A.C.E. has developed its educational materials with a view to providing an excellent education for children. Incorporated into each PACE are developmental elements designed to build and to enhance a child’s critical thinking skills. These elements include: rote memory, comprehension, application, analysis, evaluation and creation. Developed in order, these six elements form a building block approach to excellent education.
Most proponents of developing critical thinking skills recognize these six elements. Benjamin Bloom, in his taxonomy, identifies them as six steps to mastery learning. Sometimes these elements are termed higher thinking skills, cognitive skills or creative thinking skills.
A.C.E. defines the term “critical thinking” in relation to the child’s ability to think creatively and independently within a Biblical framework. This means that the child is able to reach sound conclusions based upon all the facts available, to solve problems creatively.
For forty-four years, A.C.E. has maintained that young children think primarily in concrete rather than abstract terms. Consequently, the PACE structure and activities in lower grade levels present exercises requiring simpler forms of critical thinking.
As the student progresses through the curriculum levels, he is presented with increasingly challenging activities. These more complex exercises further develop his critical thinking abilities. Both academic and spiritual truths are treated in this manner.
Every PACE addresses the development of critical thinking skills. Foundationally, rote memory is the essential starting block. For this reason, lower level PACEs provide frequent opportunities for the child to memorize.
Comprehension skills are exercised by means of math exercises, fill-in-the-blank questions, and objective-answer questions. Application skills are developed through the use of word problems, puzzles, science projects and essay questions.
Analytical skills are challenged by the use of mazes, examination of prose and poetry, and geometric proofs. Analytical activities can be readily identified by words and terms such as “think”, “best answer”, “answer may vary”, “from what you have read” and “the answer may not be obvious.” Evaluation thinking is also seen throughout the PACEs as students are asked to assess and critique the topics of discussion.
All research projects, outlining, higher math, science concepts and lab reports provide practice in synthesis. Activities in Student Convention provide many opportunities to develop, design and create projects from scratch. Creating is the highest thinking skill. (Extracts from Parent Accelegram 1987)