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Beyond a joke

Remember the amazing story on Uncommon Descent a few days ago, about the private school science textbook which teaches that the Loch Ness Monster is real? Believe it or not, the story is true. It’s also three years old: way back in 2009, an article exposing the school program that publishes the textbook, Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.) (a publisher of home schooling texts, founded in Texas in 1970), appeared in an article by Michael Shaw (31 July 2009) in the Times Educational Supplement (TES), a British publication for teachers. Shaw was alerted to the deficiencies in the A.C.E. curriculum by one Jonny Scaramanga (more about him below). In fact, it turns out that the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum has been attracting criticism for over 25 years.

A quote from “Biology 1099″, an Accelerated Christian Education students’ workbook published in 1995 which claims the Loch Ness monster is probably a living plesiosaur, can be found in a recent article (25 June 2012) by Claire McKin in The Scotsman. Here’s what it says about Nessie:

“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.”

It gets worse. On the same page, the same students’ workbook published an artist’s impression of this photo, claiming that it was “the decomposing body of a dinosaurlike sea creature off the coast of New Zealand” by “a Japanese fishing vessel” in 1977. The students’ workbook added: “The animal could not be matched with any living species but certainly resembles a supposedly extinct species of dinosaur.” Trouble is, the creature wasn’t a plesiosaur. It was a decaying basking shark. Scientific evidence that it was a shark had been presented back in 1978. So when did A.C.E. write its PACE [Packages of Accelerated Christian Education] workbook, strongly implying that this was a dinosaur (and saying it couldn’t be matched with any living species)? In 1989. And they kept it in subsequent revisions.

And here’s another, even more ridiculous quote:

“Biblical and scientific evidence seems to indicate that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time…. Fossilized tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, also give evidence that men and dinosaurs existed simultaneously. Fossilized human footprints and three-toed dinosaur tracks occur in the same rock stratum…. 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.)

As far back as 1986, the Institute for Creation Research had acknowledged that the Paluxy River footprints weren’t human (see here). The PACE cited above went into print in 1989, three years after this acknowledgement. The Paluxy River tracks are also mentioned in “Science 1096″, copyright 1986.

Where did the latest Nessie story come from?

The story about Nessie being in a creationist school curriculum appeared a few days ago on 18 June 2012 in an article by Bruce Wilson on www.alternet.org (a left-wing alternative news Website), and quickly went viral.

Wilson has been researching the curricula at private religious schools (which he evidently opposes) for quite some time, and last year, he made a 35-minute documentary with Rachel Tabachnick on private schools using textbooks published by A Beka Book, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). Some of these texts contain statements that can only be described as off the wall. For example, one history text states that the Klu Klux Klan fed on “racism and bigotry”, but then states that “the Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross to target bootleggers, wife beaters and immoral movies.” (Timothy Keesee and Mark Sidwell, United States History for Christian Schools, 2nd ed., Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1991, p. 219.) Readers can find out more here. Full references for the quotes are provided, in the article.

The original source of Wilson’s story: Jonny Scaramanga

The original source for Wilson’s story on the private school science textbook claiming that the Loch Ness Monster is real is one Jonny Scaramanga, 27, a British music lecturer living in Bristol who attended an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school in Bath, England, for four years as a child and who is now a crusader against fundamentalist schools. He appeared recently in a podcast with P. Z. Myers, on June 21, 2012 (see here ). For those who are interested, here’s Scaramanga’s testimony on P. Z. Myers’ blog, narrating his life story and explaining why he’s now an atheist.

A few years ago, Johnny Scaramanga pointed out the objectionable nature of the curricular material in some ACE textbooks to the National Recognition Information Centre (Naric), a UK government agency which ruled in 2008 that exams for the ACE curriculum were equivalent to international A-levels (see here). However, Tim Buttress, Naric’s spokesman, told the Times Educational Supplement that the agency’s role was to guide universities and employers on the “rigour” of qualifications, but that investigating curriculum content was outside its remit. (The article also mentions that Professor Richard Dawkins visited a London school which used the ACE curriculum in 2006.)

Johnny Scaramanga’s Website has quite a few articles on Accelerated Christian Education, which he seems bent on exposing to the world. I shall pass them on without further comment and invite readers form their own judgments:

What Is Accelerated Christian Education?
Top 5 Lies Taught By Accelerated Christian Education (In this one, Scaramanga takes credit for having alerted TES about ACE.)
5 Even Worse Lies from Accelerated Christian Education.

