sees.” The girls on our volleyball team (for which, you also had to go through dress check) were nearly thrown out of the game for rolling up their sleeves. (For those of you that don’t know the ISC dress code, it’s worth reading)

Despite all of that kind of thing, I managed to have a good time. I actually made some good friends. I just wish they wouldn’t make it so difficult with their unreasonable guidelines.

Recently, I remember doing music PACE #5. For you to understand this, you need to know that music is extremely near and dear to me. In that PACE, the statement is made that, “If any music means different things to two people, it is then automatically suspect, and should probably not be used.” It’s extremely hard to understand their reasoning behind this. I think one would be hard pressed to find any song that mean the exact same things to two people, regardless of whether that song is secular or religious. But then, in that particular PACE they also said that Christian rock is still in the spirit of the devil, and should not be something to which we subject our emotions. I laughed this off really very easily.

But, let’s be honest, there is some excellent material to read on this blog about the horrors of the material taught by ACE (I did not pay Tyler to say this – Jonny). The somewhat-overlooked crime, I think, is the method by which the material is taught. My school is currently in the process of switching to a different curriculum. (Unfortunately, they’re starting from the bottom up, so I don’t see many benefits from that.) Some of the things taught in the science and history books are broadly similar to the lies taught be ACE, and, don’t get me wrong, it makes me angry as hell, but at least they’re learning to learn. At least their creativity is not stifled. At least they can ask questions without waiting half an hour to get a half-hearted response because the teacher they’re asking went through a f***ing weekend of training.*

The biggest injustice, in my opinion, is not that these children are taught pseudoscience, revisionist history, or right-wing propaganda, though those things make me angry as hell, as I said. The biggest injustice is that the thinking of the people who go through this God-forsaken curriculum is stifled to the point that people accept the things they learn from this curriculum as God’s own truth, and believe it as fact without a hint of skepticism that so creates the intelligence of the best among us.

Tyler is exaggerating here, but not by much. ACE supervisor training (the only compulsory qualification to run an ACE ‘learning center’) actually takes four days.

Check out Tyler’s blog, All But Objective.

More ACE survivor stories:

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 January 20, 2014, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing. No, I can’t imagine 13 years if ACE. I remember the music paces well. I can’t imagine a student who had no music background getting through those.

    • My “music background” was about 7 years of piano lessons. It only helped a little.

      I remember just being baffled by the references they made to hymns I’d never heard of (I was raised Catholic). To this day, I have never heard the song, “Lead On, O King Eternal.” I also remember thinking that the reason I “can’t sing pretty” was because I wasn’t breathing properly.

      I later learned that I’m a contralto. Of course you can’t sing soprano parts perfectly as an alto with an untrained voice!

  2. If I’m brutally honest, LF is the worlds worst espionage agency, since it publishes pictures, names and locales of all of their undercover agents on their website.

    • Yet ACE fans still keep telling me I have a hidden agenda. Since this agenda is clearly not hidden, they must suspect me of some other agenda – presumably the gay agenda or the socialist agenda. Or possibly the gender agenda.

  3. Thanks for sharing. And that’s a thanks to both Tyler and Jonny.

    Tyler, you write very well. I’ve added your blog to my RSS reader, so that I can follow along. I’m glad that you have made it, in spite of ACE.

  4. What ACE not only doesn’t do but actively works AGAINST, is teaching students critical thinking skills. Without those skills, people are not able to make logical judgments They teach their anti-science, anti-gay, anti-woman, right wing propaganda by placing children in an echo chamber and NEVER allowing them to hear anything else. This article is a perfect illustration of that refusal to teach something that is, in reality, essential for a true adult.There is a word for this; brainwashing. In some countries this would be labeled torture.

  5. A great piece, Tyler: many thanks for it. What was it that caused you to see the error of ACE’s ways?

    • I don’t really remember exactly when the turning point was. I know that I never fully accepted some of the stuff. I always thought that ACE went a bit far with their Christianity as far as their rules about things like music, modesty, and dancing went.

      There was a definite moment for me when I realized that the theory of evolution made sense. I went and did some research and found out that there was real, undeniable evidence in it’s favor. My opinion of ACE has basically gone down hill from there.

  6. republibotthreepointoh

    I’m curious: if your school is now transitioning away from ACE, what brought that about? I ask because of the 4 ACE schools I’ve been associated with, one went out of business, two switched to a more normal curriculum, and the fourth is still using ACE. So what made your school switch?

    • About 4 years ago, a new principal was hired at school. He’s not a big fan of the ACE curriculum. The problem I have with him is that it’s only the method that he’s worried about and not the material.

      • republibotthreepointoh

        Interesting. Thanks. That’s something non-fundamentalists and non-ACE types probably don’t realize: How massively and quickly a new administrator can change things. There’s generally little-to-no oversight, so one principle may be really good, and the next might be a jackbooted thug or a religious fanatic*. That’s kind of the reason I kept changing schools: Some loonie’d take over, the place would go to hell, and I’d jump to greener pastures.

