Balance in Study
About Significance/Doingness/Mass

Site Map
No Frame




Essay based on R. Hubbard's recorded lecture: "Study Lecture No 3, A Summary of Study", given to his advanced students at Saint Hill Manor in Sussex, England August 4 in 1964.

Education Defined:
Real Education is the activity of relaying an idea or an action from one being to another, in such a way as not to make difficult or inhibit the use thereof. It should permit and help the student to be able to think with the subject and develop on the subject. The end-goal of education is application and results.

There have for many years existed all kinds of technology on education. But this technology is mainly the technology of schooling. There are books and books written on all kinds of methods to pass grades and pass exams and cram as much data as possible into the students' heads in the shortest possible time. There is little concern about developing the students ability to evaluate and understand the data.

In the study essays we want to differentiate between the technology of schooling and the technology of real education - education for life. The last is what we are aiming at in the Study Technology. It should allow the student to be able to do and perform in the field he is studying. It should allow him or her to gain real understanding and be able to think with the subject. A student should not be shaken up or become upset just because of new developments in the field. On the contrary, a real pro will develop this ability of being able to think with the subject.  He can follow all the textbook rules and yet be so loose in his thinking so he can think with the subject, be flexible, and add that extra touch of professionalism to anything he does. This type of practical understanding is what is behind people who can develop a subject. This attitude should start to be formed already early in education. That is what the Study Technology is all about.


In Schooling as many 
data as possible are 
crammed into the students' 
heads with little interest in 
   understanding and application.   


School Technology
But let us take a good look at school technology, as we call it, as there exist an awful lot of that. Usually people in the field of education point to that when we start to talk about educational technology. There exist an awful lot of schools and universities, colleges, and vocational schools and there exist an awful lot of books on pedagogics and how to teach students. Yet the real subject of study is very poorly researched and explored. Because, despite all this technology, the students are being crammed with facts that have little relation to practical application. It is almost a matter of routine when an engineer, a doctor, or a chemist turns up for work at his very first job, the first thing he learns is that anything he studied in his formal schooling is pretty much worthless; it has gotten old and are in many ways out of touch with the realities of his chosen profession. In most professions there is a whole culture devoted to pranks and practical jokes and how to trip a rookie into doing the most stupid things. The senior engineers ask the new engineer to make calculations on the most irrelevant things and when he triumphantly comes back with the result the pros all have a good laugh; he is utterly humbled. What he did would have given him praise from any of his professors. The rookie soon realizes he has to start all over again and learn what matters and the real importances of things.


A young man just coming 
   out of college usually has some   
strange ideas about his job. 
His data are theoretical 
and he has his and relative 
importances all messed up.

He knew all about passing grades and how to earn the teachers' respect and goodwill. He knew all about studying long and hard and keep himself going despite exhaustion, temptations, and so on. He was carefully taught the content of one textbook after the other, about the ancient history of the subject and how exactly they used to do it years ago. He was taught to do long and exhausting calculations. Much of what he is taught seems more like an intellectual exercise than a practical necessity.

If he was taught photography he had an extensive course in chemistry about the periodic system and all kinds of interesting facts to a chemist.

If he was taught art he would learn all kinds of interesting biographical facts about famous artists in history. When and to whom they were married and later divorced from and so on. He would have an amazing number of data crammed into his head about all these things but would know nothing or very little about techniques, materials, perspective, and other things that would be essential to actually do art. You can almost count on, that university graduates in the arts, be it writing or painting, have their natural abilities to perform artistic skills systematically hampered with and messed up. To actually perform art is made to seem so impossible and difficult that the students shy away from producing anything in their chosen field as an artist or writer. Universities will turn out marvelous literary critics and art critics. But it is the exception to the rule that they turn out writers and painters from their literary departments or art departments.

It is a matter of routine that the initial enthusiasm the student had for his chosen field has completely evaporated at the time he graduates. He now knows "all there is to know about the subject", but at the same time the first thing he has to learn on the job is that schooling and actually working in the field are considered two entirely different things. He has to pick up the pieces and learn it all over again if he is ever going to make it professionally in that field.