ACE and apartheid

It gets worse. Until 1996, ACE schoolbooks legitimized South Africa’s apartheid system. See here.

What’s it like at an ACE school?

Some online comments from people who attended ACE schools can be found here. Some of the stories of violence inflicted by instructors on children are frankly appalling. Students who misbehave are disciplined with heavy paddles. Scaramanga himself suffered a breakdown at the age of 14, after attending an ACE school for four years, and had to be transferred to a normal school. For students, learning is a very solitary experience: each student sits in an isolated cubicle all day long and does rote and fill-in-the-blank exercises. Students are not allowed to turn around, talk, or move without permission, which they gain by raising a flag to get a supervisor’s attention. Critical thinking is not taught as part of the curriculum. (See here for details.)

The ACE curriculum: not up to scratch?

Scarmanga has highlighted several shortcomings of the ACE curriculum in this post, including the following:

(1) ACE PACE tests are laughably easy.
(2) Students know in advance what the questions will be on the tests.
(3) Tests consist solely of short answer or multiple-choice questions.
(4) This makes it possible to learn all the answers by rote, or “parrot fashion.”
(5) Some questions in the tests aren’t even relevant to the subject.

Apparently the ACE curriculum has been attracting criticism for at least 25 years. Scaramanga also had another recent post (see here) in which he pointed out that two academics had criticized ACE’s curriculum as far back as 1987, in a magazine called Phi Delta Kappan. The article is not available online, but readers can view the first page here. For those who are interested, the full reference is: Dan B. Fleming and Thomas C. Hunt, “The Phi Delta Kappan”, Vol. 68, No. 7 (March 1987), pp. 518-523. The vice-president of ACE, Ronald Johnson, published a response to the article in the same issue (pp. 520-521). Unfortunately, it cannot be viewed online.

How academically proficient are ACE students, anyway?

A 2005 Marshall University thesis by Lisa Kelley on the ACE curriculum and the academic proficiency of students from ACE schools is available online here. What Kelley found, in a nutshell, was that kids who learn from this curriculum actually do worse than kids at public schools, with ACT scores consistently lower than those of public school students.

According to Kelley, Accelerated Christian Education, also known as the School of Tomorrow, was developed in 1970 by a minister named Donald Howard and his wife, Esther. The first school to utilize this material was founded and staffed by the Howards in Garland, Texas – the same year the first edition of ACE material was published, in 1973.

About 200,000 children in the USA and 2,000 in the UK are currently schooled using the ACE curriculum.

For my part, I have to say I regard the ACE curriculum as seriously deficient. Its academic content appears to be sub-standard in many respects, it fails to cater to the learning needs of a large number of students, it makes no attempt to teach critical thinking skills, and it stunts students socially. I find it very odd that any school with a curriculum like that could get public funds (vouchers).

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24 Responses to Beyond a joke

  1. Good work, Torley! In a back-handed way, it shows the value of school vouchers. If vouchers weren’t involved, it wouldn’t have come to public attention in the same way.

    At this point, never mind the vouchers. Where are the child welfare authorities?

  2. 2

    The obvious solution being to not provide public funds at all and let the people work this out on their own, just as they do in every other sphere of life. Well, except for healthcare.

  3. 3

    [blockquote]Where are the child welfare authorities?[/url]

    Yes, by all means let’s call social services and destroy families whenever thought crimes are committed. Unbelievable.

  4. 4

    Theres nothing wrong with these things.
    Its common in YEC circles to say possibly dinos didn’t go extinct etc.
    Then they report common reports about creatures that might of been leftover dinos etc.

    bringing up Nessie is fine. They are not insisting but only suggesting.
    the Japan creature was said by many to not be related to known creatures.
    oNly later was it certain it was a basking shark etc.
    They are only reporting media items about such creatures and giving intepretation to common stories.
    Many people years ago thought there was Nessie.

  5. 5
    jonnyscaramanga

    Robert, I’m not sure what you mean by “there’s nothing wrong with these things.”

    The Japanese creature was caught in 1977. In 1978, journal articles were published with the evidence that this was a basking shark. How is that a defence of it being taught that “a Japanese whaling vessel found a dinosaur” 35 years later?

    Anyway, hello. I just wanted to come by an express my appreciation for this article. I feel slightly famous. I’m really excited that this is getting attention.

