Category Archives: Education

Christian Rock Thursdays: Home schooling saved my life (featuring Christian ska!)

Christian Rock Thursday are back! (Although they’ll probably continue to be intermittent for the rest of 2014)

This week’s installment is from B.O.B. (Bunch of Believers). There’s now a much more famous rapper called B.o.B., and every time I hear his name in a conversation about music, I momentarily wonder why there’s been a resurgence of interest in mediocre late-90s Christian ska.

With their South Park-inspired imagery, you might suspect B.O.B. were somehow cool. Don’t be fooled.

Ska punk hit the mainstream in the 1990s with the arrival of the Mighty Might Bosstones (1993) and No Doubt (1995), so naturally Christian ska became a cultural phenomenon around the end of the decade. As the unusually well-sourced Wikipedia entry on Christian ska observes, “Whereas in mainstream markets the popularity of ska had peaked about 1996, the Christian music marketplace is known for being significantly behind trends in the Christian market”. No shit. It offers no less than three citations for this not-particularly-controversial claim.

Not all Christian ska-core was terrible, I’m reliably informed by people who (unlike me) don’t hate ska. Apparently Five Iron Frenzy were actually quite good. However, there is nothing funny about being quite good, so we are going to look at B.O.B., who were complete shite.

Once again, we see that Christian Rock is acting as the propaganda mouthpiece of the Christian Right. Let’s play SPOT THE TROPE!

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Can you get into university with an ICCE Advanced Certificate?

Are you a student studying the International Certificate of Christian Education? Are you hoping to go to university? If so, I have some bad news for you. It will probably be harder to get into higher education than Christian Education Europe and your school told you. The ICCE claims an extensive list of universities that have accepted the Advanced Certificate for university entrance. After looking through universities’ responses to Freedom of Information requests, however, it appears that a number of them have not accepted the qualification at all.

Update 20 November 2014: UWE’s (University of the West of England, Bristol) response has been added.

International Certificate of Christian Education ICCE

The ICCE website lists universities which, it claims, have accepted graduates of the ICCE and/or NCSC (National Christian Schools Certificate, the old name for ICCE). But when Anjana Ahuja spoke to some of these universities as part of the BBC Newsnight investigation, none of them said they actually accepted the ICCE as an entrance certificate. In most cases, the universities had accepted ICCE graduates, but only after they had studied additional qualifications elsewhere. It was those qualifications—A Levels, International Baccalaureates—that gained these students their university places. None of them recognised the ICCE as a standard entrance qualification.

Anjana only spoke to six universities, but this was enough to make me curious. In how many other instances was the ICCE’s advertising misleading? In July, I asked Richy Thompson to put in Freedom of Information requests to every university on the ICCE’s list. He contacted 56 universities, of which 50 responded. It turned out the ICCE website was quite misleading.

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Accelerated Christian Education’s ugly history of racism

Oh hi everyone. Homeschoolers Anonymous is running a series on Homeschooling and Race. As part of it, I contributed a post about ACE’s history of racism. I’ve talked about ACE and race before (here, here, and here) but this includes all new never-before-blogged racism!

Second thing: My old post “Why fundamentalism is not faith” is suddenly getting an enormous amount of traffic, apparently from Facebook, and I don’t know why. So hi, all my new readers, and please let me know where you found me.

Here’s my HA post.


I remember staring at the text:

Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.

It was 1996; I was 11. Nelson Mandela had been president of South Africa for two years, and apartheid had been officially abolished in South Africa for five. I was not exactly well informed about the situation. I knew it was complicated, and that the country was not exactly without problems. But I also knew that apartheid had been an evil thing that had treated black people as less than human. I suspected my book was written by a racist. I didn’t say anything about it to my parents though. That wasn’t how ACE worked. You just got on with it in silence.

