Keep ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ out of schools.

June 20, 2014

“I pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, crucified, risen, and coming again as king with life and liberty for all who believe.
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I will hide it in my heart, that I might not sin against God.”

– The pledge, spoken at Accelerated Christian Education schools.

It seemed to be a good week for secularism in the UK this week. On June 17th, Ofsted withdraw support for gender segregation in schools, and a day later the government banned free schools from promoting Creationism as science. All seemed to be progressing. That is until a private Christian school in Manchester had been found to be using textbooks by Tennessee based Creationist group, ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ in its curriculum. Alarmingly, the British Humanist Association found that nine nurseries were using ‘ACE’ curriculum. Leaving aside a general discussion on the place of ‘faith’ in private schools, I wondered just who ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ are, and why they are permitted any involvement in the education of impressionable minds. It turns out, they’re about as fundamentalist as Christians manage to get, and incredibly damaging.

Dr Donald Howard founded ‘ACE’ in 1970, for the express purpose of disseminating a literalist interpretation of the Bible, through what Howard termed “educational missions”. The usual suspects are to be found throughout their literature; homophobia, right winged political ideals, creationism, anti-evolution with a little racism thrown in. The children that come out of ACE schools grow up to tell similar stories of how Dr Howard’s “educational missions” horrendously stunted their education and growth, presented them with a false perception of reality far removed from the rest of society, and failed enormously to prepare them for life.

Over at a favourite blog of mine ‘Leaving Fundamentalism’, several ex-students explain their experience of an ‘ACE’ education:

“I found that ACE helped me with test taking, memorization, answering to please the grader, and sitting silently for 7 hours straight. It hindered me by not teaching me long-term retention, critical thinking, literary/historical/contextual analysis, participation in discussions, essay composition, and unbiased presentation.”

“I was going through some old ACE books in order to get my transcripts for my first year of highschool in order and noticed all of the places that I had highlighted wrong information or just blatant lies. It was atrocious! Most of them were in history because that happened to be my favorite subject but Science was chock full of lies as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian. But ACE played no part in my conversion. In fact, it put a bitter taste in my mouth towards any fundamentalist or organized religion. The fact that all of the work is reading comprehension and pretty much no creative writing sickens me. In the few years that I studied ACE I was in no way encouraged to voice my own opinion or do any kind of secular research to find things out for myself. I remember at one point, a “creative writing” project was to write a letter to my governor… My problem here? I was instructed to “thank him and show your appreciation for his policies and achievement”… Which I completely disagreed with.”

– The experiences all seem to echo each other. Whether a public school, or a private school, the damage is the same. The indoctrinating through proselytising – abandoning critical thought processes for a bubble of faith – to young minds, harms the development of the student, and leaves them completely unprepared for the next stages of life. ‘ACE’ is a very cult-like group seeking to self perpetuate, by pulling children away from the rest of society, with Christian literalist manipulations, to create a little conclave of Christian fundamentalists. It is to the credit of past students, that many figured out what was going on, and now speak out.

It was only in 2013, that ‘ACE’ in Europe removed from its biology textbook – a book that should be teaching children the basics of biology, including genetics, evolution, medicine – the idea that the Loch Ness Monster is real, and proof that evolution is a terrible lie. The book – Biology 1099 – stated:

“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

– They continue:

“Biblical and scientific evidence seems to indicate that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time”

– Whilst this is all clearly wrong, and works only to distort reality for vulnerable minds, ACE take it one step further by moralising – in a way that suggests ultimate truth – to perpetuate an atmosphere of homophobia, with completely misleading and false ‘science’. In ‘Science 1107’ they state:

“Some people mistakenly believe that an individual is born a homosexual and his attraction to those of the same sex is normal. Because extensive tests have shown that there is no biological difference between homosexuals and others, these tests seem to prove that homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.”

– The problems with this passage are so vast, that one blog post is not enough to cover it all. Needless to say, everything we actually know about the science of sexuality discredits everything this passage offers. Plenty of children in ‘ACE’ schools will be gay. Here, they are told they are not normal, must be discriminated against, and that God – taught as fact – wishes them dead. The science, the studies, the biological nature of sexuality are dismissed, for Leviticus. As well as homophobia, ‘ACE’ taught – in ‘Social Studies 1086’ – that Apartheid in South Africa and institutional racism is acceptable, if it is perceived to be economically valuable:

“The government must be responsible to the taxpayers who provide the money that the government spends. Since that is true only taxpayers should be given the privilege of voting…

The apartheid policy of South Africa is a modern example of this principle. Under the apartheid system, the population of five million Whites controls most of the nation’s wealth. If apartheid were done away with, the twenty million Blacks, who are not taxpayers, would be given the privilege of voting. Within a short period of time they would control the government and the means of taxation. ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.’ Heavy taxation could become a burden to the property owners who actually finance the government and provide jobs. Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.”

– The racism continues, with a complete manipulation of history, for the benefit of Christian supremacy:

“It’s interesting that in the African primitive languages there is no word for wisdom. We in the West find that surprising, but you see, the idea of wisdom came through the Biblical channels of the Judaeo-Christian religion and filtered into all of western culture and society.”

So, that’s the benefits of homophobia and racism – and so, the supremacy of white, heterosexual, Christians – taught to children. Studies on Maths, Science, and English, are treated no less hideously, with all intrinsically linked to the Bible and politically right-leaning ideas. For example, ‘ACE’ offers the following in an English test:

(29) Responsible citizens will vote for political candidates who
a. promise to provide good paying jobs for all those who are out of work
b. promise to cut back on both government services and spending and cut taxes
c. promise to raise taxes on “big business” and use the money to help the poor
d. promise to provide child-care services for all mothers who need to work

(The “correct” answer is b.)

– For science on evolutionary biology – the very basis of all modern genetics, biology, zoology, and medicine – ‘ACE’ offers no evidence-based studies to back up their claim that:

“… no transitional fossils have been or will ever be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.

– For physics, ‘ACE’ again offers no scientific studies into their claim on nuclear fusion in ‘Science 1096’ that:

“The nuclear fusion theory of how the sun emits heat and light is an invention of evolution scientists… All other theories require the sun to use up all its energy sooner than the evolutionists’ invented timetable would allow.”

Worryingly, despite the massive distortions of science and reality, despite the political narrative ‘ACE’ is trying to instill into the minds of children, its deep rooted homophobia, and its clear use of schools to proselytise, the National Recognition Information Centre – which offers validation for certain qualifications – deemed International Certificate of Christian Education gained through ‘ACE’ programmes, to be equivalent of A-Levels.

Whilst this week proved to be a positive step in reducing – albeit, slightly – the wholly negative influence of faith-as-fact in schools, it is worrying that schools in the UK in the 21st century – private or public – are willing to present a dangerous and fundamentalist narrative, devoid of all reality in favour of bronze aged myths, with undertones of discrimination thrown in, to the nation’s young. Grotesquely anti-secular groups like Accelerated Christian Education must not be allowed to play any part in the education of children.

The antonym of reason

February 7, 2011

It is no secret that given my way, I would have chapters from ‘God is not great’ by the wonderful Christopher Hitchens read loudly to school children in early morning assembly, followed by a reading from Darwin’s Origin of Species. Sadly, at my primary school, we had to endure horrid little assemblies that started with prayer, followed by hymns, followed by a Jesus story; all presented as fact, father than fairy tale.

So I took it upon myself, now that I am older – and free to question without being sent out of assembly for disrupting prayer – to send an email to our local council, to raise this with them. I inquired:

I was wondering if you could spare a couple of minutes to answer a few questions I have.
I am an ex-pupil of The Meadows. I am 25 now and studying at Demontfort University. I was talking to another ex-pupil a week or two ago, and we both vividly recall the school assemblies in which we started each one with prayer and hymns. This strikes me as a little odd. I never questioned the religious aspect of what we were being taught. As a kid, I understood the stories from the Bible that our trusted teachers were reading to us, as fact. Why would I assume any different? We weren’t being taught any different.

The stories we were read from the Bible were taught as truth and as factual as 1+1=2. If we did not sit in silence and pray and sing hymns, we were sent out of the assembly. I wondered why this is?

I do not recall hearing the name Darwin until I was at least 12, and even then it was in passing. We were encouraged to read or listen to Biblical stories, which I’ve since dismissed as nonsense, and yet were never introduced to even the very basics of Darwinian thought.

We were taught the Christian way in the truth. Any one of any other religion was sent out of the assembly for prayers and hymns, creating a horrible social barrier that you can’t see past as children, it simply perpetuates the problem of suspicion toward anyone considered “different”.

I also note that the Christian story, whilst not being contrasted with the very fundamentals of Darwinian fact, was also not contrasted with any other form of philosophical thought. We were not taught to question what our headteacher was reading out to us. We were not taught the frankly appalling history of Organised Religion, instead we were apparently a part of that organisation because we were being told that fairy tales were truth without being encouraged and taught to think freely for ourselves, we would be punished if we were to do so.