    In today’s blog post, I’ve summarised all of the academic commentary on ACE over the years. It’s been universally panned in journal articles, reports, theses and books since the mid-80s. http://leavingfundamentalism.w.....education/

  6. Some of us were thinking of the heavy wooden paddles, tragic mishap. Nonsense is one thing, abuse another.

  7. 7

    Spanking is not abuse.

  8. 8

    And of course, if nobody wants to go to the school because it’s bad in some way, then nobody will go to the school. That’s how the free market works. Unfortunately because the government has distorted the free market by forcing a government education monopoly onto the market, our options for schooling are often limited because very few can compete against a free service. If you want private schooling to be better, get rid of the public option. I guarantee you private schooling would see its rolls rise dramatically and the goods schools would rise to the top leaving the bad ones in the dust very quickly.

  9. tragic mishap, children are not in the same position as adults. Some of us seethe with anger about incompetent Children’s Aid Societies. That said, school discipline practices, public or private, MUST meet legal standards. One wonders how what Torley describes would fare.

  10. 10

    Of course they must meet legal standards. However private organizations do not have the same legal limitations as public schools because they are not run by the government. That’s precisely why private schooling is better than public.

  11. Hello UD, this is my first comment here…

    I went to an ACE school for grades 7, 8, and most of 9 before a move across town caused a transfer to the public high school a mile down the road.

    While I am not defending ACE in general, I thought it would be helpful for you guys, especially for NEWS, to here from an insider what it was specifically like socially.

    The purpose of the individual desks was to promote self sufficiency and self discipline. It was you against the paces and books. No lectures, no group work, no chance to mooch info off of better abled or better prepared kids. You had to learn to read, comprehend, and answer the questions on your own. If you needed help, then you raised your flag and sat patiently until a teacher could make it over to help you. That took about a minute. If you answered incorrectly, you looped back through the pace until you got it right. As a result, the classroom was quiet, orderly, and under control.

    For me, this taught me how to be a self motiated and self sufficient learner. That set of skills did put me ahead of most of my peers in the public school who could not use a textbook to learn.

    As for the paddling. ACE schools at that time has a demerit system which could lead to spanking if one accumulated enough points. This was very rare. When it did occur in my school, your parents where called and had to come to school and administer the spanking. I am not sure this was an option for high schoolers.

    The demerit system was linked to recess and lunch. If you stayed demerit free and were up to date on your paces ( every student had an individual plan) your social time was nearly double that of the other kids. So lunch would be 50 minutes for you instead of 30 for others ( thereabouts). You could also end you school day ealier if you stayed demerit free and on schedule. This meant there was plenty of social time for me and my friends. When I did get into trouble, I was motivated to stay demerit free and catch up on pace work so I could spend more time with my friends.

    The demerit system was partly targetted to manners and respect for the opposite sex. You were taught by the teacher how to be mannerly when eating, playing, and speaking with girls (in my case). If you were not respectful and gentlemenly, you were given a demerit.

    I will agree with Dr. Torely that the curricullum was deficient in areas. Neither did it stir critical thinking. But I disagree that it did left us abused and socially stunted.

  12. Hi everyone,

    Re the ACE school system, I think anyone wanting to defend it should read this first: http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?14,7041,page=2

    I agree that the private school system in general outperforms the public system. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would dispute that. However, a totally unregulated private school system would be disastrous for children.

  13. 13
    Chance Ratcliff

    VJT, liberty is risky business. In such situations, the government has precious little power available to guarantee sub-par outcomes across the board. In other words, the only thing worse than letting individuals make decisions for themselves is letting government do it for them.

  14. However, a totally unregulated private school system would be disastrous for children.

    Well, it would be disastrous for some children. For others, not so much. It’s not like the only thing that makes an education proper is the guiding hand of the state.

    On the flipside, the public school system is disastrous for many children as it is.

    ACE still sounds like a bad system at a glance, but then again, I went to Catholic school from grades 1-graduation. I wasn’t impressed. Homeschooling, good homeschooling, should be held up as the ideal, even if there’s a place for more traditional schools. In my view, anyway.

