RUTH KELLY CONFIRMS POLICE INVESTIGATING ST. JAMES

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
chrisdevere
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Postby chrisdevere » Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:50 pm

I have not posted on here in a while due to the recent junk and sometimes rather vindictive postings. however, to pick up on Whirte devils question, which i have also asked.

justice what is your connection to the schools or SES. No one is asking for your identity, simply what your interest is. I think every other person on here anonymous or otherwise has stated theirt interest. If they were at St Vedast etc.

Its a very reasonbable question that has been asked several times on here.

Sam keep up the more inteligent posts they are valuable input.

For those who do not know me from St Vedast and as I have nothing to hide. I was a pupil from 1979 to 1985.

I took part in the inquiry as an independent observer (I had no specific complaint) In fact I highlighted many of the good points that I think the school could /as trying to achieve (Keeping in mind the shocking state system that was available). I note though I made no complaint Mr Townend did include the incident of a cricket ball being thrown at the back of my head by a teacher whilst walking to the coach.

however despite (I think) the aim of delivering a school with old fashioned discipline and values that gave a good traditional education at a fraction of the cost of an established public school. There were some pretty nasty cases of violence mental cruelty etc. that went on.

The root cause of this was and still is in my oppinion the SES. Many schools beat pupils etc. but it was rare and fairly delivered with parental consent most of the time. At St Vedast mental and physical cruelty and emotional supression were very much the order of the day and this wasd clearly mandated and handed down by the SES.

If there was as called for many times a clear break from the SES St James would no sdoubt flouris as a good traditional school providing a classical education.

It is also nice to see some current SES members on here with their own voice and oppinions and even more to see that they are capable of both sympathetic and also logical thought!

This is a great difference from the emotionally supressed zombies I remember from Queensgate and Waterperry.

My mother when she put me in to the school asked if they were linked to the SES and if they followed Vedantis beliefs ND said at the time they were supported by the SES. She put them down as eccentrics with a few odd beliefs, but a reasonable trade off for a cheap public school that taught a traditional curicculum. However the reality was quite different. Perhaps if the modern school can finally shake off the SES link and be transparent about this it will grow and flourish.
Christopher de Vere
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bonsai
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Postby bonsai » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:18 pm

Personally I agree that a clear break between the St James and the SES would be beneficial.

However I am happy to accept that St James may wish to retain the link and teach SES doctrine. If this is the case, sufficient information and access to SES material needs to be put into the public domain to allow parents to make an informed choice about whether they wish their kids to be subjected to this belief system.

I believe they should also stop referring to themselves as non-denominational. They may not place any restriction on entrance, but they do teach a belief system and it is fair to say that for some this belief system may conflict with their individual (religious) beliefs.

If the SES or St James are not prepared to do this, then they have something to hide and this can only be one of two things: Either the belief system would not stand up to criticism or they believe they are superior and that everyone outside wouldn't understand it. Personally I think there is a bit of both going on.

This still doesn't get me out of my hole or resolve my issues with St James because my parents are in the SES and subscribe to the SES philosophy. However I don't think they were aware or can comprehend the level to which we were subjected to it whilst we were at school.

Bonsai

chrisdevere
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Postby chrisdevere » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:37 pm

I agree Bonsai

My parents nevere would have known about the vedantic beliefs had they not asked. My father coming from a church family was quite uneasy about me learing eastern religions His words "we are a christian country and by default you are considered a member of the church of England unless you state otherwise" He pas somewhat placated by the fact we did have scripture lessons. even back then there was a strong multi faith and cultural mix of pupils.

Many other faiths found it just as disturbing being subtly fed beliefs of the SES in lessons. It took me a good many years to question some of whaty I was fead at school.

I think they should either say we are an SES school this is what we belive and teach. Or they should break and say we are a multi faith but with christian belief and values school.

It seems very much the SES still hide behind a veil. I thin out of fear that their arguements would not stand scrutiny. But also out of arrogance The SES has always considered itself far superior to anyone non SES.

This arrogance used to be a common tactic used on parents. My mother when going to see DL about my brothers progress; he just sat their untill she spoke. Even thouhg he knew why she was there. Its a very simple technique to position yourself in a superior position to some one you want to make feel uneasy.

Tough brave guy that he was using this on a widow concerned for her young sons well being. but then she was not only an inferior non SES member but also a woman......
Christopher de Vere
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chittani
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Postby chittani » Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:04 pm

Chris

It's nice to hear what you have to say.

I think there is a growing appreciation that it's necessary to find reasonable win-win proposals to go forward. Trying to destroy the SES won't work because so many of us value and love what it has done for us, AND we know that it's no longer doing the extreme things it used to. It's far from perfect, but if it had always been as it is there would not have been the Inquiry, or indeed most of the horrible things that happened to some children and SES members in that period.