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The battle for evolution in Scottish schools

Tomorrow, the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will be hearing from members of the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society (SSS). Earlier this year, the SSS started a petition urging the Scottish government issue guidance on the teaching of creationism in schools. In England and Wales, there is clear guidance that creationism and Intelligent Design are not valid scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution, and should not be taught as such. In Scotland, there is no equivalent document.

This is a problem, because as we’ve previously seen, there have been significant inroads by creationists in some Scottish schools. Fortunately in that case, there was a decisive win for science. But what that case showed was that creationism genuinely is an issue in Scotland, and it will continue to be so without clear guidance. So you might think that the SSS petition, backed by three Nobel prize winners, would be uncontroversial.

Cart pulled by dinosaur

In case you’d forgotten, this picture of a dinosaur working as a beast of burden was included in creationist material distributed in a Scottish school in 2013.

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Accelerated Christian Education’s survivors speak out

Once more, this week we’re diving into Reddit’s Ask Me Anything about ACE schools. Unlike most AMAs, where Redditors ask questions of the original poster, this thread was most notable for all the other people with experience of ACE who dived in to tell their stories.

Previous sections:

Part 1

Part 2 

Here are more assorted ACE comment from Reddit’s AMA on the subject. Their presence here does not mean I agree with everything they say, but it’s great to hear from other ACE students.

olhonestjim

Every few years my parents would enroll me in some Christian school that taught either Abeka (sic?) or ACE curriculums. I hated ACE. I wanted to play and talk to other kids. It was the absolute worst education I ever had, especially the science, history, reading, writing, social studies, and math books. I was always far past the education levels for the grade I was in. My work for the day was always finished in a couple hours. It instilled in me laziness of both thought and action. You weren’t allowed to touch or come within 6 inches of touching your friends. The uniforms were uncomfortable, ugly, and unnecessary.

oh god, those stupid morality comics they put in there! I hated them too, and they were the only entertainment. My favorite character was the “bad” kid who was always misbehaving; talking bad about the teachers, untucking his shirt, smoking cigarette butts he found. Read the rest of this entry

“I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life”

Last year on Reddit, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about an Accelerated Christian Education school turned into a free-for-all for ex-ACE students. At the time, I explained how it had brought a ton of important ACE survivor stories into the open, and I shared one of the the best. Here’s another from that event. I’m so glad it happened. Many of the stories are tragic, but so much of this would never have come out into the open without it.

reddit-logo-01-674x501-300x222This week’s tales are from the user CANIBALFOODFITE. As I recall, the user expressed the wish not to be contacted about their experiences, but I link to the original posts so you can see the source.

 

I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life.

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This is how ACE treats its supporters

What happens if you write a letter of complaint to Accelerated Christian Education? Obviously, if write a letter, I’m going to get ignored, because I am regarded as nothing but a tool of the devil (and I do not use that term as a figure of speech). But what about Christians—what about ACE’s customers? Will they take constructive criticism from supporters?

Or are they those stereotypical fundamentalists who are so convinced of their own rightness that they know anyone who disagrees with them is simply wrong?

Online reviews of the ACE curriculum always make interesting reading, but I was particularly struck by this one. After describing what she perceived as faults in the curriculum, the reviewer writes:

I called School of Tomorrow and discussed my concerns with them and they did not have any answers for me regarding how easy it is to “cheat” on the Pace tests and learning to think logically and critically. I even asked if the rep could make and note and say something to whoever is in charge of curriculum, but they won’t do that. The fact is ACE wants testimonies of people who did well using their curriculum but those that did did not go to med school and have to think out the box. They go to bible school, become teachers, maybe there’s an accountant or businessperson scattered in, but I want my children to have a world of opportunities open to them when they decide on a career and I absolutely DO NOT want them to struggle the way I did.

