The circumstances are not as unusual as one might imagine. Merely, having left the Hubbard family home in Helena, Montana to join his father at the United States Navy Base at Guam, the sixteen-year-old Ron had taken what amounted to a midterm position as an English instructor of the native school. Classrooms were crude, textbooks outdated and his five- to ten-year-old students were more than occasionally unruly. An LRH diary entry from the island, for example, specifically tells of a student knifing. The primary problem, however, was cultural and, by extension, political. That is, notwithstanding United States naval lip service and some reasonably sincere missionary work, the Guamanian student had been fairly poorly treated by his school system. In the main, he was held to be naturally dull and thus undeserving of any real concerted educational effort. Indeed, beyond rudimentary “letters and sums,” the typical Chamorro could expect little more than “highlights of American history” to explain his place within an American domain, and periodic lectures on personal hygiene.
Students in L. Ron Hubbard’s classroom, however – thatched and sultry though it was – enjoyed a very different curriculum. In particular, Ron seems to have stressed two significant points. First, he wished his students to appreciate the scope of the world beyond their shores; and second, he wanted them to understand how literacy held the key to participation in that world. As it happened, such a message would eventually prove highly objectionable to military authorities. But what is important here, actually very important, were Ron’s methods.
He offers two examples. In order to convey the utterly foreign concept of a skyscraper, he tells of sketching nipa huts, one atop the other, until he had a sketch resembling the Woolworth Building. While to convey the equally foreign concept of a railroad train, he tells of hitching three or four ox carts together. If the point seems too simple or obvious, the underlying theory would prove vital, and factually hits right at the heart of the learning process: how information is best assimilated and what accounts for the bored and exasperated student. Inevitably, LRH conclusions here would further explain the implicit problem in his closing anecdote from the South Pacific – why a young naval engineer would spend hours attempting to calculate the storage capacity of a gravel barge with advanced calculus, only to be informed by a native foreman, “You see those white paint marks on the front and back of the barge? They tell you how much gravel is in it.”
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