There is perhaps another option. I don't see why SES should be teaching a belief system. It's supposed to be philosophy, not religion. Philosophy should stand on its own merits and a real philosopher can present the subject as an inquiry and not as a sermon. Advaita Vedanta is one of the most sophisticated and subtle philosophies there are, not the rag-bag of tuppeny sayings you might think from listening to some so-called teachers. It's designed to stand up in straight arguments with advanced Buddhist thought ...

I would envisage something like the schools run by Steiner organizations or the Subud people. They seem to do a good job without upsetting the horses. There are some pretty out-there ideas in their respective systems, but it just isn't a problem because everyone can see it translates through into a more thoughtful education and there's nothing sinister.

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erikdr
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Win-win?

Postby erikdr » Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:57 pm

Hi Chittani,

You got me there at

Advaita Vedanta is one of the most sophisticated and subtle philosophies there are, not the rag-bag of tuppeny sayings you might think from listening to some so-called teachers. It's designed to stand up in straight arguments with advanced Buddhist thought ...


Because as an ex-SES adult school fan for 8 years and a current teacher in Buddhism I might have some opinions on this.

Yes, Advaita Vedanta is a philosophy which I still respect, and of which some of its teachers could very well debate on par with my present doctrine. Same as more advanced thinkers in e.g. Sufism/Islam, Jewish Kabbala and liberal Christianity.

BUT what spoilt it for the old SES was the cultish atmosphere added to Vedanta, the self-imposed roles of the tutors, the Gurdjieff anti-thinking mumbojumbo etc. That made/makes it a cult, not an open-handed follower of a solid religion like Vedanta.

If you propose to help in transforming the current SES further into that direction, and bring it's PR into a much more open space (which Vedanta would be okay with, Gurdjieff definitely not), yes then we would be more on talking terms... :agrue:
With folded palms,

<Erik>

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:34 am

erik

Then I wish we were on speaking terms.

Suffice to say I agree with your analysis that Gurdjieff, if anyone, is the real bugbear here. A very minor figure who has exerted far too much influence.

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:48 am

Chittani - if the SES were to stop teaching a belief system, then they'd have to drop all the parts of Vedanta that involve a belief in God, reincarnation, the difference between men and women, views on homosexuality, etc,. etc. as there are many parts of it that make it a religion, not just a philosophy.

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:58 am

FT

I think you're both right and wrong. Philosophy does not mean you are without principles or beliefs. Plato believed in God, reincarnation and (perhaps against his own inclinations) condemned homosexuality ... but nobody says he isn't a philosopher.

The point about philosophy is that you are prepared to hear other views and argue with them on their own merits according to reason.

Religion is different: there is a set text to refer to which tells you what to believe. People differ about what the set text is saying, but they are referring ultimately to authority, not reason.

Authority is a part of most philosophy, but subject to reason.

It is true that Indian philosophy is more 'religious' than modern Western thought. However, I think it has more in common with David Hume than Christianity.

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erikdr
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Postby erikdr » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:36 am

Okay, this time I think I'd mostly back Chittani.

After all, reincarnation (or to say it better rebirth) is also very important inside Buddhism but not at all a dogma. Whilst probably it can not be proven by reason alone, people's experiences (meditative reflection, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences even for a small minority) 'make it something not totally unlikely'.

But open exchange, sharing experiences (even if not always backable by science or reason) etc. are quite important. The fact that SES lacked/lacks them at times attributes to its dogmas on homosexuality, women etc. Inside Buddhism we also have strong debates about these two but they hardly ever end up with any party dictating dogmas - usually it ends up with conclusions like 'yes seeing where you come from, and even if you feel that X is inferior than Y as long as you give X these and these extra opportunities I still feel we have some balance'. This balance, and the dogmas, bring SES (and sometimes even some so-called Buddhists) into the cultish realm...
With folded palms,



<Erik>

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:06 am

Erik

That last statement cannot be denied. If any good comes out of all this I hope it is a recognition within the SES that we need to move beyond the 'cultish' behaviours. I'd like to say we have, but there are still people who want to keep them.

Really, I think that what matters is not the beliefs about unprovable matters - which everyone has, even Richard Dawkins, God Bless Him! - but how you treat people.

I might believe in liberty and democracy, but if I lock people up in orange jumpsuits and play heavy metal music at them all day, I'm probably no longer on the high moral ground.

If I may say so, Buddhism is a good example. Some critics would say they have been historically a bit too keen to accommodate themselves to the local superstitions, with the result that there's almost no wacky idea that hasn't been attributed to the Buddha. But down through the ages there is a common thread of discipline, compassion and openness that keeps coming through. And that is greatly to their credit.

