Teaching by Agreement

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Teaching by Agreement
Author Antony A Phillips
Type of Article Category:History of Scientology - Technical
Website http://www.antology.info/
Email ant.phillips@post8.tele.dk

In 1957 I used Teaching by Agreement for six months for teaching a Personal Efficiency course in Dublin (Eire). I found it challenging but very valuable. Later I got to hear that teaching it that way had been cancelled. I put off describing it because I thought “surely it is in some Bulletin or other” and put it off for another day. However I got round to trying to find where it had been delineated, and I could not really find the knowledge I had on it, so here is an effort to pass on what I received.

At the end of this is the references that I did find, and excerpts from two of them.

Although I had in 1955 and January 1956 undergone a Hubbard Professional Auditor course, I did not really gain much understanding from the course (as I now remember). However one thing did happen which perhaps helped in understanding and running Teaching by Agreement; I had to learn the first 50 Scientology Axioms by heart, so I could write them word for word, comma for comma, for my HPA exam.

My first introduction to Teaching by Agreement was in PAB 79 and then a lecture by Ron Hubbard at a London Congress in the Autumn of 1956. Looking at that lecture I cannot now see what inspired me so much – but I was enthusiastic. In 1957 I was offered the job of Director of the American College of Personal Efficiency in Dublin. Here was a chance to use Teaching by Agreement, and I took it. Looking back I suppose I got my data verbally, from John Noble who taught the Personal Efficiency Course in London. I think I sat in on PE Course he ran. I cannot remember much about it so lets go on to what I learned and used.

Basic Principles[edit | edit source]

Here are some of the basic tools that PE instructors use – all are parts of Scientology basics:

  • Communication – and that two way communication is the optimum.
  • Reality both by agreement and by solids (example: writing things on the blackboard)
  • Contribution from each participant (contribution is high on the Havingness Scale and allowing contribution therefore increases tone level).
  • Granting of Beingness
  • Stable Datum and Confusion
  • Doingness (partly in the form of giving homework applying what they have learned)
  • CCH (including relation to ARC)

The Procedure[edit | edit source]

In most Scientology tech, especially that developed after that time, you find a procedure and a patter, which you follow “semi-robotically”. This is not the case with Teaching by Agreement. There is no set patter.

You use the principles listed above. They are very important. How you use them is up to you, and you will certainly yourself develop through doing it repeatedly (practice makes better). Obviously to get two way comm going you will usually have to ask a question. You should probably ask it of an individual. When you get a reply you could ask another individual if they agreed with that. If possible (if the answer was short) you would write it on the blackboard (or a modern substitute) so all could see. That is use of the reality scale, where at one level reality is solid – you have the item “in MEST” on the blackboard. You could ask for examples of something, especially if things became a bit theoretical, thus bringing up reality. A discussion of the example might start (more two way comm) usually ending in greater agreement and thus increased ARC.

In your own practice of Teaching by Agreement I would suggest you start on a gradient (I did, you can see my account in the reference below to IVy magazine). Make sure you understand the basics delineated above, and refresh yourself on them now and again. If you are using it with a Personal Efficiency Course you would probably cover the points mentioned below by Ron.

At this point in writing this article I racked my brains as to what more helpful I could say. But it is not a procedure, and I do not want anything I say to lead into a set patter. With limited knowledge, I suspect that the cancellation of use of Teaching by Agreement in Scientology organisation's Personal Efficiency Courses, was due to instructors becoming mechanical, using a set patter regardless of the people in front of them. That is just a guess.

Excerpts[edit | edit source]

The following is an excerpt from IVy (International Viewpoints) No. 44 http://articles.ivymag.org/pdf/IVy44.pdf page 13, written by myself some years ago.

