This week, a woman who works in an ACE school in Canada joined the Facebook group Accelerated Christian Education Exposed (which you’re welcome to join). To her credit, she was genuinely interested to learn why the group’s members dislike ACE. Less to her credit, this was because she could not fathom anyone not loving ACE. The group is public, so I’ll use her real name, Cindy.
The thread she started ended up with more than 100 posts, with dozens of ex-ACE students explaining why they felt their schooling had harmed them. Cindy had some roadblocks to understanding, in that she was either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility that the Bible might not be the one inerrant manual for modern life. At one point she demanded of someone “Are you saying the Bible is wrong?”. So long as you’re unable to understand why someone might not accept the Bible as literal truth in all areas, you’re unlikely to take seriously many of the group members’ objections.
I’d show you the thread, but yesterday evening, Cindy deleted her original post, taking every one of the group’s replies with it. The whole thing irretrievably gone. I was not happy, and nor were the people who collectively had spent hours responding to the thread, sharing their experiences.
ANYWAY, Cindy had noticed from the other posts that a major objection to ACE is that much of content is inaccurate. She said that she only taught grades 1-6, but everything she had seen in these grades was entirely accurate.
At this point, it becomes clear that Cindy and I may be operating with different definitions of “accurate”, because if you go to ChristianBook.com and look at the previews for the Science PACEs, you can look at the contents pages for each of them. The contents page begins “My Goals”. Here’s a selection:
First grade Science
PACE 1: “To learn what God made on day one.”
PACE 2: “To learn what God made on day two. To learn what God made on day three.”
PACE 3: “To learn what God made on day three.” (Perhaps the authors weren’t confident they’d done a good job on PACE 2)
And so on it goes. There are only 6 days of Creation, and there are 12 PACEs, so you’d think by the end of the grade they’d have moved on. You’d be right, but then we get to second grade, where students do this:
On it goes, up through the grades: Third grade science begins with learning what God made on days one, two, and three. Of course, Cindy wouldn’t accept that any of this is ‘inaccurate’ because Cindy isn’t prepared to consider that the Bible isn’t ‘true’, by which she means scientifically and historically accurate.
Even if we call this information ‘correct’, however, and even if we assume that the primary purpose of education is to to recall banks of information (rather than, say, learning to be creative, solve problems, work with other people, or to think critically), I still struggle to fathom how anyone can look at the above pages and think this is good education. The above examples are typical of any PACE, regardless of grade: fill-in-the-blank, page after page, subject after subject. Even if you think school is just about assimilating a body of knowledge, it’s such a boring way to go about it.
Also, look at the multiple choice options:
Heavenly bodies are the sun, moon, and [also, both, stars].
God made rivers and lakes of [water, work, wear].
We’ve seen before how PACE multiple choice options are often laughably bad, but these questions in a science book aren’t actually measuring scientific learning. Because the incorrect options are not plausible answers, it’s only a test of reading comprehension. A student’s ability to fill these in correctly tells us very little about their scientific understanding. And it gets worse: All of these sentences appear in full on the previous page, so the student actually just has to copy the missing word across. That doesn’t even prove the student knows what the word means. I’ll prove that to you now.
Sentence: Kaip tau sekasi?
Complete the sentence by putting the missing word on the blank:
Kaip tau ______?
Did you put ‘sekasi’ on the blank? Congratulations! You got the right answer. Unless you speak Lithuanian, however, I doubt you knew what it meant (the sentence, Google informs me, is Lithuanian for “How are you?”). And that’s the problem with fill-in-the-blank. It’s not proof of learning, unless all you mean by learning is recall without necessarily understanding.
But you know what, we still haven’t got to the rock bottom disagreement between me and Cindy, so I’ll post that next time.