Blog Archives

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)

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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.

My meaningless diploma

I am proud to present this post by Anaïs Chartschenko. If you are likely to be triggered, be warned that this piece refers to rape.

Anaïs Chartschenko

Anaïs Chartschenko

Every time I apply for a job I have a pang of fear. Some jobs want to check your references. I am not afraid because I have a criminal history. I am afraid because my whole high school experience was a fraud. You see, I was home schooled. At first, I had big, thick text books with spines that smelled nice. I didn’t mind this as much, even though I was mostly left to my own devices to do my school work. I wanted to be smart. Discipline was not an issue. I wanted to go to college. I now see my naivety. I should have paid more attention when church members kindly informed me that college wasn’t for me or that god had other plans…

Before long, my mother had switched the whole curriculum up. I now was to do ACE which came in shockingly simplistic booklets, called PACEs. I was told it was much better, and I could work at my own pace. PACEs, get it? So for three years I stared at the PACEs, carefully filling in bubbles with my number two pencil. I can’t explain the boredom. I can’t explain the anger I felt with every depiction of a submissive woman making dinner. The curriculum featured multiple choice questions with only one right answer. There was no critical thinking involved.  Read the rest of this entry

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

Bad Education

Those of you who are interested in my writing on education (nothing to do with religion, for once) might like a post I have written for Kylie Sturgess’s Token Skeptic. In it, I intemperately criticise Ben Goldacre’s advocacy of randomised controlled trials in education:

Ben Goldacre is a bit of a hero to me. Like a lot of people, I discovered Bad Science and skepticism at the same time and found something I wanted to be part of. But now Dr. Goldacre has stepped into my field – education – and, frankly, he’s made a total balls-up of it.

Since Ben Goldacre is perhaps Britain’s foremost scientific skeptic – a movement of which I consider myself a part – this may be an exercise in shooting myself in the foot.

Check it out here.

More ACE survivor stories

Tomorrow, I will be posting my last blog about ACE for the foreseeable future. I’ll explain why in that post. I will still be accepting guest posts on the subject.

Now seems like a good time to wrap this up with a few more ACE survivor stories submitted as comments on the blog. Immediately after this I’ll post a compilation of comments in favour of ACE.

Jennifer Hoy

My mother enrolled me into an ACE school in 6th grade. At first I liked it but as I got older I began to see how ridiculous the PACE system was. The paces were so outdated. Everything we were learning was supposedly through the Biblical perspective. We had to wear uniforms. The girls could only wear skirts or gouchos. No pants! The teachers were just members of the church. No formal training. Reading some of the other posts I have to agree that this type of set up was very isolating. The only good thing I can say is that it taught me to work well on my own. I graduated Valedictorian in 1989. I did not go to college. I was afraid to try because I thought they would laugh at my diploma! I am 42 and am still learning things that I should have learned in high school. I feel that I was robbed of my youth and education. I feel I could have been so much more in life. The school and all of it’s forced beliefs have affected me in so many ways. I am still a Christian but my views of what that really means has changed. I would never send my kids to this type of school. These schools are a waste of time.

James M.

Hi Jonny.

Just discovered your site today. I attended ACE schools in the US off and on from Kindergarten through 7th grade. The experience was, as you say, horrendous, and as an educational system, utterly worthless. I just wanted to add that in the schools I attended, the “office” model was not just used in the mornings, but was an all day long experience. There was no relief from this stifling arrangement save for a few 10-15 minute long breaks and the lunch hour. Occasionally, the “supervisor” would address the group, and we would turn around in our chairs to listen, but that was the only social interaction allowed while in the learning center. I’m curious as to what other kinds of work were allowed in your ACE experience.

I could go on for days about the horrors of ACE, but I’ll stop here. Thanks for this blog. I’m sorry you had to endure the nightmare that is ACE, but it’s comforting to know there are others out there who understand the abuse I endured under this asinine system.

Christopher (this one is longer but worth the read. It’s one of the most powerful survivor stories we’ve had. Trigger warning: sexual abuse)

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Five jobs a Creationist can’t do

This blog is littered with absurdities from Accelerated Christian Education, some of them involving mythical beasts or the denial of basic physics. But does it matter how old the world is? On a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t make much practical difference how long you think our planet has existed. Why not let Creationists teach whatever they want?

If there are grounds for regulating what gets taught in private schools, it must be because of substantive harm to students. I argue that ACE causes this kind of harm. It limits children’s future, because if they do what ACE says, huge areas of study are closed off to them. In fact, this post would be better (but less catchily) titled:

Five subjects a Creationist can’t study

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The Benefits and the Workings of ACE

This is a guest post. Another advocate of Accelerated Christian Education has come forward to give her reasons for using the curriculum. Monica does a great job explaining herself, so I’ll give you no introduction. Please read it and let me (and Monica) know what you think.

I am writing this as a person with over 20 years’ experience of working in Christian Schools and home education with ACE as a Supervisor (teacher) for a range of ages from 4-18 years. My degree was in Chemistry and Biochemistry so I have taught practical science in schools as well as the ACE Curriculum. I also had the privilege of spending two years as an inspector (not Ofsted) for ACE Schools as commissioned by Christian Education Europe, UK who provide the curriculum.

My two main aims in writing this are to clarify the use and aims of the ACE curriculum in ACE Schools in the UK and also to make it clear that every curriculum has underlying beliefs and values.

In fact, some years ago, I wrote an article which I published in a leaflet called, ‘Education is Not Neutral’. The idea that education consists of a curriculum package containing a body of knowledge which is passed on to pupils in a sterile environment is truly false. Every curriculum has an underlying worldview whether it is religious or atheistic. The Jews, the Moslems, Christians and atheists all want to pass on the beliefs and values of their particular worldview to the next generation. Read the rest of this entry

Why don’t we just ban fundamentalist schools?

For a while now, I’ve been wondering if programmes like Accelerated Christian Education should just be illegal. I think I’ve done enough to establish that it’s harmful. So far we’ve had:

And that’s just for starters. And without getting into the physical and emotional abuse which has occurred in so many of the schools, which is not just a coincidence.

So it’s bad. But not everything bad is illegal. Freedom of expression; the right of parents to choose their child’s education; religious tolerance – these values are crucial to the pluralist democracies we hold dear. And just because people of generally liberal (ish) persuasion rule our country now doesn’t mean they always will. If an explicitly religious party came to power, wouldn’t liberals want that party to allow their children a secular education?  Read the rest of this entry

Vlog: The case for Accelerated Christian Education

I am constantly inviting guest posts on this blog. I particularly want to hear someone defend ACE against my criticisms. Finally someone has… The eleven-year-old me. And a stegosaurus.

Watch and learn.

By the way, do you guys like the vlogs? They’re a lot more time-consuming to make than blog posts, so you’d better watch ’em!

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