Is it true that ACE is only interested in success stories? Enter Kevin Long. Kevin has recently outed himself as a supporter of this blog, and even contributed a guest post, but it was not ever thus. When Kevin first began commenting here, he was still supportive of aspects of ACE. Before he came round to the Leaving Fundamentalism position on ACE, Kevin defended it as an option for kids who would sink in mainstream schools. He wrote a letter to ACE at that time, and has received no response. Kevin’s given me permission to share it with you. I think it’s quite revealing that ACE won’t respond even to this.

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Christian Education Europe eats itself… bring popcorn!

It’s all go in the exciting world of fundamentalist education this week as former Christian Education Europe (CEE) employee Christine Gregg has started blowing the whistle again. You may remember that recently a website called Ace Education sprang up, seemingly with the primary intention of discrediting Leaving Fundamentalism. This was the blog that gave the world 10 Questions for Jonny Scaramanga. The blogger behind it was Christine. Now she has had enough.

Christine says that she was pressured into writing the blog by CEE founder Arthur Roderick, but never felt comfortable writing it. Now she wants to expose the unethical practices and bullying she says she saw at CEE.

Last week, I also had an article posted on Guardian Science blogs, in which I revealed two things: 1) Four British universities have stated that they consider the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as entry qualification. 2) When students study science for the ICCE, they will read that it could be possible to generate electricity from snow.

Frozen Elsa

Presumably ACE thought Frozen was a documentary about the potential uses of snow power.

Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.

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Why is Christian Education Europe promoting child abusers?

Previously on this blog, we’ve looked at the history of spanking in Accelerated Christian Education schools and asked whether it still happens today. Sources closer to ACE than me tell me that paddling is a thing of the past in UK schools that teach the ACE curriculum. But they’re still selling spanking manuals.

Christian Education Europe (CEE) has UK contracts to distribute two ranges of products. One is ACE. The other is Growing Families International (GFI), a series of child-rearing manuals by Gary and Marie Ezzo. In preparing this post, I tried to think of a way to convey to you in a single sentence just how problematic the Ezzos’ teachings are. And I have it. But first some background.

Have you heard of James Dobson? Within the Christian Right, Dobson is a voice to rival Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell; he was particularly influential on the Reagan administration. Dobson’s books on discipline, The Strong-Willed Child and Dare to Discipline, are pretty big on spanking and other ‘creative’ punishments themselves, and you should ask some of the kids who were raised with Dobson’s methods if they think they were abusive.

So you’re in the picture. Dobson is a Christian Right advocate of authoritarian, disciplinarian parenting.

And here comes my sentence that says it all about the Ezzos:

The organisation James Dobson founded, Focus on the Family, has publicly denounced the Ezzos’ teachings.

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Weird parts of my Christian Rock childhood

Welcome to the first installment of a new series. When I named this blog “Leaving Fundamentalism” I really meant it to be a diverse examination of all the unusual parts of my bizarre Christian upbringing. In the end, mostly because of my PhD studies, the blog has been swarmed by posts critiquing ACE. Here’s a bit of light relief: Once a week I’ll show you a Christian rock song from my childhood and talk about how it affected me.

People might be misled by this into thinking that ACE and Christian rock are somehow related. They aren’t, really. ACE is adamant in its opposition to Christian rock music. In fact, that was the first thing I disliked about ACE. Long before I realised how sexist it is, or how racist, and years before I noticed they’d been teaching me lies, I loathed ACE because they were opposed to Christian rock music, which for me was the biggest reason that I was enthusiastic about being a Christian.

In the rules for ACE’s student conventions (annual competitions between ACE schools and students), the music section reads now as it did when I was in school:

Competition arrangements are to be Christian or patriotic rather than secular. Classical instrumental music is allowed as long as it is non-offensive to Christian values or good taste. Music sung or played with a jumpy, sensual, or worldly style is not acceptable. Contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel rock, or gospel country music are not acceptable. In our music guidelines, “contemporary” refers to a style of music, not the date on which a piece was written. Music must be appropriate for a typical conservative fundamental church service (musical arrangement, text, and presentation).

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