I was wondering if this was a government policy at the time, or if the school imposed those ideas on us themselves, and if so, do you believe it was the right thing to do?
Thanks for your time.

It is surely a matter of concern when a teacher is imposing religion onto easily suggestible young minds, without teaching them also how to question what is being said? The Jehovah’s Witness kids along with the Muslim children were always sent out whilst prayer was conducted. And as kids, we always viewed them as “different”. This apparently needless social barrier is reflected later in life. Especially in deeply religious Nations. Muslims and Atheists especially in America are treated with fear and a degree of resentment from the Christian Right. I cannot see any purpose in morning prayer and hymns. It certainly isn’t cultural learning, because it espouses the ideals of Christianity above all else.

Anyway, the Senior School Development Advisor for the School Improvement and Performance Service of the Council very kindly got back to me, with:

Dear Jamie

Thank you for your e-mail which has been passed to me for response.

The legislation around assemblies (which is still in place today), is that there should be a daily act of collective worship which should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian nature in every maintained school, whether it is a church school or not. Therefore, what you describe as practice at the Meadow Primary School would have been following the legislation. There is scope within the law for parents to request that their children do not attend Collective Worship and alternative supervision has to be put in place for these children. In some schools, parents make alternative arrangements for their children to have tuition about their own religions at this time. From your description, I would imagine this was the case at The Meadow Primary School when you were a pupil there.

The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum, although the school can designate assembly time to cover part of the syllabus if they wish. The religious education curriculum is education about different religions and the syllabus is drawn together in each local authority by an independent group of advisers from different religions. Teaching in religious education is intended to inform about different religions, not convert children to any religion. Darwinism is not included as it is not considered to be a religion. Again, there is scope within the law for parents to request that their children should be withdrawn from Religious Education.

The theories of evolution are covered in the Science curriculum, particularly in primary around the way animals and plants have adapted to their environment. At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.

In your e-mail you question the school’s practice of withdrawing children who misbehaved from assembly. Every school has a duty to ensure that the behaviour of some children does not interrupt the concentration of others and I presume this is how the school implemented that duty.

You obviously feel strongly about the collective worship and religious education in Primary School and the effect it had on you. Legislation about Collective Worship and the content of the curriculum is set by central government. The Department for Education is currently running a consultation on what should be in a revised curriculum. Although they are not looking specifically at RE, I strongly advise that you consider responding to the consultation with your views of the curriculum, as it is important that young people who have recently been through the education system should have opportunity to contribute. I include a web-link for your convenience, which also contains links to the DfE curriculum review facebook page.

Whilst I appreciated the response, I did get the feeling that she was suggesting that she sees no problem with the balance being tipped too far in favour of religion over the fundamentals of Darwinist thought. The entire study of Modern Biology is based on the concepts discovered by Charles Darwin. In fact, not just Modern Biology, but all the life sciences…

  • Ecology
  • Biocomputing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Botany
  • Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Food science
  • Immunology
  • Zoology
  • Biomedical Sciences
    etc etc etc etc etc.
    Whilst it might be true that the adaptation of plants and animals to their environment was taught…. I don’t remember it, it wasn’t pressed home, it wasn’t explained, and its immense importance on philosophy, science, human development and our ancestral history was passed over because they apparently think it is far more important for us to believe that God put us here; a lie. We certainly never knew that all life is descended from common ancestry; the very fundamentals.

    The problem, as I see it, lies in this line:

    “The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum.”

    The above line is reflected in the legislation that it references.
    The School Standards and Framework Act 1998, section 70, states:

    Requirements relating to collective worship.

    (1)Subject to section 71, each pupil in attendance at a community, foundation or voluntary school shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship.

    That’s quite a worrying line in a piece of legislation, to me. Why is it considered necessary, by law, for a child to be involved in worship? Why isn’t the child allowed to choose? Surely it is not a requirement of the State to be demanding mandatory religious worship of its children?

    The “collective worship” (what an awful phrase, very cult-like) is not a part of the education curriculum. It stands outside of that. It transcends the curriculum. Something as unimportant as unprovable dogma and superstition is considered strangely important enough to be placed above the curriculum and used primarily for a method of Christian indoctrination, as it was at my school. At the same time, the way plants adapt to their surroundings, is on the curriculum, it is of secondary importance, according to the legislation of the land, and it is all that exists in the way of the fundamentals of Darwinian thought. I see this as a major, major imbalance in the system. Couple this with the incredibly unhealthy concept of Religious Schools themselves, and humanity is always going to be strangled at a very early stage in the development of our minds, by religious dogma.