        *- As opposed to a mere fundamentalist. Speaking as a person who’s been both a Fundamentalist and a Fanatic, there is a difference there.

  7. willowblackbird

    I schooled my children for 3 years with ACE. It makes my stomach ache to think about it. My son graduated from homeschool with the meat of his high school years being taught bullsh*t. He’s studying for his GED and is STRUGGLING in science and history. We are working very hard with him to get him where he needs to be. I am so glad I only used this poor excuse for education for a little while. God help those who use it for all 13 years of a child’s education.

    • Thanks for your honesty willowblackbird. What made you choose ACE? What made you realise it’s no good?

      • willowblackbird

        Well, we were involved in a fundamentalist church and one of the older women suggested it to me. At the time I felt like it was an “answer to prayer” because I was struggling with lesson planning and as you know, ACE doesn’t require any. A year into it and I was uncomfortable with the views of women. I wasn’t raised in a fundamentalist church and had at one time (and am now) been a raging feminist. Everything about our church never sat well, but that’s another story. On top of that, I was bothered that history was taught from a right wing white man’s point of view. Science made no sense either. The canopy thing? What bullcrap! After 3 years I was done. I could not in good conscience teach my kids this way. I could go on, but my comment will be too long. But what’s been shared here is spot on.

      • “I was struggling with lesson planning and as you know, ACE doesn’t require any”

        There’s something fundamentally lazy about being a teacher and never having to actually teach, isn’t there?

  8. Hey Tyler. I’m new to so much. I went K-12 in ACE. I admire your thoughtfulness and open-mindedness. I’m really impressed with your story on ACE. I hope you follow your dreams. Your in a good position to make a remarkable impact on the modern world.

    I’m 37 and just discovering the truths about evolution. I’m really into Karen Armstrong, Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchins, Harris, Richard Ornstiene “Evolution of Consciousness” (this was the very first strongly evolutionary book I made myself read; that was just 4 years ago). I’m fascinated with Julian Jaynes ideas on the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Joseph Campbell’s “Myths to live by”, is a great read for those of us raised in the dark ages.

    I’ve had a slow journey from faith to non-faith, for me the fundamentalist were right, god and evolution don’t mix. My college degree was in sacred scriptures. Somebody had a dim idea to proclaim “men of one book”, I bit on the bait, and wasted 5 years of “lower learning” while chewing, swallowing, and digesting the myths of the Bible.

    I had the goods; I was a loving, loyal follower of Jesus. I have some personal understanding of what historians term “the dark ages”. That was then. I’ve moved on very gradually over time, and well now, there is a lot of re-learning going on.

    I firmly believe that ACE abounds with double-binds, cognitive dissonance and disassociation. Each of these plays and integral part in keeping children’s minds enslaved to the fundamentalist rhetoric. From my point of view these are the dangerous, abusive elements of a system of education that leaves it’s graduates susceptible to the preditorial purposes of that sect of fundamental Christianity who believes the bible to be inspired (KJV only) the world is ending, that we’ll possibly be martyrs, and on and on…the system likely would have died out much earlier had it not been for the brain-washing techniques of the Howards and their click.

    I’ve had some frank discussions with church leaders regarding this rhetoric. They come alive. Defensiveness seems to cloud any ability to think clearly over any countering argument that one might present. There is a seeming willful blindness (I really enjoy the ability of Christopher Hitchens to take advantage of this blindness in the vast archive his debates I’ve seen on youtube).

    I’m very intrigued by JP Sartre’s way of putting things. He talks about fleeing fear (The Emotions: Outline of a Theory” pg 68) not to put distance between ourselves and the thing feared, but more or less a closing our eyes as an un-trained boxer to avoid seeing the fists of the opponent: willing with magical thinking the opponent into non-exists. In “Being and Nothingness” he speaks at length of “Bad Faith” which in a nut shell is knowing what we are fleeing from other-wise we would not be fleeing. We do this fleeing from ourselves not for any other reason than to build up our own reality. A person in Bad Faith, knows that the very thing he protects so carefully (I looked immovable at one time) is something he knows to be false. Social conditioning, herd instincts, and the like are examples of how a believer can live with such dissonance in his mind and life.

    Self-awareness—the ancient inscription at Delphi read “know thyself”—is the solution to finding ones way away from the craziness of out-dated belief-systems, and bring one to a place of responsible action.

    I allow that not all people will need to or must throw out their belief in God, to think rationally. I think, though, that it might do us some real good to tackle the beasts of fear, ask ourselves frankly why we cannot sound the depths of any sacredly held belief, and break all the don’t-talk rules of our upbrinings in order to arrive at a place of more wholeness.

    I’m more interested now then at any other point in my life of living as authentically as possible.

    I’ve marked your blog. Write away dude! I think its one of the best therapies for the brain.

  9. This young man is apparently an ACE ‘thoroughbred’ and yet he is articulate and knows how to access and assimilate information and then process and analyze that information to draw conclusions from it. He was indoctrinated in such nonsense as ‘God wants us to shine our shoes’ and yet he doesn’t seem to have bought the lie.

    Could it be that somehow he picked up these critical thinking skills in the process of becoming educated in the ACE system? I don’t think he is the exception. Clearly not every child will emerge from that system with Tyler’s intellect but I know many thoroughbreds who possess a similar skill set.

    Everyone will eventually decide for themselves what they want to take away from the religious aspects of the program but to me, Tyler is the poster child for the fact that ACE can and does turn out free-thinking, educated individuals equipped for future educational endeavors and for life. Tyler is not this way in spite of his education, he is a product of his education. He may not have any appreciation for that fact but it doesn’t change the facts.

    When Tyler has an opportunity to get out into the world and see how his education stacks up to that of his peers, he may have a new appreciation for it. I know I did. I had no idea how fortunate I was to have gotten such a solid educational foundation until I entered college and later a workforce full of people who weren’t as fortunate. This was the experience of my siblings and many of my friends.

    I don’t agree with the indoctrination tactics and I agree that some of the information presented in the PACEs is inaccurate to the point of being laughable but the underlying system of mastery based learning works. I think one day Tyler will come to that conclusion as well.

    • Thanks Tiffany. Of all the defences of ACE that have been posted in these comments, yours is by far the most sensible.

      I have thoughts on this, but I’m interested to see what Tyler has to say for himself before I respond.

    • “Could it be that somehow he picked up these critical thinking skills in the process of becoming educated in the ACE system?”

      Could you point me at the PACEs which cover and encourage critical thinking skills please? Perhaps at an exercise which requires that rather than rote memory responses? Anything?

    • Tiffany, like Jonny, I’m impressed that someone has finally written a decent comment in defense of ACE, but let’s be honest. I am, in no way a typical ACE student. I’m an atheist, an evolutionist, and I even enjoy writing a good secular song every now and again.

      To accredit my talent for articulation to ACE, I think, would be wrong. A Literature Composition class is one of the few benefits I see from my school’s new regime. Maybe even saying it came from that class would be premature. Maybe it’s just because I like to read and have picked up a few useful tricks.

      Although I do think that my schooling with ACE had a large roll to play in the view through which I now look at the world, to say that this was ever ACE’s goal is not quite justified. If God’s reasoning do not connect with man’s reasoning, then I will let go of God’s reasoning much more quickly.

      I liked Oliver’s comment with the Mark Twain quote. (Incidentally, he happens to have had a large impact of my thinking. Mark Twain, not Oliver. Sorry.) Except I did let school interfere with my education for a long time.

      If ACE starts to regularly turn out free-thinking students like myself, then I’ll give credit where it is due, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

      (I feel like this comment made me sound like I have a high opinion of myself. I just used the same words that others used for clarity. I suppose humility has never been one of my strong points.)

      • republibotthreepointoh

        >>To accredit my talent for articulation to ACE, I think, would be wrong.<>Although I do think that my schooling with ACE had a large roll to play in the view through which I now look at the world,<>If God’s reasoning do not connect with man’s reasoning, then I will let go of God’s reasoning much more quickly.<<

        That's well stated. I am curious, though: did you consider any OTHER denominations before you chucked God? (ACE seems to be overwhelmingly Baptist and frequently Charismatic, both movements that have a LOT of logical problems and inconsistent theology) Failing that, did you consider any other religions before you chucked God? Like, for instance, Baha'I and Sikhism are much more rational. Buddhism is a not-particularly-theistic religion. Whole buncha' different products lining the shelves in the Theism Boutique.

        In other words, did you comparison shop any, or did you just decide "What ACE is teaching me is nonsense, and therefore everything of a religious nature is nonsense?"

        The reason I'm asking is not to say you did right or wrong. I'm just curious as to whether ACE is poisoning the well, so to speak.

      • My culture is Amish/Mennonite, which differs from Baptists in a few key areas. Most of us are critical of war because we support non-resistance, though that idea has its own problems. We don’t wear ties according to some old Mennonite tradition. The big thing, is that, as a whole, the more liberal Mennonite community is less condemning and more loving of “sinners”. Case-in-point being my parents not disowning me for my atheism. I can’t imagine this happening in a fundamentalist home.

        I have looked at a few other religions thoughtfully. The main problem I have with most of them is God. I just see no reason at all to believe in God. I do have an unusual fondness for Jainism. Maybe I’ll give that a go sometime.

  10. Re Tyler’s critical skills I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s saying: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Tyler has access to the internet, so who knows what kind of ideas have been sown and germinated in his fertile mind? ACE by definition discourages free, independent though. It has an open and explicit agenda and it want to make people think and believe certain things. The result in Tyler’s case: outcome not achieved. ACE fail.

