“It’s the crapness!” yelled my mother, who almost never says anything more offensive than ‘oh blow’.
In hindsight, leaving three boxes of Packets of Accelerated Christian Education (PACEs) at her house was perhaps not the kindest thing I could have done.
“It’s a bubble!” she continued, warming to her rant. “It’s stuck in a 1950s timewarp and it’s all so twee. Do you know what I read in a science PACE earlier? There was a lesson about the first heart transplant, and then it said have you had your heart transplanted by Jesus?”
Seeing my mum rant about ACE might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen; if I could capture her on a podcast I’d blast the Pod Delusion into next week. But she’s got a point. What is staggering about ACE is not the creationism or the conservatism – everyone knows fundamentalists believe that. It’s the fact that it’s just so obviously rubbish, and yet, in the UK at least, school inspectors seem to let this pass without comment.
The most obvious way ACE is crap is in its multiple choice questions (of which there are thousands). Here, for your general amusement, are some I found yesterday. I make no claim that these are the best (or worst) of it. They’re just a few I dug up in a cursory jaunt through the PACEs I have. I could go on much, much longer.
This is what happens when you leave education to people for whom religious conversion is everything and learning is a distant afterthought.
ACE students work through the PACEs at their own speed, so theoretically these questions could be for any age. Still, I’ve marked these with the grade and age that ACE thinks the average student will be. Prepare to utter the words for fuck’s sake! more than you ever have before.
There are only four grades represented here. That’s not because they are especially bad, just because I had them to hand.
4th grade (9-10 years old)
But no special women, obviously.
They’re particularly strong when it comes to people…
Two. Dry. Ducks.
There’s a bloody picture!
ACE never uses female pronouns in PACEs. Everyone is male… until they start talking about homemakers.
9th grade (14-15 years old)
The title is actually On the Origin of Species…
From a history PACE on the discovery and colonisation of America:
Ah, the old Darwin-caused-Hitler implication again.
12th grade (17-18 years old)
Um, I might have been getting a bit irritated by the time I got to that last one.
I found plenty more 12th grade questions with no plausible distractors, but none of them made me laugh. Stuff like this:
Mind you, by this point, it’s all starting to seem less funny.
Think this doesn’t affect you?
In the United Kingdom, UK NARIC has deemed qualifications based on ACE to be comparable to A-level. Ofsted routinely whitewashes ACE schools in reports, and ACE nurseries teaching creationism receive government funding.
In New Zealand, ACE qualifications are accepted for university entrance.
In South Africa, based on HESA’s recommendation, a number of universities have signed up to accept ACE graduates.
ACE says its curriculum is used in 192 countries and 6000 schools worldwide. This is happening nearer than you think.
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.
Lists of ACE badness:
- Top 5 lies taught by Accelerated Christian Education
- 5 even worse lies from Accelerated Christian Education
- Top 3 ACE survivor stories