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Dec 09 2013

The dumbifying of Christianity

Jonny Scaramanga has posted a sampling of quiz questions from Accelerated Christian Education. Take a look, and ask yourself, “Am I smarter than a fundamentalist Christian taught from a home-school curriculum developed by fanatics in Texas?”

You will be reassured by the fact that yes, you are. Much smarter. Although after reading the questions, you might be a little less smart than you were five minutes before.

You’ll need all your smarts when you face the truly terrifying question: who thinks the ACE curriculum is an acceptable educational standard for the 21st century?

In the United Kingdom, UK NARIC has deemed qualifications based on ACE to be comparable to A-level. Ofsted routinely whitewashes ACE schools in reports, and ACE nurseries teaching creationism receive government funding.

In New Zealand, ACE qualifications are accepted for university entrance.

In the USA, ACE’s Lighthouse Christian Academy is accredited by MSA-CESS. The curriculum is used in givernment-funded creationist voucher programs in eleven states.

In South Africa, based on HESA’s recommendation, a number of universities have signed up to accept ACE graduates.

ACE says its curriculum is used in 192 countries and 6000 schools worldwide. This is happening nearer than you think.

They want to dumbify everybody.

60 comments

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  1. 1
    remyporter

    I particularly like how the questions don’t actually get more difficult or complex at higher grade levels, they just deal with subject matter that younger students are unlikely to encounter.

  2. 2
    tsig

    I kept waiting for, “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

    A. U. S. Grant

    B. Colonial land grants

    C. The Queen of England

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    But surely once they actually get to the Uni…..?
    (Unless, I suppose, it’s one of those Christian ones–Oral Whatsit U and the like)

  4. 4
    jonnyscaramanga

    Thanks for posting this, PZ. It’s going viral now and hopefully that’s the start of a public conversation about how to deal with schools like this.

  5. 5
    Nathaniel Frein

    My wife was “educated” with these…things. It frustrates her to no end whenever a baseline education is assumed, and she has to go and research basic facts that any middle-schooler should be expected to know.

  6. 6
    Nathaniel Frein

    The thing is, my wife isn’t “dumb”. She’s incredibly intelligent and we both love to have intellectual conversations. The problem is that most of her basic education she got on her own initiative as a child, which means that there are are (sometimes huge) gaps in her knowledge base.

  7. 7
    Pen

    Myeah, and the real problem with those ‘things’ is not just the lack of knowledge but that the only thought processes involved at all levels appear to be memorisation and very basic comprehension. Strangely enough, it is actually possible to design multiple choice questions where the student has to do work/think hard in order to find the answer. Based on the multiple choices I don’t see much reason to be fair to the ACE but I suppose there are short answers and longer essays in their exams as well? Demonstration of ability to comprehend graphs, data, longer passages of text?

    Hi, again, btw, Nathaniel.

  8. 8
    jonnyscaramanga

    @Pen, ACE exams are almost exclusively short answer, fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions. There is virtually no analysis in the system. Literature (such as it is) within the curriculum is still taught and tested using fill-in-the-blank and true or false questions (and the books are all worthless fundamentalist literature).

  9. 9
    Nathaniel Frein

    I’ve taken good multiple choice tests. The multiple choice portions of the ASVAB, SAT, and AP tests I took were stellar examples of how to write MC properly.

    And no, PACE does not go in for these “essays” you speak of.

    (Hullo to you too :P)

  10. 10
    Alex

    Wow, it’s like “who wants to be a millionaire in hell” where you are perpetually stuck with the 100 Pound question and can never move on.

    The one that shocked me the most, though, was the one where three correct answers were given, and the only way to solve it was to remember which one you had been told previously.
    It is as if the people who wrote this were not quite aware of what thinking actually is.
    Before, I thought it was just silly and absurdly easy, but that was the point when I though – oh god, was this test designed to actively punish thinking? – these students are at the mercy of dangerous idiots!

