Tolerance of other views desirable
ACE is a globally recognised education option of the highest academic calibre, writes Roy Herbertson.
AS a statetrained teacher with many years’ experience working with a variety of curriculum options in a range of educational contexts, I believe Jean Balchin’s article entitled ‘‘When ACE is not the best’’ (ODT Opinion, 9.11.17) paints a twisted view of this education option.
The Accelerated Christian Education curriculum is made available globally to any individual or organisation. It is biblicallybased, but no education ever takes place in some sort of moral vacuum. Since the existence of God can be neither proven nor disproven, whatever one believes or disbelieves is founded upon assumptions about what is true and what is not. As the nature of education is inextricably rooted in the nature of truth, all education is therefore fundamentally religious. Consequently, what distinguishes one curriculum from another at its root level is its underpinning religious bias.
Given the aim of any education is to influence thinking, the question is not ‘‘is my child being brainwashed?’’, but ‘‘who is brainwashing my child?’’. As a homeschooling parent, I have never been afraid of educational material coming into my home that I disagree with, as it has given us as parents the chance to discuss with our children what we believe and why, as opposed to what we don’t (an opportunity that few parents of pupils in state schools have, given they have no idea who is proselytising their children and what information they are doing it with).
The administration of the curriculum within Balchin’s home environment may have left something to be desired, but if so, that was an issue of local administration, not global curriculum quality or content. As ACE is used in 149 countries, it is safe to assume there will be a wide spectrum in regard to its implementation.
In regard to academic standards (dismissed by Balchin as relying upon ‘‘disproved outdated methods of teaching and learning, that restrict a child’s imaginative and creative potential as well as discouraging actual understanding in favour or rote memorisation’’), the ACE curriculum has been rated by the National Agency for the Recognition and Comparison of International Qualifications as comparable to Cambridge International Examinations Advanced Level Standard.
Can you really ascribe racism to ACE on the basis of the statement that: ‘‘White businessmen and developers . . . turned South Africa into a modern industrialised nation, which the poor, uneducated blacks couldn’t have accomplished in several more decades.’’ In and of itself, the statement is true, but it merely comments on the issue of economic development and not on social justice. Balchin’s interpretation is as disingenuous as claiming that to make the statement, ‘‘Kauri logging led to an economic boom in pioneer Northland,’’ would be to affirm the rape of the land that went hand in hand with it.
As Balchin points out, religious fundamentalism and feminism aren’t compatible. Traditional views of femininity and masculinity are reinforced throughout ACE, but to describe these as ‘‘restrictive’’ merely underscores her rejection of those views in favour of androgyny. While that is consistent with her postmodern, feministinspired belief system, her position too is faithbased, so the issue of who is right and who is wrong remains a moot point.
While ACE clearly and unashamedly takes a creationist standpoint in regard to science, it also discusses evolution at length. I have been involved in state education at primary, intermediate and secondary level for many years, and have never heard a pupil within the state system being given any other viewpoint to consider apart from evolution.
These issues aside, Balchin’s core motivation for her scathing attack is clearly her bitterness towards a JudeoChristian worldview. Yes, within the ACE curriculum you will find clear and unashamed acceptance and support of biblical principle over and above that of an alternative. Each of these points of difference is intelligently arguable, but intellectual integrity is not the issue at stake. The key point is openmindedness.
Bigotry is defined as being intolerant of any opinions that differ from one’s own. Balchin is welcome to believe what she does and to act in accordance with her views. This includes the right to seek an education that builds upon a different set of faithbased presuppositions. However, I hope that in our ‘‘tolerant’’ society she would at least offer the same degree of intellectual and moral liberty to others that she herself enjoys.