    “At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.”

    – That is absolutely not good enough. His name is far, far more important, to be heard at a young age, than Jesus. There is absolutely no question about that. One of those names probably didn’t exist, and simply speaks of a very narrow spectrum of morality, contradicting himself and prior Christian teachings, endlessly. His words were written down 40 years after he died, and have been rewritten, manipulated and revised for centuries. The other is responsible for the most important discovery that humanity has ever stumbled across.

    The Department of Education issued guidance on collective worship, which states as its objective:

    …. promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society.

    – It is true that an assembly is a great way to bring children together, but it shouldn’t be assumed that religion is the basis of morality. There is a quite a formidable case to be made, that says religion has not been a force for moral good in the World, and that by excluding the horrific history of religion, schools are teaching a vast amount of ignorance on such an extreme level. Basing morality on Christianity is an epic over statement, and suggests that without collective worship, children would be unable to taught to distinguish between right and wrong. Morality is not based on religion. Religion attempts to base itself on the contextual morality of a specific time. Morality is simply society evolving collectively, for its own survival and advancement. Christian interrogation techniques of the 1500s would not be considered moral today. The slavery advocated in the Old Testament, is certainly not moral. The imprisonment of George Holyoak for blasphemy in 1843, would not be considered moral now. Religion is a dynamic force that updates along with society, it is not special, it is offering nothing new, and it is still a force for regression. Humanity invented it, so humanity can do without it.

    The guidelines go on:

    It is a matter of deep concern that in many schools these activities do not take place with the frequency required or to the standards that pupils deserve.

    – What is actually of deep concern, is state sponsored fairy tales promoted as truth. What is “collective worship”? What are we worshipping? Can the state prove that was we are collectively worshiping actually exists, and if by some miracle they can justify it, can they prove that the entity they are worshiping is good? Because for every relatively non-violent passage in the Bible, I can pick out another ten that say otherwise.
    They are promoting Christianity for reasons of tradition, and tradition is the absolute antonym of reason.

    I argue that the balance is tipped firmly in the wrong direction. It is the reason why people will still genuinely believe themselves when they say “yeah but evolution is just a theory”….. no it isn’t. The supreme ignorance cannot be attributed entirely to the individual, it must start from a young age. Evolution; and all the wonderful branches that stem from it, such as biology and zoology, are apparently less important than making sure impressionable children believe religion is the foundation of all morality. The early education system teaches that Jesus was born to a Virgin, they he is the son of God and that he died for our sins. It is a very one sided view of history and a vast manipulation of a child’s mind. A mind which is like a sponge at that age, cannot comprehend the illogical nonsense of what their trusted teacher is implying.

    Religious teaching in schools should be limited to cultural studies, not presented as fact.

  • “The surest way to corrupt a youth…”

    April 6, 2010

    Yesterday evening I had a pretty in-depth discussion with Ash about my personal insecurities, which allowed them to surface quite unexpectedly. It overwhelmed me, and actually quite upset me. It made me feel fairly angry at both myself and the system that had developed this rather cancerous conditioning, and continues to do so with children across the Country.

    I’ve always placed myself in between two types of mind. On the one hand, there is the creative mind of humanity, that effortlessly sways away from the material World and places an almost spiritual sense of self manifestation through art and poetry and photography and creative writing, above material needs. Sylvia Plath could turn ineffable feelings into beautiful poetry. Diane Arbus could take a photo that ran deeper than it first appeared.

    On the other hand, there is the business mind, which seeks profit above all else, so poor that all they own is money, the material mind, which may not in all honesty be driven by what it sees as pure greed or an institutionalised perpetuating inequality, but nonetheless contributes to it every day. I place myself inbetween the two. Always have. I wish I had the creativity to be able to turn feelings into words, or inject my sense of self onto a photo, but I can’t. I wish I could produce a photo that lives on through posterity and everyone sees and says “that’s incredible“. I do not care for the material wealth it may bring, I just wish I could leave my mark creatively and not be simply forgotten when I die.

    I have never considered anything I have achieved creatively, as being of any worth whatsoever. It frustrates me to even write about it now. If I take a photo, and people tell me that they like it, I immediately think I must have manipulated them somehow into the assumption that my photos are any good. It must be my fault. I must have forced them to believe what they are seeing is of any worth. If an essay achieves a high mark, I automatically assume that there has been a mistake, or that perhaps my lecturer just likes me because I say hi to him most mornings. I don’t doubt their sincerity. I accept that what they are saying as a compliment, is perhaps true in their eyes, but I automatically assume that I have clouded their vision somehow, and I don’t know how to stop it. This feeling of a lack of creative self worth does not affect me consciously, but subconsciously, I’m discovering, it has quite an enormous affect.

    I blame school.

    When I was younger, a teenager, I grew up surrounded by friends that I didn’t really have all that much in common with. I made excuses as to why I couldn’t go out with them. I had no desire to spend my days getting stoned and drunk constantly, or talking about fights and graffiti, it just never suited me. I always had a rebellious mind. Those kids who were quite clearly rebelling against their parents, or their school, or any kind of established rules, wanted to stick two fingers up to that establishment. I on the other hand, wanted to rebel against the established rules (as I still do), and also against the kids who in their quest for individuality had inadvertently become simply one big group of sheep. They appeared to have attacked the old “rules” and instead become victim to a new set of rules, aimed at destroying all individuality in much the same way as the old rules did. You got drunk, and stoned simply to fit in. You smashed windows and had fights, simply to impress. You spouted racist bullshit and talked about who you’d shagged, after spraying inane, illegible curse words on any walling you could find, simply to appear the alpha-male, like a group of mindless dogs. It never appealed to me. Drugs, burnt out stolen cars, joy riding, shouting in the streets at 3am, fireworks, fighting. It fucking disgusted me more than anything else. It wasn’t a “lifestyle” choice though. Neither was it teenage rebellion. It was expected. It was social conditioning. Kids were made to believe they were useless, and had no real future. Their parents lived in rented council houses (we rent our house) and lived on the dole, because they themselves came from broken homes and didn’t understand any different. They were called lazy because they weren’t top of the class in Maths. They were told “you should have worked harder in school“. The system then directed funds and investment away from those poorer areas and toward the more attractive areas, with the better schools, and so the cycle continued, from one generation to the next. The system wasn’t blamed by politicians or by businessmen, the people were blamed. They were “useless” and “lazy“. You’re simultaneously taught that ambition is pointless, but if you don’t try hard enough to attempt to obtain that which is unobtainable, you’re lazy.

    And whilst it never appealed, it meant that I felt kind of detached, constantly, from the way of life around the area that I lived. I could never understand to the best of my ability, why the kids who were famous on our estates for stealing, or street fighting, or spray painting, or generally being little shits, were the popular kids, whilst the kids who could write music or paint a picture beyond the normal capibility of kids our age, were simply ignored at best and bullied at worst.

    A teenage life of drugs and drink and fighting and lack of ambition and lack of knowledge and aimless, soulless “living” frequented the area where I lived, and so inevitably I was always going to fall into that way of life, if I wasn’t careful. So I resisted. And whilst it has meant cutting certain friends out of my life, i’m proud of myself for doing it. For years, I felt I was having to pretend to be something that I just wasn’t. I wasn’t the kind who wanted to fight, and drink constantly, and smash a bus stop to pieces. I suspect, the majority of people I knew felt the same as me, but just felt they had to take the plunge, to “fit in“.

    On my old school’s website, it reads:

    “Our aim is to ensure that all students reach the highest level of achievement, that all students reach their full potential and succeed.”

    I feel this quote is horrendously misleading.
    School merely perpetuated the problem. I had written down on my “choices for GCSE courses” application sheet, that I wanted to take History. I have always loved history. They wrote to me to tell me that History was full up, and they had instead put me on a business studies course. What the hell do I want to take a business studies course for? I do not have a mind for business, I’m appalling at maths, and most importantly, it isn’t History. Our school didn’t have the widest of choices for GCSE courses. I have always loved Religion, History, Politics and Philosophy. I studied Maths, English, Religious Education, Science, Business, French and Graphics. I had no interest in any of those subjects other than Religious Education…….. which I got an A in. A diverse curriculum costs too much, and is far too problematic to engage. And so, a limited curriculum where a limited few are appeased whilst the majority are uninterested, is the way we do things in England. We then tell the unhappy majority that they just aren’t good enough. We don’t encourage them to find out what it is that interests them. That would create rebels!

    We were placed in a hierarchical system within moments of starting this new school. We were told that these next two years would be the most important of our lives. The pressure was quite immense. Those people who loved Maths were placed in “Top set“. Those of us who enjoyed other subjects other than Maths were placed in “Bottom set” for Maths. The linguistic phrasing of top and bottom is a hard thing for a kid to take. It has an impact. We all associate top with the best, and bottom with the very worst. If you are unlucky enough to be placed in the bottom set, you soon realise what it is to mean for you, over the next two years;

    You are, within seconds of starting a new school, not good enough. You’re constantly told that you can expect a D or a C at best, but nothing more. You are shoved in a class with disruptive kids, and teachers who really aren’t that bothered with you. You’re never going to achieve anything, and so you’re almost forgotten. The top set kids mingle with the other top set kids, and the bottom set kids mingle with the other bottom set kids. The system is so fundamentally wrong. Yet, I am positive that if we studied History and Philosophy ahead of Science and French, my teachers would not have made me feel like I was useless and incapable of achieving anything beyond a D grade.
    Exams were never about accumulated knowledge, or the ability to theorise, or explain, or expand on theories. Exams were all about what language you had remembered, and what equations you had memorised. You didn’t need to understand, just regurgitate what you had read from a text book. You may aswell have just taken the textbook into the examination with you.

    The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

    We were taught not to question. We were taught that if you failed at Maths or Science or French, that you would fail in life in general. There was nothing beyond the four walls of that very limited scope of subjects. Take everything the teacher said as fact. Don’t bother investigating for yourself. Those of us in Business Studies were force fed economic theory as fact. We weren’t to question, just learn certain business “laws” that were highly subjective and open to a lot of questioning, and just memorise them for exam time. We weren’t to question anything, because that would take up too much time. Just acquiesce to everything we were being told.

    The Country was therefore filled, half with people who were amazing at remembering equations for Maths exams and specialised language for Science exams, who would come out of school with top grades, and half with those who did not find Maths or Science the least bit interesting or mentally stimulating, and left with mediocre to crap GCSE results. I was, quite unapologetically nowadays, in the latter. How different would the marketplace and the Country in general look today, if everyone’s interests were catered too? If you were not simply shoved into an education that acted not to educate you in what interested you but simply to create good little workers? The worst thing is, I was told I could not go on to further education to study Philosophy unless I achieved a high enough grade in Maths and Science. I also got a school report from my English teacher when I was fourteen explaining to my parents that I’d never be someone who reads, or understands the significance of literary classics, or writes anything of any worth when it comes to creative writing. Ten years later, I read at least two books a month, I write constantly on here, and my personal bookshelf looks like it’s about to collapse under the weight of my books. I am well read in Roman history, I can tell you about the Presidency of George Washington, I can recite elements of the speeches of Abraham Lincoln at the time of the Douglas debates, I adore reading about the reign of King Edward VI, i’m currently reading a book on the historical importance of Muhammad, and my next book will be The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. Bukowski enthralls me with his detached sentiment, Plath intrigues me with her unique ability to turn feelings into language, Camus has transformed my World view and Vonnegut stuns me with his masterly grasp of simple prose. In short, “Mrs English” (that was her real name) can go and fuck herself. She genuinely made me believe that when it came to English language and literature, I was utterly useless.

    I went back to college when I was 20, and when I was old enough to understand the horrendous hypocrisies and general bullshit spouted by the education system, and the good little workforce it aimed to produce. I had to travel an hour to college and an hour home again every day, because that was the closest college offering courses I enjoyed. I studied for my A-Levels; 16th Century History, Philosophy, Politics, and English Language and Literature. I left college with A,A,A,B.

    I myself, would like to be a teacher. I worry that the institutionalised inequality of the teaching service would simply mean I would be keeping alive the inequalities that I hate so much. I do not want to be a teacher who makes children who aren’t too keen on Maths, think that they are useless. I want to be able to tell a child that they don’t have to be good at Maths. I want to tell the child who is obsessed with Photography but has had no chance to study it, that he can throw his Maths homework in the fireplace, and go and take some fucking amazing photos instead. I want to tell the little lad who feels pressured into taking drugs and getting into fights, that having to prove your masculinity to a group of thugs, should be pitied and vocalised with a simply “awww, bless them, the little idiots” more than anything.

    When you have spent most of your years being made to believe that you are below average, and will never match up to the clever kids, and never produce anything of any worth, it comes as quite the shock when someone praises your work. I love Photography, I love to write, and I love expanding my knowledge. My school did not educate me, my school held me back. I learnt last night, that subconsciously, I feel utterly worthless. It is an insecurity that is rooted in childhood. I will now work to correct it.