Education (p. 3 of 5)

Article by L. Ron Hubbard

The Englishman gets a good chance to shake off his public school thoroughness at Oxford et al. because, strangely, he doesn’t cover nearly as much, for instance, zoology, as his American brother.

We think the more facts we teach, the more the child will “learn.” That is true—on an examination paper. But the child who cannot see security in facts will not parrot facts and so, that child is “dumb” when, in reality, he is the genius in the making.

This is the answer to that long-known riddle about the bright boy and the man who left college before he had scarcely started. The latter usually ends up bossing the former. If school is the end, it is only the end of happiness for the man who would parrot. All is bewilderment from then on and his mind is pitifully unequal to life.

“...the child who cannot see security in facts will not parrot facts and so, that child is ‘dumb’ when, in reality, he is the genius in the making.”
—L. Ron Hubbard

There is an answer. And that answer must be applied unless we want to keep on educating and then shaking our heads in wonder over the educated.

The lad who stopped me one fine day and asked me what classes he ought to take knew that I didn’t know any more about his future than he did. He’s now in Luzon superintending a mine, but, strange to relate, he never studied mining anywhere. Only by completely leaving the field in which he studied was that man able to find happiness—and he studied gunnery at the Naval Academy and arts at college.

The greatest mathematical textbook ever written is about as big as the palm of the hand. S. P. Thompson, an Englishman, suffered so much in his calculus class that he gave to the world a priceless little gem called Calculus Made Easy. Any professor will tell you, just as Thompson said he would, that it is a “thoroughly bad book.” Nevertheless, it zoomed many a boy through calculus who would otherwise have been maligned and made to feel defenseless through a flunk.

I am forever amazed at the inability of American students to speak Spanish. In Europe the children do not find it so difficult to speak three or four languages almost without flaw.

If we took four months to teach the first month’s work of geometry, and then four more months to teach the second and third month’s work in geometry, we would have students who knew geometry forever and a day—and it is forever and a day until death.

To criticize is not my purpose. I neither malign nor beg. To tell a professor that something should be done is to tell any man that he is not capable of doing right. But this must go by the boards as it has long obstructed this “progress” of which we are so fond.

The professor cannot help himself because he has a system handed to him by “precedent.” Precedent, in itself, implies a lack of ability to think out a new course.

In every man we place the sum of our own knowledge and thinking power. This should be a law of some sort as it would solve innumerable ills in any line of endeavor. It should be written that a man should first discover the exact capabilities of his student or laborer and then work him accordingly. This should be the goal of industry, including the teaching of a superintendent to know the capacity of his men, or the factory owner to know the mental capacities of his superintendent.

We have forgotten this in our teachings and it is a thing which must be remembered.

Professors know so much they forget how little other people know. Thus, here is a working plan for better knowledge.