Saturday, February 2, 2013

ACE indoctrination, already here and spreading fast



Have you ever heard of Accelerated Christian Education?
   
ACE is a Texas based Christian fundamentalist organisation that (according to their website) administers over 7,000 schools in 135 countries, including 59 schools in the UK at the last count (thanks in a large part to Tory education minister Michael Gove's barmy education reforms). 

It becomes pretty clear that there is something wrong with this organisation, just from looking at the way they describe themselves and their "mission". They claim that they are:
"dedicated to providing Biblically based, individualized educational materials and services to promote character development and educational reform around the globe."
ACE schools do not use material from the National Curriculum of the country they operate in and instead provide students with in-house learning materials, exams and qualifications.

 Some of their core "distinctives" (their word not mine!) include: 

Self-Instructional Mastery Based Curriculum:
This method seems to be, to isolate kids and give them a staged curriculum of Christian Fundamentalist books to read. This is how they describe the SIMBC "distinctive" on their website: 
"The special combination of academics and methodology, based on physiological development patterns and Biblical principles, provides mastery learning, critical analysis, conceptualization, cognitive reasoning, and life from God’s perspective. These differences make A.C.E. the most advanced educational package available anywhere in the world. The A.C.E. staff recognizes that the program and curriculum is God-given. We praise Him for His blessings in meeting the needs of our children one child at a time."
To someone who is reasonably educated in terms of philosophy, theology and cognitive science, this sounds less like the"the most advanced education package in the World" and more like a bunch of horrifying pseudo-educational babble.

There is so much wrong with it I don't have the time or the inclination to critique the whole thing, so I'll just stick to the one aspect that really stood out to me. Lets assume we do believe in God (atheists and anti-theists bear with me) for a moment. God is supposed to be infinite and all-powerful, right? Well if that is the case, how is it even possible to learn "life from God’s perspective"? How is it possible to fit even the tiniest fraction of the perception of an infinite mind into the finite mind of a human child? Even if we look past the problem of finite and infinite minds, isn't it just a tad presumptuous for these people to even assume that they know what "God's perspective" is?


Biblically Based Program Infused With Godly Character:

In their own words the A.C.E. program is aimed at giving children "traditional moral values that will last a lifetime", "the curriculum conveys Biblical values and concepts in such a way as to become life-shaping influences." They also describe themselves as "building Godly citizens" and the forming the "Christian leaders of tomorrow". Which sounds like a sanitized way of saying "we see it as our job to indoctrinate children".

Student Opportunities For Character Development and Ministry:
These "opportunities include stuff like Basic Literacy Education Saving Souls (BLESS) which supposedly "gives the gift of literacy to underprivileged children in the Philippines and Africa while reaching them for Christ", which sounds an awful lot like Christian Fundamentalist indoctrination for those unfortunate enough not to have sufficient basic education to recognise pseudo-educational Christain fundamentalist indoctrination for the crap that it is.
 

The ACE curriculum

Here are a few examples of the "educational material" that can be found in the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum (remember, this stuff is being taught to British kids in 59 schools). These claims about science are so astonishingly bad that to categorise this stuff as pseudo-science would actually be quite an insult to genuine pseudo-sciences like psychoanalysis, homeopathy and neoliberal economics, which at least attempt to establish some kind of justification narrative for their claims that goes beyond "because the Bible says so".

Humans and dinosaurs co-existed

"Biblical and scientific evidence seems to indicate that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time…. That dinosaurs existed with humans is an important discovery disproving the evolutionists’ theory that dinosaurs lived 70 million years before man. God created dinosaurs on the sixth day. He created man later the same day." - ACE, Science 1099, p.  29.
Evolution has been "scientifically disproved"
  • "This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis." (Science 1099, p. 30)
  • "Evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God" (Science 1107, p. 24)
  • "It is not possible that our planet accidentally evolved into a living blue and green planet! No, the creation of our earthly home required a miracle. That miracle was the design and work of a mighty Creator." (Social Studies 1098, p. 3)
  • "The evolutionist does not realise that he also accepts his theories by faith; he cannot prove them by scientific demonstration, and he is dishonest when he claims they are science." (Social Studies 1097, p. 25)
  • "scientific evidence proved the Darwinian theory of evolution was false" (Science 1107, p. 23)
 Solar fusion is a myth
"The nuclear fusion theory of how the sun emits heat and light is an invention of evolution scientists… All other theories require the sun to use up all its energy sooner than the evolutionists’ invented timetable would allow."  (7-9 of Science 1096)
 The Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution
"Some scientists speculate that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark…. are dinosaurs still alive today? With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence… Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur. (Science 1099)
 Genetics proves that homosexuality is learned behaviour
Because extensive tests have shown that there is no biological difference between homosexuals and others, these tests seem to prove that homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.” (Science 1107 p.10.)
God crafted all living things
"The gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. For the change, to have taken place many transitional forms would have been developed. However, no transitional fossils have been or will ever be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsman fashioned them all." (Science 1099 p.30.)
 Einstein disproved evolution!
"The first and second laws of thermodynamics demonstrate what the Bible tells about the creation of new matter or energy. Things change, but they degenerate. These laws also demonstrate that the Genesis account of Creation is consistent with scientific evidence." (Science 1096 p.7.)
Politics
I get the impression that the people teaching thousands of kids
that Jesus said "we should use what we have to earn a profit"
would struggle to see that this image is a joke.
Having established that the ACE science curriculum is full of such lunatic claims that it makes George Osborne's economic ideology look fairly coherent in comparison, lets move on to the way they teach politics.
On a politics chart in the ACE curriculum, right is associated with 'absolute' and 'God', while left is connected to 'no values' and 'atheism'. They also claim that Jesus taught that "we should use what we have to earn a profit". According to ACE, if you have left wing political views you are a degenerate and it is impossible for you to be considered a good Christian.