More often than not, what is missing in schooling comes down to this: there is no idea of practical application and the relative importance of data. The relative importance, here, has to be based upon the applicability. "How important is it to application?" That is the key question. That is what it comes down to and that is where most formal schooling go off the rails. Usually schooling, as opposed to education, has no real interest or thought of application. Yet, to become a professional in a field the student has to be able to get through all this and survive all the pedantic and formal schooling he is put through. Only if he can survive the 'torture' the subject has been made into by learned professors and well meaning but disconnected teachers will he ever have a chance to practice in that field.

Significance - Doingness - Mass

There are three key terms in the field of actual education it is important to grasp. They are present in any formal and practical subject.


A textbook on 
   cars is Significance.  


Significance: Any activity or profession has a body of significances. That is the theory and history of the subject. That is all the explanations, theoretical and practical information the textbooks have about the field. 


The physical 
   object of a car   
is the Mass.


Mass: At the other end of the spectrum we have the mass. That is the physical objects of the field, the tools, the materials. The merchandize and buildings involved in the field. It's anything you have to lay your hands on or collide with or mover around in order to practice in a field. In the example it is the actual car with knots, bolts, cylinders, gasoline, seats, etc.


Driving the car 
  is a Doingness.   


Doingness: Then there is the Doingness of the subject. It is performing and producing in the field. It is doing all the things that has to be done in order to bring about the desired result or product in a particular professional field. In our example it is simply driving the car.

There has to be a balance between these three factors of significance-doingness- mass in order to perform well in a field. All good education is really about finding this balance and work back and forth between theory and practical and the student will step-by-step acquire the skills necessary to actually perform and produce in the field. Let's illustrate that with some other examples. We can first look at photography:


If you are trying to teach 
somebody photography, 
   give him a camera to handle.   


Example: Photography
The significance
of the subject would be the textbooks, including texts on chemistry and optics. Heavy textbooks on optics and chemistry would probably bore the students. They would contain far more significance than the students needed. These subjects are of course related to photography. The exposing of the film is a chemical process. The film is exposed by light that is let in through the optical lens in a very technical and controlled way. That is of course an optical process.

Yet, if you had the world's leading chemist and the best expert in optics lecturing to these photography students, semester after semester, chances are that the students would be bored beyond belief; it is very doubtful they would become better photographers from following these learned lectures closely. It would be far too much significance and it would be off the mark of what the students were expected to do as photographers.


In photography even light 
   would fall into the category of   
Mass as it is a physical thing 
important to the subject.


The mass of the subject would be cameras, darkroom equipment, film and supplies. Maybe different objects used in a studio. This would include lamps, chairs, backgrounds, rugs, vases and all the other small props used in portrait photography. You could say light itself would fall in this category since it is part of the physical universe; it's not a significance nor a doingness but an objective thing very important to photography.

The doingness of photography would be to choose the right equipment, prepare the camera by loading it with film, finding something to photograph, measuring the light and arranging things so the lighting, the perspective, and composition of the final picture would work. Then of course the actual taking of the pictures. After enough pictures were taken it would be the processing of the film. The film has to be developed and prints have to be made. A professional photographer would do the darkroom work himself. An important part of his work is going from the negative to the final print. There are many skills, judgment, and art involved in this step. A bad negative can be turned into an acceptable print. A reasonable negative can be turned into a piece of art by a master in the field.


The significance-doingness-mass of building a house form a 
logical sequence. Obviously all three elements have to be 
mastered in order to practice with skill.


Example 2: Construction Engineering
The significances possible in construction engineering are endless since it is an age-old subject and profession. Obviously there is a lot of math, algebra and calculus an engineer has to know cold. He depends on all this when he has to work out the dimensions of foundations, walls, columns, and so on. He has to calculate the effects of extreme conditions of wind, rain, flooding, and possibly earthquakes. Over time all kinds of methods of calculation and tools for doing them have existed. Paper and pencil, slide rulers, books full of tables, mechanical calculators, electronic calculators and computers. It is easy to see how a formal education can go overboard in a number of fields with little bearing on the final skills necessary to build houses today. They can teach you all kinds of mathematical theory with little interest to the students in the age of computers. It is easy for formal schooling to go overboard in significance in just about any direction you look. Specialist teachers and textbook writers can excel and demonstrate their academic thoroughness and superiority.

