Systems of Indoctrination: Accelerated Christian Education in England Thesis and Gymnázium Matky Alexie

I attended Catholic Grammar School of Mother Alexia in Bratislava, Slovakia for some of my primary and all of my secondary/Sixth Form education. The thesis below resonates with the experience at my school.

Systems of Indoctrination: Accelerated Christian Education in England Scaramanga, J; (2017) Systems of Indoctrination: Accelerated Christian Education in England. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

Christian Education (ACE) is an individualised curriculum used in some private schools. It is known for its conservative Protestant stance and largely literal interpretation of the Bible, and for teaching every academic subject from a biblical perspective. ACE claims the curriculum is used in more than 6,000 schools worldwide, but there has so far been minimal academic research into the curriculum or students’ experiences of it. I attended an ACE school for some of my secondary education, and this thesis combines reflections on my experiences and analysis of qualitative interviews with students who were educated at ACE schools in England. These interviews give a sense of what it is like to attend an ACE school, students’ perceptions of their education and its effect on their subsequent lives. ACE promotional materials have in the past said the system is “designed for programming the mind to see life from God’s point of view”. From a liberal perspective, this raises concerns about indoctrination. I conceptualise indoctrination as education which makes students closed-minded, and argue that closed-mindedness is linked to cognitive biases and cognitive dissonance. I then examine ways in which ACE is likely to instill closed-mindedness in its students through the use of forced compliance, conformity pressures, and extrinsic rewards. While some participants found their ACE experience beneficial, the majority experienced inadequate education, sexism, homophobia, excessive punishment, and discrimination against those considered ‘ungodly’. Many participants described continued effects of indoctrination despite their rejection of ACE’s teachings. Inspection reports from ACE schools do not indicate awareness of these issues. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the possible effects of increased regulation on these schools.





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