School Of Tomorrow
Intolerance and hate towards other religions is a sensitive and controversial issue. Unfortunately, literature distributed by the Child Evangelism Fellowship shows that intolerance is alive and well in Canada. In 1984, the Alberta Commission on Intolerance And Understanding found curriculum in private Christian fundamentalist schools that described Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam as false religions, and promoted the opinion that followers of these religions were godless, wicked and satanic. Although a number of these schools were shut down or adopted appropriate curriculum, there are still private schools in existence that are pushing religious hatred on our children.
The following is a transcript of an eight-year-olds' "vision". This excerpt was written on behalf of the boy by a staff member of the School of Tomorrow:
Then God came and attacked the circle and he came with his good and holy angels. The attack looked like lightning. When the lightning came and struck the circle it became swished and it got smaller and smaller. Then God dropped it into the sea of fire. As it dropped, Satan was going down into the fire and also all the Non-Christians, Muslims and Jews that he was holding onto. All of them came down with Satan because they couldn't get away"
The School Of Tomorrow is a Christian Fundamentalist organization that operates a large number of community and parent controlled schools. Theirs is perhaps the largest home schooling program in Canada using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) modules. Because the ACE program is non-accredited, and used largely by community and family-run schools, organizations such as the School of Tomorrow have been allowed to proliferate without conforming to the educational standards of public schools. Their promotion of intolerance, negative perceptions of the public school system, substandard qualifications, methods and curriculum must be exposed and accounted for.
The School Of Tomorrow has an objective of educational reform. Leaders of the British Columbia ACE program state that Christian schools, being ministries of the church, should not have anything to do with government funding or maintain government standards in regard to curriculum or teacher qualifications (Curriculum: Implementation In Three Christian Schools, Harro Van Brummelen 1989 p.7). Indeed, the School Of Tomorrow's own web site states that supervisors require only one week of training. See How to Start a School of Tomorrow School, Feb. 2001. Schools utilizing the ACE curriculum rarely, if ever, employ certified teachers, but rather hastily trained "supervisors". The ACE philosophy is that certified teachers undermine the word of God (The Fourth "R": Religion in our Classrooms p.5 by Lois Sweet, 1995 Atkinson Fellowship Award Winner). For good reason, professional educators object to this practice.
The School Of Tomorrow isolates students. Rather than encouraging group interaction, communication and critical thinking, students work in small cubicles where rote learning and recall are the primary teaching tools. Students are discouraged from communicating with other students, as this would "undermine the authority of God and the supervisors". Their curriculum does not embrace the philosophical beliefs of most contemporary writers of curriculum, stated by the vice president of the ACE program (quoted in Speck and Prideaux, 1993, p 284). This is further evidence that ACE rejects modern educational principles.
The curriculum appears to be substandard to the public school system, as demonstrated by the Alberta Department of Education curriculum audit. The content coverage of Alberta public schools as compared to ACE curriculum shows that ACE is severely lacking. Overall, the ACE program only covers 50% of the public school courses (Alberta Department of Education 1984, G.H. Bevan, p. 34-38). The ACE curriculum does not meet the high school diploma requirements in English, nor prepare students to write the English diploma examination. The ACE program in math omitted a large percentage of the Alberta Mathematics Objectives. The social studies program is not consistent with that used in public schools. The ACE science program is perhaps the most deficient; students are taught only those scientific principles which coincide with biblical knowledge (Australian Journal of Education, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1993, p. 279-295. See Education Creation Style). Completion of the ACE program does not prepare students for Alberta achievement examinations, or the high school diploma examination (Alberta Education: A Review of Private School Programs, Sept. 1984 p10-28).
The syllabus used by the School of Tomorrow consists almost entirely of memorizing and then regurgitating information into a workbook. This method of introducing material is not appropriate for teaching the goals of schooling (Alberta Department of Education 1984, G.H. Bevan p. 28). ACE courses provide little attention to higher level and critical thinking skills. Oral language, listening skills, mental involvement, critical thinking, communication and peer interaction is not promoted. Rote learning and filling in the blanks do not allow the student to analyze and interpret data. Children are expected only to parrot information provided by the educational modules.
Jean Taillefer of the Manitoba Department of Education confirmed that the School Of Tomorrow and the ACE program are not monitored via province wide testing, as they receive no funding from the province. For the same reason, the School of Tomorrow employees require no specific credentials, qualifications, or aptitudes over and above the one-week course provided. Unfortunately, the School Of Tomorrow's lax educational standards and questionable social attitudes provide students few opportunities outside their religious group upon graduation.
In Alberta, the school is extensively documented as one which promotes isolation, punishment of children and religious intolerance. Their low academic standards ensure that children will be at a disadvantage in the workforce. However, there has never been an audit of the School Of Tomorrow's curriculum by the Government of Manitoba. This raises many questions about what is being taught to children through the School of Tomorrow, the Accelerated Christian Education program, and other non-accredited religious schools. Do children not have the right to an education that is equal to the public school system? How do substandard educational standards and close-minded social conditioning prepare children for post-secondary education, or life in general?