  11. 11
    Alex

    A pastor speaks. The sermon gives the congregation brain aneurysms.

    brain is 1 – a kind of bible 2 – jesus loves you 3 – from the devil 4 – a wholesome cereal

  12. 12
    tsig

    Alex, clearly the idea is to mimic thinking without actually thinking.

  13. 13
    Rob Grigjanis

    In what year did Sir Francis Drake circumcise the globe with a 100-ft clipper?

  14. 14
    Alex

    with a 100-ft clipper?

    I don’t know when exactly, but I saw the Cutty Sark on display just a few weeks ago!

  15. 15
    Alex

    @tsig

    Alex, clearly the idea is to mimic thinking without actually thinking.

    Precisely! It is a necessary “skill” in order to be properly fooled into believing that the dogma of your church is rational, whilst everything else is irrational.

  16. 16
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, I’m currently sitting in a lecture about how to construct good multiple choice questions. The authors of these might benefit greatly from it.
    However, I think that the limitations of MC questions (hard to test critical or abstract thinking with them) are not a bug but a feature.

  17. 17
    peterh

    Alex,

    The Cutty Sark is 280′ overall and Drake never sailed in her. Drake’s Golden Hind is 102′.

  18. 18
    tbp1

    Wow, just wow. I got nothin’. How can this curriculum possibly be accredited anywhere!?

  19. 19
    Forbidden Snowflake

    “God, whose ancestors came from Scotland” (12th grade) -> hilarious

  20. 20
    Forbidden Snowflake

    The one that shocked me the most, though, was the one where three correct answers were given, and the only way to solve it was to remember which one you had been told previously.

    I actually thought this is a reasonably decent question, because only a tutor (but not a coach or a librarian) can be said to have students. Is this wrong?

  21. 21
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Peterh @17, please re-read Rob’s @13, paying close attention to each individual word. :D

  22. 22
    Alex

    @Forbidden Snowflake

    It admittedly says “their” students. I had several teachers in HS who were coaches, I’ll give you the librarian :)

  23. 23
    Inaji

    (d) God whose ancestors came from Scotland

    Really? Gad, what a mess.

  24. 24
    sonofrojblake

    This is all hugely funny of course, and gives everyone who can find their arse with an atlas a reason to feel superior to those dumbass fundies, and tragic for their betrayed children.

    But what really bakes my noodle is the concept that these “qualifications” are considered equivalent to A-levels… which means that, in principle at least, there exists the possibility that someone “educated” to these standards may displace a deserving student with proper qualifications from a place at university. Which is absolutely scandalous and not at all funny, especially if you are that student or their parent.

  25. 25
    Lynna, OM

    In the USA, ACE’s Lighthouse Christian Academy is accredited by MSA-CESS. The curriculum is used in givernment-funded creationist voucher programs in eleven states.

    Please note, dear citizens of the USA, your tax dollars at work dumbing down the next generation.

  26. 26
    Lynna, OM

    whoops

    That was supposed to be “government-funded” and not “government-funded” in #25.

  27. 27
    Alex

    @Lynna,

    revenge of the autocorrect?

    But a nice freudian slip, the givernment-funded. Givernment would make a nice libertarian buzzword.

  28. 28
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Darwin’s well known book was called _______

    a) Top Banana In The Jungle

    b) The Origin Of Species

    c) No One Is Going To Make A Monkey Out Of Me

    Even when they do their “test”, they cannot help but to be patronizing and sneering.

  29. 29
    cactusren

    @Forbidden Snowflake

    Maybe this varies in different school systems, but in my public school in the US, the librarians were always helpful. We would have some scheduled classes in the library where they taught us to look things up in the card catalogue, the Dewey Decimal system, etc. So in that sense, I would say all students at the school were ‘their’ students, if only for short periods of time. But they were always available to help us do research or just find books we might be interested in reading–and I’d say a librarian finding a book a student likes could definitely touch their life.

