Inside Suri's Scientology School

Apparently there's a lot of clay, and perhaps some grade inflation to boot

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 21, 2011 9:24 AM CDT | Updated Sep 21, 2011 10:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – They grow up so fast: Suri Cruise’s first day of school—Scientology-flavored school—was last week. So what’s it like at the New Village Leadership Academy in Calabasas, California, which uses L. Ron Hubbard’s “study technology” educational system? Well, for one thing, there’s a lot of clay. Sculpting is apparently big at schools like this, Slate explains, because Hubbard said students are frustrated when they have no access to “mass,” or the physical presence of whatever object they’re studying. According to the official study technology website, without mass students feel, among other things, “sort of spinny” and “squashed.” Therefore, Suri will probably be encouraged to use clay to sculpt concepts she’s learning about.

She’ll likely start each day with a list of lessons and tasks, which a teacher or more advanced student will check off as each is completed. Students work at their own pace, so rather than lecturing the entire class, teachers usually rotate amongst the students to provide individual support. Students track their progress with a graphing, point-based system, but some critics and former students say it’s easy to pad point totals with easy tasks, and that grade inflation is common. One more odd tidbit: Hubbard, who didn’t believe in learning disabilities, said yawning was a sign that a student had misunderstood a word—so if Suri yawns, that'll likely bring a teacher post-haste. (In other Suri news, she's now wearing lipstick...)

Actor Tom Cruise's wife actress Katie Holmes and daughter Suri arrive at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Sunday, March 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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