Questions from a prospective St James parent

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
concerned parent

Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby concerned parent » Thu Dec 02, 2004 12:29 am

I am a local parent considering sending my son to St James. My wife and myself are Tibetan Buddhists; we both 'meditate', are vegetarians (as are two of our three children), and practise 'mindfulness' as well as a number of other disciplines that appear, as far as I can tell, fairly similar to the principles of the SES. It was in trying to find out more about the SES that I came across this site.

We visited the school at the recent open day and we were impressed by the academic side of the school and particularly by the young lads that showed us around. My son liked the school. We like the 'ethos' of the school as it was presented to us. I would like to make it completely clear at this point that it is the school as a school that interests us; NOT the meditation, the vegetarianism, the chanting or any of those aspects. All I am trying to say is that none of that in any way adds or detracts from our interest in the school.

I have read everything on this site, and would like to express my warmest regards to those who suffered as boys; I am utterly appalled by what I have read. I don't know if this may help at all, but in Buddhism it is taught that the past can be healed only by the present. For every small action that you can take now that is deliberately and mindfully not affected by, or as a result of, what happened to you in the past, so the past can be healed. By loving your own children and not striking them when you are angry or full of the need to show them what is right and wrong, by understanding and appreciating their individuality when it is different to yours... By not perpetuating the mistakes that were made against you. Well, I only mention this, you have all had enough for a lifetime of the philosophy and beliefs of others being thrust at you.

There are two points I would like to make. Firstly I do not fully understand the apparent problem caused by the teachers who took part in the abuse of boys in the past still being at the school. Please understand that I have every sympathy with those who wish for some sort of acknowledgement and closure from these teachers as well as from those who are no longer still teaching, but the abusive behaviour is now simply illegal, isn't it? So, I have to ask; what possible danger do these teachers pose to present-day boys? What sort of men they are, whether they are intrinsically damaged or emotionally immature etc, these are questions about all teachers everywhere, are they not? -Including the ones who have never laid a finger on a pupil because the law and society does not allow them to, but who perhaps would have had they been teaching a few decades ago. Who perhaps spend their whole lives secretly in an inner rage, and no-one ever knows. I am a parent who loves his children very dearly and ideally I would like for every teacher that they meet to be saints in thought as well as deed... Failing that I have to settle for just the deeds, don't I?

My second point is a question, and I would really welcome some input from SES members about this, particularly perhaps those who are parents or teachers. Why are schoolchildren being indoctrinated into the SES at all? I do not ask about whether an emphasis on outer behaviour has any relevance to inner understanding because I think this is a question that is perhaps misunderstood by almost all people who are on an inner path up to a certain level and the early St James is a clear example of this. I can see the wish for a school that fosters the sort of spirit of inquiry that is the birthright of man. But this indoctrination, no matter how subtle, and no matter how well-intentioned; this is the imposing of answers isn't it? Not the opening of a question and the sharing of a spiritual path, but instead the assumption of rightness and knowing. If your path is such a right one, then the right people will be attracted to it, and to you as exemplars of that path, surely? There is not even a need to discuss it with the young people, merely to exemplify that teaching.... With my own children I wish for them that they find the path that is right for THEM. It may or may not be the one I have chosen for myself; it does not matter. They do not belong to me, my children, it is simply my job to assist them towards the best for them, and that is not necessarily the same as what is best for me because -they are not me. They are themselves. To think otherwise is to rob them of their individuality, their Being.

Why does the SES believe that this indoctrination is necessary? Am I misunderstanding? Is there some other aim at work here, and this has been misrepresented by this site?

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

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby Matthew » Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:37 am

concerned parent wrote:My second point is a question, and I would really welcome some input from SES members about this, particularly perhaps those who are parents or teachers. Why are schoolchildren being indoctrinated into the SES at all? I do not ask about whether an emphasis on outer behaviour has any relevance to inner understanding because I think this is a question that is perhaps misunderstood by almost all people who are on an inner path up to a certain level and the early St James is a clear example of this. I can see the wish for a school that fosters the sort of spirit of inquiry that is the birthright of man. But this indoctrination, no matter how subtle, and no matter how well-intentioned; this is the imposing of answers isn't it? Not the opening of a question and the sharing of a spiritual path, but instead the assumption of rightness and knowing. If your path is such a right one, then the right people will be attracted to it, and to you as exemplars of that path, surely? There is not even a need to discuss it with the young people, merely to exemplify that teaching.... With my own children I wish for them that they find the path that is right for THEM. It may or may not be the one I have chosen for myself; it does not matter. They do not belong to me, my children, it is simply my job to assist them towards the best for them, and that is not necessarily the same as what is best for me because -they are not me. They are themselves. To think otherwise is to rob them of their individuality, their Being.

