Blog Archives

Christians can’t trust psychology: Inside the world of A Beka

This is a guest post by Athena. Athena was educated using A Beka Book and attended Pensacola Christian College. This is an inside view of the atmosphere, education, and attitudes A Beka and PCC, two of the biggest names in fundamentalist education.

Starting from kindergarten onward, I was homeschooled, and while my family used a smattering of textbooks from all types of publishers, we heavily relied on A Beka Book distributed by Pensacola Christian College (PCC). I grew up within a few hours of their college campus, so when it came time for me to choose a college, I chose PCC (from an incredibly narrow field of options that only included three other schools, all more fundamentalist than PCC). I come from a religious environment called Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull, so even going to college, as a woman, was a huge risk. Because of that, my choices as far as profession were extremely limited– I was not permitted to chose anything career-oriented, or that would remove me from my place as a “keeper at home.” This led me to becoming a Secondary Education major, with teaching concentrations in English and music.

There are already many critiques of the Orwellian atmosphere at PCC, but as far as I can tell (and I’ve gone digging) there is nothing except glowing praise for the education program (early childhood, elementary, and secondary) at PCC. During my last semester, I was required with the other seniors to attend a “job fair.” The only employers who showed up were Christian schools from all over the country; there is also a list you can put your name on for Christian schools to contact you. When I was with a friend who was being interviewed to teach at a Christian high school, the principal said that they try to only hire PCC graduates because of their “caliber.” In the Christian high school world, Pensacola Christian graduates are viewed as one of the best– if not the best– option available for new hires. Read the rest of this entry

The textbooks that lost a lawsuit

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 IntoleranceThese 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

Fun with fundy textbooks

I occasionally get an email from a homeschooling parent, saying something like, “We were going to use ACE for our children, but now we’ve seen your blog, we definitely won’t!” Emails like this are enormously gratifying. There have only been three or four, but they make the whole blog worthwhile.

But sometimes I wonder what these parents are going to use instead. Occasionally I’ve also had a smug parent using A Beka, ACE’s main rival, comment something like, this ACE stuff is ridiculous! We use A Beka. It’s much better. 

So let me say this clearly: If you’ve been reading this blog and feeling smug that you use A Beka and/or BJU materials, stop. They are at least as bad as ACE.

There are a bunch of fundamentalist textbook publishers: A Beka, Bob Jones University Press (BJU), AlphaOmega Lifepacs (which are essentially PACEs by another name, as far as I can tell). And everything I read about them is hideous. The only reasons I haven’t mentioned them before are that I don’t have firsthand experience, and their use is rare in the UK.

In 2005, some Christian schools filed a lawsuit against the University of California. UC had refused to allow certain Christian school courses as college preparation. The courses in question used textbooks by A Beka and BJU. The Christian schools lost. According to the great and noble scholarly source Wikipedia, the judge found that the books are “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” Frankly, every University should follow UC’s lead. It is unbelievable that in some US states, ACE, A Beka, and BJU schools are eligible for state funding through voucher programmes.  Read the rest of this entry

Relearning everything you know

Samantha Field is one of my favourite bloggers. You might remember my contribution to her blog, Defeating the Dragons, and now she is returning the favour because of her awesomeness.

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.”

“Why not?”

“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.

Read the rest of this entry