  15. 15
    Christian-apologetics.org

    I would like to post a few citations from Lisa J. L. Kelley’s thesis “An Analysis of Accelerated Christian Education and College Preparedness Based on ACT Scores” from Marshall University (as cited by VJ above). Here is the first:

    Interestingly, the one area that did not have a significant difference in ACT scores was Science Reasoning. Science, as taught by ACE, has also been highly criticized (Speck & Prideaux, 1993), however, scores in this area, for the most part, were not significantly lower than the public school. One possible explanation for the lack of difference between the scores may be that ACE fosters science reasoning through its extensive focus on creationism. From a young age children are taught how to dispute evolution and defend their belief in creationism. Inherent in teaching children how to oppose an alternative view may be the science reasoning skills necessary to do well on the ACT.

  16. 16
    Christian-apologetics.org

    Here is a second set of citations, followed by my comments, from Lisa J. L. Kelley’s thesis. She is referring to two studies from 1985:

    No recent studies are available on how the ACE curriculum affects college readiness and performance. In a 1985 doctoral dissertation for Miami University Monroe administered the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (CTA) to a group of entering freshmen at Cedarville College and compared this score to that of their ACT or SAT score. The freshmen were divided into groups based on their educational background which were students who came from public schools, Christian traditional schools, and ACE schools. Despite the fact that the highest CTA and ACT scores came from an ACE student, overall, Monroe found that, as a group, the ACE students had the lowest ACT and CTA scores when compared to the other groups. While the ACT and CTA means of public school students were 21.17 and 54.72 respectfully, the scores of the student from the traditional Christian student were 20.93 and 55.37 respectfully. The means of the ACE student can be seen as somewhat lower at 19.10 for the ACT and 52.66 for the CTA.

    And immediately following:

    In another 1985 doctoral dissertation, Pantana did a similar comparison of students from public schools, conventional Christian schools, and ACE schools. Pantana, however, did not focus on critical thinking skills but rather on academic achievement, attitudes regarding study, and SAT/ACT scores. Pantana measured academic achievement by comparing first and second semester grade point averages of the students. The Study Attitudes and Methods Survey (SAMS) was used to measure attitudes toward studying. Overall, Pantana found no significant difference in any of the measured areas of the three groups. The lowest grade point average mean for the first semester, however, was that of the ACE student group, which was 2.49, compared to the highest received by the public school students of 2.75. ACE students also demonstrated the lowest scores in the math percentile of the SAT/ACT with a score of 37.831, compared to the highest score received by the public school group of 43.446. Again, no significant difference was noted concerning the results of the SAMS; however, the ACE group did score the highest in the area of academic interest, which reportedly measures an interest in learning.

    First paragraph response: Note from the first paragraph that strangely the important statistical number of students in the sample is not listed. Also, the highest CTA and ACT scores came from an ACE student. While ACE ACT and CTA scores were apparently the lowest, the actual difference across the groups is minimal. In other words, it may sound bad that the ACE scores were lower, but in reality the differences are hardly significant.

    Second paragraph response: Note from the second paragraph that strangely the important statistical number of students in the sample is not listed. Then this quote: “Overall, Pantana found no significant difference in any of the measured areas of the three groups [of students from public schools, conventional Christian schools, and ACE schools].”

    What conclusions can really be drawn from these cited paragraphs, especially since we are not even told the sample sizes? Very little as far as I can tell.

  17. 17
    Christian-apologetics.org

    From my post at #13: “From a young age children are taught how to dispute evolution and defend their belief in creationism. Inherent in teaching children how to oppose an alternative view may be the science reasoning skills necessary to do well on the ACT.”

    in other words, a variation of “Teach the Controversy” appears to lead to improved science results.

  18. 18
    Christian-apologetics.org

    Here is a third set of citations, followed by my comments, from Lisa J. L. Kelley’s thesis:

    The most recent study of college students from ACE schools was done informally by Deuink of Bob Jones University in 1991. This study was cited in Elkinsí 1992 doctoral dissertation through a personal communication between Elkins and Deuink. In this study Deuink compared the grade point averages and the ACT scores of entering freshmen at Bob Jones University of students from public schools, conventional Christian schools, and ACE schools for two different time periods, 1984-1985 and 1990-1991. For the first time period of 1984-1985, ACE students demonstrated the lowest means for both GPA and ACT scores, with a mean GPA of 2.33 and a mean ACT score of 19.1.

    But then note this further down the same paragraph:

    It should be noted that ACE students represent a very small percentage of students relative to the other groups and, in each entering class, only six ACE students were admitted, compared to 71 conventional Christian school students in 1984, 66 conventional students in 1990, 23 public school students in 1984, and 25 public school students in 1990. Due to the small number of ACE students, it is difficult to determine if their academic abilities are representative of ACE students as a whole.

