Splinter Schools

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
anti_ses
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Postby anti_ses » Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:51 pm

bonsai wrote:Yes by all means ask people to support their views with reasons but please be careful in the use of adjectives used to describe the authors of particular views.

This seems to be targeted directly and solely at my impression of what the angry parent wrote. Therefore, Bonsai, I'm afraid you have inadvertently made the thread even more personal.

I stand by my remark:
I wrote:I only feel that when one chooses to openly criticize a religion, race or any denomination - implicitly or explicitly - one should explain their reasoning. Otherwise they risk being considered, at the very least, culturally unaware or, at worst, prejudiced.


Many online discussion boards get out of hand. I would prefer to move discussions such as these to personal messages. However, in my personal experience with this board, this has led to language and accusations I would rather not receive again.

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:57 pm

anti_ses wrote:And, IMHO, calling an argument "tired and lame" is akin to admitting defeat.

Well, IMHO, I disagree. But there you go :fadein:

I hear ya, Bonsai ;)

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:06 pm

Anti_ses, surely the point is that the mother who wrote the letter was deceived by the SES! Had she been told upfront that her child was to be taught a mixture of Hinduism/Gurdjieff/TM/MacLaren/whatever, made to sit perfectly still for long periods of time (I'm not sure where you get the "10 or 15 minutes" from), chant Sanskrit incantaions, learn that women are inferior to men, etc, then she could have made an informed decision about her child's education. Because of the school's deception, her child had to spend two terms at a school whose curriculum, teaching methods and disciplinary policies were "the antithesis of what we were led to believe and what we had envisioned for our child".

As you may have gathered, I am against all religious indoctrination at school but at least most religious schools tell parents what they actually teach their children. The same is true for most religious people. Ask a religious Jew, Muslim, Catholic or Hindu to outline their beliefs and practices and they will probably give you a straight answer. Ask an SES member or Scientologist and they won't!
Last edited by Tom Grubb on Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:14 pm

Mine wasn't a straw man argument - it was a genuine question. Do hindus teach "the perfect etc" verse to their children. Do hindus teach their children to sit still for long periods of time. If you don't like me questionning your assumption that the practice taught by the SES are bona fide hindu can you please point to other examples of hindus teaching their very young children this verse and similar practices as taught in SES schools? Maybe someone who has been to the equivalent of Hindu sunday school could help out here. I suspect though that like most religious teaching to young children, they concentrate on stories rather than practices that a 4/5 year old consciousness has no hope of understanding.

Do hindus "do" plato for example? My point is that the stuff the SES teaches is a synthesis, its not "pure" anything - which is fine and maybe why they are not too clear as to what they are at (in more ways than one)- I'm back to my McLarenites point again (apologies for circular argumentation). oh oh the McLarenites - i feel a song coming on.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:30 pm

ConcernedMum wrote:oh oh the McLarenites - i feel a song coming on.

Perhaps MacLaren's own magnificent masterpiece, 'O Thou Lord Supreme'?

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:22 pm

Hey Tom, I was going to suggest a Desmond Dekker "israelites" and MacLaren "o thou lord supreme" mash-up and not wanting to embarass myself by getting the meaning of mash-up wrong (age-related ignorance) I googled its meaning and get this definition:

"An audio recording that is a composite of samples from other recordings, usually from different musical styles.
Mashup (music), a musical genre of songs that consist entirely of parts of other songs"

Spookily appropriate!

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:12 am

ConcernedMum wrote:Hi - thanks for that - what i meant about asking is it Hindu is that while apparently some of the structures of its main beliefs seem to accord with hindu philosophy alright but it seems there's a heap of other stuff thrown in (TM, remnants of Blavatsky etc) add in a large portion of McLaren's personality which clearly veered into arrogance and bullying reasonably regularly and finally include knowledge gained from a series of conversations with a Hindu guru (does not a spiritual transmission make - necessarily). I was brought up Roman Catholic so I would certainly know enough about Catholicism to set up my own religion with sufficient quantities of catholic belief (transubstantiation, resurection etc) , throw in a few other general spiritual beliefs and of course my own personal preferences and voila! I have a religion that looks like Catholicism, but of course, isn't really. I think the SES is about as Hindu as that. Lets not accord it any great status - it clearly hasn't earned it (yet- at least and I suspect hasn't a sniff of a chance of ever doing so). Its a group of people who follow Mclaren, thats all.

And I agree that it is clearly nonsense to teach children stuff that they will not have the capacity to understand in any way.


What a well-written post! And a Tim Tam to you for your other posts in this thread!

It is precisely that - teaching a mish-mosh of religious thought and personal wierdness under the guise of Hinduism under the guise of philosophy - whatever that is.

One of my main problems with the SES/SoPP is that McLaren's wierd personal tastes and emotions have colored everything - even what might be good and straight otherwise. And that everyone puts as much importance to his beliefs about the inherant qualities of music based on race, gender, and sexuality, as they do on the Shankaracharya's words about serving others.

