Our intent is not to just salvage a few students. Our intent is to reverse this whole decay of twentieth-century education.
have been engaged in a study of applications of technology to illiteracy and illiterate or semiliterate populations,” declared L. Ron Hubbard, “and found some simple levels of approach.” If seemingly a casual statement, it is not. That study of illiteracy spanned at least thirty-five years, and culminated in a body of work that has factually changed the way in which we perceive language; while as for those “simple levels of approach,” we are, very truthfully, speaking of the answer to all that comprises a twentieth-century educational crisis.
To those not yet familiar with the works of L. Ron Hubbard, let us begin with a few equally simple statements of fact: As the founder of Dianetics and Scientology, he has received wide acclaim from many quarters; for drawing upon the central truths of those subjects, he has provided solutions to a wide range of critical problems. LRH drug rehabilitation methods, for example, are generally recognized as the singularly most successful and are now used in hundreds of facilities internationally. Likewise, LRH methods for the rehabilitation of criminals are regularly described as the world’s most effective, and currently employed in some three hundred prisons across Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. Then again, there is all the name L. Ron Hubbard means in terms of moral resurgence, a revitalization of the arts, sane and equitable administrative methods and, through Scientology itself, the realization of our most meaningful spiritual dreams.
Yet when we speak of what L. Ron Hubbard has brought to the field of education, we are speaking of a very special commitment. For quite in addition to the founding of Dianetics and Scientology, he is also one of the most widely read authors of all time; and it was with a love of words possessed only by our finest writers that he came to address the crisis of illiteracy.
“The inability to read,” he noted in 1979, “is far, far more widespread and worse than anyone has imagined.”
As we shall see, he was right. But even considering the generally conceded bottom-line figure of twenty million functionally illiterate Americans, the problem is unquestionably grave. To cite some of the more disturbing items: Approximately 13 percent of all American teenagers (and upwards of 40 percent of all minority adolescents) are unable to read a newspaper. As many as forty-four million American adults are unable to read the poison warning on a pesticide container, while only one in four young men and women entering the United States military can make sense of safety instructions on government hardware. Notwithstanding the three hundred billion now spent on education – and the commensurate one teacher for every thirty-five students – the reading, writing and mathematical skills of American schoolchildren continues to plummet. Indeed, since the mid-1960s, bread-and-butter abilities supposedly taught in every classroom have slipped to what has now been described as a “prolonged and broad-scale decline unequaled in history.” The result: an international assessment of general student achievement found United States students consistently last among all major industrial nations. Or even more to the point: although United States educational expenditures exceed virtually all first world nations per capita, American students are effectively players in the third world league (roughly on par with Nigeria). Hence, the remarks such as that from Frederick Close, Director of Education for the Ethics Resources Center: “The fundamental tragedy of American education is not that we are turning out ignoramuses but that we are turning out savages.” And lest one imagine the statement to be purely metaphorical, a hundred thousand or more children will not enter schoolyards without a handgun.
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