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Study Technology: Effective Learning and Education

A Workable Answer: Study Technology

The Barriers to Study

A Technology
to Increase Comprehension

Successes from Application

L. Ron Hubbard: Study Technology Site

The Barriers to Study

L. Ron Hubbard discovered three primary barriers which keep one from successfully studying a subject. Despite all that has been written on the subject, these three barriers, simple as they are, were never isolated as paramount to effective education. For want of this data, the toll in poorly educated students, unfulfilled potential and frustration is incalculable.

The First Barrier – Lack of Mass

Attempting to educate someone without the mass (or object) that he is going to be involved with can make study exceedingly difficult. This is the first barrier to study.

For example, if one is studying tractors, the printed page and the spoken word are no substitute for an actual tractor. Lacking a tractor to associate with the written word, or at least pictures of a tractor, can close off a person’s understanding of the subject.

Definite physiological reactions occur when trying to educate a person in a subject without the thing actually present or available. A student who encounters this barrier will tend to feel squashed, bent, sort of spinny, sort of dead, bored and exasperated. He can wind up with his face feeling squashed, with headaches, and with his stomach feeling funny. He can feel dizzy from time to time and very often his eyes can hurt. These reactions are quite common but wrongly attributed to poor lighting, or studying too late at night, or any number of other incorrect reasons. The real cause is a lack of mass on the subject one is studying.

The remedy to this barrier is to supply the thing itself – in the example above, the tractor, or a reasonable substitute for one. Some educators have instinctively known this, but usually it was applied only to younger students and it certainly was never given the importance it warrants at any level of education.

The Second Barrier – Too Steep a Gradient

The next barrier is too steep a study gradient. That is, if a student is forced into undertaking a new action without having understood the previous action, confusion results.

There is a different set of physiological reactions which occur as a result of this barrier. When one hits too steep a gradient, a sort of confusion or reelingness is experienced.

Commonly, the difficulty is ascribed to the new action, when in fact it really stems from the previous action. The person did not fully understand some part earlier and then went into confusion on the new one. This barrier to study is very pronounced in subjects involved with activity.

Take the example of a person learning to drive. He cannot properly coordinate his feet and hands to manually shift the car into another gear while keeping to one lane. The difficulty will be found to lie in some earlier action about shifting gears. Possibly he was not yet comfortable shifting through the gears with the engine off and the car at rest. If this is recognized, the gradient can be cut back, and the person brought up to a point where he can easily shift the gears on a motionless car before performing the same action while in motion.

The Third Barrier – the Misunderstood Word

The third barrier to study is the most important of the three. It is the prime factor involved with stupidity and many other unwanted conditions.

This third barrier is the misunderstood word. A misunderstood definition or a not-comprehended definition or an undefined word can thoroughly block one’s understanding of a subject and can even cause one to abandon the subject entirely.

This milestone in the field of education has great application, but it was overlooked by every educator in history.

Going past a word or symbol for which one does not have a proper definition gives one a distinctly blank or washed-out feeling. The person will get a "not there" feeling and will begin to feel a nervous hysteria. These are manifestations distinct from either of the other two barriers.

The barrier of the misunderstood word is far more important than the other two, however. It has much to do with human relations, the mind and different subjects. It establishes aptitude or lack of aptitude and is the key to what psychologists were attempting to test for years without recognizing what it was.

A person might or might not have brilliance as a computer programer, but his ability to do the motions of computer programing is dependent exclusively and only upon definitions. There is some word in the field of computer programing that the person who is inept did not define or understand and that was followed by an inability to act in the field of computer programing.

This is extremely important because it tells one what happens to doingness and that the restoration of doingness depends only on the location and understanding of any word which has been misunderstood in a subject.

Have you ever come to the bottom of a page only to realize you didn’t remember what you had just read? That is the phenomenon of a misunderstood word, and one will always be found just before the material became blank in your mind.

This sweeping discovery is applicable to any sphere of endeavor, and opens wide the gates to education.

These barriers to study and their resolution are contained on a Scientology training course called the Student Hat. "Hat" is a Scientology slang term for a particular job, taken from the fact that in many professions, such as railroading, the type of hat worn is the badge of the job.

The Student Hat course covers the complete technology of how to study any subject effectively, providing the student with every needed tool. Much of the study technology is contained in a dozen lectures Mr. Hubbard gave on learning and education, and these are all included, along with many of his pertinent writings. A full understanding of the barriers to study and how to recognize and fully handle them is gained on the course. The student learns how to clear up a misunderstood word so that he fully understands it and can use it in his speech and writing. One also becomes practiced in a precise method Mr. Hubbard developed to ensure comprehension in what one has studied.

In a technological society, someone who cannot easily assimilate data is in serious danger of being left behind. The Student Hat alone could invigorate the culture.

Study technology is universally applicable and has found wide utilization outside the Church: in schools, universities, businesses and other institutions. To make this technology available to all, the Church offers the following works in addition to the Student Hat materials:

Basic Study Manual

The major breakthroughs of study technology are described for any age or academic level from teenagers on up. All fundamentals are covered, giving a firm grounding to successful learning in any pursuit.

Learning How to Learn

Recommended as the first study book for children, this illustrated work teaches children how to study. Basic to all children’s education, it teaches exact skills they need in order to begin learning.

Study Skills for Life

Written specifically for young teenagers, this book enables a person to learn the most basic aspects of study technology in an easy-to-understand format.

Two additional books exist to aid children in study:

How to Use a Dictionary Picture Book for Children

Many children have not been taught to use a dictionary. Thus, when a parent or teacher uses a word beyond their level of comprehension, they have no way to define it. How to Use a Dictionary Picture Book for Children teaches children how to find and understand words.

Grammar and Communication for Children

This simple English grammar book was written and illustrated to hold the interest of children. Its purpose is to show the young student the basics of grammar so he can understand and communicate well and does not develop a fear or distaste for the subject.


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