    So yeah, I found that question quite perplexing, until I read the explanation that they were just asking the students to repeat what they read.

  30. 30
    twas brillig (stevem)

    I’m always fascinated by my own distinction between “ignorance” and “stupidity”, or conversely “education” and “intelligence”. That is, an intelligent person can be ignorant and a stupid person could have been taught lots of facts and can recite them perfectly but not be able to derive anything from that collection of facts. This ACE test seems to be a strange blend of these two concepts. Some of the early questions seem so obvious, that any reasoning mind (of any age) would point out the right answer. Like the question about about <some name> sitting and listening : was she: a) an airplane, b) a person. Maybe the test is looking for intelligence, who can reason out the choice without having been taught specifically about that person. And then it moves on to questions that are all “reasonable” and depend specifically on particular grains of information having been taught. Like Mary, was she called “Bloody Mary” or “Crazy Elizabeth”? Obvious would be Bloody Mary, but maybe she was satirically called “Crazy Elizabeth” in contrast to Elizabeth I, The correct answer depends on specific historical education.
    But I’m failing: As crazy (“crappy” as the author’s mother put it) as this ACE test is, I did not mean to defend it at all, I meant to ridicule it completely. The ignorance vs smartness was a first attempt and seems to have failed completely. I guess my only self-defense is that it only “SEEMS” to distinguish smart and ignorant but it’s method’s are extremely weak and ineffective. ['Multiple choice' is always the worst way to judge someone's intelligence, 'essays' are much better, but harder to judge]

    I got a kick out of the choices for Darwin’s “well-known book”:
    a. Top Banana in the Jungle
    b. The Origin of Species
    c. No One is Going to Make a Monkey Out of Me.

    Any bias in the wording of those choices? Inconceivable!

  31. 31
    Lynna, OM

    I liked this one:

    Louis Pasteur Mr. Louis Pasteur did experiments with milk.
    Mr. Louis Pasteur was (a) a glass bottle (b) an airplane (c) a scientist

    There are some good opportunities for surrealism there.

  32. 32
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Lynna, they left out the option of cheese eating surrender monkey. It would fit into the sheering tone that is on display.

  33. 33
    Inaji

    Personally, I’m rather captivated with God’s ancestors being Scottish. Most interesting, that.

  34. 34
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I am now feeling partly divine.

  35. 35
    Inaji

    Janine:

    I am now feeling partly divine.

    Aye, me too. Perhaps we’re demigods. Heh.

  36. 36
    moarscienceplz

    Janine @ #32

    Cheese eating surrender monkey is always an option!

  37. 37
    moarscienceplz

    Personally, I’m rather captivated with God’s ancestors being Scottish. Most interesting, that.

    My Presbyterian forebears would find that idea quite unsurprising.

  38. 38
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @tsig:

    I kept waiting for, “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

    A. U. S. Grant

    B. U. K. Grant

    C. Colonial land grants

    D. Canada’s Grant

    FTFY
    =================

    @ Alex, #11:

    A pastor speaks. The sermon gives the congregation brain aneurysms.

    brain is 1 – a kind of bible 2 – jesus loves you 3 – from the devil 4 – a wholesome cereal

    5 – Trick question! It’s 2, 3 AND 4, obviously. Because the devil intends you to be a cannibal, but also everything in creation is an expression of god’s love.

    FTFY
    ==================

    @Rob Grigjanis:

    Carry on, I can in no way improve on #13
    ==================

    @Caine/GoodbyEnemyJanine, #s 33-34

    While in grade school, my 2 best friends and I, all quite familiar with mythology, would play “demigods” instead of “house” or “fire station” or what-have-you.

    Little did I realize that I was not playing at all….

  39. 39
    playonwords

    @ 13 Rob Grigjanis Doesn’t matter what year he just found he could get round quicker by taking short cuts.