  11. I have to say the thought of spending a second longer than the 4 years I did in an ACE school makes me shiver. I was always a science geek and I was so taken aback at the complete garbage we were assigned to believe as truth. I was so offended by the pseudo-science. I refused to answer any of the questions without quotation marks. I served so many detentions I lost count. I am horrified that they are allowed to call this system education. I had no one to answer my questions in Math once I passed a certain PACE number, I made friends with a librarian in my neighborhood and she helped me with the problems. They were special ordering the PACEs for my math level. No one had made it that high before and people had graduated from that school. My mom had to pay extra for my PACES because of that. I got kicked out in what should have been 11th grade. How was that possible? I would like to flatter myself and say that I was just that talented, but really i know how pitiful the system was structured. One of people who graduated while I was there told me he had trouble getting accepted to our local community college. He was considered one of the smartest students in our school. He had to take so many below entry level classes just to be able to attend. The agenda of that system is to create mindless soldiers in “God’s army” nothing more.

    • The science was largely either trivial or demonstrably wrong. The attitude of unquestioningly accepting what authorities say is crippling to anybody wanting to go into the sciences. I spent the 6 years or so from A’levels to degree and into the first half of my PhD undoing this programming and the ingrained attitudes. It’s only in my late 30s that I’ve started to grasp how and why science works. I suspect, but would require surveys to prove, that children taught with pACE are less likely than their peers to go on to have successful scientific careers.

  12. I appreciate the many thoughtful responses and the extremely respectful tone of the debate. I will not try to respond to each as I am clearly out-numbered and almost certainly out-smarted. I would just like to respond generally and throw out a little more food for thought.

    Tyler appears to have a solid working knowledge of grammar. Did he get that on the internet? I wish we could see Tyler go head to head with the Valedictorian of the largest high school in his state in the subject area of grammar because my money would be on Tyler. In my experience, A.C.E. students typically have an advantage in this area. Many would not consider that important but that is probably because they don’t enjoy the advantage.

    I suspect that Tyler can add, subtract, multiply, & divide, whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents with very little thought. Did he learn that on the internet? Most educated people will be able to perform these tasks but in my experience, few will do it as well as Tyler and too many will struggle to do it at all.

    I suspect that Tyler is a competent speller. Many people don’t believe themselves to be good spellers because spelling is something that we continue to build into adulthood but if he doesn’t know it already, I would expect by the time he is 35, he will realize his spelling is above average. That will come due to a solid foundation that he acquired in a PACE.

    Another thing Tyler has clearly mastered is the ability to learn independently. I don’t think you can argue ACEs credentials in this area. Their system produces independent learners. Tyler also possesses critical thinking skills and while no one wants to credit ACE with those, most would agree that the acquisition of these skills is a process that happens over time and in Tyler’s case, much of that time was spent in an ACE Learning Center.

    So ACE has produced a student that can write, spell, and perform basic math with a higher than average level of proficiency and he has demonstrated superior learning and thinking skills. To me, that is the goal of compulsory education. Once you have the ability to learn and to think, what you learn and what you think is up to you.

    Will Tyler be able to match wits with the Valedictorian on Calculus? Probably not. Had Tyler not educated himself on the subject of science, he would have a disadvantage. These deficits are somewhat inconsequential because these courses can easily be found at every institution of higher learning and to me, these are not the objective of secondary education.

    The academic skills most of us will use in our daily lives are all mastered somewhere between PACE 1 and PACE 144. If you come out of high school with these skills, you are ahead of the pack in my opinion. ACE may have tried to indoctrinate you, they may have tried to manipulate you, they may have tried to brain wash you, abuse you, brake you, and silence you but in the process, they did educate you.

    Not every person emerges from their system with the same quality of education just as not every person emerges from a public school experience with the same level of education. That is a given. The opportunity is there to become educated. I’ve seen too many extremely intelligent people come out of that system to ever be convinced otherwise. ACEs system of education isn’t my first choice and I regret that they were so short-sighted as to build their own narrow belief system into it but it can get the job done.

    • I would be willing to grant you that ACE had produced someone with above average grammar and knowledge of mathematics, but here’s the thing: The only two subjects that I’ve studied for more that two years separate from ACE are writing and mathematics.

      I took two years of Saxon Math, Pre-Algebra and Algebra. The year after that, we did use PACEs for Geometry, but we didn’t do it in the traditional fashion. Our principal, who has a mildly creepy fetish with numbers, taught us classroom style using ACE as a starting point.

      As far as writing is concerned, I stopped using ACE English last year. For the last two years, I’ve been learning English separate from ACE in a classroom, not a Learning Center.

      If you want to say that ACE gave me a foundation for learning these things, I’ll grant you that. Though, you would be, as I am, appalled to see anything I wrote for a non-academic purpose from two or more years ago. My current grammar Nazism is a relatively recent development.

