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.
One good thing you can say for fundamentalist education (now there’s a phrase I don’t use often) is that, in general, parents are very supportive of the schools. Statistically, this correlates well with academic success, and might go some way to explaining why some students from fundamentalist schools go on to excel academically, despite their deficient early education. It’s also good for kids to be part of a community that’s mutually supportive.
There you go, my first ever pro-fundamentalist education paragraph. Please don’t stop following my blog.
Occasionally, I hear from parents who are going through a divorce or a custody battle, and one parent is fighting the other for the right to put children through ACE. That’s a heartbreaking situation. Here is Cait McKnelly, who has bravely shared her experiences with us.
Last week, I finally got my hands on something I’ve been trying to get for more than ten years. This.
Yes, that’s a picture of a kid being bent over a chair so he can be beaten. This picture is from page 118 of the School of Tomorrow Procedures Manual (part 1, 1998 revision). That’s the guide that all Accelerated Christian Education schools are required to follow in running their schools. I was 13 the first time I saw this picture, and I found it shocking even though, as a good Bible-believing Christian, I knew it was God’s will for children to be spanked.
Critics of my blog often tell me that I am wrong to highlight instances of child abuse in ACE schools. “Child abuse happens in all kinds of schools”, they tell me. “You’re just trying to smear ACE”.
To those critics I say: Look at this picture, and then tell me that. Yes, child abuse happens in all kinds of places. But most of those places don’t consider it to be one of their main selling points.
In 2001, the BBC reported that the British parents of one ACE homeschooler had been convicted for child cruelty.
“The jury had heard that the youngster, now 15, was made to live under a strict regime which included fasting to cleanse his body and regular punishment for failing to carry out chores.
“The court heard that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was made to kill his pet chickens and stand outside for hours in freezing weather with no socks on.
“They had taught the youngster at home since he was 10 under the “Accelerated Christian Education” system and he had experienced little contact with the outside world.”
The biggest concern with all fundamentalist schools is their propensity for physical abuse of children. While I’m sure even my old educators would condemn this level of abuse, in reality, the difference is not that great. This is just the extreme conclusion of a theology that believes children are evil by nature, and that physical punishment is the solution.
In 1999, spanking was banned in British private schools. Does that mean that no spanking is occurring today? There is reason to suspect it may be. Read the rest of this entry