    @ 33 Cain, Fleur du Mal

    God was from Yorkshire – everyone knows that’s Gods own county.

  40. 40
    Inaji

    I think the message might be that God is a pictsie. Nac Mac Feegle! Bigjobs!

  41. 41
    Forbidden Snowflake

    What is the useless science?
    a) Evilution b) A couch shaped like Mae West c) A burning giraffe

  42. 42
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    The fact this… system, is accredited in the UK and Government fucking subsidised in the UK ought to be a national embarrassment, but I suspect it is a source of pride as indicative of our “respect for faith”. *spits*.

  43. 43
    Rob Grigjanis

    playonwords @39: Time for some sacred music I reckon.

  44. 44
    vireyda54

    For some reason, when I read “The Bible has good counsel.” I thought that the Bible had good lawyers. Woe.

  45. 45
    Bronze Dog

    Nathaniel @5:

    My wife was “educated” with these…things. It frustrates her to no end whenever a baseline education is assumed, and she has to go and research basic facts that any middle-schooler should be expected to know.

    I can only imagine what it’s like. I somehow managed to get a good education in the Texas public school system, and I frequently find myself wondering how miscellaneous trolls/politicians got out of high school without knowing X. I’m glad to know she works to overcome the gaps she was given.

    Those multiple choice questions remind me of some book my mother made me work out of when I had some trouble on a grade school astronomy test. One of the questions: “Venus is covered with: A) pumpkins, B) cotton candy, C) random silly thing, D) thick clouds.” She kicked herself a bit for using the book when she checked my (correct) answers.

  46. 46
    carlie

    It’s not even how simplistic it is – some of those choices are so ridiculous that it’s more of a Turing test than anything knowledge based.

  47. 47
    Alex

    @Caine

    Personally, I’m rather captivated with God’s ancestors being Scottish. Most interesting, that.

    You are right… I think I’ll better help myself to a glass of single malt right now just to be on the safe side…


    The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    which was shed for you,
    preserve your body and soul unto everlasting life.
    Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you,
    and be thankful

    Sláinte, Mac Dè!
    *gulp*

  48. 48
    magistramarla

    Here’s the really sad thing about this, at least in Texas public schools.
    I saw many students who had been “educated” in xtian schools until they came to us as high school students. I tried to ease them into critical thinking and being able to answer essay questions, etc. on tests. Some of the parents complained that I was giving their precious snowflakes tests that were too difficult. The AP “suggested” that I give only multiple choice and matching tests, since she considered those to be more fair to students who came from diverse elementary and middle school settings.
    Local university educators complained that we were sending them students who could not write or think critically. Of course, we teachers were blamed, but no one dared to put the blame where it really belonged – on those administrators who tied our hands.

  49. 49
    Moggie

    Yeah, God’s ancestors being Scottish explains the drink, but not the food.

  50. 50
    Alex

    @magistramarla,

    What you describe seems to be half of what is wrong with the american HS system (the other half being the funding scheme). From my year’s experience in an american highschool, I remember that many tests were mostly based on stuff you had learned verbatim before, in order to really accomodate all students (HS being an all-inclusive school system after all, as opposed to my home country where the HS system basically has three prongs sorted by academic level). There seemed to be the prevalent opinion among the parents that perfect grades should in principle be attainable by regurgitation alone, and that any questions beyond that were not really covered in class and thus unfair.
    I really like the integrated system, and I still believe that with a few adjustments and more money, it can work. But one has to be careful not to fall in the trap of adjusting everything to the lowest common denominator.

  51. 51
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    @vireyda54, 44,

    For some reason, when I read “The Bible has good counsel.” I thought that the Bible had good lawyers.

    Evidently they think that “counsel” means “pretty pictures”.

  52. 52
    Colin J

    “donkey supplies” should be an option in more multiple choice tests. It should appear at least once in every exam.