      Maybe you’d like to argue that ACE is okay in their elementary PACEs. I don’t remember enough of them to offer you an intelligent reason for why this is not the case. All I can say is that I’ve enjoyed learning much more with my fellow classmates, as well as myself, asking all the questions that come to our mind (relevant or otherwise) than I ever did from ACE.

      I don’t dread going to school every day like I used to. For that, I charge two things:

      1. Having the release of being able to criticize ACE candidly in my conversation. (Not only with people on the internet, but also my classmates and teachers.)

      2. The fact that ACE is not all that I have to do. If I want to ask my Lit/Comp teacher a question about why Walt Whitman wrote “Oh, Captain! My Captain!”, all I have to do is raise my hand.

    • I spent eight years locked in a fully ACE school (age six to fourteen), and I’ll grant you that reading, writing, spelling, and basic times-tables were the one positive skill I took away from the experience.

      It was more the totalitarian system and the PACE’s full of lies that got to me. I’ll forever be thankful for my three years of public school (well, three and a half, as I had to run away my first attempt. Yes, I was that socially destroyed by ACE. But I got back on the horse.), as those three years taught me debate, social interaction, offered extracurricular activities (rugby, closed circuit video broadcasting, etc), foreign languages, good music, the Bible wasn’t infallible, the unsaved weren’t corpses looking to drag us to hell, actual Canadian history (who knew the evil Redcoats were me all along!), free thinking (there is no free thinking encouraged in ACE whatsoever, no matter how you might try to spin it), and so much more.

      To discover that going to the toilet without nearly having an accident (as actually happened to my own sister, among others) waiting for a dim monitor to put down their coffee was a basic human right, not a privilege, was the height of new excitements!

      Beyond the above mentioned first sentence, ACE has nothing going for it. You are not encouraged to ‘learn’ at your own pace. You’re encouraged to memorize bogus facts as fast as possible (including a disproportionately large amount of Bible verses) immediately forgetting the so-called facts (but for the trauma of being indoctrinated) upon putting the brightly coloured star on your main viewing source of pleasure; the star chart.

      I like to think I’m not a stupid person, which means I’m smart enough to know that ACE had nothing whatsoever to do with me finally stepping out into the light of day.
      Unfortunately countless others lack the trait, whatever it may be, whether genetic in origin, or simply curiousity, to ever question what was hammered into their skulls since before they knew the difference between plausible and impossible.
      And therein lies the true abusive nature of ACE.
      Intellect short-circuited; full potential denied.

      ACE taught moralism, not morals. And the salient difference between the two is that morals teach you how to move. Moralism tells you where to stand.

      There’s teaching HOW to think and there’s teaching WHAT to think.
      ACE falls firmly (and proudly, based on their own PACE’s) in the latter camp.
      By definition, this is NOT an education-based system.

      Anyone who managed to come out ‘intelligent’, did so only because they were intelligent to begin with. It was nothing to do with ACE.
      I’m still filling ridiculous gaps in my basic knowledge education daily, even 22 years later!

      • “ACE taught moralism, not morals. And the salient difference between the two is that morals teach you how to move. Moralism tells you where to stand.”
        Oh my goodness! May I steal this?

        “There’s teaching HOW to think and there’s teaching WHAT to think.
        ACE falls firmly (and proudly, based on their own PACE’s) in the latter camp.
        By definition, this is NOT an education-based system.”
        This is EXACTLY what I was saying in my own comment. The fact that ACE not only doesn’t but actively fights to NOT teach critical thinking skills is precisely why so many of it’s graduates fail in colleges that aren’t “Lighthouse” based Christian Bible colleges themselves.
        My daughter wanted to go to a local community college and begged the director of her school to get her the PACE for Algebra because she knew she was going to need at least some background in higher math. He refused, saying that, a she was the only one who would be taking it, it wasn’t worth spending the money for that packet. She was so unprepared for public college that she ended up washing out and giving up half way through her second semester. It was heart breaking.

    • Tiffany you have made some great observations. I don’t share your “gratitude” or “in-spite-of the facts” regarding ACE. Your sharing your observations and thoughts in this forum takes courage, which I deeply respect. Each has his journey.

      A friend of mine, recently shared this link: http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm

      If you read through this list you may find some fallacies to your arguments. That is ok. I’m not slamming you at all. We, me, you, and the rest of us on this site, and the whole human population should see ourselves as working together at this project of human existence.

      I’ve been mulling over this list for only a few days. I’m 37, and have only just this week laid my eyes on this kind of information. I have a computer, internet, I read widely. I consider myself a “bright” and know that I’m intelligent. I’ve complained to friends that I feel like I have this awareness that I’m missing some important information, but I’m uncertain exactly what that information is or how to find it. This is one piece of the missing information that I did not know how to find.

