The Melbourne School

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.
daska
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:29 pm
Location: UK

Postby daska » Mon May 08, 2006 9:17 pm

Hmm, yes, detention until you work out why you're in detention....

User avatar
Ben W
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:33 am

Postby Ben W » Mon May 08, 2006 10:28 pm

Sounds like a Franz Kafka novel.
Child member of SES from around 1967 to around 1977; Strongly involved in Sunday Schools ; Five brothers and sisters went to ST V and St J in the worst years

Goblinboy
Moderator
Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:07 am

Postby Goblinboy » Tue May 09, 2006 1:22 am

At face value, that seems seriously wierd, ADG, and very concerning.

Do you know what the questions are?

a different guest wrote:I have recently learnt that some kids spend a lot of their time in detention. They have no idea why they are in detention, to them it is just something they have to do.

They are questioned while in detention and their answers are recorded on audio tape. At their next detention nothing is said to them, they are merely played the recordings from previous detention sessions to listen to.

The kids have NO idea what it means or why they are there.

This is junior primary (ie - under 9 years old).

User avatar
a different guest
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Australia

Postby a different guest » Tue May 09, 2006 6:11 am

Do you know what the questions are?


No. Just that they record the kid who (with prompting? ), says stuff like "I promise not to do it again" and then the play the tape the next time.

Unfortunately the child has no idea what 'it' is.

Apparently this can go on every day for a couple of weeks.
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

ross nolan
Posts: 184
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 5:10 am
Location: Melbourne Australia

detention repetition

Postby ross nolan » Tue May 09, 2006 12:23 pm

The idea of repeating an admission of your 'trangression' and detention (after school ?) doesn't seem to work on Bart Simpson either.

The 'education' feature of the Age in Melbourne invites comments on schools etc -- maybe a good candidate for an investigative report.

I presumed (and stated wayback) that they not only took notes of the (adult)classes but recorded them as well -- it is simply a more economical and simpler procedure -- I wonder if there is any privacy provision that applies to covert recording ? Seriously weird is a good description of the whole shebang.
Skeptic

Temporarily Duped
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 9:16 pm
Location: Australia

Postby Temporarily Duped » Sat May 13, 2006 10:25 am

ADG

Unfortunetly the majority of parents will realize this later . I am sure of this.
Last edited by Temporarily Duped on Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
a different guest
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Australia

Postby a different guest » Mon May 15, 2006 7:50 am

I can't imagine it being administered to the preps,


Well it was junior primary rather than what I used to call "infants" - so perhaps not done to the preps/kindies.

. Lots of biting, spitting, pushing, and the inability to express their feelings or needs.


They sound like toddlers NOT school ready kids.
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

ab
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Postby ab » Fri May 19, 2006 2:51 am

My experience with the SES occurred in 2001 or 2002. My career was finally gathering speed, my wife and I were planning our wedding ... and life was beginning to feel somewhat serious and grown-up. I guess I was looking for a distraction ? something I could immerse myself in as a break from the various pursuits that were competing for my time and attention.

I have a strong interest in psychology, philosophy and mythology ? and the various other ways in which humanity attempts to make sense of itself. So when I stumbled across an advertisement for a relatively cost-effective course in 'Practical Philosophy', I thought I'd found the perfect candidate.

I have a great affection for academia. I spent most of my 20s hiding there from the responsibilities of the real world, course-jumping to my heart's content (somehow, I even managed to complete a few degrees), and I now earn a living within the hallowed halls. Suffice to say I'm fairly familiar with the offerings and departments of the various universities dotted around Melbourne. So the fact that this course was offered by a seemingly un-attached 'School of Philosophy' did cause an eyebrow to rise. But the price was right, so what the hell ? I decided to suspend disbelief!

Upon enquiring further as to dates and locations, I was utterly amazed to discover that I had the opportunity to attend weekly philosophy classes in Croydon. Those of you familiar with Melbourne will appreciate my surprise that the words 'Croydon' and 'Philosophy' could actually appear together in the same sentence. However, I grew up in Melbourne's eastern suburbs ? and my mother still lives out there ? so the prospect of a weekly philosophy class followed by a home-cooked meal made it all the more attractive.

