You'd think that Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar would be thrilled to get a little peace and quiet once the school year starts, but the Duggars actually homeschool all 19 Kids and Counting. According to Michelle's TLC blog, the first step is learning how to read, and then they go through a series of different lesson plans meant to satisfy both the state's testing requirements and their personal educational goals. But their curriculum isn't at all similar to what would be taught in a typical public school. The Duggars source their lesson plans from a few online services. Two of their chosen programs are ATI and ACE, staunchly Christian lesson plans that are meant to teach both school subjects and "infuse moral character."
ACE, or Acceleration Christian Education, provides lesson plans based on impressing desirable qualities onto the students. ACE's website states, "Sixty character traits, such as kindness, loyalty, and honesty, are taught within the curriculum. Students can observe character development in the true-to-life character strips and then apply the Godly character lessons to their own lives." I don't know what a character strip is, but something tells me it doesn't teach how to conjugate Spanish verbs or solve quadratic equations.
But as much as ACE appears to prioritize behavior, teaching kids to be kind and honest isn't really a bad thing. Much more worrisome are the disturbing teachings of the ATI, or Advanced Training Institute International, an organization whose leader, Bill Gothard, has been accused of grooming young women to his personal physical tastes and sexually harassing them. According to many who went through Gothard's programs, ATI is more focused on behavioral training — they believe it is children's responsibility to literally always be obedient, happy, and smiling — than actual learning.
Beyond the many issues with ATI, I'm worried about the Duggars actually learning enough hard knowledge. Judging from Jessa's above Instagram, there seems to be lack of modern science in their curriculum. Her caption makes it seem that her undertsanding of things like the big bang, evolution, and carbon dating aren't accurate, and instead has been taught that biblical events like Noah's flood should be taken literally based on physical evidence.
So far, none of the Duggar kids have gone away to a full time university or college. But all who have graduated from their homeschool program have gone on to take classes, and many of them have also worked on books, stumped for political campaigns, and started their own businesses. I'm glad that their parents' approach to education hasn't limited them whatsoever, but these kids are famous and are using that fame to spread views parroted straight from their parents. While homeschooling is an amazing choice for a lot of families, I have to say, after checking out their lesson plans, I think the Duggar kids may have benefitted from being exposed to more diverse views.