The Art of Learning, by bestselling British author R.J. Ellory*

07 May 2017

The following is an excerpt from an article written by R.J. Ellory as a gift to Greenfields School ( Greenfields is the first UK school to implement the Study Technology** as part of its curriculum:

“People are extraordinary. The human mind is extraordinary. The quantity of information that can be retained by one person is immeasurable.

Greenfields independent day and boarding school East Sussex

Greenfields independent day and boarding school East Sussex

It is possible for one person to not only understand car mechanics, but to also be fluent in nine languages, play two musical instruments, pursue an intense interest in oil painting and rugby football, to raise a family, hold down two jobs, while simultaneously studying the history of furniture manufacture and French 18th century poetry. And that wouldn’t even be a stretch. There is no finite capacity for the mind. There is no point that the mind reaches where it is ‘full up’, and cannot retain any more information. We are not dealing with nerves and synapses and neurons. We are not dealing with a physical thing at all. We are dealing with an infinite universe that exists for everyone, and that universe is flexible.

So why are some aware, and some not? Why are some people able to retain vast quantities of information, and yet others are incapable of remembering their own address? Why are some people – despite the fact that they have spent years wandering through the groves of academe – somehow unable to really accomplish anything of any real value for themselves, their fellow man, the society or culture at large? What makes the difference?

Well, it’s simple. One understands what he has learned, or one does not. One can apply what he knows, or one can not. One is studying with the view to using that knowledge, or one is being ‘an academic’. I have met a lot of academics. I know some very well. They are fine people, very learned, very good at dinner conversation, but their personal and professional lives are a shambles. They also tend to have fixed ideas. They tend to see life from one perspective, and are generally relatively rigid in that perspective. Why? Because they have not collided with life. Because they have not gotten their hands dirty in the business of real living. They didn’t study the history of furniture-making in order to make a chair. They didn’t study 18th Century French poetry in order to write a better poem, and thus enchant the girl they hoped to marry. And, truth be told, they do not really understand these subjects at all.

Study technology. That’s what academics don’t have. That’s what society doesn’t have. Over sixty percent of parents in the Greater London area feel that their own reading skills are not up to a standard where they’d feel comfortable reading to their own kids. Those kids never got a bedtime story.

Study technology. Those of us who know it sometimes take it for granted. We know it ourselves, we apply it, we – as parents – raise our children with it. But we so often fail to appreciate that we are in the minority.

There is a vast, gaping omission in the education system, and that omission is study technology. It is too easy to forget that children are processed through the current secondary modern education system with no instruction on how to learn. We just hope that that they’ll come out with something they can use in life. The vast majority of them come out with nothing but a staggeringly low literacy level, and a tremendous lack of interest in learning anything further in life.

Study technology is for use, for application, for life. Study technology makes the difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘knowing for application’. Actually, study technology is the line between success and failure. How can someone do something if they don’t understand how to do it? How can someone make something work if they don’t understand how that thing works in the first place? In such a light, approaching study and learning from any other perspective is ludicrous.

Without study technology, a great many people will never even come close to understanding the potential of the human mind, let alone being able to use that potential. And those who are brilliant, those who have somehow accomplished great things without ever being given the gift of study technology? Well, consider what they might have accomplished had they possessed study technology as well.

How frustrated do we become with some who ‘won’t be shown’? How intolerant do we get with those who always ‘know best’, even as they demonstrate that they don’t know best at all?

The value of a member of a society is measured in what he or she produces. Real things. Real products. Real accomplishments. Things that can be bought and sold, things that can be exchanged, things that can be employed to improve the quality of life of others.

Engineers, designers, musicians, painters, ballet dancers, athletes, cabinet makers, photographers and teachers. All walks of life, all areas of industry and the arts. People who can really do. And the recompense and return for those who can really do is so much greater than the return for those who can not.

Study technology is the difference between those who can, and those can not. The difference between those who are already doing something, and those who could do so much more. In that light, considering that happiness is almost exclusively dependent upon how much one is accomplishing in life, how rapidly and effectively one is achieving one’s goals, then it could be said that study technology – the only technology that guarantees that one can use what one is learning – is really the answer to happiness.”


*R.J. Ellory is the author of ten novels including the bestselling A Quiet Belief in Angels, which was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection and won the Nouvel Observateur Crime Fiction Prize in 2008. A Quiet Belief in Angels has also been optioned for film, and Ellory has written the screenplay for its Oscar-winning French director, Olivier Dahan. Ellory’s other novels have been translated into twenty three languages, and he has won the USA Excellence Award for Best Mystery, the Strand Magazine Best Thriller 2009, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the Quebec Laureat. He has been shortlisted for a further thirteen awards in numerous countries, including four Daggers from the UK Crime Writers’ Association. Despite the American settings of his novels, Ellory is British and currently lives in England with his wife and son.

**Study Technology was developed by American author and educator L. Ron Hubbard™ and it allows a person to learn any subject successfully. Study Technology consists of tools and techniques teachers can use to improve the learning rates of students. These same tools and techniques can be used by students themselves to improve their ability to understand and to use the materials they read and study. And it remains vital for continued learning as one leaves school and faces the challenges of life. For educators, Study Technology offers proven teaching strategies and resources that can help resolve classroom issues and improve student achievement. Study Technology is the breakthrough that undercuts the reasons people are illiterate. It is not just another system. Study Technology is a workable methodology that makes it possible for a person to recognize and handle the barriers to successful study. More at

Greenfields Independent Day and Boarding School – East Sussex