Recently, I posted a guest post from Jonny Scaramanga, creator of the blog Leaving Fundamentalism, about the A.C.E curriculum we both grew up with.
This past week, a comment was made on that post from someone else who personally experienced this atrocious curriculum as a child/teen. Here's what she had to say. Lana is a blogger (author of My Musing Corner), and a cult survivor, her parents were followers of the Bill Gothard/ATI branch of the Independent Fundamental Baptist organization.
Read the full comment here, she talks about where ACE fails in 28 different ways, it's a great read, you can read the comment in it's entirety on the post, or I've made it into a document on Google Drive, for ease of reading, you can read it in that format here.
The Google document is accessible to anyone, no Google log in required. I'm only including some of the objections from her 28 point list here in this post, because the list, plus my comments would make for what could be the longest post I've ever published on the blog:
1. "You leave out one word of a Bible verse, and its five points off a test. "
She's right about points docked off of tests for failing to remember a Bible verse. In each book (the books are known as "PACE's"), there's a verse that they tell you to learn, and try to help you remember it with various exercises throughout the book, such as segments where the verse is given to you with words missing, and you must fill in the blanks.
I don't know how it went in her home schooling family, but in the A.C.E school I was in until the 5th grade, the teacher would dock points for misspellings, no matter how minor, my mom was more flexible about that.
10. "The dinosaur and evolution comments are laughable."
Jonny's aforementioned guest post talks about one of the ridiculous claims regarding creationism vs. evolution. ACE claims that a creature pulled from the ocean in 1977 of the coast of New Zealand could be a species of dinosaur. The creature was actually an animal called a basking shark. The confusion was cleared up in 1978, yet an ACE book published in 1989 was still claiming this.
ACE also claims that the Lock Ness monster exists and is a type of dinosaur called a plesiosaur. (I wish I was joking about this)
12. "There are racist comments in there."
ACE does have racist comments and themes in the PACE's. It's subtle, but rather noticeable, that the schools and churches that the fictional characters in the book attended are segregated by race. A different school and church for each group.
ACE books also have passages that are very favorable to the apartheid days in South Africa. Here's a quote from one of the books, this was written before apartheid ended:
"Although apartheid appears to allow the unfair treatment of blacks, the system has worked well in South Africa… Although white businessmen and developers are guilty of some unfair treatment of blacks, they turned South Africa into a modern industrialized nation, which the poor, uneducated blacks couldn’t have accomplished in several more decades. If more blacks were suddenly given control of the nation, its economy and business, as Mandela wished, they could have destroyed what they have waited and worked so hard for."
Disgusted yet? When confronted about this, ACE official Ronald Johnson said he didn't consider those passages racist.
The PACE's were updated later, and here's what the updated version of that passage has to say. :
"“Since ‘the power to tax is the power to destroy,’ white South Africans attempted to create a system that would protect their interests from a nontaxpaying majority. Under apartheid, the economic system in South Africa was controlled by the minority population of whites who, therefore, controlled most of the nation’s wealth. Apartheid was excused for several decades because of the advanced industrialization of the nation. However, due to the carnal nature of man, apartheid was also used to exploit the nonvoting black majority. God’s Word teaches that no people should ever be wrongfully treated because of their race, since all people are created in God’s image. Apartheid was abolished in 1991 and a new government established that provides for equal representation by all races.”
Still not great.....
13. "Women are taught to submit. In the middle of the English Pace. Come on."
It is true that ACE uses PACE's, no matter the subject they are supposed to be about (whether that be history, English, etc), to promote their worldviews on everything, especially their support for the abusive "Christian Patriarchy" culture. If you want to see how that kind of thinking promotes abuse, check out my post on IFB authors Micheal and Debi Pearl.
For a great example of how they use the curriculum to push various agendas, check out this post on the "wisdom pages" that are included in the high school English PACE's. I remember those "wisdom pages" all too well, even though I was a fundamentalist until I was 21, I still didn't like those pages, and didn't understand why they had to be in an English book, of all places.
17. "The literature is too many missionary books and not enough good literature. Especially for high school who should get to read more classics."
The books required for "literature" in ACE are mostly about famous fundamentalist ministers, authors, and theologians from the 1700 and 1800's that people in the IFB admire. I find it rather hilarious that because of this, whenever a fundamentalist minister or theologian is talking about people like C.H Spurgeon, D.L Moody or George Mueller, I know exactly who they are talking about, what they believed, and their life story, when even most fundamentalists aren't that familiar with them.
20. "The paces are more about writing the answers in complete sentences in their words than explaining any concepts."
ACE is all about memorization, period. Answers are fill in the blank or multiple choice, with no encouragement to explore concepts, or think something through, and explain it.
24. "Typing isn't introduced until high school, and the report for the typing credit is a joke."
I didn't even have typing, because I was a home schooler during the junior high/high school years. My sister went through their typing class in high school.
Even today, I do the old keyboard "hunt and peck" routine on a keyboard. Thankfully my job doesn't require typing anything too complicated. It would have been a big help though if I had have learned how to properly type.
27. "Apparently America was the most godly place ever. According to ACE."
I had to laugh when I read this, because it's so true. If you were in the ACE system in the US, the US was constantly depicted as the world's incredible superpower, divinely appointed by god to be in the position that it is in. they also believe the myth, common among fundamentalists, that the US was founded as a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.
They believe this despite the fact that despite the fact that Founding Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were deists, as well as Thomas Paine, an author who was an influence on the Founding Fathers, and rallied people in support of the Revolutionary War. His book, The Age of Reason was a scathing attack on religion.
Not to mention that John Adams, a Founding Father that fundamentalists love to quote, was a Unitarian who denied that Jesus was divine. Most fundamentalists wouldn't even consider him a Christian if they knew this.
It was great having Lana stop by, and if you haven't read her blog yet, please do, and I also highly recommend Leaving Fundamentalism if you want to know more about ACE, Jonny has spent countless hours researching ACE, and documenting some of the more outrageous facts about it on his blog.
If you're reading this, Lana, (which you probably will be in the next few days), send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For some reason, I haven't been able to find an e-mail address for you. If you would be interested in writing a guest post for this blog about your past, or vice versa, let me know.
For everyone else, if you wish to submit a guest post of your own, check out my guest post guidelines first, then e-mail me, I'm always happy to review submissions.