Step back guys, I feel a rant bubbling up…

Ah, Accelerated Christian Education. They now call themselves by the fifties-ish appellation "School of Tomorrow," apparently without even a sliver of irony. Faugh.

This is a hideously condescending system of private-school education that consisted, in my day at least, of having students work "at their own pace," but really struggling almost unaided through 60 workbooks a year, in little partitioned desks whose primary resemblance is to office cubicles. These workbooks, called PACEs (standing for "Packet of Accelerated Christian Education") are liberally sprinkled with the most inane, poorly-drawn cartoons you will ever see, most of which featuring simplistic morals and cookie-cutter characters in self-righteous situations. Therein we are introduced to Ace ("Ace-ee") and his friends Christi, Reginald and, representing all the ugly people of this great world, Happy, with his buck teeth and cross-eyed expression, who, if memory serves, is assured has a place on this Earth in blue-collar employment. All the characters, both the "good" (e.g. Christians) and "evil" (e.g. not-yet-Christians) have descriptive last names, as in that overrated religious path-straightener Pilgrim’s Progress, all of which I have graciously forgotten.

I will not lie, I attended one of these schools for a few years. The curriculum was rarely effective because it was all administered on the honor system, that is, students worked on their own, then put up an American Flag (out of the set of two each had in their individual wooden boxes, an American and a “Christian” flag that consisted, in parallel, of a white field with a red cross on a blue corner ) on top of their cubicle to get permission to rise and walk to the checking tables in order to score one’s own work. (The Christian flag, it must be said, was used to gain permission to go to the bathroom, so that one could worship his holy excrement upon the porcelain altar.) Because the system was rife with opportunity to cheat, most people who emerged from our institution went on to plummet out of college, and even I, who am honest almost to the point of idiocy and didn’t cheat, had to unlearn some really stupid habits picked up in that place. Though the use of self-initiated work theoretically taught initiative and self-reliance, it seemed more often to teach the fine art of waiting half an hour for someone to answer the damn flag so one could get up and walk the three feet to the answer keys, and thus taught dependence, stall tactics (since I have seen no other place which provided so many excuses not to do work), and either mindless obedience to authority (if one waited for an answered flag) or rebellion (if one did not). The school seemed primarily to be about rolling over and letting authority rub your belly than anything else.

I did learn some things in that school. I learned that even very nice people (and there were some nice, even intelligent, people on its staff) can make for lousy administrators. A couple of months ago I stopped by to see how things were going. It had changed a lot. All the old people seemed to be gone except for one of the few people who actually seemed competent to teach, Mr. Williams, who taught the single most-entertaining class (of the few in that place) I had there. He was an architect (all the staff at the place were volunteers) and taught Geometry, heavily proof-oriented, and wasn’t often afraid to let the class digress off on an interesting tangent. (Brian, a friend of mine, became almost legendary for stalling an entire class period with the simple question “What is the color of nothing?” Poor Mr. Williams couldn’t resist.) Mr. Williams is now running the place, and one of the first things he did was throw out those damn PACEs and switch to actual classes. (He still tried to convert me to Christianity before I left, though.)

Factual closing:
Accelerated Christian Education’s website is

Don’t forget to raise that freak flag high!

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