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.
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
Eagle-eyed readers of Leaving Fundamentalism will have noticed there hasn’t been a new post in a while. I’m moving, and I haven’t had time to write anything.
Instead, please read this Washington Post article, recommended to me by regular reader and commenter Deb. It’s about Josh Powell, who wanted to go to school, but whose parents wouldn’t let him. They felt it was God’s will for him to be homeschooled; Josh didn’t share their convictions. The state of Virginia didn’t listen to Josh’s protests.
The article helps to bring into focus many of the debates we’ve had on the blog about parents rights vs. children’s rights.
Josh Powell wanted to go to school so badly that he pleaded with local officials to let him enroll. He didn’t know exactly what students were learning at Buckingham County High School, in rural central Virginia, but he had the sense that he was missing something fundamental.
By the time he was 16, he had never written an essay. He didn’t know South Africa was a country. He couldn’t solve basic algebra problems.
Apologies to everyone who is waiting to have comments approved; I hope to resume normal business soon.
Accelerated Christian Education has two main rivals: A Beka and BJU. These companies are, if anything, even worse than ACE.
As we discussed previously, schools using A Beka and BJU textbooks as college preparation were rejected by the University of California. These schools lost their subsequent lawsuit against UC, because what they teach is bollocks. So what do they teach?
Two authors have undertaken the thankless task of ploughing through the textbooks to find out: Albert Menendez, in Visions of Reality, and Frances Paterson, author of Democracy and Intolerance. These two books are twenty and ten years old respectively, but the similarities in content are so striking (and fundamentalism so resistant to change) that there isn’t much reason to suppose the content of the textbooks would be vastly different now. ACE certainly hasn’t changed significantly in the last 15 years.
What we learn from these books is, well, what you’d expect really: Non-Christians (a category which includes Catholics) are evil, extreme laissez-faire economics are the only system sanctioned by God, history has simply been the fulfilment of God’s will, and it’s the job of good children to obey before growing up to establish a thoroughly Christian (ie dominionist, theocratic) society. Read the rest of this entry
For some time I’ve been concerned that this blog has focused on ACE while ignoring all the other types of fundamentalist education out there. In this post, Samantha explains her experience with ACE’s competitor A Beka, and how it has affected her since.
We were going to be driving to Michigan the day after Christmas, heading in to the last few weeks before our wedding in Ann Arbor. Standing in the middle of the Barnes & Noble, we pondered our options. We wanted an audiobook for the road, but a non-abridged Hobbit wasn’t available, and neither of us were particularly interested in Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or Lee Child. I spotted Team of Rivals, and suggested it as an option. My fiancé shook his head, so we moved on– and eventually left the store empty handed.
A week later, during our road trip and I had been fruitlessly searching for a decent radio station for what felt like an eternity, I threw out a moderately acerbic comment about wishing we’d gotten Team of Rivals. The sound he made – well, it can only be described as a snort of derision.
“I’m not really interested in listening to a 10-hour Lincoln love fest.”
“C’mon– the man suspended habeas corpus.”
My jaw dropped. “He what?” I stared at him blankly. Since he was driving and (very properly) paying attention to the road, he missed my palpable shock. I’d never heard of this. The thought of Lincoln doing something that was anything less than perfectly noble and wonderful and full of unicorns and puppy dogs and rainbows and butterflies … it was a foreign concept.
I don’t know if you’ve seen Homeschoolers Anonymous, but you should. The first generation of the American home school movement has grown up, and a lot of them now say they were abused. They are now speaking out, and it’s causing quite a stir.
I decided to stick my oar in, and my guest post for HA is now online:
What followed was probably the worst type of home education imaginable. ACE is “teacherless”, at least in theory. The student just completes the workbooks individually. So my parents left me to get on with my work and went out. I couldn’t face it. The second they went out, I was on the internet. This was in the days before high-speed connections, and even before unlimited internet access. I ran up an bill of £500 ($750) in one month, desperately looking for anything to do except PACEs. My Dad made me pay the bill, but it didn’t change the fact that I would do anything to avoid those PACEs.
Having avoided work all day, I couldn’t socialise in the evenings. I spent a summer in solitary confinement, avoiding PACEs during the day and completing PACEs in the evening. Then when I should have been asleep, I wrote diary entries about how I wished I was dead but didn’t know how to kill myself.
Continue the cheeriness at Homeschoolers Anonymous.
By far the strongest claim ACE can make is that their students can work at their own speed. It was this aspect of the curriculum which appealed to me and my parents and ultimately led to my attending an ACE school for over three years.
It sounds fantastic. If you’re bright, you never have to be frustrated by waiting for the rest of the class to catch up, and if you have special educational needs, you don’t have to struggle. Perfect. Even the Guardian’s Natasha Walter, in a generally damning article on ACE, writes, “What is undeniably attractive about this curriculum – even for the sceptical observer – is the way that it moves at the same pace as the child. With ACE, children are assessed on entry and progress at their own speed, working through booklets and doing the tests at the end of each one before they can move on to the next.”
There’s only one problem: It isn’t true.