EXPERIENCES AT ST. VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE S.E.S

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Tom Grubb
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A few comments on Antises?s post

Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Mar 06, 2004 12:29 am

I?d like to respond to a few things in Antises?s latest post. (I?ll avoid getting involved in the recent bad-tempered exchanges except to agree with Matthew that the abusive St Vedast regime we suffered is a highly delicate subject and one that is perhaps difficult for us to discuss calmly!)

Whilst noting your support for corporal punishment (although I STRONGLY disagree with it), I would like to point out that at St Vedast the cane was most definitely NOT ?used by teachers who are fair and responsible?; nor was it only used in the type of ?severe cases? you outline. The sole time I was caned at the school (and I was very fortunate in avoiding more frequent physical assaults from our thuggish headmaster) was because a nosy teacher had read a private notebook/diary I had left in a classroom and had discovered some allegedly derogatory remarks therein about certain teachers. It wasn?t for lying or aggressive behaviour towards teachers (we wouldn?t have dared!) that I was punished. It was for what was essentially a thought crime.

You state that you believe ?the purpose of corporal punishment is to teach the recipient a lesson, whilst child abuse is a result of anger. There is a thick line between the two.? Well, by your own definition, child abuse was rampant at St Vedast. Angry assaults by teachers were far from uncommon occurrences. At least as frequent were casual beatings with various implements and slaps to the head and body. You might not consider a forceful blow delivered by a grown man to the head of a child (as happened to me ? I hope it made you feel better, Mr Hipshon!) to be child abuse. I would.

As for your bizarre assertion that ?there are few, if any, modern philosophers who would detail how to live your life like the ancient texts?, how to live a virtuous life is as much a fundamental concern of ?modern philosophers? as it was to the ancients. Are there any philosophers who HAVEN?T discussed this subject?

Finally, I note your view that you shouldn?t ?criticise study of a particular scripture until you have studied it yourself and judged whether it is worthy of study.? However, I wonder why you felt the need to express that opinion. I don't remember criticising the Mahabharata! Nor, as far as I have noticed, has any other poster. I was merely pointing out (in response to ?a different guest?) that it wasn?t only dead WHITE people who are studied by the SES ? although I am aware that the historical evidence for the existence of Krishna and Arjuna is, to say the least, inconclusive, and that Alban is very possibly right when he says that these characters are fictional.

Tom Grubb
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Apologies!

Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Mar 06, 2004 12:40 am

Apologies for triple-posting my previous message! I was getting an error message when I tried to post it and thought that it hadn't been sent.

Sorry!

Tom

Anita
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TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Postby Anita » Sat Mar 06, 2004 2:48 am

It is a pity that what started off as a wholly justified need for a number of people in their 30?s to seek redress for damage that was done to them as vulnerable children, has for some recently, turned into a debate which is detracting from the essential issues.

We live in a great capital city, great because it has always encouraged freedom of thought. Enshrined in our constitution from time in memoriam is an enduring ideal ? that of civil liberty. I came to this country as a refugee from a brutal regime in South Africa to bring my children up in a country such as this, where no reactionary regime can survive (not for long anyway), because everyone has the right to live life according to their beliefs e.g. whether to slap their children or not. My Grandchildren, thank God, have been brought up without a finger ever having been laid on them, and they are remarkable young men. But not all parents have the imagination, self-restraint and patience to do this, and they have to find quicker and easier solutions if a child is naughty. If it descends into anything more then both the child and parent need help ? or the social workers are brought in. But child-abuse is not lawful because it is an infringement of a child?s civil liberties.

