Study Technology, or Study Tech, is a teaching method developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. 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, and that the methods are ineffective.
Hubbard wrote in a Scientology policy letter in 1972 that "Study Tech is our primary bridge to Society." Most Study Tech books include a two-page biography of Hubbard that does not mention his role in creating Scientology. 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.”
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. In accordance with L. Ron Hubbard's beliefs, the method denies the existence of psychiatric conditions, or any biological learning difficulties.
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".: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 55!.
"Too steep a study gradient" occurs when the student tries to learn too quickly, in which case the teacher directs the student back to the point where he last demonstrated understanding.
The "misunderstood word" is what Hubbard called the "misunderstood definition or the not comprehended definition, the undefined word." Scientology classrooms are supplied with different kinds of dictionaries, and students are directed to "find your misunderstood [word]." Yawning is taken as a physical sign that a student has misunderstood a word or concept.
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. The reader next is instructed to make up sentences of their own which use the word.:18 This is a common method of teaching vocabulary. Word clearing is not to be confused with the Scientology concept of the state of Clear.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, as of 1991, there were 150 schools using Study Tech worldwide including in Australia, several European countries, South Africa, and the United States. Supporters say the schools achieve good results and are "drug-free", though this is mostly referring to psychiatric drugs. Several Florida Study Tech schools have been discredited for this hard-line anti-psychiatric approach.
- In the United States, the method is used by Delphi Schools, which runs a number of primary, middle, and secondary schools, and New Village Academy, a private school in Calabasas, California. Materials from the program were accepted as "supplementary texts" (i.e. not mandatory, but allowed) by the California Department of Education, as they were found not to mention religion. Before approval, minor modifications were required to include more women, people of color, and disabled people. 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". As of 1998, it was being used in 26 cities by the Scientology-supported World Literacy Crusade.
- 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.
- 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. In 2006, Scientology partnered with the Nation of Islam, the Glorious Church of God in Christ in Tampa, Florida, and Joy Tabernacle Cathedral in Ybor City. These groups adopted Study Tech, and their community support volunteers were trained in using Study Tech to teach children.
- In 2012 the Pinellas County School Board revoked the Life Force Arts and Technology Charter School's charter after students there scored lowest or second-lowest on standardized test results when compared with hundreds of other schools in the Tampa Bay area. 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. School staff complained that their colleagues had been fired for rejecting Scientology's teachings, and that teachers even worked after school, without pay, to try and assist children, with no substantial results.
- 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. 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.
- Elsewhere in the world, Applied Scholastics received accreditation from the Italian Ministry of Education in 2005 as an organization that teachers can choose to attend for their continuing education requirement. Monika Schipmann of the Berlin Education Department told the St. Petersburg Times in 1991 that the authorities there considered Study Tech to be "psychologically damaging."
- According to Janet Reitman, based on the Study Tech principle that "it's possible to teach oneself anything simply by following Hubbard's core precepts, there is often no actual "teaching" in Scientology schools. She also mentions that the Delphi schools utilizes the services of many teachers who have only received accreditation from the Church of Scientology.
- 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.
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- Hubbard, L. Ron (4 April 1972). Ethics and Study Tech, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters.
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- Committee Reports, 108th Congress (2003-2004), House Report 108-792, Library of Congress.
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- Harwell, Drew (25 May 2012). "FCAT scores at Pinellas charter school that used Scientology 'study tech' are among lowest in Tampa Bay". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
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- Harwell, Drew (February 26, 2012). "Charter School's Troubling Twists". Tampa Bay Times. pp. 1A.
- "Applied Scholastics International - Study Technology to Overcome Any Learning Problem". www.appliedscholastics.org. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
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- Reitman, Janet (2011). Inside Scientology. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
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