Why does the SES believe that this indoctrination is necessary? Am I misunderstanding? Is there some other aim at work here, and this has been misrepresented by this site?


When reading this I am reminded of the famous passage from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran where he speaks of child-rearing:-

"And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, 'Speak to us of children.'

And he said:- Your children are not your children. they are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet that they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness, for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."


I think these words apply equally to children entrusted to teachers as well as to parents. How unfortunate it was for those innocent ones in the early years of St James and St Vedast that the "teachers" then did not apply these same principles to their actions. Where was the love for the arrows and the stability of the bows in those days I ask? The only might they displayed was not for their bows, but with how much of it they could muster to beat us into submission.

Tom Grubb
Posts: 380
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Location: London

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby Tom Grubb » Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:26 pm

concerned parent wrote:Firstly I do not fully understand the apparent problem caused by the teachers who took part in the abuse of boys in the past still being at the school. Please understand that I have every sympathy with those who wish for some sort of acknowledgement and closure from these teachers as well as from those who are no longer still teaching, but the abusive behaviour is now simply illegal, isn't it? So, I have to ask; what possible danger do these teachers pose to present-day boys? What sort of men they are, whether they are intrinsically damaged or emotionally immature etc, these are questions about all teachers everywhere, are they not?

Come on! Punching pupils in the face and throwing cricket balls at their heads was just as illegal in the 70s and 80s as now. It's just that children's rights are now (at last) starting to be taken seriously and those who abuse them are less likely to get away with it. Do you really want your children taught by people who only restrain themselves from viciously assaulting them simply because the law might punish them for doing so? I happen to be a teacher myself and, whilst I respect the law of the land, the reason I don't assault my students is because it is totally wrong to do so.

leon M

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby leon M » Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:46 pm

concerned parent wrote:Why does the SES believe that this indoctrination is necessary?


Because SES is a cult. And cults need members. And cults need to grow, Cults need money.

Alban
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby Alban » Fri Dec 03, 2004 10:45 am

concerned parent wrote:...We visited the school at the recent open day and we were impressed by the academic side of the school and particularly by the young lads that showed us around.


Indeed, and when parents were shown around the schools when we were there, the same highly-polished exterior was shown to them.

Unfortunately, as a parent, you have very little to guide you about the appropriateness of any school, which is why there is such a pre-occupation with league tables these-days.


concerned parent wrote:There are two points I would like to make. Firstly I do not fully understand the apparent problem caused by the teachers who took part in the abuse of boys in the past still being at the school. Please understand that I have every sympathy with those who wish for some sort of acknowledgement and closure from these teachers as well as from those who are no longer still teaching, but the abusive behaviour is now simply illegal, isn't it? So, I have to ask; what possible danger do these teachers pose to present-day boys? What sort of men they are, whether they are intrinsically damaged or emotionally immature etc, these are questions about all teachers everywhere, are they not? -Including the ones who have never laid a finger on a pupil because the law and society does not allow them to, but who perhaps would have had they been teaching a few decades ago. Who perhaps spend their whole lives secretly in an inner rage, and no-one ever knows. I am a parent who loves his children very dearly and ideally I would like for every teacher that they meet to be saints in thought as well as deed... Failing that I have to settle for just the deeds, don't I?


I can see your point, and if the teachers concerned were wholely repentant and admit to being mis-guided, and wiser-after-the-event, then I personally am not overly concerned that they still teach children - we all make mistakes after all, and we should all be given the chance to repair the damage. However, the problem is that at least two of the teachers concerned have shown none of the above remorse as they obviously still hold the same views that they held in those days.

So what does this tell us! Firstly that those teachers are un-able to admit they were wrong. Secondly that they are oblivious to and disagree with current teaching wisdom. Thirdly that by continuing to employ them, the schools are endorsing that view and are accepting their past behaviour. And lastly, that they are so beligerent that they are happy to see the schools suffer this negative publicity rather than take a minor knock to their egos.

Personally, I have a problem with that. It should not matter what the personal opinions of a teacher are, yet when those opinions endorse the beating of young children, that does not sit comfortably with me. Knowing that their actions are only constrained by the law of the land does not give me any great peace-of-mind.

Whether we like it or not, teachers are a role model for our children and like most parents, I would like that influence to be pretty close to my own beliefs and standards. Knowing that they are "intrinsically damaged or emotionally immature " as you put it, significantly detracts from their suitability in this role.