      Of course, maybe I would have got it automatically if I’d gone to secular college or university. Darn, for me that was not an option. I was ACE K-12, and then layer on top of that part an extremely closed system of religious thought (in which I was born, raised, educated and trained) that was afraid of the out-side “secular world”. I stepped into the real world only about 9 years ago, when I’d finally got the courage to leave the “closed system”.

      As a golden-child of my closed system, my parents were thick with the upper levels of leadership, I was unquestioning. I slowly attained recognition in my group. After High School (ACE) I went on to completed 4 years of Bible School (their version of higher education), then went on to plant a church in Belize. I had aspirations of opening an ACE Christian School in Belize. Then I had an awakening to reality. It, the whole “closed system”, was all man-made! The sacred slowly melted away, and I could find space to actually think for myself. You can imagine that I’m really learning a lot.

      Education does play a vital role in setting up certain neurological connections in the brain. Thank goodness I think there is growing evidence that the brain has a lot of plasticity, and may be rewired, so to speak, if it’s been found by the individual to need some modification. At the very minimum we should, as adults take a very keen interest in insuring that our children have a chance of getting their brains wired up in the best way possible to be thinking, self-empowered individuals.

      I will contend that ACE fails miserably in this interest.

  13. >>I have looked at a few other religions thoughtfully. The main problem I have with most of them is God. I just see no reason at all to believe in God. I do have an unusual fondness for Jainism<<

    Interesting. Thanks. I ask because I've noticed some Fundamentalist groups, some cults, and pretty much the entire Roman Catholic Church so indoctrinate people into the "We have a monopoly on truth" thing that when people raised in it decide it's full of crap, they never even think to shop around. Which is a shame because there are undoubtedly many faith-based communites that might be able to provide what they're looking for. It's also a shame as manipulating faith by fear is just a lousy thing to do.

  14. The best I can do is offer you anecdotal evidence from my own experience. It proves nothing but I have been around Christian Education for nearly 40 years and I’ve seen ACE from a variety of perspectives. I do know those who were harmed by abuses they suffered but the vast majority of those I know who emerged from schools using the system are well-adjusted, educated adults who are at least grateful for the positive experiences they encountered while a student. I went to school with people who are now medical doctors, lawyers, and college professors. Their secondary education didn’t hold them back in these pursuits and I think they would actually tell you it helped prepare them.

    I’ve not really encountered the themes I see in your posts in talking to ‘survivors’ of this system. I’m not discrediting your experiences in any way. I believe they are completely legitimate. I’m just not sure they apply to a particularly large segment of survivors. I’m glad you have all found each other and that you can find comfort in sharing your journey but just realize that you are looking at a microcosm that is probably not representative of the whole.

    My ACE credentials are pretty solid. I attended Christian schools from 2nd grade on. In my elementary years, we used A Beka and Bob Jones among others. I think you would find the content and approach of those publishers to be similar to ACE though the academics are perhaps slightly more rigorous. I used ACE throughout High School. I am also a graduate of the International Institute which means I lived, worked, and went to school within the hallowed walls of ACE headquarters for 4 years. I was there when ACE was enjoying the pinnacle of its popularity. They had more than 300 employees. There were two different K-12 schools on the campus in addition to the college. As a freshman, I clearly remember sitting in our campus church and looking around at the 300 employees who both worked and went to church at ACE and thinking, “This is a cult.” Too many aspects of those peoples’ lives were connected to ACE. It was a fundamentalist utopia and it was rife with abuse of every kind. Yet, amazingly, the majority of children who grew up there went on to lead normal lives. Very few remain fundamentalists. People came to the college from schools all over the country so I got to know a sampling of students from a variety of schools and still, stories of people feeling stunted or ill-equipped didn’t happen. I’ve never lost touch with many of my classmates and thanks to social media, I’ve reconnected with dozens if not hundreds of students who were at ACE during my incarceration. Those who suffered sexual abuse have the expected scars. Very few of the 100s that suffered what I would consider emotional abuse have let that influence their lives post ACE. Everyone seemed to outgrow the indoctrination much like you would outgrow a belief in Santa Claus. The nonsense becomes so obvious it is a non-issue. And the majority have no regrets academically. Not that they don’t believe they could have learned more but that they believe their education was sufficient to prepare them for life. That is my experience.

    I was kicked out the the “You know you went to an ACE school when…” facebook forum this week after less than 24 hours in the group for being a troublemaker. I think I should get some sort of street cred for that. I’ll leave you now to get back to bashing ACE and laughing at the parade of idiots who emerge to defend her honor. Fundamentalism is dying of natural causes but you can keep trying to hasten its demise.

