I have a permanent running offer out to anyone who can offer a defence of Accelerated Christian Education: Submit it here, and I will post it on the blog. Well, the following comment got left recently in response to A Collection of ACE Survivor Stories, and I think it’s the best defence of ACE I’ve seen. I profoundly disagree with it, of course, but I am on holiday and don’t have time to explain why at the moment. So, readers, if you disagree, here’s your chance to respond: Leave your counterargument as a comment, and I’ll pick the best one on my return.
After reading through most of the anti/pro comments above, I was compelled to respond with my own ACE experience, and also to address some of the comments made. I have quite a bit I’ve been thinking about, but I’ll condense it as best I can.
I came across this website while searching for an ACE school for my child to attend. She currently attends one I am quite happy with, but I am relocating so I am looking for another. I also attended and graduated from the same ACE school she is attending now.
From the comments I have read above, it appears to me that some of the writers have had some serious problems since high school. Is it possible that they are now looking back on their life now, looking to figure out where it all went wrong? I think this is possible. It also appears that some of the writers may have had bad experiences at individual schools, and I believe them. Bad people do bad things wherever they are, whether that is in a public, a Catholic, or an ACE school. This is not an indictment of any particular system unless there is a clear indication of systemic abuse, and I do not believe this is the case with ACE.
What are the negative commentators here comparing ACE to? I live in the U.S., and the public education system here is sub par. Polls vary, but not one that I have seen has the U.S. anywhere near the top. PISA in 2012 ranked U.S. at 36th in the world and UK came in at 26th. Many people here have commented about the lack of critical thinking in the ACE curriculum. I guess that they are assuming that other private and public schools are full of critical thinking, well read, open minded students? This has certainly not been my experience at all. Quite the contrary.
After graduating from my ACE school, at the top of my (3 person!) class, I was offered academic scholarships at a few different universities based on my grades, rank and also high ACT scores. I started on my chosen major, but halfway through I realized I didn’t like that major, and switched into the biology program. Most people in this major were pre-med students. Almost all of them had had very good high school careers, and most had taken AP classes in high school. Hardly any of them displayed what I would call high level problem solving skills or much “critical thinking” at all. I graduated with high honors, and at number one in this class (although not official, since I hadn’t started with the original class). When finished I still wasn’t sure what path I would follow, but I took the MCAT exam to open that door. My advisor called me in the summer to tell me I had the highest score of the class. He advised that I consider a medical career, and I did. I am now a successfully practicing doctor. Not one other person in that pre-med class of 40 to 50 students went on to medical school. I am not writing this to brag about myself (no one here even would know who I am anyway!), but to illustrate that my story is not the only one like this. From my same school came graduates who are engineers, run their own businesses, or teach. The majority of students are employed in blue collar professions, and some are homemakers. And some are not doing well at all. There is at least one girl I went to school with who is homeless, and several others have struggled to make their way through life.
This brings me to the most important point, and that is that ANY school is simply a microcosm of the society it resides in. ACE schools are no different. Re-title this website something like “Leaving Chicago Public Schools” and I guarantee that you would receive ten times more stories about kids being left behind in curriculum or who did not feel adequately prepared for college, stories of physically or sexually abusive teachers, or stories of being harassed and bullied by other students. These scenarios are problems in ALL schools. Within my school we had some highly motivated people who excelled at the curriculum and went on to very successful careers. Some struggled with the curriculum, and did not attend college. It is possible that a different style of learning may have benefited these students. I am well aware that in a self motivating, work at your own pace system, certain students lacking motivation can definitely fall behind. This could be a fault of the curriculum, but it could also be a consequence of external situations the student may be in. One misconception I believe that people have about education in general is that it is all done in schools. Family life, and the experiences passed on from parent to child are also quite a large part of any education experience. Almost without exception, the students who did not have a quality home life in my school did not do well. This is also true in public schools. If you have parents who are not making a child attend school, preventing truancy, or who are incapable of helping children with homework, or who can not at the very least pass on valuable life skills to their children, we cannot as a society expect schools to pick up all the slack. Education starts at home.
I am not promoting ACE as the cure for all that ails you. But my experience was positive, and my child’s experience has been positive. I do see the flaws in the curriculum, but i suspect that all curriculums have flaws. Maybe this is because human beings are not made in cookie cutter fashion, but each are unique individuals.
One final thing I will address is the complaint that some here have been forced to think a certain way. No one can force you to accept an idea. They may tell you what the “right” answer is on a test, or what doctrine is “correct”, or they may enforce a certain standard of conduct expected of the students. But no person can actually control or change a thought or idea that you have in your head. The ultimate choice of what you believe in lies solely with you, and you have complete freedom to think what you will. Now, you may not be able to freely express those ideas while you are part of a certain organization. While in college, there were some topics in religion, politics or ethics that I did not agree with the teachers on. They presented their ideas, I examined them, and i either rejected or accepted them. I took the tests, I answered the questions, and I moved on with my life. Fortunately, we live in a country where we are free to practice our religion, or to not practice one at all. What you choose is your choice and yours alone. Thank you for running this website and I wish all of you the best that life has to offer.
More people defending ACE: