If you look online or ask around you will find people who have strong opinions against using ACE. Some of them are former school students who had a bad experience in their particular school (poor leadership or lack of qualified help when needed) and they blame the entire curriculum. There have been college professors and authors through the years who have criticized the PACES as being inferior and ineffective and influenced many to avoid learning about the approach at all.
I do agree, however, that there are five types of people who should not use PACES. They would be very unhappy with the experience and in the process would hurt their children’s education.
- Non-Christians who are opposed to “Bible indoctrination” would be very upset with the curriculum. Some who have totally rejected Bible truth and authority over their lives have been very vocal critics of the curriculum in online forums and blogs. They blast the teaching of Creationism, the Biblical definition of marriage, and holy living – which just reveals their own world-view. The curriculum is unashamedly Bible-based and integrated. Don’t use it if that bothers you. And don’t criticize those who choose that for their children. On the other hand, if you want to teach a Biblical worldview and Bible principles to your children, you will love the ACE program.
- Schools or Homeschools that are committed to a “Classical” or traditional curriculum will not like the mastery model of ACE. Though much of the content covered (math skills, grammar, history, science) is the same, the approach to learning and the philosophy of education are very different. Some folks are convinced that students are not able to learn independently and must have a teacher lecturing and explaining and directing the learning day to day. Attempting to use the ACE program while maintaining a mindset that is against it will surely result in failure. Don’t attempt it for the sake of your children. On the other hand, if you are willing to honestly examine some of the benefits of the ACE program you may be pleasantly surprised at how well it works. If you are committed to Teaching Textbooks for math, for example, you can stick with that for math and use PACES for the other subjects. Maybe use an alternative curriculum that integrates history, philosophy and Bible, but use ACE for the rest.
- Homeschool Moms who love to visit curriculum fairs and switch from one curriculum to another for every subject every year would not be happy with this one curriculum approach to every subject for every grade. It would seem too confining. On the other hand, sticking with one program prevents gaps and strengthens the foundations as the concepts are cycled through from year to year and built upon with each succeeding level.
- Moms or teachers who need to be teaching all day to feel fulfilled will not be happy with taking more of an advisory role and just answering questions as they arise. Some really enjoy planning the lessons on the weekend and late at night, then teaching lessons all day long, squeezing in meals, laundry, grocery shopping, and other household chores where possible, or leaving them to others (or maybe even leaving them undone!). Maybe those moms would like to consider a hybrid approach though – continuing to teach their “favorite subject” (whether that be history, or science, or math) and put their children into PACES for a few subjects that can be done more independently. Another hybrid option to consider is having the older children do PACES for most or all of their academics and continue to give the direct teaching to the younger children. Along this line, I would also say that homeschool supervisors who do not like to follow recommend procedures and prefer to make up their own rules as they go will not fare well with this curriculum. Students succeed and learn best with the PACES when the guidelines are followed. Be sure to get the Parent Orientation kit before starting to use the curriculum!
- Un-schoolers who shun structure and just want their children to pursue their personal interests in learning would not like the ACE program. There are definite objectives, content to be mastered, and skills to be perfected (like sentence diagramming) that would rub the “Un-Schooling” parent the wrong way. Some gravitate to Unit studies that include a few siblings in different grades and have them all learn similar content by field trips, watching videos, reading books together, or doing hands-on projects. The structure of the PACE program being sequenced and building as it goes would not lend itself to being easily incorporated into a Unit study approach. Such a parent or educator however might find benefit from having the students work in their PACES for most or all subjects, and incorporate one monthly themed unit study with field trips, videos, books, writing assignments, art projects, etc that may (or may not) complement what some students are currently studying.
You might have thought that I would say that students who struggle with school, either because of dyslexia, poor reading ability, or ADHD, would not do well with the PACES. But that is not true. In fact, many such students have found great success by using the PACES and being able to work at their own speed and having some material read aloud to them. One mom I heard from who has used and recommended ACE for many years insists that any child with any disability can learn using this curriculum! Boys especially like the achievement and self-paced model.