A copy of Mooroolbark Grammar’s legal rules – which must be purchased from Consumer Affairs Victoria in a process that took age two weeks – shows that the school is still teaching Applied Scholastics.
The school’s goals include teaching Hubbard’s methods and are based on his “moral code” in a publication called The way to happiness. The school is affiliated with the Association for Better Living and Education, an international organization set up by Scientology and says it wants to “communicate with Affinity and Reality at all times”.
Applied Scholastics uses a teaching method called “Study Technology” which was developed by Hubbard. He says he aims to teach students “how to learn” and apply what they’ve learned to their daily lives, rather than rote learning and memorizing content or concepts.
He says there is a widespread problem of “hidden illiteracy” in society and that one of the main obstacles for students is the misunderstanding of words. One of the simplistic techniques they use is to encourage students to look up dictionary definitions of words they don’t understand.
Montessori is a teaching style that emphasizes children learning at their own pace and developing their natural interests and independence without formal instruction.
Gabriella Agosta, 29, director of grammar at Mooroolbark, is part of a family of Scientologists who regularly post about the religion on social media. In a statement in response to questions, she said information about Applied Scholastics was not included on the website because it was a new school and “our website is still under construction.”
She did not respond to questions about why the school mentioned Montessori in all of its public materials and not Applied Scholastics. The statement said the school is proud of its ties to Hubbard’s teachings and that parents of prospective students have been made aware of his teaching methods.
Agosta has been a provisionally registered teacher at the Victorian Institute of Teaching since November last year. Provisionally enrolled teachers include graduate and early career teachers, as well as those returning after five or more years in the profession. She did not respond to a question about her experience running the school.
In March last year, Agosta’s brother uploaded a video to Facebook showing the couple handing out pamphlets for the Foundation for a Drug-Free World International, an American foundation sponsored by the Church of Scientology.
The Mooroolbark Grammar website is registered with a Scientology adherent, and according to the school’s social media, it recently had a music program developed by a sound engineer which is featured on the Scientology website talking about how religion has helped him “live life better”. .
A spokesperson for Montessori Australia said it was a national advisory body that “strives to support all authentic Montessori providers” but does not oversee the operation of any school or center, all of which were ” independently owned and operated”.
They did not oversee Mooroolbark Grammar’s curriculum or practices and said the school had not undertaken Montessori Australia’s quality assurance program.
“It’s total desperation. They still run Scientology but hide it behind Montessori,” said Paul Schofield, a former Yarralinda board member and ex-Scientologist who had been heavily immersed in the religion for 30 years. He said Scientology would be “hostilely opposed” to Montessori because it contradicted Hubbard’s writings.
“The Montessori philosophy is a good philosophy, everything is achievable. Hubbard is the complete opposite. Hubbard’s narcissism is most chronic when we see how he treats children. They are objects to be used,” he said.
“Children are responsible for their behavior throughout Scientology. They were old beings in young bodies and could do any job they were asked to do as they had done in some of their past lives over the past quadrillion years.
Last month, three Australian residents accused Scientology of child trafficking, covering up multiple sexual assaults, forced labor and other abuses in a lawsuit filed in Florida against Scientology leader David Miscavige and five organizations linked to the Church.
The plaintiffs were part of Scientology’s “Sea Org” and “Cadet Org” entities that involved them signing billion-year contracts to supply free or cheap labor to Scientology.
Critics of Scientology accuse it of being money-driven and dangerous – claims the church rejects.
Prior to the rebrand, Yarralinda was struggling to survive and had only 27 students according to the MySchool website. Its financial accounts for 2020 show that 64% of its $804,000 in revenue came from federal and state funding.
He had lost more than $100,000 in 2020 and 2019 and sold his Mooroolbark site for $4.5 million in early 2021 to Toorak-registered Runslow Pty Ltd. Yarralinda closed at the end of 2021. A planning application was approved by the Yarra Ranges Council last year. for the construction of a 127-place daycare center on the Mooroolbark site. Agosta said his school was not related to development.
Church of Scientology Australia spokeswoman Vicki Dunstan said she had “no corporate or financial relationship” with Mooroolbark Grammar. She said Applied Scholastics was an “independent, non-denominational organization” supported by Scientology.
The other Scientology-linked school in Australia, Athena School in Sydney, also runs a Montessori early education program. He always informs expectant parents that the school is connected to Hubbard.
In August last year, when Melbourne was in its sixth lockdown, Yarralinda principal Christel Duffy was among three Melbourne principals who called on the state government to reopen primary schools immediately, arguing that school closures were causing more harm than good.
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