Teaching kids that God is a Conservative seems particularly sinister given that (according to my interpretation of the Bible) Jesus was clearly a socialist if not a communist. You only need to think about a few of his words and actions to recognise it. Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the temple didn't he? And he said that  "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", hardly the words and actions of a conservative thinker. 

Here are a few other things he said:
"Love thy neighbour as you love thyself" - Egalitarian
"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" - Egalitarian
"Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” - Redistributionist
"Is it not the rich who are exploiting you?" - Anti-Establishment
Here's some more Biblical evidence that Jesus was a "leftie pinko" from the parable of the Sheep and the Goats:
"'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.

They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’"

OK, I know that citing "Biblical evidence" is hardly going to convince any of my atheist friends of anything. However, if this exercise in using the Bible as counter-evidence to ACE's claims that Christianity and conservatism are synonymous shows us one thing, it is that it is bloody easy to cherry-pick the Bible for bits of text that support the assertions you are making, rendering it absolutely useless as the fundamental basis for a science curriculum. Furthermore, it clearly demonstrates that the delusional Jesus freaks intent on teaching this right-wing science denial gibberish to our kids must be suffering appalling levels of confirmation bias to sustain the interpretation that Jesus was a hard-right conservative, just like like them, despite all of this Biblical evidence that he was no such thing.

Conclusion

As much as I enjoyed citing "Biblical evidence" to disprove the assertions of a bunch of loopy Christian fanatics, I'm going to have to return to more serious issues.

According to the Parliamentary Record there are now 59 schools teaching the ACE curriculum to British kids. Unfortunately they do not provide a comprehensive list. However, the ACE website lists 30 British schools teaching the ACE curriculum, so now you have a list of 30 schools to avoid sending your kids to. As for the other 29, I would advise any parent considering sending their child to a Christian school, to first establish, as a matter of fundamental importance, that the school does not, and will not teach the ACE curriculum. 

I find this whole situation gravely concerning. How on earth have we got ourselves into this situation where loopy Texas based right-wing Christian fanatic organisations are teaching their mind-rotting gibberish to thousands of British kids?


What are the future prospects for these poor kids? Hopefully with any luck they'll come across someone (not necessarily an atheist, just someone with a bit of sense) to help them understand that what they've been taught is a load of anti-scientific cobblers and bonkers right-wing revisionism.

Whether the kids eventually find someone sensible to turn to for guidance or not, they are going to suffer an awful lot of harm because it is significantly more difficult to "unlearn" ideas, concepts and ways of thinking that have been indoctrinated into you, than it was to learn them in the first place. Whatever the case, there will still be a lot of long-term damage. Kids are either going to end up believing this fanatical lunacy (that scientific fields like genetics, nuclear physics, astrophysics and evolution are some kind of gigantic degenerate atheist conspiracy) or they're going to find out that what they have been taught at school is a load of complete horseshit, and thus lose a lot of faith in education.

Aside from the
mental health implications and trust issues associated with teaching kids that established scientific theories are degenerate "Godless conspiracies", there are plenty of more practical concerns too. If kids go all the way through the ACE system, and sit ACE exams instead of GCSEs and A levels, what decent employer or university is going to accept a bunch of qualifications from such fanatical fruit-loops? Even if these kids do get into university, it is probably going to take them a hell of a lot of extra effort to get past the "science is a degenerate atheist conspiracy" and "the Bible is the source of ultimate truth" rubbish that they've been indoctrinated with and get "up-to-speed" with their comparatively well-informed peers.. 

If British kids get the full ACE treatment, it looks as if their educational potential and their life prospects will be irreparably harmed by it. 

Here's a list of UK schools that use the ACE curriculum
  • The Branch School, Dewsbury, Yorkshire
  • Bridgend Christian School, Bridgend, Glamorgan 
  • Carmel Christian School, Brislington, Bristol 
  • Cardigan Christian School, Pen-y-parc, Cardigan
  • Christian School of London 
  • Emmanuel Christian School, Exeter, Devon
  • Excellence Christian School, London 
  • Greater Grace School, Backford, 
  • Chester King of Kings School, Manchester 
  • Kings House School, Windsor, Berkshire 
  • Kings Kids Christian School, London 
  • Lighthouse Christian School, Moston, Manchester 
  • Locksley Christian School, Louth, Lincolnshire 
  • Living Rivers C School, Ballymena, Co. Antrim 
  • London Christian Learning Centre, Manor Park, London 
  • Luton Pentecostal Christian Academy, Luton, Bedfordshire 
  • Maranatha Christian School, Swindon, Wiltshire 
  • Mustard School, Hackney, London 
  • New Life Academy, Hull, Kingston upon Hull 
  • Oxford Christian School, Oxfordshire 
  • Paragon Christian Academy, Hackney, 
  • London Phoenix Academy and Nursery, Edmonton, London 
  • Pioneer Academy (Tuition Centre), Folkestone, Kent 
  • Promised Land Academy, East Ham, London Redemption Academy, Stevenage, Hertfordshire 
  • School of the Lion, Churcham, Gloucester 
  • The Lambs Christian School, Hockley, Birmingham 
  • The Vine Christian School, Reading 
  • Wellspring Academy, Dagenham, Essex 
  • Zion Christian Academy (Tuition Centre), Luton, Bedfordshire
Warning: This is not a comprehensive list. According to the Parliamentary record, aside from these 30 schools there are another 29 British schools teaching the ACE curriculum.
 

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