29 Jan 2009

B.C. Ministry of Education directs teachers to Scientology website

The Province - British Columbia  January 29, 2009

I'm sure B.C. kids need Scientology's help

by Ethan Baron

Attention students: it's now OK to jump up and down on your desks and rave about your latest crush.

The Ministry of Education is referring teachers to an organization set up by the Church of Scientology, the group made infamous by Tom Cruise, the raving couch-bounder and Scientology adherent. Two ministry teacher-support documents direct teachers to the website of Los Angeles-based Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI).

The Church of Scientology, founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, set up YHRI in 2001. This group holds events and produces materials to advance the teaching of human rights to children and adults around the world.

And get this: the mayor of an Argentina city was so impressed with YHRI that he put its materials into 90 schools. The name of the mayor's city? Moron. To be fair, Argentinians put an accent over the second 'o.'

And since I'm being fair, while I'm noting that Statistics Canada lists Scientology on its "classification for religious denomination" directly below Satanism, I'll point out that StatsCan's list is alphabetical.

The Education Ministry was not exactly jumping up and down to answer questions about the inclusion of this Scientology group in its teaching-aid materials. A spokesman who didn't want to be identified said the ministry doesn't endorse the websites, and that if teachers want to use them in class, they need approval from their school board, or from an "authority" that the spokesman wasn't able to define.

I went down to the B.C. Church of Scientology, a storefront on Hastings Street just west of the Downtown Eastside, to see what they were all about. They offered to give me a free 200-question personality test.

Amazingly, I had the results back in about 10 minutes. Goodness, I had no idea I was so screwed up.

For starters, I am severely depressed. On a scale of minus-100 to plus-100, I was 10 points up from rock bottom. My mind is unstable, and "dispersed." The nice young man named Curtis who interpreted my line-graph score explained that I have a hard time focusing on tasks. As if! Now what was I, uh, oh right, a column.

Curtis said I scored far from the "inactive" level, but that's not so good, because I am, in fact, "manic." Surebuddyanythingyousay.

Also, I lack empathy, and people may consider me "cold."

"Am I cold, Cheryl?" I asked a colleague when I got back to the office.

She hesitated. Then she hedged.

"I wouldn't say 'cold,'" Cheryl told me.

Oh God, it's all true.

But at least I have options.

While Curtis was scoring my test, I watched a short video on Dianetics, the "science" behind Scientology. Apparently, Dianeticiticists, or whatever the brains behind the operation call themselves, have discovered that all the bad stuff that happens to us is stored in a part of our brains called the "reactive mind," and we need to get rid of it and become "clear" so it stops making us unhappy.

Hmmmm. Dead parents. Dead friends. Divorce. Crime scenes. War zones.

It's no wonder I'm so messed up.

To help clear my admittedly overflowing reactive mind, I can buy the 460-page Dianetics book for $25. Or, I can get a shorter version of 150 pages for $18. Then, for $40.95, I can take a course of one to three weeks. Golly, I told Curtis, that's not so expensive. I looked around their space on Hastings, which is assessed at $2.3 million.

"How do you operate?" I asked.

"Well, if you want to be professionally trained, it's more expensive," Curtis told me, "roughly equivalent to a college education."

But what the heck, here in B.C., the ministry has put Scientology resources right in teachers' hands. We can get the students professionally trained even before they get to college. And I'm sure those kids are already way more troubled than me.

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