Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.

Have you been a member of SES?

Total votes: 47

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Re: hello

Postby mgormez » Thu May 27, 2004 8:58 am

Guest Mike wrote:Is this where you say Hi!?

OK...Hi! ;)

Hi, and welcome! You make a point I hadn't thought of; a place to introduce each other. But this is a friendly (relative :-) and small group so you quickly get to know each other.

Guest Mike wrote:Mike Warham
(I've registered with username Mike_W, but it won't let me post straight away)

I had to install the delay so I can see who wants to register because we were swamped by fake users. See http://www.whyaretheydead.net/phpBB2/vi ... .php?t=132
Mike Gormez


Postby mom » Thu May 27, 2004 3:21 pm

Is any 1 in NYC asking why school is closing if all the other ones have lines of kids wanting in?

Harriet Somerville
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Postby Harriet Somerville » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:05 pm

Having spent years at St james I some pretty awful memories, some of which are only coming back to me over the past few days since reading this site. One pretty disturbing one was when my form teacher was off sick and was replaced by another unqualified teacher and parent, who had a strange lump she floated around the school looking pregnant! This woman was so cruel to our class she made a girl vomit, she asked for volunteers to clean up the sick and take the girl to the first aid room (or was it, did anybody have experience of first aid?) Nobody put their hand up so I eventually volunteered and took the girl downstairs and then had to clear up the puke on the landing with an old cloth anda bucket of water having dragged it a few flights of stairs in Queensgate. The teacher never said thank you or asked how the sick girl was feeling. The teacher repulsed me so much I myself told my mum I felt ill the next day so as not to come into school until my form teacher was back. This was when we were seven or eight.

When I was off sick, which wasnt often, I was convinced that Mrs Debenham would come to my house and see how sick I really was. How disturbing that a woman, who was supposed to be a role model as well as a teacher could create such demons in my head.

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Postby afitz » Sun Feb 27, 2005 11:29 pm

I am glad of this site. I was in school for 6 years and left in middle school (2001). No-one pressured me to stay in any overt way but it was time to go. Nevertheless, I carry much of what I learnt and experienced at SES on retreats etc and our weekly meetings and service duties - I have not a bad word to say about it. But I got fed up with the dry, fine detail and the precision of Sanskrit which although I appreaciated as a linguist found so very irrelevant to my daily life. I could have happily stayed in SES if it had meant I could just do the duty once a week - cut up those quiches, operate the dish washer, make tea, pause and meditate. It was always refreshing being there. We were all getting on with our lives outside school, but it was getting creepy with all the instance on attending week long study when you had worldly commitments too and being told you were tutor material (at the lowest rung I might add - getting water for the main tutor that sort of thing) ! Not a bad word to say against SES just a few misgivings. Most people here seem to have been to the day schools and quite a few have some axes to grind - I guess it is a mixed bag and all at SES will be laughing that lovely free laugh at all we write !!

ross nolan
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G'day Bella -- I have only done the twelve week introducto

Postby ross nolan » Sat May 21, 2005 12:26 am

bella wrote:I don't wish to make light of Anita's previous post by being chatty, but there isn't really anywhere else to post an introduction. I've been a member of the School of Philosophy in Australia for just over six years, and am interested in keeping myself informed regarding people's negative experiences as well as the positive. I am considering a S.O.P. day school for my child, and wish to explore the subject as fully as possible. I understand many experiences described here are from another era and another country, but I find all input useful.

I hope you'll welcome me to this forum, as I have no intention of attempting to dissuade anyone from their views - only perhaps to share my own while reading yours.

Bella . I am having difficulty posting a reply so I hope this gets through .. I have only done the introductory twelve week 'public' course so if you have done six years worth you must be thoroughly 'indoctrinated' if the experiences of other long time members are any guide -- what city are you enrolled in? The book "secret cult" dealt mainly with the Sydney branch in 1984 and was quite disturbing to say the least -- it was virtually immediately obvious that something untoward was going on in the SOP in Melbourne and strange discordant statements made as matters of fact from the start -- this organization seems to target easily influenced or vulnerable people and acts to convince them that the 'outside' world is hostile,ignorant and dangerous and hence the need to band together and also 'protect' their children from bad outside influences -- I think that the opposite is true and by placing your children under their influence and control you would be imperiling their happiness and success in life . Why not let your children make up their own minds when they are able to decide for themselves at least -- if the numerous testimonies on this website do not automatically persuade you to avoid the movement . Good luck and clear thinking.