    There are some of you reading this who have the power to make it happen. Let’s make a difference to the world!

  53. 53
    DrewN

    I had no idea so many people could be easily mistaken for aircraft. Although to be fair, I always have a hard time remembering that Albert Einstien wasn’t built by Boeing.

  54. 54
    Amy Cocks

    However, it is quite difficult to answer multiple choice questions “in tongues”. Therefore, yeah, totally A level equivalent.

    Mostly though Why UK!?! Whyyy!!?? Don’t do that.

  55. 55
    Deborah

    People often have a hard time understanding what I mean when I talk about the “education” I got. They don’t understand why I don’t recognize movies, music, literature, or pop culture, and simply don’t even notice that I am not comprehending much more basic things that education should have provided. I took a really basic biology course at a university this past semester (I’m 32, it was a non science majors general education offering at a state university), and for the first time I find that every once in a while when I google something or when PZ posts a sciency post I can follow some of the information.

    I had no idea the structure of cells, how photosynthesis worked, any of that. The only thing that was familiar in the entire semester was the part of the unit on genetics and inheritance that talked about Mendel because ACE (and AIG) liked him. I expected the evolution stuff to be new, and I knew I didn’t know anything about anything, which is why I chose the course to fulfill my science requirement, but I didn’t really comprehend how much I didn’t know.

  56. 56
    Ex Patriot

    How in the world do they even dare to call.this education. I just cannot understand how people can allow their $ to be spent on such garbage as this. I guesss I was one of the lucky ones who grew up in a house that was not religious at all and recieved a decent education which I continued on thru out my life by reading. What these idiots are pushing is an eduction for those who may have 1 or 2 working brain cells and an IQ lower than their age. .

  57. 57
    Sparky Lurkdragon

    Come to think of it, I remember something in the same spirit appearing on Go Diego Go once. “Does an armadillo roll into a ball or a rolling pin?”

    I know that show’s meant for really little kids, but that just really rubbed me the wrong way when I saw it.

  58. 58
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I should really bookmark that and use it as an example of poor practice next time I teach about test design.

    Also, we all know that God is No True Scotsman.

  59. 59
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Alex

    I remember that many tests were mostly based on stuff you had learned verbatim before, in order to really accomodate all students (HS being an all-inclusive school system after all, as opposed to my home country where the HS system basically has three prongs sorted by academic level).

    Which, should you be talking about Germany, is a horrible system that perpetuates itself.
    Children are sorted mostly according to their socioeconomic background but then everybody acts as if it were a meritocracy. Given that those who then go on to become politicians all end up in the “Gymnasium” (the HS where you can get a HS diploma that allows you to go to college) it is clear why they like they system: It elevated them personally on a pedestal, gave them preferential treatment and then acted as if their success was due to them being bright and hard-working. Awesome, why would you want to admit that you were handed unfair advantages?
    Here’s a dirty secret of teacher training: If you’re deemed not good enough for the gymnasium, you can downgrade your course of study to other school-types.
    Yes, only the best teachers for the kids of the (upper) middle-class. They also get the best pay.
    Yes, teachers who are not teaching quite so well are exactly those you want in charge of students who face many challenges in and outside of school.

    There is no home-schooling in Germany (you can get recognized as a political refugee in the USA if you’re a fundamental christian and have children), but there are huge problems with the “free schools” as well. They often offer interesting paedagogical approaches* and are better suited for children with special needs, but there is a problem when the things they learn better are total crap. No child of mine is going to learn that Aryans are the descentents of Atlantis.

    *like having a project for a full year like farming, learning about its history, farming a school garden, etc.. or writing a final HS thesis during the last year.

  60. 60
    Pierce R. Butler

    … UK NARIC has deemed qualifications based on ACE to be comparable to A-level.

    Really?!? Then this test needs immediate revision – it doesn’t even ask about which side of the room is reserved for males-only, or the name of Mohammad’s magic horsey!

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