MacLaren?s attitude towards people who criticised ?the school? was ?Ignore it ? do not feed it by giving it attention?, and it worked for a while, but when you keep sweeping things under the carpet for so long, the pile eventually becomes so big that you start tripping over it, and that is exactly what is happening right now. As Matthew says, there are some things that will just never go away until they?ve been examined head-on, fairly and squarely. It is such a relief to admit to one?s errors, and this takes courage. With reference to ?Anon-fromStJamesGirls'sch? who brought into question the accuracy of Matthew?s account by relating her peer?s reactions,
Anon- from the girls' sch wrote:"it seems so unrealistic", "perhaps it is slightly exaggerated", "I suppose you have to take it with a slight pinch of salt", "this must have happened, surely however it was in that sort of time where you would find it in any other school".
Anyone who has read his account might feel as I did when hearing as a child about my Father?s family perishing in the Holocaust ? ?This could not happen here ? this is far way in another place ? another time zone? etc. Well this happened to Matthew and his contemporaries in the 1970?s, from my perspective not very long ago. And every word is totally true, the facts written objectively and quite precisely, during an era of a very liberal educational system. What happened at St Vedast was an extreme reaction to that by nine men who followed instructions from a person who perverted ?the teaching?.
This does not affect the Vedantic source, which stands untarnished throughout the eons of time. It?s up to the present pupils, under the tutorage of the teachers, to discover that for themselves, using their discrimination and intelligence. The fact that ?Anon-fromStJamesGirls'sch? clearly loves her school and respects her headmistress and teachers says it all. She is greatly privileged and fortunate to be there. I left the S.E.S many years ago at the time Matthew is referring to. Nothing wrong with a good debate on the Internet, that?s what a free country is all about, but my own particular journey is not relevant as I do not wish to detract from the original aims of this particular thread i.e. closure and moving on. The alternative is festering anger, whilst the perpetrators remain ignorant of the damage caused to the potential and promise of young lives.

Life is too precious, every soul is too precious. For the victims, suffering will not evaporate until they are allowed to confront the causes. For the parents, just think of what it could do for loving family relations if they had the courage to say to their children ?We thought we were doing the best for you, but we made a terrible error, we apologise, and will do all we can to make amends?. What more can a parent do? As for the perpetrators, they will find release by facing up to their crimes and apologising sincerely. What a relief from trying to defend the indefensible, or worse still, denying it even took place. Archbishop Tutu?s idea of TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION did wonders for the NEW South Africa. It saved that country from a bloodbath. This is on a smaller scale, but for the individuals concerned it is SANSKARIC ? to do with their souls.

Anita

mgormez
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Postby mgormez » Sun Mar 07, 2004 2:19 am

Anonymous wrote:^ THAT WAS FROM ME!! ANON -from the girls' school.

oh and MIKE I would so prefere it if we could edit what we write... however this is the 100th post on the SES message board. so.........Congrats mike! :angel:


Thanks! :bday:

About the editing; without me going to edit all the postings from guests, which prospect doesn't really appeal to me, there is no way to edit past postings. Afteral the program can't distinguish between anon posters and you don't want others to edit yours.

Setup a hotmail account and use that for registration so you're able to edit future postings. But if there are real important thing to be edited of course I can alway look into it.
Last edited by mgormez on Mon Mar 08, 2004 2:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
Mike Gormez

mgormez
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Re: Apologies!

Postby mgormez » Sun Mar 07, 2004 2:25 am

Tom Grubb wrote:Apologies for triple-posting my previous message! I was getting an error message when I tried to post it and thought that it hadn't been sent.



That's not your fault Tom, something is wrong with the program. Anyway, I have delete two of the three postings of yours.


I'll look into it later, right now I need to to catch some sleep. In the meantime disregard the 'debug' error.
Mike Gormez

mgormez
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Re: Apologies!

Postby mgormez » Sun Mar 07, 2004 2:35 am

me wrote:I'll look into it later, right now I need to to catch some sleep. In the meantime disregard the 'debug' error.


I seem the have it solved, matter resetting the smpt-server (mail) seems to have caused it. Pfew.. I was worried for a moment!

But now I need my beauty sleep. Nite :sleeping:
Mike Gormez

Guest

Re: TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:38 pm

Anita wrote:
Life is too precious, every soul is too precious. For the victims, suffering will not evaporate until they are allowed to confront the causes.



Mighty strong words.

Tom Lee

Suffering

Postby Tom Lee » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:54 pm

It was with interest that I read the article posted by Matthew Woolf, someone I knew well at the time. However it is with some sadness that I found that that I was reading such a vitriolic article so laced with self pity.

I think that modern western society encourages such loathing of authority and pushes us to blame others for our woes. Having spent the past 16 years, either in the military or working in Africa's hotspots and most recently on the front line in the war in Iraq, I find myself constantly reminded that we do not know what suffering is. Believe me, our shared experiences at St Vedast were but a walk in the park compared to what much of the rest of the world suffers every day of their lives.

Much of the vedic teachings washed over me, but I feel sure that in there was the point that a positive attitude and a willingness to take resonsibility for one's own life should be paramount. Most of those I have met in the worst, most war ravaged parts of the world, never complain and are always ready with a smile.

Why don't we adopt a similar approach to life, forget the bad times and concentrate on making a real contribution to the world in which we live.

Tom Lee

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Wed Mar 10, 2004 6:42 pm

Hi Tom,

The basic concept you seemed to have failed to grasp is that there is a clear and obvious difference between the abuse of children in a supposed educational establishment, and the types of experiences you describe on your travels around the world with the military. The two things are not relative to one another, and therefore do not stand up to reasonable comparison. That was our world at the time, we were children and that was our reality. It was all we knew and there was nothing else to compare it with. It's obvious we were unaware of suffering elsewhere in the world, and however awful that suffering is, it was irrelevant to us at the time because we, as children, were experiencing an inescapable hell all of our own, not to mention the resulting lasting damage it caused to some of us. Child-abuse can cause long-term psychological damage - A scientifically proven fact. My story is not an isolated one, there are many others like it, some even worse, which there is now evidence of.

Your British stiff upper lip approach of constantly repressing traumatic memories creates problems all of it's own. Rather than me sounding self-pitiful and vitriolic, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that you are in a state of denial? You were one individual at St Vedast, and just because you may have survived relatively unscathed, do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone else did. Different things affect different people in different ways. You were a conformist. That is in no way a criticism of you, that is just your nature, and that is perhaps why you survived St Vedast less damaged. Those of us with a more rebellious, questioning or individual streak were not so fortunate, as all of that was eventually, and quite literally, beaten out of us by those vicious thugs twice our size. I also clearly remember very many conversations I had with you and your brother where you complained bitterly and in the strongest terms about the treatment we received at St Vedast. If you really believe that St Vedast did you so much good why is it that you were one of the first (if not THE first) in the entire school to leave? At the time you weren't able to escape quickly enough! I remember the occasion you announced it as if it were yesterday, and we were all so envious of you. What I wrote about in my piece was certainly not self-pitiful, but simply a few examples of FACTUAL occurrences of what went on, and what the resulting consequences of it were. I wouldn't describe it as vitriolic either. Angry - YES, but given the circumstances, that anger is wholly justified, as I'm positive countless others would back me up on. The release of built up anger over a gross injustice is a healthy thing. You should try it sometime Tom, it's a very cathartic experience!

You're probably aware of your mother's recent letter to me. I would also refer you to my reply to her.

Best wishes,

Matthew

PS
By the way, mega-respect and great appreciation to you and your colleagues for all your excellent work out in Iraq.

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:12 pm

Matthew,

You seem to have misuderstood the point of what I was trying to express. I certainly do not think that the methods used at St Vedast were beneficial and I think that you know better than that. You are correct, to my recolection, in most of the facts that you mention, however to accuse me of being in denial, I find extraordinary.

You say that I was a conformist. I look at it as making the best of a bad situation. In the military, there is an expression: 'Anyone can be unconfortable'. All I did was make life as tolerable as possible. You can hardly accuse me of just towing the line, otherwise why would I have been one of the first to leave.

What I was driving at, is the fact that all this happened a quarter of a century ago in a school that would not have been out of place just a few decades earlier in Britain. You just need to put things in perspective and concentrate your energies in a positive way. Towards your considerable musical talents I would suggest. All this negativity just holds people back.

I wish you luck with that.

Tom

PS. I was unaware of my mother's e mail to you until after the event, but having read your reply I find it actually it to be outright rude and would urge you show a little respect for someone who spent time and effort looking after you as a boy (do you remeber coming to tea every Sunday for some considerable time?).

Misty

Postby Misty » Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:29 am

I would be rather thrilled to hear from a long lost friend!

Both of you are correct in certain ways, you just need to look at the other side of it, just not your own side of it.

Matthew
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Location: London

Postby Matthew » Sat Mar 13, 2004 1:12 am

Tom wrote:I certainly do not think that the methods used at St Vedast were beneficial and I think that you know better than that
Are you therefore not in agreement with your mother as to whether or not you benefited from St Vedast? She told me in her email that you have said you are glad you had the St Vedast experience. So I was only basing my comment on what she told me.

Tom wrote:to accuse me of being in denial, I find extraordinary
To accuse me of being vitriolic and self-pitiful I find equally as extraordinary, and it suggests to me that unfortunately you have not understood the purpose and spirit of this forum.

Tom wrote:a school that would not have been out of place just a few decades earlier in Britain.
Again that is missing the point as I've explained earlier. Besides I would take issue with you on that anyway, and let's say hypothetically it was true, does that make it right and acceptable?

Tom wrote:I was unaware of my mother's e mail to you until after the event, but having read your reply I find it actually it to be outright rude and would urge you show a little respect for someone who spent time and effort looking after you as a boy (do you remeber coming to tea every Sunday for some considerable time?).
Actually I did have some respect for your mother until reading what she said to me, in which she was being not only "outright rude" to me, but to my family as well! Therefore I considered my response to her to be the only appropriate one. (By the way, do you remember coming over to our house for tea or whatever the event happened to be, and being "looked after" just as many times?)

Tom wrote:You just need to put things in perspective and concentrate your energies in a positive way...All this negativity just holds people back.
It seems to me that perhaps we're just not going to agree on this point as we're approaching it from entirely different perspectives. I would agree with you that to continue arguing about it is negative and would hold us back, so perhaps it's best to just agree to disagree. I think it's important to remain focused on this thread's aims and objectives, of which I have previously explained. Putting things in perspective and being positive is exactly what we are doing by having this forum. I've already made it quite clear that nobody wants to be negative or wallow in self-pity here, but to find closure on all this and move on, as outlined in previous postings.

Perhaps Misty is right, but I discern that the arguments that separate the two of us are superficial compared with the experiences that we shared, and which I'm sure we can both agree were inexcusable in terms of the roles of teachers entrusted with the care and education of young pupils. If you do wish to continue along your tract I would ask you kindly to do it via private email correspondence with me. I don't think a public slanging match is in either of our interests!:agrue: {:o) Do you?

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:34 am

Hi Matthew,

I think that Misty has hit the nail on the head and would agree that a public slanging match is as negative as anything that we have discussed.

To this end, I should like to draw this particular topic to a close. Clearly we have approached this from opposite sides and I certainly have no desire to drag it out in a way that could drive a wedge between us.

I have always got on with you and don't wish to change that now, therefore I will wish you all the best and am withdrawing from this particular issue.

Tom

Matthew
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Postby Matthew » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:46 am

Hi Tom,

Great! I'm happy we're agreed and that we've managed to resolve this {:o)

I have always liked and got on very well with you too, and it would have been a great pity if this matter would have tarnished all my happy and positive memories of our friendship.

I have a profound respect and gratitude for those choosing to risk their own lives in the armed forces in order to protect our country and our freedoms.

Thank you for your wishes, and I wish you all the best too.

Matthew

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:57 pm

I've just been reading this newspaper report on Lord Alton's visit to St James boys' school in 2003: http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.c ... _alton.php

I was particularly struck by this paragraph:
In his speech to the school, Lord Alton said that we each have talents and gifts and the trick is to allow them to fly free, otherwise they will be crushed. Education is to allow those gifts to fly free.


How I wish that had been "the trick" at St Vedast! Crushing of our individuality seemed to be a primary aim of the school. We were supposed to act the same, talk the same (I remember being ridiculed for the way I pronounced the 'oh' sound and I believe other pupils received similar treatment), write the same, draw the same and, of course, think the same. I specifically remember being told by Mr Debenham (in an assembly, I think) that "None of you are gifted, thank God!" Those were very possibly his exact words. Does anyone else recall this?

By the way, does anybody know anything about the February 2004 inspection mentioned in the article?


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