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Postby Keir » Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:56 am

Hi All,

I was a member of SES in London and attended both St Vedast and ST James day schools.

I would imagine if you came to the SES as an adult it would be quite a different experience than being sent to it at the age of 8. The reason why a number of people are complaining about the Day schools so bitterly is that the choice to attend was not theirs, it was their parents'.

It is worth noting the cultural blanketing that resulted from having parents in the SES, going to a school run and staffed by SES members, with most of your friends parents also in the SES and going to the SES yourself as well. In that environment, the obedience demanded not only from the pupils in the day schools but also from the parents in the SES became a little more sinister. It led to a culture of unquestioning acceptance of the behaviour of staff and senior SES members, however near the knuckle in terms of abuse. As a child in that environment I became aware that my complaints to my parents were not being taken seriously so after a while realised that there was no point in complaining.

If the complaints that this culture stifled were triffling things I would maybe grow to think fondly how the school made a man of me, and certainly that was what they thought they were doing. The problem is that emotional suppression - whilst a useful tool in detaching from the desire led turmoil of modern life (if that is your chosen direction) - is not a healthy thing to be included in the governing culture and teaching of 8 year olds and younger. For a start, the staff who in the early years were picked because of their membership of the SES rather than their particular suitability to teach, who were taught to suppress their own emotions until for whatever reason they lost control, at which point board rubbers were thrown at pupils heads, pupils were physically beaten up, pupils were handed out punishment that was excessive often leading to caning every week. Please understand these were not 'trouble' children. These were normal children with high spirits who in a very discipline heavy school were trying to find a bit of fun to break up the unremitting suppression. Things like talking out of turn, passing notes etc.

Granted, not all the teachers lost their temper, but the culutre of distrust of the child and the need to suppress and quieten the child through discipline, if mishandled by inexperienced and zeal-filled teachers can and did lead to bullying and a culture of overarching control, not the freeing of the natural happy child but bullying them into pretending to be happy because that was what was wanted by the parents and the school and the SES. A coping strategy.

Sure, children all over the world grow up in less than perfect situations but I think it is crucial, if anyone in the SES is thinking of sending their child to an SES school, or if they have already done so, that they hear what it has taken some of those initial pupils and their parents and some of their teachers 20 years to realise. That whilst the philosophy might be liberating for them, the application of stern discipline is disasterous alongside an arrogant and unquestionable authority.

Whilst this may not be the case now, it is clear from the handling of the Board of Governers Inquiry into that time that the arrogance of key members of the SES still exists, as does the culture of top down unquestioned authority. If this was an experiment then why are they so reticent to hear all of the long term results? If it is a philosophy school why are they so afraid of open debate? If this education was meant to liberate its pupils why are they posting in such numbers about the traumas that they are just beginning to deal with? If everything has improved why are they not accepting that mistakes were made in the past and addressing the desire for reconcilliation that the past pupils are asking for?

If I am untrusting of the current Board of Governers and Headmaster it is because of my past experience of what goes on in the name of truth seeking. So lets not be calling 'bullying' 'discipline', or 'cultish behaviour' 'respect for one's teacher', and think carefully whether as a parent the benefits of this education really do outweigh the drawbacks after reading the posts on this board.

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Postby rachelS » Sat Jun 25, 2005 7:23 am

Keir, I think you have summed up wonderfully the hypocrisy of the school.

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Postby Daffy » Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:50 pm


Very well said indeed. What you say quoted below had particular resonance for me. I recently had a discussion with my parents when they apologised for sending me to St James, but suggested that if I had complained about it they would have removed me from the school straight away. I know I did complain about it, all the time, but they simply didn't listen.

The reason for their closed minds was that the SES had taken away parents' ability to think objectively, to look at the brutal things they knew the school was doing to children as young as 6 and say, 'Hold on a minute, you simply can't treat my children like this'. The SES had brainwashed them to think of everything outside the SES, and all alternatives to St James, as hostile and unworthy.

As a young boy in an environment where all the adults you knew were complicit, eventually you realised that there was no point complaining - not to your parents, and not even to your friends and classmates.

Keir, I hope you have contributed to the Inquiry, or if you haven't, that you will do so. You have a great deal to say.


Keir wrote:It is worth noting the cultural blanketing that resulted from having parents in the SES, going to a school run and staffed by SES members, with most of your friends parents also in the SES and going to the SES yourself as well. In that environment, the obedience demanded not only from the pupils in the day schools but also from the parents in the SES became a little more sinister. It led to a culture of unquestioning acceptance of the behaviour of staff and senior SES members, however near the knuckle in terms of abuse. As a child in that environment I became aware that my complaints to my parents were not being taken seriously so after a while realised that there was no point in complaining.

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Postby ET » Mon Jun 27, 2005 9:27 am

Yes, well said Kier, and Daffy. My parents were just the same - see no evil, hear no evil etc. They say now that if they'd only known how bad it was they would have removed us all sooner. I find it impossible to believe that they didn't know.
I used to have tantrums in junior school (out of sheer frustration because of the way I was being treated), but I never had them at home. Mum said to me recently that she thought that was odd at the time, so why didn't she question it? The only reason I can think of is that unquestioning obedience that you mention.
I, like you, stopped complaining after a while. They weren't listening, or they shrugged off what I said had happened. After they left SES, Dad tried to complain a few times, but not only did the abuse not stop, it got worse because he had complained. They removed us in the end, but even then they actually had to move house in order to get us far enough away so that we wouldn't be expected to commute (in other words, the hold of the school was so strong they couldn't be truthful about their reasons for removing us). I have submitted stuff about all this to the inquiry! I hope Townend is listening to us.


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Postby Keir » Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:34 pm

Due to being unsure if my submission to the inquiry would change the legal status of the accusation within it, and therefore potentially subject me to litigation, I was unable to allow my comments to be used other than for background information.

I have been informed that in coming to his judgement Mr Townend will only be able to give due weight to testimony if it goes further.

I cant tell if this is prudent suspicion or unfounded paranoia on my part without a better understanding of the law. I would appreciate some advice as to the legal framework. Anyone?

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introducing new member

Postby ConcernedMum » Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:44 pm

Hello everyone
I'm a new member who is not a spammer so I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm remaining anonymous at the moment as my child is, unfortunately, in the SES school in Ireland, John Scottus primary school - or as the organisation are called here The School of Philosophy and Economics or The School of Philosophy. I'm going to post separately about John Scottus primary school but just to say how much I admire the strength of all of you who have suffered abuse in the schools run by the SES - in particular in London where it seems it was worst. Its very difficult for children to recover from abuse - whatever its type and origin - so you must all have been very strong people to resist and manage to retain your self-integrity. I also admire your patience and compassion - personally I'd have done my best to sue the school - you are owed compensation without a doubt - if only to cover the costs of counselling and how it has impacted on your lives. Buts its easy to say that from the outside as it takes so long to gather your strength, realise how wrong the behaviour towards you was and the whole process is so emotionally and spiritually exhausting that legal action can seem too much and anyway i respect whatever way anyone wants to handle their own healing after abuse.

Also I really have to laugh when i hear people saying that you have to experience the philosophy for yourself to understand. Quite honestly I wonder is there a book of script for those who like to belong to groups that exercise undue power over members (either experiencing power over or giving your power to someone else). I was involved with a group - friends of the western buddhist order - for a while. I think they come across much more benevolently than the SES (certainly no violence against children) but the stuff i used to hear people saying is the exact same sort of excuses i hear from SES people posting here. And its not because what they are saying is true - whats true is that power-oriented-groups use the same sort of self-doubting techniques over others.

The other thing that rings true for me is that criticisms that I have read here of the SES were things I have experienced for myself in the school - total lack of empathy, evading questions and changing the subject and concentration of how wonderful things will be in the future. Its as if from the neck up the people involved in the SES / School of Philososphy and Economics are genuinely convinced they are acting from and for the good - but there's strong disconnection from the heart and strong disassociation from their shadow selves which can then handily be projected onto others leaving that peaceful and beatific smile on the face. Shame its so soul-less. My experience is that once that happens a person is capable of great cruelty while fooling themselves. Just my thoughts. I'm irish, I was educated by catholics - and while there are many many very lovely practising catholics, it does mean i'm fairly savvy to the whiff of institutional abuse. And when its justified by spirituality and expressed through violence against children its truly disgusting and karmically very bad news for the perpetrators I believe.
Concerned Mum.

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Re: Welcome

Postby stiltrubld » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:05 pm

SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

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