Students at schools using accelerated Christian education programs are being taught that man-made climate change is not real and that evolution is “impossible,” a study has found.
Research shows that climate change denial is new to science textbooks that have been updated over the past few years.
Textbooks deny that human behavior has anything to do with rising temperature Instead, teach students that God has a plan to prepare a new world with a better climate.
The Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program originated in Texas in 1970 and is used by at least 11 schools in the UK, as well as by some homeschooling parents.
It presents each topic through a biblical worldview, with creationism the cornerstone of its science curriculum.
Christian Education Europe, which oversees the UK’s ACE curriculum, describes the science curriculum on its website as “non-evolutionary in method and content”. The organization did not respond to a request for comment.
Researchers at University College London found that until Year 9, students were not exposed to any ideas contrary to the literal interpretation of the Bible – which they said violated a legal requirement for schools to offer a “broad and balanced science curriculum”.
The study’s lead author, Dr Jenna Scaramanga, told Sky News that students taking the course ended up being “misguided [and] The scientific evidence cannot be weighed”.
“I think evolution is a lie”
Tanya, who did not want her real name to be used, was home-schooled by ACE between the ages of 6 and 18.
She described her science education as “very poor” with “a lot of misinformation”.
She graduated from ACE convinced that the theory of evolution was “absurd, it was a lie”.
“I don’t believe in climate change,” she told Sky News.
Tanya said she was “completely out of it” when she finished her studies.
“ACE promises its qualifications will get you into university. They don’t,” she said.
Tanya holds the International Certificate in Christian Education (ICCE), an ACE-specific qualification. The ICCE website calls it an “educationally robust” qualification and says graduates have entered a “wide range of higher education institutions”.
But that wasn’t Tanya’s experience. She had to spend an extra year taking university entrance courses to gain the qualifications she needed to start her degree.
She said she struggled through the course, but is now completing her second master’s degree, “determined that these people will not destroy [my] Life”.
While she insists on continuing her education, Tanya, 31, says “I still don’t know much” about science.
“It was really embarrassing,” she said, adding that she watched the documentary to make up for things she missed in school.
‘Course paves the way for not believing in vaccines’
Dr. Scaramanga said the way children were taught science through ACE made them vulnerable to conspiracy theories.
The learning style of ACE is mainly self-directed learning, relying on rote memorization, usually with little teacher intervention.
Dr Scaramanga said students were shown the science as “recognized wisdom”, were given no opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, and were told mainstream scientists were “colluding to promote false ideas” around evolution and climate change.
Former ACE student Matthew Pocock agrees, saying ACE science teaching has a wider impact on students later in life.
“The kind of science denial in PACE [textbooks] Pave the way for disbelief in vaccines, but not quarantine during COVID.
“It’s part of the basis of not being able to take care of yourself in the real world.”
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Mr Pocock, 47, has a PhD in genetics – but says his ACE education has cast a “long shadow” over his scientific career.
As a kid who loved science, he quickly realized that what he was learning in his textbooks did not match what he saw in books or in documentaries.
Textbooks declare evolution to be “impossible” and present misleading versions of the theory. In a textbook published in 2016, students were told: “If fish evolve into frogs, fish should cease to exist, but apparently they do.”
Mr Pocock said messages about evolution were “insidious” and even while studying for his degree he struggled to overcome them.
He added: “Unless you’ve been in one of these cult-like environments where things are right because you’re told they’re right, I think it’s hard to understand that even if you reject them in your mind, they’re Stay emotionally for a long time.”
Affected children ‘deserve better’
Dr Scaramanga’s research on ACE textbooks was published in the academic journal Cultural Studies in Science Education.
She hopes the rules can be changed to improve children’s prospects of missing out on proper education.
She does not believe independent school standards are enforced at ACE schools, which state that creationism should not be taught to the exclusion of other scientific perspectives, and calls for that to change.
Dr Scaramanga added that nationally recognized qualifications such as GCSE and A-level should be a requirement.
“Kids who are deprived of an education because of this system matter – they deserve a better education,” she said.
“They may be few, but they matter because every child matters.”
Sky News contacted all 11 ACE-affiliated schools requesting interviews about the science curriculum, but no one responded.
According to the Christian Education Europe website, ACE Science courses “stimulate students’ natural curiosity about their natural environment and help them build a solid foundation based on biblical principles”.
It said the ICCE qualification “recognizes and encourages high standards of academic achievement”, and said it was independently benchmarked to be equivalent to A-level standards.
A Department of Education spokesman said private schools were free to set their own curriculum, but it had to meet private school standards.
“This includes requiring full-time supervised education in areas as diverse as science and creative education,” the spokesman said.
“Any school teaching a program that does not meet these requirements will not meet independent school standards and follow-up action may be taken in accordance with our published policy.”
They did not specify whether any schools using the ACE curriculum would take action.