So off I trotted to the first class several weeks later. I met some of the attendant 'helpers', chuckled silently at their drab attire, paid my $150 and took a seat. I was fairly early, and so had an opportunity to observe my class-mates-to-be as they arrived. By and large, they seemed middle-class and professional/semi-professional ? much like myself, I suppose. The ages varied greatly, and the gender balance was fairly equal. But in later discussion I discovered there was a common theme amongst us all: one of seeking and discovery. We were all looking forward to learning more about life and our place in it.

We were provided with a nifty little folder, marked simply 'Philosophy'. It contained only two pieces of paper: a syllabus outlining the topics to be covered over the next 12 weeks, and 'A brief biographical note on the thinkers, writers and artists whose words are quoted in the lecture notes'. This, and the 11 or so empty pockets in the folder, filled me with anticipation for the notes we would seemingly be provided with over the coming weeks. My only concern was where I would fit the copious notes that I intended to make on the journalist's pad that I had brought along with me ? being the well-trained professional student that I am. However, the tutor shortly allayed my fears by telling the group that there was no need whatsoever to take any notes, and that such activity was "counter-productive to the learning methods employed by the School".

As mentioned, I have completed a significant amount of schooling, including a degree in education. I have been self-employed as an educational coach for over a decade and have now established a career in educational design and consulting. You can probably imagine how I reacted to the sentiment that note-taking for reflection and revision was 'counter-productive' to the learning process.

However, as this was the first hour of the first class in a new course, I decided to further suspend my slightly miffed disbelief. "Never mind ... give him the benefit of the doubt ... don't cause a scene", I told myself. However, this *did* make me start paying careful attention to what was covered in the course.

The class continued, running as a fairly believable layman's introduction to philosophy. The Delphic Oracle was mentioned, 'Know Thyself' was bandied about, Plato and Socrates were name-dropped and various scriptures were quoted. The Upanishads came up a few times.

We took a break half-way through the evening, and ventured downstairs for refreshments. Several of us naturally gravitated to each other, sharing as we did a common nicotine addiction which we ventured outside to satisfy. In between puffs, we munched our gherkin-and-cheese-on-crackers and discussed the class thus far.

"What do you think?" said I.

"The class is okay", replied a female class-mate, "but did you notice that all the women are dressed the same?"

"I know!" said another young woman. "They're all wearing the same long, drab skirts. And they have NO make-up!"

I was amazed. Being a bloke, you tend not to notice such things. But since my smoke was finished, and I felt the need for a gherkin top-up, I ventured back inside to check this out for myself.

Lo-and-behold, my more fashion-astute smoking buddies were right! Long skirts all round, and sensible footwear to boot (or not, in fact. A poor pun.) The men were much the same ? all in the same drab suits, possibly purchased in a bulk order from Dimmeys during sale season.

Being, as previously mentioned, a serious, mature and grown-up individual in my early 30s, I immediately went back outside to share my findings with my co-conspirators. My, how we laughed.

The refreshment break over, we ventured back in for the remainder of the class. It was more of the same ? light-weight and introductory, but appropriately so. I was just beginning to settle in and enjoy the prospect of the coming weeks, when we were introduced to something completely outside my previous experiences with philosophy ... the EXERCISE.

Now, I have no problem with meditation. I have partaken of several methods over the years ? largely non-spiritual and strictly for the purpose of relaxation, but also a few stints of Buddhist-inspired practices. Quite enjoyable, and broadly therapeutic.

But WHAT THE HELL did this have to do with a philosophy class??

"In order to know the mind, we have to still the mind", warbled the tutor happily. "Let the mind be free of any concern ... let the listening be wide ... let all the sounds be held in the silent listening."

And thus week 1 concluded ? along with the provision of our 'lecture notes' (merely a few more quotes ? fuelling my disappointment that I had not continued my own jottings) and an instruction to practice 'the exercise' every day.

Later, at my somewhat sneakily-obtained home-cooked meal, I told my mother about the oddities I had encountered. "Don't be too quick to judge", she told me. "You're used to an academic setting for classes. Perhaps they're just taking a more-relaxed, less-assessed approach to education."

Wise words, I concluded, and let my doubts recede.

A week later, I returned for the second class. I'd had a bugger of a day, was feeling fairly argumentative and snappy (probably should have been practicing 'the exercise', eh?), and was very much looking forward to the discussions on 'Discovering our own inner resources' and 'Increasing awareness' promised by the syllabus. Once again, I was at a loss as to the role of such topics in an exploration of epistemology and ethics, but once your disbelief is dangling from a thin thread over a gaping chasm, further suspension becomes a matter of course.

But things didn't run quite so smoothly this time. The Upanishads featured quite prominently, as did Ficino. 'The Absolute' was subtly mentioned enough times that the quotation marks and capitalisation slowly became audible.

The gentle focus on certain metaphysical constructs became apparent enough that I began to feel that we were not being instructed in 'philosophy' as much as in 'A philosophy'. Being both an atheist and a sceptic, I naturally began to ask myself "Which one?"

We were told that the 'School' had explored various philosophies, and had distilled from these a selection by which to live. This framework, which apparently included Vedic mathematics, had been developed into the curricula for an exclusively independent primary school: Erasmus in Hawthorn.

Later, the tutor dragged out an old classroom compass, scribing a circle on a handy blackboard. He told us to "Consider the completeness of the circle", he tells us. "Consider the circle's relationship to the centre." He then proceeded to pack the blackboard away, and explained that we would discuss these concepts further in later weeks.

Two of my classmates were unhappy with this, and asked why we couldn't keep discussing this NOW.

"I'm sorry, but I have to stick to the class plan", the tutor replied. It was then that I noticed, for the first time, the well-worn and somewhat regimented notes to which he had been continuously referring over the past two weeks. There was a definite sense of pre-preparation about them: they had apparently not been prepared by him, but had rather been provided by some other person or authority. All my educational training kicked my suspicions into overdrive. Don't trust those who teach somebody else's syllabus ? you never know WHAT you're getting! ;)

I fumed through the remainder of the class, initiating petty arguments with the tutor each time he demonstrated an inconsistency of logic or espoused a blatant fallacy regarding the laws of science. My dinner-time discussions with my mother that evening were somewhat more animated than the preceding week, and involved substantially more expletives.

Later, I decided it was time for a bit of web-based research. I started with 'School of Philosophy' (too broad), 'Erasmus School' (too bewildering) and various other phrases, before finally deciding to try something my tutor had mentioned in week 1 ? something I had all but ignored at the time as an inconsequential precursor to the current school.

I asked Google to tell me about the 'School of Economic Science'.

Google told me many things, including 'Cult', 'Secret', 'Brainwashing' and 'Abuse'.

I wiped my brow, changed my underwear, poured a stiff drink and tried to come to terms with precisely what it was that I had stumbled across. The more I read, the more thankful I became that I possess a powerful sense of scepticism ? what Carl Sagan called a 'baloney detection kit'. The warning bells had been ringing since the opening minutes of this farce, and I had found the charlatans out before their deception had sucked too much time or money out of me.

I honestly didn?t know what to do. I was too embarrassed even to tell my wife. How do you explain that you are perched on the cusp of a cult? That you failed to see through their fa?ade? I irrationally wanted to get them closed down for misrepresentation, make them bloody suffer and pay for their lies.

But as the haze of fury slowly dissipated, it gradually dawned on me ? *had* they lied? They were the 'School of Philosophy' and their teachings were, in a literal sense, a 'school of philosophy'. Granted, there was only *one* philosophy where I believed there would be many ? but they could hardly be held accountable for my misinterpretation. A 'practical philosophy' or a 'philosophy to live by' could very well include a form of meditation and a specific set of beliefs: most mainstream religions are big on both.

