Study Tech

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Study Technology, or Study Tech, is a teaching method developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.[1] Study Technology is used by Scientologists as part of their training, and is also promoted outside the church by an affiliated corporation known as Applied Scholastics, which presents Study Tech as a secular, universally applicable method to enhance the comprehension of any student, studying any topic. However, the method has many critics, including former teachers, claiming that the "technology" and associated schools are intrinsically linked with religious aspects of Scientology,[2] and that the methods are ineffective.[3]

Hubbard wrote in a Scientology policy letter in 1972 that "Study Tech is our primary bridge to Society."[4] Most Study Tech books include a two-page biography of Hubbard that does not mention his role in creating Scientology.[5] Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton said that Hubbard wrote the Study Tech materials to help people who joined Scientology with a low level of literacy, and that the materials are used within the Church of Scientology “not to proselytize for the religion but to teach people how to read.”[6]


According to Study Tech, there are three barriers that prevent students from learning: "absence of mass", too steep a gradient, and the misunderstood word. According to Hubbard, each barrier produces a physiological response in the student such as yawning, or feeling bored or frustrated.[3] In accordance with L. Ron Hubbard's beliefs, the method denies the existence of psychiatric conditions, or any biological learning difficulties.[7]

Harley, Gail M. and Kieffer, John in 2009 stated that what they knew was Study Tech materials claim that "absence of mass" is the idea that abstractions must be illustrated physically before they can be fully understood: learning about trains is accelerated if the student can see a train or a representation of one. Scientology classrooms are equipped with modeling clay and "demo kits", small collections of everyday objects, such as corks, caps, pen tops, and paper clips. Modeling clay or the contents of such a kit are used to create a physical model of what is being studied, thereby giving the student "mass".[8]: 7–11  One of the course requirements for people learning to be Scientology trainers is to model in clay the premise of every paragraph in Hubbard's book, Dianetics.[1]

Scientology classrooms are supplied with different kinds of dictionaries, and students are directed to "find your misunderstood [word]."[3] Yawning is taken as a physical sign that a student has misunderstood a word or concept.[3]

Study Tech emphasizes the principle of "word clearing," an activity in which readers are asked to look up the meaning of words that they do not understand, and in turn look up unfamiliar words within the word’s definition.[9] The reader next is instructed to make up sentences of their own which use the word.[8]: 18  This is a common method of teaching vocabulary.


According to the St. Petersburg Times, as of 1991, there were 150 schools using the Study Tech worldwide including in Australia, several European countries, South Africa, and the United States.

In the United States, the method is used in private Scientologist schools such as Delphi Schools, which runs a number of primary, middle, and secondary schools, and New Village Academy, a private school in Calabasas, California.[10] Materials from the program were accepted as "supplementary texts" by the California Department of Education, as they were found not to mention religion, making the Study Technology documents purely based to help those study and not in any religious nature. Before approval, minor modifications were required to include more women, people of color, and disabled people, as California requires all businesses of any kind this policy. The materials were, however, criticized by a number of experts; for example for the practice of "word clearing" was criticized as not being appropriate to all levels of reading skill, and for being a subtle way to advance religious practice of clearing technology. Experts also criticized the inclusion of religiously loaded use of words like "mass", "gradient" and "demo kit".[6] As of 1998, it was being used in 26 cities by the Scientology-supported World Literacy Crusade.[11]

  • Study technology was used extensively at the Mace-Kingsley Ranch School, a Church of Scientology-affiliated private ranch school for teenagers in a rural ranch environment. There are several documented complaints of abuse and neglect, including students being lied to about the academic value of Study Tech.[12]
  • The Literacy, Education and Ability Program (LEAP) of Memphis, Tennessee, an Applied Scholastics member organization, received a grant of $250,000 from the U.S. government's Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE) in 2005.[13]
  • In 2012 the Pinellas County School Board revoked the Life Force Arts and Technology Charter School's charter. Teachers blamed new school management's implementation of Study Tech curriculum for poor test results; the curriculum was not approved by the school board, which in part caused the charter to be revoked. [14][15]
  • Study Tech was introduced in September 2008 at Bambolino Montessori Academy, a private school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; the school's principal and dean said that the method is secular and that they do not teach Scientology.[16] However, by 2012 Toronto, as well as Georgia, San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, and Nevada had backed away from supporting Study Tech, after numerous complaints from educators and parents.[17]


  1. ^ a b Harley, Gail M. and Kieffer, John (2009). "The Development and Reality of Auditing," in James R. Lewis (ed.). Scientology. Oxford University Press, pp. 192–193.
  2. ^ Adams, Guy (July 3, 2012). "The school at the centre of Cruise split; Insiders claim Katie Holmes filed for divorce to prevent the Church of Scientology educating her daughter". Independent.
  3. ^ a b c d Robert Farley (20 May 2007). "Scientology makes it in classroom door". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012.
  4. ^ Hubbard, L. Ron (4 April 1972). Ethics and Study Tech, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters.
  5. ^ Robert Farley (May 20, 2007). "Church tutors embrace methods". Tampa Bay Times.
  6. ^ a b Walsh, Mark (1997-09-17). "Texts highlight scientology's role in education". Education Week Issue 3 Vol. 17. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  7. ^ Palmer, Brian (September 20, 2011). "Edu-netics". Slate Magazine.
  8. ^ a b The Church of Scientology (2001). The Technology of Study: from the Scientology Handbook. Based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard.
  9. ^ Walsh, Mark (1997). "Texts Highlight Scientology's Role in Education". Education Week. 17.
  10. ^ Chris Ayres (1 July 2008). "A school that deserves to avoid cult status". The Times.
  11. ^ Di Matteo, Enzo (10 December 1998). "Scientology wants city's kids". NOW Magazine. pp. 22, 24, 36. Vol. 18, No. 15.
  12. ^ "Meagan Porpora at Scientology's Mace-Kingsley Ranch". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  13. ^ Committee Reports, 108th Congress (2003-2004), House Report 108-792 Archived 2016-01-10 at the Wayback Machine, Library of Congress.
  14. ^ "FCAT scores at Pinellas charter school that used Scientology 'study tech' are among lowest in Tampa Bay". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  15. ^ Harwell, Drew (May 26, 2012). "Life Force Scores Suffer". Tampa Bay Times. pp. 1A.
  16. ^ "Scientology link at Montessori school alarms parents". CBC News. 18 September 2009. Archived from the original on September 23, 2008.
  17. ^ Harwell, Drew (February 26, 2012). "Charter School's Troubling Twists". Tampa Bay Times. pp. 1A.

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