The church of my childhood had an A.C.E. school. Accelerated Christian Education. They were big about being in the world but not of the world and so they tended towards isolationism. We never interacted or socialized with people who were not in the UPC church. So it made sense to them that they should have their own school to further ensure isolation. I entered that school with so much hope and soon found out it was nothing like I was expecting. While in public school I excelled at pretty much everything. I was a very bright student and always received good grades. I never had any behavior issues and I enjoyed learning. I left that school with a crushed spirit and believing that I was not very bright.
Below is a link to an article explaining how A.C.E. works along with some photos.
These schools have a pretty bad track record for traumatizing kids. There are support groups and FB pages where you can go to get support if you attended one of these awful schools.
What I remember most about being at Calvary Gospel Christian Academy is the loneliness. We were required to spend most of our day sitting in a tiny office with slates on either side. You had very little human contact, it was a bit like solitary confinement. My mind would drift to just about anything to take me away from my lonely situation. I am a kinesthetic learner. So reading all day to learn and never having any experiences or debates/discussions did not work for me. I did pretty well from an educational standpoint until I hit algebra. Algebra was misery for me. We had no teachers, and you were expected to figure it out from reading the booklet (PACE) you were given and then work through the problems. The problem I had with that was that none of it made sense to me. I would call a monitor (an adult who was supposed to help you) over to my office for help and usually, it would all end with me in tears and erasing holes into my Paces.
A big problem with these schools is that none of the people working there are required to have a teaching degree. They might have taken algebra in high school but that doesn’t mean they have any idea how to teach it. The adults would get frustrated because they did not know how to teach and that would roll down on the students. Not understanding algebra meant taking the class over and over. It was a nightmare. We had to get an 80% to pass. I would often clock in at 76% and be told to start over. They would send me home with whatever I could not finish in school, this did not help, no one in my home knew how to work these problems. I would return the next day with unfinished work and then be given demerits. These demerits meant you did something wrong. I would have to stay at my office while everyone else went out for recess. I would be punished for weeks at a time for not understanding what they could not teach. These adults knew I was trying but only one of them ever took compassion on me. The elementary school kid’s supervisor came to my office one time and told me to just go out with the other kids, she also helped me some with the algebra. She wasn’t a great teacher but she showed me some empathy and for that I am grateful. Those long stretches without even recess to look forward are really depressing to think about even now. Because I could not get algebra higher science was almost impossible. So then I was struggling with two subjects. On a side note, I went to public high school for my last year of school and I passed algebra with a B+. My algebra teacher told me I just needed to be shown other ways to look at it. He was a good teacher and helped to restore some of my confidence.
I was never spanked in school but other kids were. Spankings seemed to be more of an issue if you were a poor kid or child of color. I knew the score and I find it hard to believe no one else could sense it. Every part of the day was highly regimented. There was no time for asking questions or free thinking. The Bible was the main literature book. We never read any classics or really anything except for the dreaded Pilgrim’s Progress. I went to the library in my free time and read all sorts of contraband. Going to the library was frowned upon, why do you need anything other than the Bible? In order to make the honor roll we had to memorize long passages of scripture, and them repeat them to our supervisor. Some of these were passages were out of Song of Solomon and other weird sexual verses. It was embarrassing reading them out loud together and then having to repeat them to a grown adult man. I often wonder if he picked some of those passages just to make the girls squirm. The UPC is full of perverts so it would not surprise me.
I was in my late 20’s before I realized that I had received a lousy education. The history I learned was tainted with a fundamentalist view so I had to search out the truth. Even my grammar education was lacking. I struggle to this day because my grammar skills just are not as strong as other people’s. Science was from a Biblical point of view not based on fact. I had read none of the classics and had received no geography education. All that being true I have managed to educate myself as an adult. I am a curious person so when I don’t know the answer to something I search for it. I have a love for science which is a miracle considering where I came from.
As a side note, all the adults in my school knew about what Steve Dahl did to me and it was completely ignored.
My Christian school education is a deep well of pain and I’m sure it will come up again. This is just the surface. Do any of you have negative A.C.E experiences?