Nevertheless, I was still angry. I had been deceived and I had been misled ? and there seemed to be absolutely nothing I could do. But worse: I could see those less suspicious members of the group falling for it, getting dragged down, being taken for a ride. Even in week two, you could see the class splitting into 'those who bought it' and 'those who smelt baloney'.

Despite my anger ? and much to my own surprise ? I ended up sticking it out and going along to the remaining classes. I didn't see how I could demand a refund on the basis of misrepresentation, I was too embarrassed to explain a cancellation to my family ? and I was concerned for my fellow classmates. However, rest assured that I did not go quietly.

I spent the remaining weeks conducting deeper and deeper research, in order to attend each class prepared to further question the motives, actions and statements of our tutor. I asked him straight questions about aspects of the School, the course and related philosophies that seemed to remain unspoken. "Who was Leon MacLaren?" "What were the key teachings of Gurdjieff?" "What is The Absolute?" "What was 'The Secret Cult'?"

Every question received the same stock answer: such things will be discussed in later courses. That's it. Door closed. Pay another $150 to learn more!

(To be fair, the question of The Absolute was also rewarded with a revisit to the blackboard. This time, radial lines were drawn from the circle to its centre, and we were fed some drivel about 'reconnecting'. Philosophy, indeed.)

As the weeks progressed, the numbers thinned and the remaining students became more and more ardent. My smoking companions were long gone. One vanished after week three, having laughed hysterically following a particularly obscure discussion on the nature of the senses and decided to cut her losses. The other stuck it out a bit longer, and I shared my findings with her. She decided enough was enough after reading the article 'Course or Cult?' Several others left then, too.

Those who stayed were those who had found something; and those who had found something were probably those who had been in greater need of doing so. Good for them, I guess ? the course had apparently filled a gap for meaning or purpose or balance.

But for my time and money ? not to mention my conviction in the dignity of truth ? I was too appalled at being misled to get anything of value from my experiences with the School. If their philosophy and way of life is so perfect, noble and 'fine', why hide it behind a smokescreen? Why deceive to recruit?

Other followers of Advaita seem to have no trouble recruiting through honest advertising ? why does the SES feel that this inappropriate to their needs?

Then again, perhaps my 'coarse', unintelligent perception of all this is simply evidence of my convict and colonial heritage. Perhaps I should just sulk off and oil my ball and chain.

Anyway, thanks for indulging ? writing this has been quite cathartic!

User avatar
a different guest
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Australia

Postby a different guest » Fri May 19, 2006 3:52 am

Great story ab. And think of the logic to be got from it? - smokers don't get sucked into cults! :lol!:

Anyway, welcome from another aussie *waves*

Re net searches, I am guessing that your experience in academe must make you a bit of a whiz net-searcher - it's been discussed in other threads how little comes up doing a net search on the SES; even in 2006! Yes you can get lots of results, but with such common words as 'school' 'economic' 'science' etc. I get a hell of a lot of sites that are nothing to do with the SES (SOP/SoES). I probably know of less than a dozen that pertain purely to the SES.

Somewhere here, there was a thread with sites and books listed *looks around vaguely, then shrugs*. Have you read The Secret Cult?

And what prompted you to search again? Was this site an easy find?

cheers
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

ab
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Postby ab » Fri May 19, 2006 4:18 am

Hi ADG - and thanks!

a different guest wrote:it's been discussed in other threads how little comes up doing a net search on the SES; even in 2006!


I agree whole-heartedly - and it was quite a bit more complex that I made it sound in my previous post. But once I'd found a few key terms associated with the ideological underpinnings of the organisation, it became a tad easier. I was particularly interested in finding out more about the people from whom the 'philosophy' has been distilled: Leon MacLaren and others, including Gurdjieff/Ouspensky - my Lordy, what a pair of trippers we have there!

a different guest wrote:Have you read The Secret Cult?


