In defence of ACE

In defence of ACE April 18, 2013

I’m in two minds about posting this. I feel that giving a platform to defenders of Accelerated Christian Education is like the BBC giving a platform to climate change deniers: It gives the impression that there is some debate, and I don’t think there is.

But, unlike ACE, I am confident enough in my position to let you read the words of people who disagree with me. ACE always censored the information I was allowed to read, and that’s why I have the policy almost never to censor comments on this blog.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the people who are against ACE are almost all former students, while the people who have come out to defend it have mostly been parents and teachers.

OK, I’ll make you a deal: You can read these as long as you also read the three ACE survivor stories immediately below.

Rob Karl

I am 35, a successful physician, an entrepreneur, a teacher, and, I’d like to think, a creative yet critical thinker. I went K-12 to an ACE School. My father and mother were university professors at Indiana University and both started and administrated the school that I attended. Our teachers were loving people, many of which had children in the school. I graduated from high school at the age of 14, local secular community college at the age of 16 and Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) at the age of 18. I graduated medical school, residency and began practice in 2001.

At no time did I ever feel disadvantaged in my secular higher learning. I had no problem with critical thinking, nor did I have difficulty with creativity. Are all stories from an ACE school like mine? Absolutely not, but neither are the stories from my wife’s public high school nor my business partner’s prep school.

You have implied(and I think mentioned outright) that the “majority opinion” of the academic community indicates ACE is a poor curriculum. However, as a learned person, you know that the 10 references you list could hardly count as a “majority opinion” in education when there are literally hundreds of thousands of people in the world who specialize in education.

[I normally don’t editorialise guest posts, but I must step in here. It’s true the “majority opinion” of academics is not explicitly against ACE, because the majority have never heard of ACE. But it’s also true to say that the majority reject programmed learning, Skinnerian behaviorism, and individualisation as pedagogy. Those opinions are rooted in empirical data such as John Hattie’s massive studies. Where academics have looked at ACE directly, they have been damning.]

Besides, individualized learning is VERY VERY different from the typical practices in the educational world, and it absolutely unequivocally threatens the future of hundreds of thousands of educators in the world with the information age that we have come into.

I would also remind you that, especially in education, most would agree that developers of curriculum always have a bias. ALWAYS. There is no way around that. No curriculum can possibly be TRUE to all people, because in our society truth is very relative to the philosophy that you choose to ascribe to. So the only curriculum an individual will find to be TRUE will be one with which they have a shared bias.

A great example is to look at country bias of the cause of wars, or a partisan bias for the reasons for election outcomes. Even scientists can’t agree on why things happen sometimes. Is truth defined as whatever the majority believe that the evidence shows? Even though some think enough evidence can help one to be certain about something beyond a shadow of a doubt, we discover later that they were wrong. I don’t know that I philosophically believe that “evidence”-based conclusions are always the correct ones.

If you are not a person who believes in the BIAS that is taught in ACE, fine. That isn’t for you and I regret for you that anyone in your life subjected you to it. I think your campaign might well as be waged toward those people instead of towards a curriculum that was developed 30 years ago.

I would point out that written words on page do not suppress your free speech nor do they punish you for expressing the wrong ideas. Unfortunately, only actual real live people to that.

Most won’t think to have “opposing ideas” to an idea that is read in a curriculum until university. If they do, I would think no matter what school one went to, most of the formation of the “opposing ideas” are done outside of school.

I regret your bad experience with people, but do NOT maintain that ACE has a perfect curriculum. I do think that it was the best curriculum for me, and I have been quit successful as a result of it. I know many others who would say the same thing.

As a side note about your comment policy, hopefully I have amazed you with something genuinely new that I have said, but perhaps you have it all figured out already. ;)

John E Russell

You have me puzzled. I was a principal in 4 different ACE schools and I taught Christian Philosophy of Education on a college level. I, too thought ACE was an inferior system until I became involved in it. Both of our children are graduates of ACE and excelled professionally in lives. Their personal lives are also successful. Concerning the facts: McGraw-Hill tested our students 1980(?) and found that at the end of their freshman year, they tested 12.6. They had the equivalent of a high school education! ACE students also had character training. The curriculum was totally redesigned, based on Judeo-Christian values rather than Secular Humanism values. It has a mastery approach and students are not allowed to progress unless they master the material. There is no social promotion to the next level.

