A popular curriculum used by home-schooled students has drawn criticism for inaccurate, misleading information and an over-reliance on rote memorization, but those aspects may not be the worst things about it.
A lot of the material that children are exposed to in the Accelerated Christian Education is just astonishingly stupid, according to a former Christian fundamentalist.
Blogger Jonny Scarmanga shared some of the multiple-choice questions he found in some ACE packets used by British home-school students Monday on the blog, Leaving Fundamentalism.
In one question aimed at 9- or 10-year-old fourth-graders, students are given this example: “Children played happily in the water spout.” They are then asked to define a water spout from three examples: “a stream of water,” “two dry ducks” or “playground.”
Another example shows that “Elisabeth Howard sat and listened carefully.” Students are then challenged to identify whether Elisabeth Howard is “a kind of airplane” or “a missionary.”
Still another question asks 12- or 13-year-old seventh-graders to identify whether sports coaches, piano tuners or librarians “can touch the lives of their students.”
If that sounds like a trick question, that’s because it is.
“The correct answer, for those puzzled, is piano tutors,” Scaramanga writes. “It’s not that ACE doesn’t believe that sports coaches or librarians can touch students’ lives. The point is that the exact sentence, ‘Piano tutors can touch the lives of their students,’ has previously appeared in (an ACE packet), and the student is expected to remember this. Verbatim regurgitation of previously seen material is the entire point of the ACE system.”
The ACE curriculum relies on thousands of these multiple-choice questions to imprint the materials in students’ memories.
The curriculum designates which materials are intended for average students of particular age and grade levels, but ACE students work through the packets at their own speed — so some material could be presented to students who are older than what’s suggested.
For example, one question asks 14- or 15-year-old ninth graders to identify whether the Bible teaches that God or man is “the Creator of the universe and the center of all things.”
The ACE curriculum is accredited by the Middle States Associations on Elementary and Secondary Schools and by government-funded voucher programs in 11 states.
In the past, the curriculum has drawn criticism and scorn for teaching that the existence of the Loch Ness monster disproves evolution and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs.
The materials also include a strong conservative political bias that suggests God’s own views are right-wing, while liberals are villainous, and students are taught that government programs should not be used to meet needs that can’t be filled by family members or churches.
But those biases and falsehoods pale in comparison to a stupefying curriculum that expects to engage 10-year-olds by asking them whether an envelope is “a letter holder” or “donkey supplies.”
The curriculum has also drawn criticism for its exclusion of literature, but ACE lessons on the topic are hardly sophisticated.
One question asks 17- or 18-year-old 12th graders to identify the main characters in Macbeth from among these choices: “three weird sisters,” “Malcolm or Donalbain,” “Shakespeare and the groundlings,” or “Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.”
Another asks those same 12th graders to identify who Macbeth was probably written to honor — Macbeth, Shakespeare, James I or “God whose ancestors came from Scotland.”
“ACE says its curriculum is used in 192 countries and 6000 schools worldwide. This is happening nearer than you think,” Scaramanga said. “All this means that parents are more likely to choose this academically third-rate and theologically fourth-rate education for their children. This has got to stop.”
[Image: Little girl home school via Shutterstock]