In reply – and bearing in mind this crisis is by no means limited to American classrooms – educators have proposed all manner of solutions. Some, including adjustment of student-teacher ratios and computerized tutorial services, are simply inconsequential. While others, including all that has been prescribed in the name of psychiatric and psychological services, is more than just an aspect of the problem; it is a cancer at the heart of the problem. Point of fact: the entirety of a fifty-year decline in the quality of Western education is directly proportionate to the infusion of psychiatric and psychologically based methods.
Far more can be said, including what psychiatry has engendered in terms of schoolyard drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, adolescent suicide rates and, ultimately, an erasure of even the will to learn. But for the moment, it is enough to focus upon the most visible consequence, the grim specter of the late-twentieth-century student.
He is anywhere from six years old to about sixteen, at which point he has probably dropped out. He is not only American, but British – where a full third of those arriving at secondary schools cannot read their textbooks – or perhaps he is German, where some eight hundred thousand are described as entirely illiterate. Although not so easily measured, he is just as plainly taciturn, surly and dour; while for whatever it’s worth, his fashion statement is literally criminal: shaved head and extra-baggy trousers, inspired by prison yard wear. Finally, and given appearances can be deceiving, there is also this to consider: Having never read a book in his life, his intellectual range is roughly defined by video games, television shows and the lyrics of pop songs.
All of which brings us to an absolutely crucial statement regarding LRH tools for learning. L. Ron Hubbard, it has been said, has been bold enough to assert that for any learning problem, there is a workable solution, and the thousands who have employed his tools can’t help but agree with him. Referenced here are educators from all continents and all socioeconomic strata, and most especially those who must face that late-twentieth-century student every day. For example, there is a largely Hispanic neighborhood in California where once illiterate members of a street gang now spend afternoons genuinely engrossed in textbooks. There are previously illiterate members of South Central Los Angeles gangs who have likewise become inveterate readers. There were once marginally literate British schoolchildren who advanced a full year in reading levels after but ten hours of instruction in LRH methods, while New Zealand students actually measured twelve points higher on IQ tests after the same.
There is more – much more – but first to make a second crucial point: When speaking of LRH tools for learning, one is not speaking of some new study aid, a memorization technique or phonetic reading program. Rather, one is speaking of a complete technology for study, the means by which any subject may be grasped. Nor is one speaking of an arbitrary approach, but rather: These are the components of study, this is how we learn. And for all that has been prescribed in the name of education over the last ninety years (at least), this is wholly new.
Central to LRH Study Technology is a delineation of the three primary barriers to study, never before recognized and yet constituting the sole reasons for all educational failures. That is, educators may glibly speak of Attention Deficit Disorders or Learning Disabilities, but it is claptrap. Their students are failing to learn, because no one has ever taught them how to learn – how to identify the barriers to learning, and how to overcome those barriers.
No less all-encompassing, and even more fundamental to the process of education, is the second great LRH contribution, the Hubbard Key to Life Course. It is aptly named, and the title actually bears upon our last introductory point: If one truly comprehended what one read and heard, and was likewise comprehended by others, then the whole of life would open. Such is the subject of Key to Life – to strip away the reasons why one cannot comprehend and why, in turn, one cannot be comprehended. At the heart of the course lies a particularly egalitarian view of language, not as an obtuse subject for academic study, but a living, breathing vehicle for communication. To exactly that end, Key to Life further reshapes English grammar, away from a stultified body of rules to a real tool for meaningful expression. The result is a student who does not merely read and write as we generally conceive of it, but a student who is empowered with the language, adept with it and masterful. In fact, although technically a remedial program, Key to Life ultimately advances our concept of literacy to wholly new and startling plateaus.
“Our intent is not to just salvage a few students,” Ron remarked some two decades ago. “Our intent is to reverse this whole decay.” As we shall see, he was absolutely serious, and if the general decay of twentieth-century education has latterly grown critical, the LRH solution is all the more potent. In the pages to follow we shall examine both the development of those solutions and their greater impact worldwide. We shall also, of course, examine L. Ron Hubbard himself as an educator and, by turns, the course of his greater journey to what has truthfully been described as a revolution in thought.
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