Joe

I have interacted with at least 10 children who have either gone through or are currently going through the ACE system and I consider them better educated than those who have undergone other systems of education. The fact is that there is no education system which is perfect. ACE in my opinion is an attempt to obey the Bible where the responsibility of teaching a child in the way s/he should go is laid on the parents more than it is to the teachers. It affords the parent that serious role and opportunity to take his/her rightful place in ensuring that the child is grounded in Godly principles-and what would be a better way than through education in the formative ages of the children?

Secondly,most systems have “learning gaps” where a child continues going through other topics even when the previous ones are not properly understood. This does not happen in ACE which is a big plus.

There is an implied wrong notion that the system is likely to produce hermits which is very far from the truth-All of the mentioned 10 children are greatly sociable,confident(an 8 year old was very confident to present to a congregation of 50 adults) and extremely creative. One boy enrolled for International Computer Driving Licence classes at an ordinary college(by the way,ICDL is part of the compulsory courses towards the end of the system) and no other student from the mainstream schools could beat him-Infact,he ended up being appointed by the tutor as a coach to the rest of the students)

I am sorry to say that the system is predicated on Godliness,Christianity and the Bible all of which are not popular so it is no wonder that the it is receiving such barbs and bashes!!

The truth is I am enrolling my daughter into the system as soon as she is ready and I encourage those who would care to listen to go right ahead!!May not be perfect but certainly is the best option given the highly secularized alternative options out there!!

Diana

I, too, grew up in A.C.E. My parents started a school in the Philippines because they wanted their children to have a Christian education, and this was that only thing that was available then. We moved to the States when I was 12, and we also ended up in an A.C.E. school. I graduated when I was 17, and went to a university and earned my B.S.in Elementary Education with a 3.45 GPA after 3 1/2 years in college. I did have to adjust to a classroom type environment, but it was not big deal. Then, I decided to pursue a nursing degree, and got a BSN after two years. I must say that I learned a lot from my elementary and high school years and had no problem getting into college. In fact, I got invitations from IV League schools as my A.C.T. scores were high enough. I am currently working as a nurse and homeschooling my two kids. So how did someone from an A.C.E school end up? i think I did just fine, thank you!

Wyatt Desormeaux (awesome name! Wyatt has mixed feelings about ACE, as we’ll see)

Greetings. I’ll have to say that my experiences differ greatly from the authors above. I was a student in the A.C.E. System and graduated High School at 14 years of age. There were deficiencies in the curriculum (The student writes one book report thier entire High-School career I kid you not and don’t even think of understanding anything beyond a basic 1940′s high school knowledge of biology). All in all however, the ability to work on your own and to focus on goals taught great lessions. I am a Ph.D. Mathematician today.

Any one sending their kid through such a program needs to realize that the Mathematics education is quite good, Sadly some of this is dependant on the quality of the teachers who often don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, but a well-motivated student will find the material very well written and presented. The Science education sucks. Teach your kid Biology on your own and unless you are lucky, no ACE school will have a teacher who knows a damn about physics.

The history education is quite good (albeit from a somewhat extreme conservative view) but if you want your kid to have an education in history from a liberal point of view, FORGET IT! I was truly convinced that Susan B. Anthony was the devil incarnate after my Pace on feminism.

English education was very very poor, the paces stress perfect grammer and punctutation, but there are very few writing assignments I can remember and only one major report required.

In summary, if you send your kid through this program and they are well-motivated they will suceed. You will need to supplement their education a bit in some areas. All in all with an involved parrent I think it is a good option.

As for abuse, I went to four different ACE schools. Some had kind and generous teachers, but a few had a cadre of self-absorbed narcissists ready to bring weapons grade Jesus into every conversation and crush any independant thought they find. As in any school, as a parent, watch your kids closely and find out what is going on. This kind of crap is not unique to Christian schools. Did paddling occur? Yes!! Was it severe? for the most part love taps. ACE manuals at the time limited the number of strokes to six. There is one exception to this. We did have one principal at our school who loved to beat the shit out of kids for no reason. HE was a recovering/practising alcoholic who just found Jesus and the school thought it would be really neat to make him principal. After six months of this shit, the male students literally assaulted him. I was young at the time, but the high school kids dragged him out of his office and beat him with his own paddle till he was quivering like a baby and begging them to stop. He wanted the boys JAILED!! But after the church discovered the severity of his abuse and parents threatened to sue, he left in disgrace. Later heard he still suffered lawsuits and was destitute in the end.

In closing, I think it all depends on the school. I am not doubting the horror that many experiencd in some schools. Indeed, there are jackasses everywhere in education not just in Christian school. Sadly the power over little kids these folks have goes to their head. Combine that with the religious angle and they can be a literal terror. All in all though My experience was positive.

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