Just the excerpts that have appeared here. Damn, I love those anti-Australian sentiments! I have also managed to track down a scanned PDF version of chapter 7 in its entirety, but the quality is quite poor. (Apologes if the scanner is reading this. Your effeorts are appreciated, nonetheless!)

a different guest wrote:And what prompted you to search again? Was this site an easy find?


My wife and I jumped off a tram on Riversdale Rd in Hawthorn, on our way to see a friend's new apartment. By pure chance, we were right near Erasmus, and my wife asked me if I knew anything about it. We don't live too far away, and since we're planning on starting a family soon, schools in the area are suddenly starting to capture our attention. Since I - shamefully - have not yet shared the truth of my SES experience with her, cold sweats ensued as I casually replied "I dunno. Looks weird, though."

I figured I'd reaquaint myself with this guff, and see if I can swallow my pride enough to share the weirdest experience of my life with my beloved.

The site was fairly easy to find - I think it came up as a hit on a 'MacLaren' search. Absolutely fantastic community you guys have going here. A fairly broad range of experiences, I see - many of which leave my experience of deception/misrepresentation for dead with their truly dreadful stories of what has occured within the primary schools. My heart goes out to all who have been affected.

User avatar
a different guest
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Australia

Postby a different guest » Fri May 19, 2006 4:23 am

I figured I'd reaquaint myself with this guff, and see if I can swallow my pride enough to share the weirdest experience of my life with my beloved.


Yes, that bit about being able to get back home to mum for a decent dinner... you're not going to get out of THAT one easily. ;)
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP

Goblinboy
Moderator
Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:07 am

Postby Goblinboy » Fri May 19, 2006 4:47 am

Welcome ab and thanks for the articulate post.

Your experience mirrors that of the majority of people who have crossed the threshold of the SOP / SES. Interesting to consider that due to the rapid attrition rate., there are far more people in the world who have attended and left, than the current membership. Many leave feeling a range of emotions, which range from feeling slightly deceived to cheated.

As long as the SOP / SES persists with its lack of transparency, it continually builds a latent alumni of dissaffected ex-members - and I suspect that's a real liability, given the ubiquity of the WWW and its ability to create a coherent voice for otherwise scattered individuals.

If the SOP / SES could only be transparent about it's aims, sources, structure, etc, this BB would probably not need to exist.

You really should tell your wife about your experiences - she'll have a good laugh, if nothing else.

Regards,

GB

ab
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Postby ab » Fri May 19, 2006 5:26 am

a different guest wrote:Yes, that bit about being able to get back home to mum for a decent dinner... you're not going to get out of THAT one easily. ;)


LOL .... I'll hazard a guess that you're married, ADG? ;)

Goblinboy wrote:You really should tell your wife about your experiences - she'll have a good laugh, if nothing else.


I know ... I know ... It's just a pride thing. I'm a scientist, an atheist and a sceptic - and until the SES debacle, I thought of myself as being quite good at 'doing' all of them. The whole "Look, honey! I played with the cult!" conversation is gonna take a bit of preparation. And no, apparently 4 years isn't quite long enough. ;)

Matthew
Posts: 212
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: London

Postby Matthew » Fri May 19, 2006 8:17 am

Re net searches, I am guessing that your experience in academe must make you a bit of a whiz net-searcher - it's been discussed in other threads how little comes up doing a net search on the SES; even in 2006! Yes you can get lots of results, but with such common words as 'school' 'economic' 'science' etc. I get a hell of a lot of sites that are nothing to do with the SES (SOP/SoES). I probably know of less than a dozen that pertain purely to the SES.

Just google "school of economic science" in quotes and all the sceptic sites come up within the first ten entries, including this one. Same rule applies to any net search of course. '+' and ' - ' googling rules can be useful too.

User avatar
a different guest
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Australia

Postby a different guest » Fri May 19, 2006 10:16 am

*slaps hand to forehead* I feel SO dumb! :D All these years searching the net and I didn't twig about the quote thing...

Thanks Matthew! :)
Relatives with long-term involvement in the SES / SOP/ SoEP


Return to “The Australian and NZ schools”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest