Blog Archives

Recovering from ACE

Lisa Kelly first commented on this blog mentioning that her bad experience of ACE had pushed her into the education business. “It was one of the driving things that made me seek to become an educator – so that I could encourage children and people of all ages to think for themselves and explore their *own* reasons for being and doing.”

Lisa and I have forged similar paths. I’m doing a PhD in education; she’s an Ed.D. I thought it might be nice for you to hear from someone else in the profession just why educators don’t think much of ACE. So here we go.  Read the rest of this entry

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The Way Ahead – Recommendations for Faith Schools

On Friday, I examined the Alberta Department of Education’s views on Accelerated Christian Education. As part of its report, the Committee on Tolerance and Understanding made recommendations on educational policy to correct the problems it found. I think these make a reasonable skeleton for a public policy that could be implemented to ensure better education, and limiting poisonous systems like ACE. Lets look at their suggestions.

Actually, before we do, I’d like to post this quotation from the Committee’s report, since I agree with it so much I think I could put it on a poster:

“The mission of education must include development of critical thinking skills based on openness, inquiry, imagination, original ideas, dissent, rational thinking, and independence. Scoeity’s best efforts must alwas be open to skepticism and constructive criticism from students themselves. To do otherwise, to ignore their developing autonomy and judgment, would undermine the whole purpose of the enterprise. Respect for authority is essential, but a balance must be kept. History has shown time and again that when respect for authority completely overrides responsible independence, critical thinking is destroyed and society is left open to the evils of apathy, dogmatism and prejudice.”

Alright, so what are their suggestions?  Read the rest of this entry

This Is What We’re Up Against

Hot news from across the pond: The Texas Republican Party election platform for 2012 wants to stop critical thinking in schools.

In a characteristically brilliant article, “Texas GOP Will Literally and Non-Metophorically Ban Critical Thinking in Schools,” Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom skewers the plan:

“But the awesomest part of the platform is to be found in the section on Edumacation. No, it’s not the ringing endorsement of corporal punishment, nor is it the predictable support for promoting freedom by forcing children to pledge allegiance to both the US and Texas flags. Heck, it’s not even the subtle shift from an open ‘Cdesign proponentsist’ agenda to a pseudo-neutral call for students to be able to answer ‘God Did It’ on a biology test ‘without fear of retribution or discrimination,’ or even the plan to base all US History lessons on the art of John McNaughton.

“Nope, the real zinger of the 2012 GOP platform is what appears to be a declaration of war on rational thought itself.”

At this point, you’re probably assuming, along with most of the world, that this is a joke. But no, the indefatigable Kylie Sturgess has found a pdf of the Republican manifesto, and it really does say this:

“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

Wow. So beliefs can – should! – be fixed (a bad start), and challenging those beliefs is a bad thing.

When I’ve told you that Accelerated Christian Education does not teach higher-order thinking skills, you assumed it was a failing of the system, didn’t you? Well, you were wrong. It’s meant to be like that.

Read the rest of this entry

The Strange Case of UK Naric and Accelerated Christian Education

Following Monday’s revelations, this is another very important blog post. Again, please share this where you can; this is important news. There’s a “too long; didn’t read” bullet point list at the end for the terminally lazy or pressed-for-time.

As I’ve already written, UK Naric has approved the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), advanced certificate, as equivalent to A-level standard. This is surprising because, until now, every academic review of the curriculum has been extremely critical. Even Christians agree on this.

Naric said in 2009 their report would be made available on request. Since then, they have refused to make it public, saying it is an “in-confidence commercial document.”

Naric’s first benchmarking study was paid for by a school that uses the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, on which ICCE is based. ICCE Ltd paid for the second benchmarking itself. Naric has not answered questions on whether this presents a conflict of interests.

This all seems unsatisfactory. If Naric’s reports can’t be made public, how can they be properly scrutinised for fairness and accuracy? This is also a loss to the academic community, who could use these reports in further research. In the case of ICCE, it is an acute loss, since there has been no independent research into the qualification whatsoever.

Naric, run for the government by private company ECCTIS Ltd., is not subject to Freedom of Information requests. It seems to me that this is a problem. The incentive to make a profit is at odds with the need for transparency. Naric has refused to answer my questions on how it benchmarked ICCE, saying the time required to answer would cost them too much money.

Here’s a history of the academic community’s research on Accelerated Christian Education, the fundamentalist curriculum at the heart of ICCE. As you’ll see, no one’s ever had anything good to say about it. And I’m not leaving stuff out that contradicts my views; there just isn’t much pro-ACE feeling in the academic world. Read the rest of this entry

An Open Letter to Christian Education Europe

I am desperately curious to get inside the minds of the supporters of Accelerated Christian Education. How do they justify the lies they teach to children? What would they say when confronted? This is an open letter to Arthur Roderick, the founder of Christian Education Europe (CEE), European distributor for Accelerated Christian Education. I await their response. Read the rest of this entry

Accelerated Christian Education on BBC Radio 4

In 2010 I was asked to speak to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme about Accelerated Christian Education.

Here’s the segment that went out (it’s a little over five minutes long):

In case you can’t listen, I’ve transcribed the words of the three people interviewed: Me, Professor Michael Reiss, and Christian Education Europe‘s Arthur Roderick.

Read the rest of this entry