“Briefly this talked of a method of “lecturing” to new­comers which was a two way comm with individuals in a group, asking them questions, not giving data, and questioning until the audience had come to an agreement on what was asked (we covered basics like “What is communica­tion?”). This method was called “Teaching by Agreement” and was apparently pioneered in Dublin. The principle was very real to me (little else was), I was inspired by it, and it could be that I postulated that I would teach PE that way.”
“So I doggedly taught that course, and actually got fairly good at this teaching by agreement lark. I found it real fun, for example, asking one person “What is communication?”, acknowledging any answer (I wrote up the answer, as solid is one level of reality), then asking another individual if they agreed, getting them to amplify, and handling originations etc. from the individuals, finally coming to an agreement which was usually a paraphrase of the Scientology definition of the subject. Getting every one to contribute.
“Each night homework was set, getting them to see the principle taught. I can remember one instance where the homework was to get someone to do something, using ARC. A lady typist aged about 20, came in overjoyed. She had got her younger brother, who previously was out of her control, to mend a puncture in her bicycle. The first night (Monday, after testing) we taught create survive persist. The man I replaced, who was a former Roman Catholic told me how difficult it was to teach this in Dublin, as the Roman Catholic belief was that only God could create (I never knew if that was true). That looked a bit fishy to me, so in the beginning I was very careful to tell them that the create we were talking about was creating something out of something, like creating a cake out of the ingredients, while God created something out of nothing. Looking back I’d say it was a bit out integrity on my part, as any one can create in their own universe a cat (mock up) out of nothing. Later I found no difficulty in going over the cycle of action without the need for my special explanation, and I guess my predecessor was himself creating a difficulty out of nothing!”
“I taught the Personal Efficiency course about 25 times. Each time working hard (on the teaching by agreement principles) to get a new set of indi­viduals to have an understanding of some Sci­entology basics. Despite my general low communication level, there was nothing robotic about this teaching. Each week there were a new set of individuals in a new unit of time. I really got a very good grip on those basics, something I have been very thankful for ever since. When the church “went mad” and chucked far more able [people than] me out in 1983, I knew that those basics were right, and, when I slowly realized I was not a suppressive person, dangerous to any Scientologist I talked to, I could no doubt more easily see

where the church had gone wrong. In fact those 25 or so weeks (at age 27) gave me probably the first worthwhile stable data I got on what life was about and how to handle it.”

Extract from : How to Create and Instruct a PE Course (part 2) - A lecture given on 18 October 1956 by L. Ron Hubbard.

“Well, boy, you will lay the most dreadful egg that any ostrich ever fell over if you try to teach them the entirety of Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought.
“What you teach them is a very, very simple thing. You teach them the basic and fundamental principles of Scientology. And these are:
" 'The cycle of action of the MEST universe is create-survive-destroy.' If you can teach these people that in a couple of hours, you're doing fine.
“The next thing that you teach them is the eight dynamics. This disenturbulates life and compartments it and individuates it so that it isn't a big, horrible blur. Teach them the eight dynamics, definition for; give them illustrations of, and that's that. And if you can teach them that in a couple of hours you're doing awful well.
“Now, you teach them about ARCaffinity, reality and communication – and how you use it and employ it in the general activities of life. And, boy, if you can teach them that in four hours, you're a genius. Just that, see: "There is affinity, there is reality, there is communication." That's what you teach them in four hours.
“The next thing you can teach them about is some havingness – possession, environment, contact. There is such a thing as a universe. There is such a thing as this room. There is such a thing as a typewriter or a drill press. Things are. Things exist. And people have them or don't have them at will.
“Now, these are awful fundamental things. These are terribly fundamental. There are some more fundamentals of exactly this nature and character that you could teach them. But don't try to teach them that in the same course. You teach this course in a peculiar way, very peculiar way. You teach this course by getting a maximum of agreement with the people you're trying to teach these things to.
“Now, you all learned Dianetics and Scientology by hard study, application, observation, experience, rationalization and so forth. You didn't learn it in ten hours. Did you?
Audience: No.
“Well, by golly, don't try to teach it in ten hours because you won't be able to. And that's that. ...”

References[edit | edit source]

There is discussion on the PE Course and Teaching by Agreement which is part of a cassette tape with Joan de Veulle at [[1]]

PAB 79, The Open Channel, 10th April 1956. (Red Volume II page 389 in the first edition)

Ant's Account at IVy 44 page 13 to 15 http://articles.ivymag.org/pdf/IVy44.pdf

LRH lecture: 5610C18 “How to Create and Instruct a PE Course”

Socratic Method see [[2]].

Comment from Ken Urquhart and Antony's further comments[edit | edit source]

I asked a fellow old timer, Ken Urquhart, to look at this and comment, and he sent this reply:

Hello, Ant, and thanks for asking me to look over your article on Teaching by Agreement.
I think you have done a very good job -- no, excellent -- in view of the fact that you have so few references to fall back on and neither of your references goes into much detail.
The approach -- that you describe seems to me exactly what I recall from the PE at London in 1957, given by a fellow called John Searle (thanks for nudging my memory on his name). I did another PE later, under Nina West, who was far too in-your-face for me but I think she used the same approach. I have the impression, though, that she was really pushy and not so good at granting beingness. In fact, Nina laughed very loudly at one of my answers and encouraged the other attendees to guffaw also! I didn’t take too much notice, being well convinced of my own rightness on the question. :))
I really liked the method under John Searle.
To sum up: Your instructions seem full, accurate, and adequate to pass the piece of technology on. I think you have just about 'nailed it,' as they say, and I can't think of anything you should add or change.
Well, possibly you could gild the lily by drawing up a checksheet with demos and drills. But I wouldn't fault you for not doing that. Perhaps some eager beaver will do it, and will submit it to you for final approval.
Very well done, Ant!
All best wishes,

The way Nina handled her disagreement of what Ken said at one point, is probably an example of what caused Teaching by Agreement to be canceled. You do not, covertly or overtly, invalidate a participant - that is not granting beingness! The "proper way", in my opinion (if you want to do more than impartially acknowledge and go on), would be to ask another person in the group (who you had an idea would not agree) if s/he agreed, and get a discussion going, and thus get more people contributing, and thus increasing ARC. Covertly invalidating does not remind me in any way of the true spirit of Scientology (as I understand it) but a gradient to Hitlerism or the present day official Scientology body.

But I do not think "drawing up a checksheet with demos and drills" would be gilding the lily, but would be throwing black paint on the lily. The essence of Teaching by Agreement, in my opinion, was spontaneity and a relaxed attitude, and I think this comes about only by a thorough understanding of Scientology, and practice (experience) teaching (for example) these basic materials many times. In fact I see no other way (drills leading to dictatorship, almost) than starting of ones practical experience of Teaching by Agreement with a lecture (with an audience of less than ten or 15) and occasionally putting a question ("Does that seem reasonable to you?" or something) to an individual - something like that. In other words working your way on a gradient to "full" Teaching by Agreement.

Further Comments[edit | edit source]

After I have received a few letters on the above a couple more thoughts appeared (or re-appeared!) in my universe.

In Science of Survival Ron Hubbard describes three "Methods used by subject to handle others". It seems (from Ken's description) that Nina probably used both nullification and domination, both of which lie at the "negative" end of the 0 to 4.00 Scientology Tone Scale. Teaching by Agreement properly done, uses only the third method to handle others, namely enhancement. The first two methods violate the Scientology idea of granting of beingness.

Looking at Ken's description of the little occurrence with Nina I can also see a sort of "misuse" of another Scientology principle; the ideas of the cycle of action and cycle of control. You see this sort of thing in many areas. As examples in some extreme political ideologies, where often what they propose seems to boil down to stopping. In some Scientology material stop is related to destroy. It appears that things are always changing, and the idea of opposing all change (stopping change) tends to lead downwards. The possibly better way in general is to observe what changes are afoot and influence (change) those tendencies in a way you want things to go (hopefully something more survival). In the example with Nina, this could be done by asking another if they agreed and getting their and others' viewpoints. This way you are also enhancing the others who contribute, giving them the feeling they have something valuable to contribute, etc. Also your enhancing attitude is infectious, encouraging the timid also to contribute perhaps only with a nod of agreement or a smile, a step up in the gradient from where they were.

Note that at the top of this page you can click on where it says Discussion and put your comments in - I think this is an important subject. I am particularly keen to get data from people who have experienced Teaching by Agreement. Ant

Postscript[edit | edit source]

I think a bit more investigative journalism is required on this. If you can find more references or accounts I would be very pleased to hear about it. Also more recent experiences in using it or lower gradients towards Teaching by Agreement week after week. It is certainly something you improve by doing it again and again. Contact me: ant.phillips@post8.tele.dk