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:47 pm

Surely philosophy is about the love of wisdom, therefore implying that wisdom is admired, cherished, desired by philosophers.

Where does authority come in that equation?

Surely the Plato discourses with Socrates were not Socrates telling Plato that 'This is the truth, because I told you so, and no I won't discuss it at any length but just politely & condescendingly'. Plato sought answers from Socrates, and Socrates listened and argued his case to Plato. I'll bet that at no point does he insist that he should be sitting higher than Plato, or that he doesn't have to answer his questions.

Surely authority has to be invested in a teacher by the student, and then reaffirmed every moment by the wisdom of the teachers ability to convince and answer well.

Religions of all kinds tend to ignore this, and devotees allow them to. If the first groups had been more challenging of Mr McLaren and their tutors then maybe it would have become a very different school and truly revolutionary.

As it is I don't think the SES would be able to stop teaching a belief system, because it would disappoint too many that enjoy that belief system without being challenged at every turn.

I think a lively discussion between proponents and detractors would make a most excellent example of seeking and loving wisdom.

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:16 pm

Keir

Sure, and there are examples of this in the Upanishads where philosophy is almost like a competition. Or in Greek philosophy, as you say.

Authority is a difficult one, especially in the context of the present dispute.

But all I meant was that some people do appear to have some knowledge or wisdom and you ask them about it. If you can't knock their reasoning over, then you respect them as an authority - obviously, until you find something better, one way or another.

Anyone can work out a system of philosophy for themselves, in theory. In practice, very few people ever do.


Your definition of philosophy is similar to what Plato said in the Symposium - a philosopher is someone who lacks wisdom, by definition, because they are looking for it. That view might produce a different kind of philosophy ...

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:54 pm

Wouldn't it just.

I think that everyone has their own philosophy and sense of wisdom which they apply in their lives and even propound to others. It is valid for them and informs everything they do.

Simply because it is not recognised as philosophy with a big P, doesn't mean it is not in every day use and the de facto standard for 'truth' or 'belief' to the individual.

Do you believe everything that you are told? Then surely you form your own philosophy where the dialogue happens within you as well as without, but it is the within that has to be satisfied before you take on anothers belief/truth as your own. That would suggest that the authority lies within the individual. Every individual.

chittani
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Postby chittani » Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:11 pm

Couldn't agree more.

Oh and by the way Symposium means "to drink together". We must have a symposium some time soon.

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:12 pm

Chittani -

One of the reasons why I disagree that the SES/SoPP is offering a 'philosophy" and is instead offering a religion or belief system is that this doesn't really occur. THEY hold the ultimate authority on what to believe, and when you disagree, you are told to let go of your ego, to wait and neither accept nor reject, or your questions are ignored or minutiae picked out to argue over rather than the actual point itself. And therefore, you are not allowed to make your own decisions about things when those opinions disagree with the "powers that be".

That was my experience, anyway, and I know that it is shared by many here. Sure, they talk a lot about discovering the TRUTH and learning about yourself, and examining the world. but if the TRUTH you eventually discover doesn't match theirs, watch out!

One residential, I was wearing a "Subhumans" t-shirt. In case you don't know, the Subhumans are a punk/ska band that was an offshoot of another similar band called Citizen Fish. I don't think there would have been an issue if I'd worn a CF shirt, but because of the name, I was asked to take the shirt off because, as my tutor tried to explain so sweetly, "there are no subhumans, we are all equal". This seems like the appropriate place for my new favorite smilie: :eggface:

I felt like saying, "No shirt, sherlock. If I didn't think we were all equal, I wouldn't be here, would I?" But I didn't. I tried to argue with her very politely that I knew that, and that if she'd heard the band's lyrics, she'd know that they were supporting equality, etc. But only the superficiality of it mattered. I encountered that again and again and again - the leaders could NOT get over superficial details. The fact that I had dyed hair and piercings somehow bothered them so much that their true personalities came out. If who we are inside and how we treat others is what matters, why make such an issue over the fact that my hair was green? But no, it wasn't enough that I stayed with the school as an adult and gave up many social events to join residentials and attend both class and service, or that I was devoting my life to service outside of the school, or that I risked losing my job by being pressured by the tutors to stay for a second week at residential, thus losing a week's income and almost my job. I think they felt like if I was there for another week, I'd "see the light".

So while I would love to agree with you on principle, and while I think that there exists a real possibility for such a philosophy to exist and to really help people (one reason I stayed as long as I did was that there were many aspects of the teaching that I liked and that helped me) in practice, people's egos are too strong. And that in all of these meetings where people tried to talk to me about such issues, there was a very strong feeling of "if only we can make her understand - she just doesn't get it" when I very much did "get it" but didn't agree.


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