The Mass of construction engineering is first and foremost the materials used in the building process: bricks, concrete, lumber, tiles, glass, doors, windows, heating- and cooling-systems, and so on. Each of these objects have considerable information or significance attached to them that a good engineer has to be familiar with before he uses them in a project. 

The person that would only experience the mass with little or no significance attached to it would be the bricklayer. He could happily do his job, and do it well, with little or no understanding of all the calculations and thought-processes that went into the the plans he was following. He would be the "all mass" guy; the practical man on the job with no formal education.


The engineer's immediate 
   tools are only one kind of mass   
he has to be familiar with.

Another type of mass the construction engineer handles would have to do with his immediate tools of his office. Pen and paper. Computers, printers, sample materials and scaled down models of the buildings he builds.

The Doingness of construction engineering all comes down to the making of blueprints for the planned building. Lots of calculations and careful planning have to go into this before the final blueprint is drawn. A big part of modern engineering is to know computer programs, that will do much of the tedious work. But to be top notch the engineer should have served his time as a construction worker to really get the idea of what he ultimately is doing. He is ordering around a lot of men and physical objects and issuing instructions on how to use the materials and techniques and the only way he will really understand that, is if he has been part of the practical process and gone through some of the motions of building a building himself.


Typically an art critic 
   would be more interested    
in significances, such as 
biographies and "green 
periods" of artists than 
doing art himself.


Example 3: Art Critic
Even an art critic will have significance, doingness, mass related to his job. The character of his job is of course clearly tipped towards significance since his products are basically opinions: written articles and books and teaching classes or giving public lectures.

The Significance part of art criticism seems to be all there is. And sure, the art critic is the type of guy that can drive a practicing artist up the wall with his opinions and talk. He seems to have little understanding for his contemporary artists and their endeavors. He reads all he can about art, opinions on art, schools of art, periods of famous artists work, such as "blue periods", "green periods", etc. He becomes a walking dictionary of biographical data and he uses this personal information to color his writings and lectures with.

The Mass of the art critic would be his library, the art he personally owns, and the art on the walls of art exhibition after art exhibition he goes to. He would have spent weeks in Louvre, the famous art museum in Paris. Equal time in the Winter palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, and so on. The mass wouldn't necessary be oil paint and canvasses, and other tools to produce art with,  as we here are dealing with the extreme, an expert, in a field that is based entirely on opinion. But it is a valid and old profession when its functions are understood right. 

The Doingness of the art critic would be expressing his opinion on art and artists in one form or another. He may be called on to appraise art and sometimes be consulted by people who want to invest in art as a way to make money. He would probably also be the type of person who lectured in universities and contributed to the problem of students being less and less able to perform as artists, as he would fill them with reams of theories and opinions and little data of practical use to them. But again, to be a good art critic, to become a big name in this field, there are certainly a lot of actions he has to perform; a lot of accomplishments he has to reach in terms of traveling, writing, lecturing and academia.

Mass and Education
When you teach a student a subject you should give him the mass of the subject to look at and handle. If you are trying to teach him photography, give him a camera to handle. If you are trying to teach him how to be a mechanic give him a motor or car to work on and handle.


If you are teaching 
   someone to become   
a mechanic give him 
a motor to work on.


When we are trying to teach students about the mind we also have to work with this principle even though we are at a disadvantage. But you can still have students do observational drills and practical drills of handling other students and people who in many ways demonstrate the principles we are talking about. So, although the mass isn't that obvious when we talk about the mind, drills and methods can easily be developed to make up for this.

If you were teaching a student photography and just resorted to teaching him the history of the subject and then went overboard teaching him all about chemistry and optics you would soon see him disconnect from the subject. You would only have succeeded in disconnecting the student from the mass and the doingness of the subject. You would have left the domain of what we call education here and entered the field of schooling. That is basically how it is done and what all too often happens. The students have lost touch with the reality of the subject. Taught this way the students usually end up as a bunch of inefficient and clumsy practitioners that couldn't earn their keep or deliver the goods of that profession.

All you have to do to make an utterly impractical can't-do-anything-right type of person is to take the doingness and the mass connected with the subject and remove it completely from the education in the subject. If you park it out of sight as something you really donít want to have anything to do with and go into the total significance of it all you would make a highly impractical person. And this is the only way itís done. There arenít a number of other ways to do this. If you do this consistently and with conviction the student will never truly graduate, he or she will never leave school. He will become a professor himself. You would have the type of person that happily would write incomprehensible textbooks and write chapter after chapter on all kinds of interesting facts somewhat related to the subject; but in such a way that it most likely just would trip up the next generation of students and really wouldn't help anybody on a practical level.

Practical Training Only
We are emphasizing the practical side of training obviously. Doing drills related to the subject and handling the actual mass involved is terribly important. It's the make-and-break-point between making a competent and skilled practitioner or a theoretical airhead.


    The all-practical-man   
has great limitations in
what he can do.


But let us for a moment look at the other side of the coin: all practical and no theory. This is actually related to how technologies and cultures go extinct as discussed in an earlier chapter. They could only lay bricks this one way they were shown when they first started. To use any other material than red bricks was just too upsetting and too radical to ever be considered or accepted. You have the American Indians and their dependency on the bison hunt and the conviction that there were no other way of life that would work for them. They only knew this one way of life, this one way of doing things and that is how they went extinct as a peoples and a culture.

Some professions recruit workers this way. "Come and work for us and you will learn the trade. No need for expensive and time-consuming theoretical training. Just come and work for us and you will learn what you need to know!" This doesn't work either. You will only see workers with very limited skills and with a complete inability to learn and improvise coming out of such a program. 


   Only Old Joe knew   
how to operate the 
steam roller.


You see this old worker in a field, the practical-foreman-type who is reliability itself. He knows all about this old steam roller. He was taught this the old fashioned way. Hands-on and step-by-step by an older worker. No books involved. It was all taught by example with minimal talk or explanations given. Now he is in charge. Nobody but Old Joe can operate that old steam-driven steam roller and make it purr like a cat. He knows exactly what to do when it acts up. He takes a sledge hammer and taps it gently in one particular place and the steam roller goes back to normal.

But then, some day, management just can't stand to use steam engines anymore and they buy Old Joe a Diesel-driven steam roller to do the job. But Old Joe is completely lost because he only knows steam engines.

And this is how old civilizations went out of business. They had become so specialized in one technology and one way of life and when that didn't work for them anymore they were done for. They had no ability to adapt or change or invent things. They couldn't really think with the technology they used and bend it this way and that way to work for them under the changed conditions. They were all doingness, all mass and no significance or thinkingness or imagination connected with what they were doing. They simply had to give up when their good old methods and passed-on-through-generations way of doing things didn't work for them anymore.

The Proper Balance
There has to exist a proper balance between significance, doingness and mass for real education to take place. There has to be enough significance and theory in place to make the actions understood and connect with other actions and objects involved. It is a repeated process that has to take place. Significance-doingness-mass, significance-doingness-mass. There is a be-do-have type of sequence that has to take place for this balance to be established firmly and permanently. Once this is established the student can start to think with the subject, do new things with it. Adopt what he knows to slightly different situations. 

You will see the real professionals in any field and how tirelessly they do experimenting and studying of basic and new texts in the field. New inventions or new stars in a field does not happen overnight or out of the blue. They may sometimes be presented that way. But usually you will find that someone who suddenly becomes the overnight sensation has worked at it for years and years. They have studied their craft; they have practiced their craft; they have studied some more and gone back to square one of the subject repeatedly. They have had their share of failure on the way. They have slowly progressed through trial and error. Through hard study and trying again.


 Thomas Edison: 
"An invention is 
   1% inspiration and   
99% perspiration."

Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor, said "an invention consists of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration". So even Edison, one of the brightest minds, didn't pull anything out of his hat. You can see him now, walking up and down the floor of his laboratory and getting this bright idea of how to make a light bulb, a movie camera or a phonograph. But from the bright idea he had to go through the process of doingness and mass and back to significance, over and over before it came to anything of use.


 Professionalism has 
   to be worked hard for.  

Professionalism just doesn't happen by accident. It has to be worked hard for. One thing you will find all true professionals have in common are working hard at it. You see this in the field of the arts, in technology, medicine, and any other field with distinguished professionals. They really have to work hard at it. Usually you will find the top guys and girls of a profession are driven individuals. They have a passion for what they are doing that keep them going through ups and downs of their career with a firm goal as a guiding light.

Older Methods
Just one additional note on the balance in study: to become a professional the person does not have to go through all the technology that have ever existed in his field. Much of the older technologies should be left in the realm of significance and merely be known. Knowing about them makes the student's thought process more flexible on the subject; it helps make him able to understand basic principles and think with the subject.

If a student had to be able to do all earlier methods to perfection before he could move on to the current technology this doingness would by itself actually become a significance. The common denominator is of course that he is being kept away from actually producing what he has set out to produce. That is why setting an overall goal for one's studies is very important to do early on. 

The significance and theory of a subject is not completely the same thing. Significance also has the meaning of being too removed for actual contemporary practices of the field. Hunting deer with bow and arrow may be fun, and an art and  technology all of its own, but in terms of modern hunting it is only a curiosity, a significance.


A professional racecar driver taking care of an old car may 
have the time of his life. But old technology is to new students 
a significance - a distraction from practical application .


A practitioner of a field can take up older practices as a hobby and pass-time. To use old methods of his trade will probably make him feel great and freed up. A professional racecar driver messing around with an early automobile and keeping it running and working would probably have the thrills of his life. But understand this point: it should not be part of formal training or a requirement. If it is made into that it will just be a distraction and roadblock to accomplishments in the field. What is important is to gear all the elements, significance-doingness-mass, in one clear direction; what a competent practitioner should be, be able to do, and what masses he should be able to deal with.

Current Methods
The doingness and the mass of a subject that are of interest are the current ones. The tools and methods you want to train somebody in and spend a lot of time on are the ones in use that add up to producing a professional product in the field. Those are the ones to push hard and have the student really work at. In other words, the student should be taught what the student is going to be doing.

The significances you teach him are enough background so he does not to get stuck in the mechanical doingness heís being taught. In other words, you give him a little more significance than you would expect to him to need or be able to use. And thatís why you give him the history of the subject, to show him how it was developed and give him some idea of its development. And thatís why you show him how the subject evolved and what the doingnesses of it were. You don't want him to have to do these old things. Youíre just trying to show him that there were some other ways of doing it in the past. Youíre making him familiar with the principles that were used, that's all.

A real pro in a field usually does it by the textbook - but with a difference. He knows exactly how to do it by the textbook but can do it just a bit better. And when the thing shifts, when conditions or the situation change, it doesnít look like a shift to him. It looks like the same thing with its face slightly shifted. He can quickly adopt to the new situation. The green student will see one comma changed and will be all upset about it. He hasn't learned to think with the subject yet; that is the difference.

Finding the Balance
If you break up this balance in an education, if you disconnect its elements, then you havenít educated the student and you havenít safeguarded his future. A student is betrayed, then, to the degree that he is not educated and only schooled. And that is most of the protest of students: that they are being schooled, not educated. Theyíre not being fitted for life. True education, therefore, has to have this element of the student being able to think with the subject and be able to adapt to new situations.

Education Defined
Here is how we define education: Real Education is  the activity of relaying an idea or an action from one being to another, in such a way as not to make difficult or inhibit the use thereof. It should permit and help the student to be able to think with this subject and develop on the subject. The end-goal of education is application and results.

With education we don't just want to make a well trained technician that correctly and robotically can perform a variety actions such as reading meters. We don't want to teach him current technology or current theory as a biblical fact. We want to teach him in such a way that he can think with the subject. That is the only fair thing to do because most subjects today are developing  and we donít want the student to become an antique and be out of work in a few years after graduation.



| Glossary | Site Map | Content | ChecksheetFAQ | © Clearbird |