Some time ago, I created a whole website devoted to a local enterprise called Plymouth Private Tutors. This is run out of a private address and charges £25 an hour for private tuition. All of the Tutors are Scientologists.
I suspect that this income helps support the struggling org. It certainly supports Scientology, by sending franchise fees to “Applied Scholastics” – a Scientology front group that promotes L Ron Hubbard’s simplistic ideas about education. These starkly contradict modern educational theory and, later on, I will argue that they are designed to create unthinking obedience, not the ability for critical thought that education should impart.
I have wondered how Plymouth Org is paying the rent during the current pandemic restrictions. Now I learn that Plymouth Private Tutors may have had to close for the strict UK lockdown, but they are now advertising for new clients in September, now that restrictions have been slightly relaxed and some schools are opening again.
Would you trust your kids to these people? Is what they ‘learn’ in weekly sessions going to help or hinder their educational development? Are their fringe practices even physically safe in these times?
The evidence for their preparations to recruit anew and the reasons why I believe parents should not trust them appear after the break.
This is the flier, fronted by a long-time prominent Scientologist. Unlike previous examples it includes the words “Book now for groups starting in September 2020”.
The Applied Scholastics approach is also known in Scientology as Study Tech. Be clear on this. It’s part of Scientology religious doctrine which it was formulated by a 1950s pulp science fiction writer who has no qualifications at all, let along educational ones. It’s serious flaws are covered in the critical website devoted to their activities which I mention above. It has been exported to a front group which practices Scientology without telling the people who they sell it to what it really is.
We will cover this in detail below. There’s another vitally important issue here, however
Scientologists believe that human beings house immortal, omnipotent entities known as a thetan. We have forgotten who we truly are and come to believe that we are bodies. Disease is an illusion caused by ‘engrams’ – bad past experiences which, once removeduncovered by Scientology’s practice of ‘auditing’ will disapper, because they were only ever psychosomatic in the first place.
The founder of Scientology was quite explicit about this in their basic text (Dianetics – the Modern Science of Mental Health) and all through his life. He even published a highly questionable book of ‘Case Studies’, featuring miracle cures that were not documented, independently examined, or ever reproduced.
Here is an example of Hubbard’s teaching, which Scienotlogists accept.
A patient is rendered unconscious after a serious accident. This person’s unconscious mind is supposed to have ‘heard’ sometone say that the sight of their injuries “[…] turns my blood into water”. This phrase, Hubbard asserts, is the cause of their developing leukaemia years later. He also asserts that that serious disease can be cured by bringing the critica phrase back into the conscious mind through dianetic therapy.
There is another question that parents have to ask themselves, now. Would you trust Scientologists to take sensible precautions against infection when they deny the germ theory and literally believe that disease is all in the mind?
As we will see below, part of the Applied Scholastics method is to model things you have learned in shared wet clay – that’s not a good idea in present circumstances. I would urge parents to ask if they are still observing this essential part of the programme and, if so, stay miles away.
Applied Scholastics – Are they Serious?
Here’s an extract from my website devoted to Plymouth Private Tutors. It deals with L Ron Hubbard’s ‘Study Tech’ AKA “Applied Scholasics AKA Scientology religious doctrine. Remember – this was invented by a man with no formal qualifications, back in the 1950s and is completely at odds with modern educational theory and practice.
If you doubt that the theory presented here is as s simplistic as I describe it , please download the free booklet “Barriers to Study” by L Ron Hubbard, direct from the Applied Scholastics website. This is a fair description and, yes, they really are serious.
The Applied Scholastics method / study tech consists of three very basic ideas (described below). They are simply inadequate for the complex task of teaching. In fact, trying to follow its rules can result in very bad teaching practice – specifically a failure to teach students to critically assess text for themselves.
Study tech is not a method you want to be used to teach your children.
Absence of Mass
This boils down to the advice that it helps if students are given a concrete example of what they are studying to examine – as the booklet puts it:
Photographs help and motion pictures would do pretty good, as they are a sort of hope or promise of the mass, but the printed page and the spoken word are not a substitute for a tractor if he’s studying about tractors
[…] You’re trying to teach this fellow all about tractors and you’re not giving him any tractors. Well, he’s going to wind up with a fact that feels squashed , with headaches and with his stomach feeling funny. He’s going to feel dizzy from time to time and very often his eyes are going to hurt.
This is clearly wrong. Kids can understand things without going to see an example in action. For example, you can explain the operation of an internal combustion engine with diagrams perfectly well – you don’t have to bring an engine into the classroom.
Also, you simply can’t ‘add mass’ to abstract concepts because there are no concrete examples. Anyone trying to teach using this method is going to neglect the development of their students abstract reasoning and language skills.
