On Sunday 19th May 2013 at 11am I attended one of the regular Sunday lectures at Conway Hall. The speaker was musician and PhD student Jonny Scaramanga who writes the Leaving Fundamentalism blog.
Jonny was brought up in a fundamentalist Christian home and went to a school which utilised the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) system, before having a meltdown in school and being transferred to a regular school to finish off his education. He has now fully recovered and has left behind this so called education system and is currently undertaking his PhD research in to the effects of ACE on its participants. The talk he gave was funny, entertaining, informative and ultimately very very frightening. The main points (and this is a whistle stop tour of his talk!) that I picked up are below.
- ACE was founded in Texas (where else) in 1969.
- It came to the UK in 1980.
- There are about 50 schools in the UK that utilise ACE and a further 800+ homeschoolers utilising it.
- The entire curriculum utilises workbooks called PACEs, most exercises consist of fill in the blanks style questions.
- Children work at their own pace (sic) in individual booths called “offices”, which OFSTED once described as the modern equivalent of a medieval monk’s cell.
- There is no Religious Education per se, religion runs through the ENTIRE curriculum.
- The curriculum is rote learning in its entirety, there is no opportunity for discussion or the development of ideas (in fact this is extremely discouraged).
- Children mark their own work.
- There is no requirement or need for qualified teaching staff.
- Everything it taught from a Biblical literalist / US political conservative point of view.
- Children are ‘taught’ that anything that contradicts the Bible or that US political point of view it is BY DEFENINTION evil and it is not to be considered, listened to, engaged or discussed it is simply wrong.
- Anyone on the political left is evil and those on the political right are closer to godly perfection.
- Government funded healthcare is immoral and satanic.
- ACE employs Orwellian style redefinition of words and concepts e.g.
- Scientist = Young Earth Creationist
- Evolutionist = (Proper) Scientist
- Liberal = Evil/Satanic
- Humanism = swear word
- In the science curriculum the Loch Ness Monster is a Plesiosaur therefore Evolution is disproved! Their evidence for this? A decomposed basking shark carcass!
- At least 13 objectives taught by ACE even appear on Answers in Genesis’ list of arguments not to use!
- All mythical creatures in historical literature also prove creationism.
- Never trust man’s (it’s always man’s) reason and ignore any counter argument.
- Linguistics is taught with reference to the Tower of Babel.
- Psychology is based on atheistic ideas and is therefore wrong.
- Archaeology teaches us that the Brass and Iron Ages were not separate times because the Bible says so.
- Corporal punishment is approved of in ACE and the teacher’s handbook provides instruction and photographs of how to beat children with wooden implements.
- ACE will not engage in discussion of its curriculum nor will they speak to the press.
- The founder of the system has admitted that it amounts to ‘Brainwashing”!
Fortunately ACE schools do not receive public funding (bar one pre-school in Bristol which get money from vouchers) and are financially struggling [GOOD!] however a change in government policy and vouchers for private schools could make them profitable overnight! We must be wary of this.
They were heavily criticised by OFSTED in the early days but recently they have been getting good reviews. Is this a case of OFSTED not looking at the curriculum or is it something more insidious? (Please bear in mind that a senior OFSTED official has spoken in favour of ACE)
NARIC a government body (in the Dept of Trade) has recommended that the ACE certificate be considered as equivalent to A Level when it comes to University applications. Fortunately this is not legally binding but a number of Universites do accept it!
This leaves us with the question of what can be done. Jonny is collecting contact details of everyone interested in formulating some kind of response/strategy to this and he is free to be contacted. I have extended Atheism UK’s contact details as we are very happy to engage in fighting the abomination of this so called education system. Please feel free to contact him also!
Jonny Scaramaga can be reached via his blog Leaving Fundamentalism or on Twitter @JonnyScaramanga
Please note corrected date for this event – 19th May Read more
Beware of creeping (and creepy) Creationism. Read more
Many people will have noticed that a question on the Biology GCSE paper from 2009 recently surfaced which apparently gave equal weight to Natural Selection, Lamarkianism, Intelligent Design and Creationism.
This is something that the exam board, AQA, were heavily criticized for at the time; however they have confirmed that the 2010 paper did not contain such such a question. They have also stated that “the subject team has confirmed that future exam papers will not contain any questions on creationism or intelligent design.”
It’s great that the exam board realized their mistake and corrected it (something that we encourage!), but it shows just how careful and vigilant we have to be to protect children from misleading and disproven “theories” from the science curricula!
From a post by Mark in the news story “Creationists demand presence at the Giant’s Causeway”, he recommended a new acronym to use when a creationist posts an argument in a comment:
WiFi: Willful ignorance – Faulty intellect.
Let’s use it and see if we can get it to go viral! Click the link below, favourite and pass on!
Also please note that this was re-uploaded after it was pointed out there was a spelling error. Correcting errors, who’d have thought!
Original article take from The Freethinker Magazine
An evangelical group based in Northern Ireland wants creationism reflected at the planned Giant’s Causeway visitors’ centre.
The iconic World Heritage Site is made up of spectacular basalt stone columns left by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago.
The Caleb Foundation said it wanted equal prominence for its religious viewpoint. Foundation chairman, Wallace Thompson, has met the tourism minister Arlene Foster to discuss its request.
“All we are asking for is that the views that we hold, which are based on the Word of God, are at least respected and taken on board.”
The Foundation, according to its website is also trying to force creationist propaganda into the Ulster Museum. It states: “We fully accept that the theory of evolution is the view of the majority of scientists, but it is important to note that evolution is a theory not a fact.
“A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear assertion is made across the entire ‘Nature Zone’ that evolution is a fact. This, presumably is quite deliberate, error is further compounded by the complete absence of even the nearest mention of any other theory of origins such as the biblical account of creation, for which there is strong scientific evidence.”
Where do it start with this? OK at the beginning.
We know from the scientific evidence that the basalt columns are 60 million years old and are the result of volcanic eruptions. Ask any reputable geologist, and asking that thier veiws are taken on board can be answered thus:
“Please demonstrate that a) there is a god, b) the Bible is his word, c) it is literally true, d) explain all of the internal contradictions, e) explain the contradictions with the actual physical and confirmed evidence….your views have been considered and rejected!”
Next, to give them credit they are correct when they say the theory of evolution is the view of the majority of scientists. Yes about 99.99% of those that work in the relevant fields because the evidence is overwhelming, conclusive and has no other plausible explanation. However, in scientific terms evolution is BOTH a theory AND a fact, but obviously they have no idea what that means in a scientific context. Their own “theory” isn’t even a theory when using the scientific definition of theory.
Oh, and their last sentence can be corrected by replacing the word “strong” with “absolutely no”, you can do that yourself!
Today I was at a local community fete which brings together the local community that live and work in the area. I was there working a stall for the local musical theatre company of which I am a member (and performing in the arena).
One side of the field was dominated by a group calling themselves the “New Life Church” (I don’t know it they are anything to do with Ted “Completely Heterosexual” Haggard’s old mob, but it would not surprise me if they were). They were offering free tea and coffee and face painting, they also had this puppet shoe called the “JC Revival” where puppets dance to reworkings of popular songs (reworking in a particular manner which I think you can guess) to draw in the kids
…but the thing that I noticed was a small display at the end of their massive marquee which was titled “Thousands not millions” and “Dinosaurs an amazing Discovery”
Now I can guess exactly what those displays were about, but due to the fact I was on another stall, trying to give children lollipops (not what you think you suspiciously minded people), and I was performing I decided not to go and confront them. Being thrown out of a community event and alienating a chunk of the local community (this group is located in the area) would probably not be a good idea on this occasion, but if I was an ordinary punter I would have gone in there and attempted to educate them…
…but do not be fooled into thinking this young earth nonsense is an American phenomenon, it is right here on our doorstep!
Eugenie C Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education Read more