And then everyone is supposed to give up their personalities under the guise of throwing off the ego - thus rendering themselves open to taking on his personal views and tastes.

Oh, that sure sounds like brainwashing to me!

I think I'll go and listen to some gay punk rock while I eat my food that's been equally prepared by myself and my husband.

anti_ses
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Postby anti_ses » Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:11 pm

ConcernedMum wrote:Mine wasn't a straw man argument - it was a genuine question. Do hindus teach "the perfect etc" verse to their children. Do hindus teach their children to sit still for long periods of time.

Firstly, Hindus are not a homogeneous group - I don't think this is the place to discuss the varying degrees to which different forms of Hinduism are practised. However, I am sure many Hindus are taught that verse from a young age and explained its meaning, perhaps in a weekend school. Or taught other verses not fully explained, but given for them to recite in order to give them peace or instill values - much like saying grace before eating. Sitting still is probably high on the list of things many Hindu children just do through practice rather than instruction.

My underlying point is that there should be a separation when discussing theory and its dissemination. As a practising Hindu who rejects the SES, I do not believe the two are inextricably linked. I have seen countless occasions* here when criticisms of the underlying theory and the way it is disseminated - by which I mean methods used, intended audience, scope for debate - are unreasonably conflated.

I'm not saying the theory is beyond criticism. I do believe in discussion it should be separated from the way in which it is introduced. For given another context, another culture and another way of living, the same ideas can have very different effects.

It seems quite an anomaly how, even though the SES supposedly have Hindu-orientated views, the vast majority of the Hindus I know who have been educated at St James have no intention of having anything to do with the SES. In my experience, they take away from the St James experience those values that coincide with their upbringing, laugh at everything else, make lifelong friends irrespective of SES affiliation, behave well enough to avoid particularly undesirable punishments, obtain an education that enables them to make a suitable living, and get on with life.

The above does NOT in any way justify the SES or St James, nor is it intended to defend those organisations. It does, however, point to the view that one needs to be careful when criticising their beliefs or practices per se, the trap into which the angry parent fell. It could merely have been a slip of tongue rather than an error in judgement on his/her part, but this cannot be considered an excuse.

* Two come to mind in particular. First, the view that semi-arranged marriages are by default susceptible to failure. A lot of cultural ignorance on that old thread, where people kept on making absolute remarks which would be fine if qualified. Second, the view here that a religious verse recited is nonsensical per se, and that sitting for 10-15 minutes is unreasonable for young children in general. On both occasions, criticism of how and to whom the view is put forward has been muddled with criticism of the view itself.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:27 pm

Hiya anti_ses
I accept what you are saying - fair enough - the thing is though, that atheists and non-believers are also entitled to their views that any spiritual practice is utter nonsense - when it comes to the cultural stuff I agree that caution is usually wiser alright as its easy to be ignorant of whats behind it or the underlying societal principles and to be ignorant of how it works in reality etc. aagh can't get out what i'm trying to say so i'll leave it.
Last edited by ConcernedMum on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:13 pm

anti_ses wrote:It does, however, point to the view that one needs to be careful when criticising their beliefs or practices per se, the trap into which the angry parent fell.

But you haven't answered the underlying and central point, made to you several times, that the angry parent had been duped in the first place before he/she made any, apparently debatable, criticisms. There wouldn't have been any 'trap to fall into' if Erasmus had been open and transparent up front. Sadly, two adjectives I have never experienced going hand in hand with the SES and their 'schools'. With respect, I have to say that I think you are nitpicking at side-issues, without seeing the bigger picture. Perhaps you could ask yourself: Overall, who of the two parties is more at fault?

anti_ses
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Postby anti_ses » Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:56 pm

Matthew, it seems you still think I'm trying to defend the SES! I don't know much about Erasmus and have only read a small number of accounts of the school. Sorry.

Regarding "nitpicking at side-issues", I believe the beauty of online message boards is that side-issues can be discussed and pursued. Moreover, a side-issue to you may be a primary issue for others.

I believe this site isn't only for people who have been wronged by the SES or want to reveal shortcomings of which they have become aware. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point, and I'd be happy to leave!

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:58 pm

anti_ses wrote:it seems you still think I'm trying to defend the SES!

Ok, well lets put it this way - you've been, shall we say, ambiguous over this issue ever since you first started posting on this board. One thing's for sure, you've perplexed a lot of posters here over the years, coming across on the one hand to defend, or at least be an apologist for the SES and/or St James, whilst going under the title of 'anti_ses'. Anyway, to be perfectly honest I have no interest whether or not, or to what extent, you support them. That's your prerogative.

anti_ses wrote:I don't know much about Erasmus and have only read a small number of accounts of the school.

And?? Erasmus is the school in question here - the one 'angry parent' sent his/her child to. For Erasmus, just substitute St James, John Scottus or any other SES school; its all the same ethos.

WRT side-issues, in my opinion and for reasons already stated, it IS a side-issue in relation to this particular topic. Moreover, you are still choosing to pass over the point being put to you. But there we have it, I guess you've got your reasons; and we're starting to go around in circles, so I'm outta here. Take it easy, anti_ses.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:41 am

Hi,
Anti-ses, you sure are sparky! - Matthew didn't suggest you leave the board and I realised over-night that there are some things that I would question in what you posted but yesterday, i said "fair enough" because I had noticed that you seem to tend to react by using attack as defence and I was being over-placatory (my choice).


"Sitting still is probably high on the list of things many Hindu children just do through practice rather than instruction"

That surely is the point - if something is done naturally and not by putting inordinate stress on a child to strain to do something that is culturally foreign and can't be understood thats fine - putting stress on children and putting some sort of "spiritual" value on being able to do it is a totally different story.


"My underlying point is that there should be a separation when discussing theory and its dissemination."

I would ask why? The SES is the message, so to speak. A critique of the SES is not a criticism of Hinduism because the SES message comes with a whole lot of other completely dysfunctional rubbish (which seems to coincide with ideas that would have had currency in MacLaren's own formative years among others). Now maybe you have the skill to be able to separate out the wheat from the chaff (and your Hindu background would surely help with that in that you have a reference point which would help you to differentiate) but children, in general, probably can't and if their parents don't know they are being taught this stuff, neither can they.


"For given another context, another culture and another way of living, the same ideas can have very different effects"

Sure, but the woman was talking about a specific practice in a specific school at a specific time and specifically without her permission or knowledge. I certainly don't have the capacity to consider every context, culture and way of life in existence before I speak and to be honest, I have noticed that this is a trick that groups use to shut people up - I speak from my experience - as we all do.


>behave well enough to avoid particularly undesirable punishments,

I know that my son exhibited uncharacteristic levels of aggression while he was in John Scottus (well gone since he's not under the stress of their ridiculous level of discipline). For some children who are under horrific levels of stress caused by the context into which they've been put, "good" behaviour becomes increasingly difficult. I would like to know what you meant by that sentence as i feel there is a slight implication that those who were the recipients of the undesirable punishments (ie, criminal levels of physical abuse) had a role in their own misfortune - if only they had behaved better they wouldn't have been punished. Another little trick of abusers (I'm sorry i hit you but if only you hadn't......) (i'm not suggesting you believe this in any way but when we have spent time in an abusive environment we can pick up on "the message" more than we realise)

>The above does NOT in any way justify the SES or St James, nor is it intended to defend those organisations. It does, however, point to the view that one needs to be careful when criticising their beliefs or practices per se, the trap into which the angry parent fell. It could merely have been a slip of tongue rather than an error in judgement on his/her part, but this cannot be considered an excuse.

I don't think the angry parent fell into any "trap". She was speaking her mind. She may not feel she needs any "excuse" as she was criticising the SES - not Hindus - the conflation was yours.

anti_ses
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Postby anti_ses » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:39 pm

I don't think I made myself clear when I said, "For given another context, another culture and another way of living, the same ideas can have very different effects." I never implied the angry parent wasn't talking about a specific school, a specific place, a specific time. What I mean is even within a single classroom, especially in a typical St James / SES-affiliated school class, pupils come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

As Mr Goldschmied's report implied, the policies that have been applied by St James in the past may fit well in a school focused on students from particular backgrounds, e.g. Hindu, but also some other comparable backgrounds. This explains the disparity I described earlier in the (lack of) effect the "Hindu" SES has had on Hindus. This does not make the beliefs and practices wrong, it makes them inapplicable and difficult to implement in a UK school, to the extent that perfectly beneficial practices (such as meditation) have been ineffectively applied. I'm not doing a PR exercise by saying "ineffectively applied" - I include in this phrase insufficient openness to parents.

Which brings me back to the point about the theory and its dissemination. Yes, a critique of the SES need not be a critique of Hinduism. But it very easily can be! The same theory taught by the SES (perhaps not all the theory, but a sizeable proportion of it) can be taught to another group - in fact it probably is in another part of the world or in another type of organisation - with extremely beneficial effects.

I'm sorry you felt I implied "if only they behaved better, they wouldn't have been beaten" - I don't know much about John Scottus, I'm afraid, and don't condone beating in any shape or form. I am, though, a proponent of regulated corporal punishment.

ConcernedMum
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Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:50 pm

Well, we disagree in a good number of ways so! I think the flavour of MacLaren in the SES sours all their methods and teachings but without MacLaren there would be no SES. However, I think I understand where you are coming from a bit better - thanks for explaining. If we don't correspond again - have a peaceful life.....


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