    • Nice one on the banning from that bizarre page. They’re a funny bunch for certain. And yet who knows how many will gradually recognize the school’s deficiencies, reach maybe their 30’s or so, be ‘successful’ (as per your definition), and find their mixed memories of ACE morphed into something that wasn’t perfect but ‘they’re okay’.
      Yet it’s clear from the present moment, that they are not ‘okay’. They defend blindly without thinking. They don’t know the difference between a differing opinion and a truly negative comment. Something every high school student should already have an understanding of.

      Memory is a funny thing. And it seems to me that all these ‘well-adjusted’ people you speak of owe none of it to ACE, but rather to life in general.

      On that note, I’m happy to hear that in your experience “the vast majority of those I know who emerged from schools using the system are well-adjusted, educated adults who are at least grateful for the positive experiences they encountered while a student”.

      But here’s the rub. I used to think of myself in this way as well. I wasn’t a fundamentalist. I’n not even a Christian. I thought, ‘all good here. ACE was lame, but I’m okay.’
      Turns out I was very wrong. Indoctrination, by it’s very nature, means you think it’s not something you suffer from, when in fact there it sits, triggering you on and on, but you believe you’re just ‘fine’. When in fact you’re a right and total mess.

      It took until the age of 33 just to honestly get back to square one, after years of ‘soul searching’ accompanied by random bouts of severely self-destructive behaviour. We are all dire sinners after all, something ACE loves to hammer home daily, destroying all hope of self-esteem beyond ‘Jesus in your heart’.
      And yet all who knew me (and indeed, I’ve asked a few now) would tell you they thought I was ‘fine’ ‘well-adjusted’ ‘an inspiration’ etc.

      You say, “Everyone seemed to outgrow the indoctrination much like you would outgrow a belief in Santa Claus”.
      To which I say, I bet the vast majority of them haven’t outgrown anything when it comes to their true psyche. I’m willing to wager that if you get beyond the superficial (which is all you can see, naturally) you will find men who still struggle to see women as more than just sexual objects. And you will find women who struggle to say no to men.
      You will find former students in general who find themselves easily swayed by the written word, their opinion changing depending on which article they happen to be reading. And you will find, despite a good spelling skill, a shitty understanding of punctuation (that last one is definitely me).

      I do think (personally, as this is not necessarily the opinion of Jonny) that staying a Christian in any form does make ACE seem less harmful in retrospect than it was. But at the same time, of course I don’t spend my life crying about it. I’m finally fine, for real.

      And it seems to me, based on your defense of ACE, that you could also say that 27 years in prison helps make one a great person, just look at the late Nelson Mandela.

      On a flip note, I wonder if you would be so forgiving of ACE if it was AME…

  15. What’s “AME?”

    I personally don’t think ACE hurt me any in my 4-ish years in the program. As I’ve said elsewhere, it was a good lifeboat for me. Of course I changed schools often (3x) in that period, and I had already decided I was going to leave the program at the end of 8th grade because I wanted to go to a REAL High School, so I may have been a bit more grounded than people who grew up in it.

    Honestly, the notion of ACE hurting people never would have occurred to me before I found this site. The worst I’d accuse it of was maybe doing a bad job. But now that it’s been pointed out to me, I can definitely see it.

    • I assumed he meant “Accelerated Muslim Education”

      People often find it easier to forgive the practices of a religion they are familiar with that they would find unacceptable in an unfamiliar religion.

      • Ah. Yeah, that makes sense. Point taken.

        Personally – and this is a bit off topic – I think that all schools (Public and Private) should have some kind of basic comparative religion course required of students at some point along the line. I think a fair look at what the other teams thing could clear up a lot of tension, and go a long way towards generating some across-the-asiles respect and even friendship.

        Alas the “Fair” part is hard to gurantee. Christians as a whole often have trouble with basic concepts like “Muslims worship the same God we do” so more specific stuff is unlikely to get any treatment beyond “Buddhists believe this, and they’re stupid for it, and Sikhs believe this, and that’s why they’re stupid and…” blah blah blah.

      • Exactly Clair,
        The thing about ACE is:

        A. The curriculum sucks. So even if you somehow manage to get a good principal, supervisors, monitors, (or a good set of parents, if you’re learning at home) you’re still not getting an education unless it is being heavily subsidized by other learning on the side. You’re taught lies as truth, plain and simple.

        B. The system is set up in such a way that it seems to be highly attractive to power-mad, totalitarian-minded principals etc. I have heard countless repeats of the same story about the leaders of ACE schools taking great glee from the subjugation of children. They actually start to all blur into the one leering child abusing face I know from my own experience. And these same kinds of stories come from ACE schools across the globe, from Canada, USA, Britain, South Africa, the Philippines, etc. I can only imagine that if ACE existed in Denmark, it would also be rotten.

        There is nothing to defend here. ACE blows. Virtually anything else (beyond being raised to live in a pee-covered hayloft, sleep with porcupines, and be whipped like a pony, perhaps) makes for a better education. This system steals and wastes human being’s most formative years. Whether or not ‘people come out of it okay’ is completely irrelevant to the emotional, intellectual, and ass-beaten cesspit of stink that is the ACE curriculum.

  16. >>highly attractive to power-mad, totalitarian-minded principles etc.<>whether or not ‘people come out of it okay’ is completely irrelevant […]>>>

    Nicely put. I’m increasingly of that mind myself.

  17. that was weird. I wrote a much longer comment, but it got eaten, except for the bit you see above. Anyway, the gist is this: Aram, what is it about ACE that makes it appeal to dictators? I’m not disagreeing. I’ve seen it happen twice on a mild level, but I’m curious as to what draws them in and puts them in power. In your opinion.

    • I know you asked Aram, but I’d like to give my opinion.

      1) ACE teaches children that God appoints the people in authority over them, so they should always obey them. The only exception to this (and this only really gets explained in later PACEs) is if the person in authority asks you to do something contrary to Biblical principles. But since the person in authority is the ONE WHO TELLS YOU WHAT PRINCIPLES ARE BIBLICAL (sure, you can read the Bible yourself, but questions over emphasis and interpretation are handled by authority figures), that means they have total control.

      2) Since ACE doesn’t exactly major on critical thinking skills, it’s unlikely to develop many students who are going to see through your lies.

      3) Since the students are isolated from each other for all their work time, you’re unlikely to get the kind of insubordination that can happen if kids start complaining to each other. Obviously the dictator still has to control what happens when they’re not doing PACEs, but the PACEs keep the kids separated much of the time.

  18. “Sure, you an read teh Bible yourself, but questions over emphasis and interpretation are handled y authority figures.”

    Amen there, Brother. Personal example: in 8th grade, my school (Charismatic) did a chapel service that was all about speaking in tongues. I’d never really heard of such a thing before, so I asked the preacher afterwards, then another teacher, and they kept trying to cram the concept down my throat. I took it to the preacher at my church later on asking for clarification, and he used THE EXACT SAME VERSES to disprove exactly what the school had said. (FWIW, I think my home preacher’s interpretation was more in line with the intent of the passage. I think the school was being rather tendentious)

    It’s also worth noting that ACE insists obsessively on the King James version ONLY. I recognize that you need to have a standardized text, and why not go for the prettiest most universal standard when memorizing stuff. However the KJV is a 400 year old kind of English which is kinda’ hard to follow if you’re a 10 year old kid with average reading skills. Heck, I’m 46 and hyperlexic, and there are passages that make me go ‘whaaaaat?’ They don’t exactly tell you you CAN’T read a more modern translation for clarification’s purposes, but it’s clearly not an option they’ll even admit exists if you don’t think of it on your own. So this makes the kid even more dependent on the school’s interpretation.

    • Yeah, what Jonny said. It attracts men (always men) who are convinced they have it all figured out. In my case the principal actually so far as to start his own church as well as school. So six days a week (and often roped into doing free labour for the church on Saturdays as well) I was corralled by this one man’s vision. He had some Doctrines of Grace hybrid going on, and the church finally split over an argument about Free Will. Not to mention the other Alpha male didn’t like to share the paddlings with my principal. My mother was convinced he was Jesus reborn and whatever he said was God’s truth. Basically me and my siblings lived in terror for most of our childhood, only exacerbated when my mother remarried a fellow who seemed determined to outdo my principal at the paddling Olympics. There was no break between school and home. Really it was just a change in swinging techniques. Aim for the fences!
      Wearing six pairs of underwear every day became a common occurrence, just in case.
      Furthermore, the principal would take out anything of ACE he didn’t agree with. Rip out PACE pages that went against his ‘one true path to Jesus’. But in general he agreed with most of it. But you see, he had to make it clear that no one knew as much as he did.

    • KJV was my first Bible. I think I still have it somewhere. The thing about it, and perhaps why KJV-only churches exist in part, is that the way it’s written makes the text ‘seem’ more sacred. When you read the modern translations it feels more like, ‘who cares?’
      But yeah, it wasn’t the easiest reading for a kid, though I did get used to it after 8 years.
      I do find it amusing there are actually quite a few translation errors in it (which also found their way into the Book of Mormon, funny that), like Moses having horns, but KJV-only types really don’t seem to care. Never mind that they’re reading a revised updated version themselves. The first version is on par with the Canterbury Tales. Basically impossible to read.

      And another quick thought on paddling, it seems to me now that the principal of my ACE school would look for any excuse to paddle a new kid asap. I think it was to establish his authority immediately. And fear. Seems sometimes he would make up just about any wrongdoing to get that first paddle under his belt. Like one time a kid was spanked when he was in charge of bringing our team’s hockey sticks to a game against another school team, and he didn’t bring enough sticks for the other school as well?

  1. Pingback: Keeping Up With the Creationists, Vol. I, Issue 1: Ain’t Just Private Schools, Kids » En Tequila Es Verdad

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