Are you REALLY comfortable about these people teaching your kids?

Are you REALLY comfortable about sending your children to a school that has many of the same people deciding it's future that presided over it's abusive regime of the past?

TB

Postby TB » Fri Dec 03, 2004 10:49 am

Dear concerned parent,

Thankyou for your inquiring and thoughful post. I agree with much of your post regarding the status of current teachers from the past days of abuse. However I would like to question you about this comment.
There is not even a need to discuss it with the young people, merely to exemplify that teaching.... With my own children I wish for them that they find the path that is right for THEM. It may or may not be the one I have chosen for myself; it does not matter. They do not belong to me, my children, it is simply my job to assist them towards the best for them, and that is not necessarily the same as what is best for me because -they are not me. They are themselves. To think otherwise is to rob them of their individuality, their Being.

Surely your wish for a path of this type for your children is the same trap that SES is being accused of. 'Your wish' shows that you feel that this approach is what is best for your children. You have removed the boundaries upon a specific path, perhaps Buddhism, yet you have been unable to remove your desire to do what is best for them. By having ideas about them being 'individual', and 'Being' neccesitates an imposition of your ideas.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating that you should NOT do this, I am questioning your logic that says you have somehow removed all the unimportant trivia of specific paths and instead left the door open for them to make their own choices, yet this approach is a path in itself. I personally like the ideals you foster, and would be delighted if I was able to go part the way. However, I have strong beliefs and ideals that are probably due to my past life (maybe even lives) and I am sure I will impose them on my children, and I will close some doors for them. I will not allow them to be exposed, with their unformed, impressionable minds, to some paths on the chance they might be 'right' for them, and risk that others will lead them astray from my own admittedly narrow offering.

I will ensure that they follow my guidelines on things like diet, health, education, violence and so on for quite a few years. They might struggle to fly the nest before I am willing, or do things that I dissapprove of. I just hope I have the wisdom and perspective to let go at times that serve them well. However I do not for a moment imagine that I am not choosing their path. Does your belief believe that past lives will overcome or pervert a defined parenting approach that lays down boundaries?

Once again, I found your post stimulating and hope you respond. My view above does imply that inevitably SES, cult or not, needs to have members that conform to its beliefs. I also think that most social groups also require this, only the details that are indoctrinated differ.

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:26 am

TB wrote:Once again, I found your post stimulating...


Wish I could say the same about yours.

Alban
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Postby Alban » Fri Dec 03, 2004 12:16 pm

Anonymous wrote:
TB wrote:Once again, I found your post stimulating...


Wish I could say the same about yours.


This is an unhelpful comment and could be consrued as abusive.

I would suggest that if you want your comments to be taken seriously, then you lay off the personal attacks and stick to challenging opinions, facts and points of view. By attacking the individual you are resorting to the lowest level of behaviour - which is quite understandable considering the childhood role-models and influences you've had, but it is still unacceptable.

On most boards, comments like that would be moderated because they break the rules of common decency and as such are in conflict with the forum's conditions of use. These conditions are there for legal reasons rather than for censorship purposes.

It is quite understandable that you are angry, but please try and direct that energy sensibly.

TIA

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Dec 03, 2004 12:33 pm

Point taken Alban. Sorry TB.

StVSurvivor
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2004 8:04 pm

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby StVSurvivor » Fri Dec 03, 2004 2:15 pm

Alban wrote:I can see your point, and if the teachers concerned were wholely repentant and admit to being mis-guided, and wiser-after-the-event, then I personally am not overly concerned that they still teach children - we all make mistakes after all, and we should all be given the chance to repair the damage. However, the problem is that at least two of the teachers concerned have shown none of the above remorse as they obviously still hold the same views that they held in those days.

So what does this tell us! Firstly that those teachers are un-able to admit they were wrong. Secondly that they are oblivious to and disagree with current teaching wisdom. Thirdly that by continuing to employ them, the schools are endorsing that view and are accepting their past behaviour. And lastly, that they are so beligerent that they are happy to see the schools suffer this negative publicity rather than take a minor knock to their egos.

Personally, I have a problem with that. It should not matter what the personal opinions of a teacher are, yet when those opinions endorse the beating of young children, that does not sit comfortably with me. Knowing that their actions are only constrained by the law of the land does not give me any great peace-of-mind.

Whether we like it or not, teachers are a role model for our children and like most parents, I would like that influence to be pretty close to my own beliefs and standards. Knowing that they are "intrinsically damaged or emotionally immature " as you put it, significantly detracts from their suitability in this role.

Are you REALLY comfortable about these people teaching your kids?

Are you REALLY comfortable about sending your children to a school that has many of the same people deciding it's future that presided over it's abusive regime of the past?


Fine words Alban - I endorse all you say.

Katharine Watson

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby Katharine Watson » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:33 pm

To all who may be concerned...

First, I would like to thank those on these forum who recently were kind enough to support me when I was attacked. I recognise and appreciate the genuineness and goodwill of the majority of posters here.

However, I feel it has become impossible for anyone who wishes to question, however mildly, any of the views put forward on this board to get a fair hearing. So I do not intend after this post to continue participating in the debate. (I note that silence is being construed as evidence that nothing has changed. I would merely urge those of honest intent to wait for the inquiry, and not assume that you can know the minds of those who keep silence.)

My reason for posting now is to address 'Concerned parent'.

concerned parent wrote:I am a local parent considering sending my son to St James.
........

My second point is a question, and I would really welcome some input from SES members about this, particularly perhaps those who are parents or teachers.
........

Why does the SES believe that this indoctrination is necessary? Am I misunderstanding? Is there some other aim at work here, and this has been misrepresented by this site?


I would be most happy to meet you and talk about this, or to correspond by email if you prefer. I don't wish to give out my email address here, for fear of abuse, but if you will either write to me at the senior boys' school or phone and ask to speak to me, I will get in touch with you at once.

I would also like to repeat my earlier offer (which no-one so far has taken up) to speak to any parent who may have questions they want to ask or concerns they would like to raise. I would be happy to meet you at my home, if that is preferred. Anyone is very welcome I guarantee total honesty and openness on my part.

Meanwhile, once again I send my best wishes to all concerned in this unfolding drama. May truth prevail.

Alban
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Re: Questions from a prospective St James parent

Postby Alban » Fri Dec 03, 2004 10:35 pm

Katharine Watson wrote:However, I feel it has become impossible for anyone who wishes to question, however mildly, any of the views put forward on this board to get a fair hearing.


...deja vu

Lets be clear about this Katharine, everyone here has just as much right to post as anyone else. There is no reason why you can't continue to post should you wish. Your posts get read just the same as anyone else's and responded to accordingly. Your views have had their critics as has the rest of us, but what do you expect on an uncensored forum. There's always going to be a bit of heckling, but leaving that aside, your posts were generally responded to in a sensible fashion.

However, it is going to be hard work defending the schools and the SES in general, on a forum that is largely full of people who have had extremely negative experiences therein. So I could understand if you were getting tired of defending your corner, but do not subscribe to you not being given a fair hearing.

TB

Postby TB » Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:07 pm

Hi Katharine,
However, I feel it has become impossible for anyone who wishes to question, however mildly, any of the views put forward on this board to get a fair hearing

You have got to be kidding! You just have to look at how amenable and willing people are able to discuss my posts, without having to resort to personal attacks or emotional illogic. I challenge you to identify one person who has not been made a larger person, or thanked me, as a result of my pedantic, post-modernist and inciteful posts.

Regarding my approach, when I disagreed with you, I told you why. When I supported you, I said that too. Your ability not to make personal attacks, keeping a level head when under fire, make you outstanding on this board. Hang in.

May truth prevail.

I suspect that a more likely outcome for all on this board be "May my version of the truth (which I totally believe) prevail"

TB

Postby TB » Sat Dec 04, 2004 1:38 am

Anonymous wrote:
TB wrote:
Once again, I found your post stimulating...


Wish I could say the same about yours.


This is an unhelpful comment and could be consrued as abusive.

I would suggest that if you want your comments to be taken seriously, then you lay off the personal attacks and stick to challenging opinions, facts and points of view. By attacking the individual you are resorting to the lowest level of behaviour - which is quite understandable considering the childhood role-models and influences you've had, but it is still unacceptable.

On most boards, comments like that would be moderated because they break the rules of common decency and as such are in conflict with the forum's conditions of use. These conditions are there for legal reasons rather than for censorship purposes.

It is quite understandable that you are angry, but please try and direct that energy sensibly.


Hi Alban, thanks for the moderation. Guest, thanks for the apology, it suprised me to see it. I was in the process of responding to you, in a most unkind way, thankfully Alban stepped in. Any chance you will elaborate on your initial response?

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Dec 04, 2004 7:20 pm

Do you really want your children taught by people who only restrain themselves from viciously assaulting them simply because the law might punish them for doing so?


since when could you read minds? how do you know they still think like that?


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