    Response: From my limited knowledge of stats, a sample of 6 is simply not acceptable. Yet this is cited with accompanying data comparisons in a thesis?

    Another study was then described as follows:

    A fundamentalist Christian School in West Virginia which utilizes ACE was evaluated for the purposes of the current study. This Christian School, which for the purposes of this study will be known as CS, serves approximately 150 students from grades kindergarten through twelfth. The school has been in operation since the early 1980′s and has graduated approximately 130 to 150 students. Each year approximately 40-50% of CS graduates take the ACT. The current study focused on thirty-two graduates from 1998 to 2003 who took the American College Test (ACT).

    Response: Again note the small sample size, acknowledged below:

    Also, this study compared the scores of only thirty-two graduates of CS [Christian School] to the scores of 1240 graduates of PS [Public School]. This large gap in sample sizes may also skew the results. Furthermore, additional information to link ACE to college preparedness needs to be obtained such as college grade point average and a survey of ACE graduates and their perceptions of their own readiness for college.

    My conclusions: All of the results found in this thesis should I think be considered as pretty meaningless. Small sample sizes and minimal differences in marks hardly justify significant criticisms of ACE.

    I should note that I have never used ACE and have no vested interest in their curriculum. It does seem however that some of the recent criticisms addressed in my responses are unfounded.

  19. 19
    Christian-apologetics.org

    My final comment is this question: If these claims about ACE supporting the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and so on are true, then why is no one showing the original documents? I have looked on the websites listed in this post and various others and no original documents showing these claims are evident to me.

  20. Accelerated Christian Education as viewed by the OP

    Accelerated = quick memorization without: reflection, processing, critical thinking.

    Christian = Young Earth Creationism with certain peculiarities: I.e., dinosaurs walked with humans. – strict character building via corporal punishment.

    Education = Debatable.

    Well, I read their website section on curriculum and nothing about curriculum was actually there. It was more of a sales pitch. This raised a red flag right away.

    Other than that, I don’t think I could make a judgment as harsh as the OP without knowing more. Media tends to favor certain positions, and the school is obviously outside the “acceptable education” grid.

  21. CannuckianYankee,

    Thanks for this. Hopefully someone will have additional comments in light of what you just shared.

  22. Actually, oops, Christian-apologetics more like.

  23. Hi Christian-apologetics.org,

    Thank you very much for your post. I have to say I’m very sorry for not getting back to you earlier, but I’ve been busy with a few projects, including a couple of posts which will appear on UD very soon, and a ding-dong argument I’ve been having with Jonathan M. S. Pearce over at Debunking Christianity, on the reliability of the Infancy Narratives. See http://debunkingchristianity.b.....ation.html for the first installment and http://debunkingchristianity.b.....iting.html for Round Two of the argument.

    I’d like to make a preliminary point about private education and voucher schemes. Personally I support both ideas, and I would therefore say that Louisiana’s recent bill was a step in the right direction.

    Having said that, I don’t think vouchers should be issued for schools that are not up to scratch or that inflict mental damage on children. I think that the available evidence indicates that the ACE curriculum is seriously deficient, and that at least some ACE schools have inflicted real cruelty on children (see here for an example).

    I’d now like to address your major criticisms regarding my comments on the ACE curriculum.

    1. You write: “If these claims about ACE supporting the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and so on are true, then why is no one showing the original documents?” Good question. If you have a look at the following videos you can catch a glimpse of the high school science textbook used (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21DGazrEZlE – especially the segment from 1:49 to 7:54). Anyway, I’ve emailed Jonny Scaramanga asking him if he could post a copy of PACE 1099 online, to settle the matter once and for all.

    2. Regarding Lisa Kelley’s thesis, which claimed that students who were schooled using the ACE curriculum actually did worse than students at public schools, you write:

    “All of the results found in this thesis should I think be considered as pretty meaningless. Small sample sizes and minimal differences in marks hardly justify significant criticisms of ACE.”

    Let me just say this. Kelley’s ACE data was based on a school with which had been teaching the ACE curriculum for over two decades, and which had graduated 130 to 150 students, about 40 to 50% of whom had taken the American College Test (ACT). Kelley’s sample of 32 students was based on students who had taken the test between 1998 and 2003.

    Thirty-two students might not sound like very many, but it’s enough for the purposes of a t-test. I studied statistics at university back in the eighties for a couple of years, and I seem to remember being told that a sample size of 30 was sufficient. Apparently some researchers now claim that smaller sizes are possible. Anyway, if you have a look at page 40 of Kelley’s thesis (see http://www.marshall.edu/etd/ma.....005-ma.pdf ) you will find the following quote:

    “As can be seen from the above table, there is a statistically significant difference between the two sets of ACT scores in the following areas: English, Math, Reading, and the Composite Score. No statistically significant difference was found in the area of Science Reasoning.”

    When one bears in mind that the 32 students from the ACE school who took the ACT were probably brighter than the other graduates from that school, the likelihood increases that Kelley’s findings are substantially correct.

    3. I’m glad to see that ACE students did as well as public school students in Science Reasoning. However, being able to critique scientific speculation dressed up as “established fact” is one thing; being able to critique religious speculation dressed up as “science” is quite another. It appears that ACE students have some skill in making critiques of the first kind, but not the second.

    4. If you want a quick 25-year history of what academics have had to say about the ACE curriculum, please go here: http://leavingfundamentalism.w.....education/ . It’s pretty negative. Most of the academics criticized the undue emphasis on rote learning.

    5. Kelley’s findings on academic proficiency of ACE teachers are also worrisome. On page 22 of her thesis she writes:

    “Accelerated Christian Education is purported to be a ‘teacher-proof’ complete school curriculum (Mayes, 1992). ACE recommends that each school have an administrator, generally the church pastor, a supervisor (teacher), and a monitor (teacher’s assistant) for every 35 students (Stoker & Splawn, 1980). ACE also recommends, but does not require, that the administrator and teachers hold at least a Bachelor’s degree (Hunter, 1982). In a 1980 study, Stoker and Splawn observed that most ACE schools do not follow these recommendations and do not emphasize formal training for their staff. Most schools in their study appeared to stress ‘character, love of children, and being born-again Christians’ over degrees (p. 18). In a study of Indiana fundamentalist Christian schools which used ACE, Elkins (1992) found of 30 teachers surveyed, almost one third had no special training to prepare them for their role as an ACE teacher, less than half had received training through ACE, approximately one fourth had some exposure to college, and two had obtained secular degrees.”

    Hmmm. As someone who is a qualified high school teacher myself, I have to say this raises a red flag. But there’s more. Go over to the ACE Website, click on the Employment link. Here’s the application form:

    http://www.aceministries.com/j.....#038;id=72

    Notice what’s missing? There’s nothing about the applicant’s academic qualifications, and nothing about their job history. Rather odd, don’t you think?

    Let me add that I have no problem with a private school which teaches a world-view that some might call “biased”. Bias is not always a bad thing. I should also add that I think parents have a right to set up schools which teach young earth creationism, if they so wish. That’s quite a separate issue from what appears to be the problem here: a sub-standard curriculum, which knowingly makes use of textbooks and workbooks containing statements which have been proven to be false two decades ago, and which is taught in a sterile environment that stifles academic curiosity and punishes children displaying any initiative.

  24. Update:

    Johnny Scaramanga has replied very promptly to my request for a copy of the ACE textbook page which makes the extraordinary claims about Nessie. I’ve seen the page in question, and I can vouch for the fact that it makes the following claims:

    (i) “Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur”;

    (ii) “A Japanese fishing vessel brought up the decomposing body of a dinosaurlike sea creature off the coast of New Zealand… The animal could not be matched with any living species but certainly resembles a supposedly extinct species of dinosaur.” An artistic portrayal of the creature (known since 1978 to have actually been a basking shark, but depicted in this text as a dinosaur more than a decade after it had been exposed as a shark, and retained in subsequent editions of the text) can be found on the same page;

    (iii) with regard to the question of whether dinosaurs are still alive today, the textbook states: “with recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.”

    Believe me, the page is quite genuine. Jonny Scaramanga offered to scan the front cover and copyright page from the book as well, but added that he didn’t have time to do that right now.

    Scaramanga also said that he had to show evidence to the Times Educational Supplement to get them to print it in the first place. That was back in 2009.

    Scaramanga adds that he has been reluctant to post the page online because ACE could force a takedown because of copyright law; however, he now thinks it might be necessary.

    That’s all for now.

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