In his first year of gradual school in English Education, Yr Doktor Zoom took a class on doing research in written composition. A troublemaker even then, we did a project where we attempted to compare the writing of kids attending public schools with the writing done by kids in a Christian school that used self-paced, workbook-based instruction from an outfit called"Accelerated Christian Education." While our research design was crap (which was a valuable experience in itself), we really enjoyed looking through those workbooks, called "Packets of Accelerated Christian Education" (PACEs). The idea was that kids would "learn at their own pace" by moving through packet after packet, filling their brains with knowledge which is then tested at the end of each PACE. When we spent a couple of days visiting the school, the vast majority of class time was spent with kids sitting quietly at tables, filling in their PACEs, and then having a teacher check the answers when they finished. [Editrix note! This is also how your Editrix became valedictorian of her continuation school! By filling in packets real good and fast-like!]

As British blogger Jonny Scaramanga* points out, however, the multiple choice/fill-in-the-blanks/true-false questions in the packets are insanely bad -- freed from the tyranny of educational bureaucracy and gummint standards, they just throw in any old thing. For instance, for 4th grade, this vocabulary quizzy:

wisdom The pastor spoke with great wisdom.

Wisdom means (a) a test (b) Godly thinking (c) tasty milk

We think we want some of that tasty milk the editors were sipping -- laced with either vellocet or synthemesc.

And of course, there's more!

  • plunger The plunger in the pump was broken.

    Plunger means (a) a dolphin (b) a pump part (c) a brown car

  • Francesco Redi Mr. Francesco Redi did not think meat could make maggots.

    Mr. Francesco Redi was (a) a famous scientist (b) a volcano

  • Louis Pasteur Mr. Louis Pasteur did experiments with milk.

    Mr. Louis Pasteur was (a) a glass bottle (b) an airplane (c) a scientist

  • Elisabeth Howard Elisabeth Howard sat and listened carefully.

    Elisabeth Howard was (a) a kind of airplane (b) a missionary

  • Hint: Do not let them fool you, kids! People are not airplanes, ever!

  • counsel The Bible always has good counsel.

    Counsel means (a) wise words and ideas (b) pretty pictures

  • spout Children played happily in the water spout.

    Spout means (a) a stream of water (b) two dry ducks (c) playground

  • flew The hungry duck flew straight to the pond.

    Flew means (a) made blue cheese (b) to eat grain (c) did fly

Ducks, man. Freakin' ducks and their blue cheese. The two dry ones are especially bad.

As we've noted elsewhere, the educational content of ACE is pretty much secondary to the theological content -- this is the curriculum that teaches that "God created the heavens and the earth in one day" is "fact" and "The universe is millions of years old" is "opinion." The repetition of the multiple-choice format pounds the lesson home, and anything beyond fundamentalist dogma is sort of extra -- which is why the "academic" content of the PACEs is so abysmally dumb. Consider this question, from a reading quiz for 7th-graders:

(Sports coaches, Piano tutors, librarians) can touch the lives of their students.

Give up? It's "piano tutors," obviously, because as Scaramanga notes,

It’s not that ACE doesn’t believe that sports coaches or librarians can touch students’ lives. The point is that the exact sentence “Piano tutors can touch the lives of their students” has previously appeared in the PACE, and the student is expected to remember this. Verbatim regurgitation of previously seen material is the entire point of the ACE system.

The other thing we will always remember from our visits to the little Christian school was one of the rare times when the teachers did some actual instruction to the whole class. They showed a short film about the terrible anti-God lyrics and wild lifestyles of rock and roll musicians, many of whom were ho-mo-sexuals and atheists and devil worshipers. Following this recitation of the evils of rock music and the people who listen to it, one adorable little girl, maybe 11 or 12, was on the verge of tears, and asked the teacher, "Can't somebody do something about those people? Can't we -- I don't know -- kill them?" As we recall, the teacher said that it would be better to pray for them instead, so there's that, at least. That was around 1985, and we sometimes wonder how that little girl turned out. We're hoping for skateboard punk rocker, maybe. Or maybe she became an airplane.

[Leaving Fundamentalism via RawStory]

*Full disclosure: He said the nicest stuff about us back when we were but a wee beginning blogger...

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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