This is the philosophy of Mr Gradgrind , a character in Charles Dicken’s novel “Hard Times” who famously said:
Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.
There is an additional problem with this practice. When it is not practical to bring tractors into the classroom, students are required to ‘clay demo’ what they have been taught.
This practice consists of making models with wet clay which are joined together with bits of string and labelled. You would think that playing with wet clay in present circumstances would not be a good idea. Well, this is also done by adult Scienologists and there is good evidence (in the form of discarded packaging) that they still do so wearing gloves.
OK… it’s kids playing with wet clay and inhaling contaminated water droplets in close quarters. This is likely to happen despite wearing a basic mask. That is a significant risk – but they don’t seem to undertand that.
I would like to know if Viviennne Lowe undertakes this practice, but she won’t communicate with an ‘suppressive person’ like me.
Too Steep a Gradient
Hubbard asserted that learning should be done step by step. If things are taken too quickly then students may not learn effectively. They again experience strange psychological consequences. As if the poor student hasn’t suffered enough:
It is a sort of a confusion or reelingness that goes with this one.
The solution offered by Hubbard is to go back to the previous stage and keep doing that until you have mastered it. Only then can you move on.
If we apply this to a child has no problems doing addition, but has difficulty understanding multiplication we can see that Hubbard would advise teachers to take their pupil back and do more adding exercises. They would expect the child to understand multiplication only when they were even better at something they could already do.
This is nonsense. The problem is not that the child has moved on too soon. The problem is that they are having difficulty understanding multiplication. The thing to do is to take a different approach which helps the child understand – to come at it from a different angle. Sending the student back to do something that they have already mastered in pointless, dsicouraging and humiliating.
The Misunderstood Word
This is considered to be the most important barrier to learning by both Scientology and Applied Scholastics. You are supposed to be able to recognise that students have gone past a misunderstood word because:
A bypassed definition gives one a distinctly blank feeling or a washed-out feeling. A not there feeling and a sort of nervous hysteria will follow on the back of that.
Hubbard asserted that the solution to this strange condition is to go back, find the misunderstood word, and look it up in a dictionary. In practice, this often turns into a wild goose chase, with students being taken further and further back through the text to find that pesky work – and eventually pretending to understand so that they can do something other than look up words up in a dictionary.
If you look at the picture of the tutors on the Plymouth private Tutors website they all have a dictionary on the desk. They evidently take this advice seriously.While looking up words is good practice a misunderstood word is obviously not the only reason that children fail to understand a text – and their problems are not addressed by burying them in a dictionary.
However, Hubbard talks this practice up as if it is the ultimate discovery and literally all you need to know.
There is a very swift, wide, big result obtainable in this. It has a technology which is a very simple technology. It is a sweepingly fantastic discovery in the field of education and don’t neglect it.
You can trace back the subject a person is dumb in or any allied subject that got mixed up with it.This discovery of the importance of the misunderstood definition actually opens the gate to education. Although this one has been given last, it is the most important of the three barriers to study.
Those sentences strike me as written by someone who was “dumb in” educational theory and practice and doesn’t even know it.
Suppression of Critical Thought
The final problem with the misunderstood word concept is that it makes the text infallible, and discourages critical assessment.
The student can’t point out that the author is missing a point, or it just plain wrong – even if they are.
Hubbard has told the teacher that the only reason for not understanding a text is a misunderstood word. If the student finds a mistake in the text, the teacher won’t be impressed – they will mechanically take them back to find misunderstood words until they pretend they ‘understand’.
This is the exact opposite of what educators ought to be doing. Critical thinking and assessment of texts is called for in almost every exam question. No text is perfect, and students are often invited by examiners to “‘compare and contrast” two opposing viewpoints and make their own judgement. If they start to search for ‘misunderstood words’ instead, they struggle to make the text right, instead.
This is the polar opposite of education. It’s part of Scientology’s worship of L Ron Hubbard. He is considered to have been a universal genius whose ‘research’ is the last word on everything, and can never be improved upon. Accept that and original thought and critical thought die together.
Readers might believe that the Applied Scholastics teaching method that Plymouth Private Tutors put such faith in could not be as simple (and as simplistic) as I have presented above. However, you can see from their own booklet that it really is.
Teachers have to undergo two years of study, including assessed teaching practice before they can qualify. Applied Scholastics tutors only have to learn three simplistic ‘principles’ which can be covered in a short booklet, and apply them to everything, whether appropriate or not and with no supervised teaching practice.
Applied Scholastics methods are self-evidently inadequate, wildly at odds with modern teaching practice, and (unsurprisingly) not recognised by any UK educational institution.