Translation of a French article posted on March 10, 2011 on the website of the Montreal daily, Le Journal de Montréal
:http://lejournaldemontreal.canoe.ca/jou ... 22156.html
Homework Help for Schoolchildren or Scientology Courses?
by Michel Jean
March 10, 2011
MONTREAL - The homework help program at the Académie Phénix in Longueuil offers more than academic support to schoolchildren. According to an investigation by the TVA network's JE program, the center and its director, Gilles Léonard, claim they can resolve attention deficit problems without resorting to Ritalin, thanks to the teaching methods of "Applied Scholastics", which were developed by the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.
Equipped with a hidden camera, the JE team visited the Académie Phénix with a seven-year-old girl, complaining about problems related to concentration and motivation, two symptoms of attention deficit disorder that affect a growing number of schoolchildren in Quebec and often require the prescription of Ritalin. "When your mind goes blank," said Léonard, "Schools call it attention deficit. Here, we don't say that. We talk about words that are not understood. And these words, we find them."
He says that the accumulation of misunderstood words provokes confusion in children, thus causing an attention deficit. By clarifying all the words, primarily using a dictionary to look up definitions, the "Applied Scholastics" method taught at the Académie promises to overcome the attention deficit.
"This is too simplistic to be credible," says Dr. Christiane Laberge. She is a general practitioner who works extensively with children who have an attention deficit disorder, and she does not mince words about Ron Hubbard's methods. "It doesn't work," she says categorically. "We need to use both recognized medication and psychoeducation to obtain valid results. If it were as simple as Hubbard claims, we would have it," she says, parodying a well-known advertisement for a hardware store.
Gilles Léonard says that "Applied Scholastics" is indeed a teaching technique developed by the founder of Scientology, but that it's not Scientology.
However, JE's investigation revealed that that the theory of misunderstood words is found in many Scientology publications. Alain Pronkin, a researcher at the Information Center on New Religions considers "Applied Scholastics" and Scientology as clearly one and the same.
"They are tied together," he says, "First of all, because of the author. And because 'Applied Scholastics' uses Scientology concepts. This is a tempting message for parents whose children have concentration problems. They will be tempted to try the Hubbard method before giving Ritalin to their children. And when they do that, they get pulled into the Scientology machine."
The ability to resolve psychiatric problems without medication is one of the grand claims made by the Church of Scientology, which denigrates psychiatry on every public platform. Education minister Lyne Beauchamp does not encourage parents to use "Applied Scholastics". On the contrary.
Though she says she can do nothing to prevent businesses such as Académie Phénix from offering their services, because homework help is not covered by her department, she believes that parents have other choices as far as homework help services are concerned. "This is not the type of organization that we support financially. We support organizations that have close ties with a school and parents should turn to them," said minister Beauchamp.
Quebec does not support Académie Phénix financially, but Ottawa grants it charitable status. As a result, donations are partly tax deductible. Académie Phénix thus benefits from tax advantages that help propagate the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard.