SES SCHOOLS ACTION: INQUIRY UPDATE

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
Coralie
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Postby Coralie » Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:02 am

Vian,

I applaud you for your courage. I struggled when I was at School to get people to talk about my situation. I felt very much that I was in a washing machine emotionally. With all that struggle then, I am going to have to muster up a lot of courage now to open up again.

Vian
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Thank you

Postby Vian » Fri Jan 28, 2005 11:57 am

Thanks guys....it's really great to get this support and finally have it confirmed for me that i was not the only one.....it does shock me in a way but i am glad i'm not alone anymore.

I have removed the name of the male teacher by the way and would be grateful if his name wasn't mentioned.....i know its cowardly but i just dont want to have to relive more than absolutely necessary.

Sorry about the second post by the way....i know it didnt make much sense....i got upset over the post and a few other things and turned to a bottle of vodka for comfort......unfortunately i hadn't switched off my computer yet.....(N.B. message forums and vodka do not mix!)......must remember not to do that again :-s

~Vian
Secret Angel
Hidden light
Borne of darkness
Shining bright

Snowman
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SES philosophy and the SES schools for children

Postby Snowman » Fri Jan 28, 2005 2:23 pm

How can the SES and St James continue to so blatantly ignore the reality of this message board and the issues it has raised? As far as I can see there have been 3 supporters of either the SES or St James ? not for some time, however ? and certainly none for St Vedast. The inquiry seems utterly pointless in the form proposed currently and the links between the current day schools and the SES are plainly still active. Yet it is these links that are the root of the problem.

Recently someone on this forum (grimep ? I believe) asked for some documenting of some of the actual teachings and beliefs of the SES. So here are some to begin with:


SES PHILOSOPHY AND THE SES SCHOOLS FOR CHILDREN

The philosophical teaching that every child is given (compulsory) is derived from the principles and practices defined by the SES, claiming that ?it teaches the essential truths that underlie all faiths, seeing the major religions as diverse routes to the same goal ? union with God.? I can assure you that from lengthy personal experience this is not the case and that these compulsory philosophy sessions are a thinly-veiled reworking of the core SES philosophy.


The SES philosophy is derived from the Advaita Vedanta tradition (some claim it as religion in itself) whose origins are found in the teachings expressed by the 8th Century Shankaracharya and the succession of teachers descended from him. The AV Research Centre defines AV as a philosophy and religion based on the Vedas that teaches the non-duality of the individual soul and God.

St James and St Vedast were founded by the leader of the SES in 1975, Leonardo da Vinci MacLaren, a man with no children of his own and the man responsible for bringing the AV teaching to the SES in the 1960?s. MacLaren is now dead and is therefore in no position to answer these criticisms but I discussed them with him whilst he was still alive and I know his views.

We are aware that many children were mistreated by teachers at St James and St Vedast from the beginning up until at least the late 1990?s. We know this because numerous testimonies have been posted on this forum and there is no reason to believe they are false. I believe that the principles of philosophy taught by the SES and hence the founding principles of St James and St Vedast are the root cause of and the subsequent justification for the general mistreatment of pupils.

Advaita assumes that:
Every human is caught in a cycle of births and deaths through reincarnation.
To become liberated from this ?bondage? he must come to know his ?true nature? Atman.
The point of life is that you remember again and realise your true nature and become one with the Atman. This is cloaked in Westernised terms in St James as finding your way back to god. As a newborn child you are said to be closest to knowing your true self and as you are influenced by the physical world you move further from that knowledge. If you study the advaita teachings, as you develop the intellectual faculties to do so, you gradually move closer to that point of liberation from the cycle of bondage. The St James sister school in New York ? Abraham Lincoln School ? states on its homepage that one of their core principles is: To remind the child of the essential human duties ? to remember the Creator, to live according to the fine laws of the universe, and to find the way back to God. These are said to be the three promises that you make in the womb before birth and that as soon as you arrive in the world a cloud of ignorance descends so that you forget. The rest of your life, according to advaita, should be a to know again and fulfil these promises. The SES claim that it alone is the vehicle through which this journey can be made and all other spiritual quests are pointless.

Is a 5 year old child closer to knowing his true self than a 40 year old advaita student? St James teachers who were students at SES were told that they were closer to knowing their true nature than the children that they taught, on account of their intellectual superiority. Therefore most assumed the responsibility to raise children to embark on the same journey to self-realisation, confident in the SES ?truth? that their way is the only right way. Couple this with permission from the leaders of the school to use corporal punishment and the result was an atmosphere of fear and anxiety instilled through regular displays of brutal mistreatment of pupils both physically and psychologically. Even as a 5 or 6 year old I remember seeing one of my classmates involuntarily wet their pants in front of the whole class whilst enduring a torrent of rage from a teacher.

Mundaka Upanishad: Part 1: 1st Mundaka; Ch 2
v.9 Children, immersed in ignorance in various ways, flatter themselves, saying: ?We have accomplished life?s purpose." Because these performers of karma do not know the Truth owing to their attachment, they fall from heaven, misery-stricken, when the fruit of their work is exhausted.

From this perspective Children are inherently ?ignorant? and an easy assumption to make - if you believe that sincerely - is that they are also compulsive liars. There have been several people testifying on this forum to having been accused of lying by teachers when they were not and had to suffer the consequences.

The philosophy of advaita underpins every aspect of SES and St James ? as a pupil you cannot avoid its influence on a daily basis. The philosophy classes, morning assemblies, pausing, meditating and various elements of the specific curriculum are all designed to indoctrinate the pupils into the learning about advaita tradition. Biblical studies are merely there to introduce the philosophy of advaita using a more socially familiar vocabulary. Studies of music, art and literature are all related back to advaita principles. The result is an extremely limited frame of reference that is both elitist, sexist and inadequate ? unless, of course, you become a member of the SES.



TREATMENT OF WOMEN

My family has a long history of involvement with the SES and St James and I have nothing positive to say about the SES (save teaching me the vital life-skill of efficient washing up) and only a little about St James. At the age of 13 I begged my parents to send me to another school but alas, no such luck. At the age of 16 felt that maybe I should try to conform to the school?s expectations and I decided to join the Foundation Group. For 3 years I struggled to find any part of the philosophy which I agreed with but thought that I was at fault for wanting to reconcile my own instincts with the prescribed SES doctrine. When the appalling treatment of one female member of my family was brought to my attention I questioned senior SES members about it. My questions were met with a combination of denial that the alleged events took place and a stonewall response that if anything had taken place it was in everyone?s best interests. My 2 hour debate with Donald Lambie consisted of my questions being answered with a defiant proclamation that the SES philosophy was the ?only truth?. In my frustration I left that day and never returned.

This extraordinary belligerence and single-minded conviction demonstrated by the current leader of the SES and ?shadow? governor of St James, Donald Lambie, is the same attitude that pervades the entire organisation. The origins of it are surely found in the dictatorial style and framework created and enforced by Leon MacLaren; the same man who founded St Vedast and St James. Maclaren is remembered by many as a bully and without a doubt he bullied thousands of people, directly or through his organisations, throughout his life. Specifically he bullied women more than men through humiliating them infront of their peers and subjecting them to subservient, often humiliating, duties. The Laws of Manu ? core to Advaita philosophy introduced by Maclaren - state

154. Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife.

156. A faithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.

A verse in the Upanishad reads (another core text of Advaita and SES):

If she does not willingly yield her body to him, he should buy her with presents. If she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with his hand and overcome her, repeating the following mantra: "With power and glory I take away your glory." Thus she becomes discredited. (VI.4.7)

Not a particularly good example to set children and especially impressionable young women. Part 6 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes all manner of sexual activity between married and unmarried couples including detailed mantras for recitation during sexual intercourse should the couple wish to conceive or not. We were told that sex was merely an act for reproduction.



SELF-SERVING HYPOCRISY

The SES teaching is riddled with self-serving hypocrisy that ensures a mysterious veil of confusion is created making the blinded student ever more dependent on the SES for providing answers ? ultimately a fruitless pursuit. Their crutches of contrived intellectual pursuits are elitist, exclusionist and the ultimate vanity of the organisation and they should heed the warning of their own prescriptive texts:

Mundaka Upanishad: Part 1: 1st Mundaka; Ch 2
v8. Fools, dwelling in darkness, but wise only in their own conceit and puffed up with vain scholarship, wander about, being afflicted by many ills, like blind men led by the blind.

Continually as students, at St James and SES, we were told that we were at the spearhead of a new Renaissance ? music, arts, rhetoric, philosophy etc? and that we would become future leaders of society. I have deliberately used a capital letter for the word Renaissance because it represents two important ideas. Firstly that the Renaissance as understood by most people today is an historical canon coined to describe both a period of time (c1400 ? c1520) and a cultural ideology that created an explosion of philosophical debate, archaeology, religious division and artistic empiricism. Secondly the term itself (with a capital R) was coined by imperially paranoid Victorians intent on segregating history into neat packages for ease of derision or admiration. Both these beliefs are shared by the SES and the Renaissance is heralded as their aspiration for society.

I cannot understand why an organisation, which proclaims moral superiority in today?s ?morally corrupt? society, would aspire to Renaissance ideology which served itself to the detriment of all others. Why anyone who wishes for a better society today would hold up as a paradigm the decadence, corruption and suffering of a 500 year old failed regional dictatorship.

The Medici family (credited as the founders and driving force of the Renaissance) were usurers, continually fighting other power-hungry families for control of trade and civic life. Most of the artists were homosexual. The Medici nominated themselves ?Primus inter Pares? (First among equals) in Florentine society and dealt with their detractors with ruthless assassination plots. They bought their way into the corridors of political and ecclesiastical power all in an attempt to secure their dynastic legacy. Everything they did was in their own interests.

Leading neatly back to the SES and the Schools established for its children. This Internal Inquiry is evidently being structured to serve the interests of the SES and St James and is in no way an attempt to discover the Truth (NB: a principal tenet of the schools is to ?Always tell the Truth?). Maybe the advice we should be taking from their lead is ?Always tell the truth, sometimes?. What the SES and St James needs is a good PR or a political spin doctor ? someone like David Boddy would be ideal for the job. I wonder what he's up to these days?

I implore all students of the SES to WAKE UP to the hypocrisy and the cosy world of faux-superiority that it cultivates.

All ex-pupils of St James, I implore you to make your voices heard and expose any injustices that you have suffered ? in sharing them you will help to heal the wounds.

All current pupils of St James, don?t be afraid to ask questions of your teachers ? I was too petrified when I was a pupil for fear of being beaten.

All those who have faith in God (any God), I ask you to pray for the victims that each and every one will find peace in their lives; and pray that the abusers find the humanity, which is in their hardened hearts, to admit their mistakes and summon up the courage to make amends.

God Bless

Peter Sanders Reynolds
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Postby Peter Sanders Reynolds » Fri Jan 28, 2005 2:51 pm

LOVELY TO SEE SOME IN DEPTH ANALYSIS GOING ON HERE! I ENTIRELY AM ALSO FOR GETTING AS MUCH 'MATERIAL' ON THIS SITER AS CAN BE MANAGED. IT ALL LOOKS RATHER STUPID OUT OF CONTEXT!

I'm looking around at the moment to get accurate material. Have access to some 'ladies group material' will get that up soon.

Well done. My curiosity is aroused as to your links to a foundation group which I too once was a part of. It's nice to hear a fellow sucker speaking. Most of the people on this site were never that much involved in the S.E.S. It's us guys that can really make the difference by supplying much needed written evidence and putting on the site in full real S.E.S material.I'm hunting at the moment. I think I can get hold of most of the reams of conversations with the Shank.

LambieBELIGERANT

A very very good word to describe him. A total bully with a few kind moments. The kind moments keep everyone's gaurd 'down' so that he can bully and direct them the rest of the time.

Here here

PSR

sparks
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SES philosophy and the SES schools for childre

Postby sparks » Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:50 pm

Snowman,

Thank you for your post.... so much of the experince you have recounted is familiar and simular to mine...reading you post has helped me.

Thank you

Snowman
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Location: London

Postby Snowman » Fri Jan 28, 2005 4:58 pm

Glad I could help.

Strange really that so many years go by without really giving it a second thought and then it all comes flooding back.

Watching the recent TV covering the Auschwitz memorials showed that those poor souls who witnessed such evil and suffered so badly had, in most cases that I saw, never talked about it or sought any kind of resolution pschologically. I am not for a moment suggesting that the experiences of St J/V are anywhere near that level of suffering but the way that we deal with emotional and psychological trauma as human beings is universal.

Difficult but cathartic in some way.

mgormez
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Re: SES philosophy and the SES schools for children

Postby mgormez » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:23 pm

Snowman wrote:A verse in the Upanishad reads (another core text of Advaita and SES):

If she does not willingly yield her body to him, he should buy her with presents. If she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with his hand and overcome her, repeating the following mantra: "With power and glory I take away your glory." Thus she becomes discredited. (VI.4.7)

Not a particularly good example to set children and especially impressionable young women.


That's an understatement if I've ever seen one. The verse advocates rape.
Mike Gormez

dan
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snowman

Postby dan » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:08 pm

Thanks to Snowman for taking the time to explain the roots of the derivative philosophy which the SES preaches. McClaren was a thief of ideas and an ultimate sexist bully.

Debenam said to me, in person, last summer that he believes 'fear [in children] has an important role to play in schools'
I was astounded that anyone still living could have this attitude, worse still in a man who for 30 years controlled the lives of so many children.

Now SES/St James has appointed a new Headteacher who has never taught children before and has no qualifications/experience in secondary education. What level of arrogance/lunacy is it for an organisation to offer leadership to people such as these?
Dan

Vian
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hmmmmm

Postby Vian » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:30 pm

It seems that inexperience is a pre-requisite for getting a job at St. James....

I'm seeing a little pattern here....
Secret Angel
Hidden light
Borne of darkness
Shining bright

Daffy
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Postby Daffy » Sat Jan 29, 2005 1:37 am

grimep wrote:One thing that protects those that abuse is the very strong desire in the abused to bury the past and forget it. I'm still in touch with one schoolfriend and I never mention school days as doing so will precede a 2 hour venomous rant followed by 2 days of darkness.

Having to retell your worst experiences in public (even with the relative anonymity that the internet affords) dredges up a lot that you'd probably rather was left buried. The first time I found this site I had some pretty disturbed dreams the following nights.

What would make me happy would be knowing that future students won't have to deal with the same crap.

Everything you say touches a chord with me. Until recently I avoided contact with former school friends for exactly the same reason. I also had several nights of very disturbed sleep when I first came across this forum.

However much you think the memories have subsided with the passing of time, the knowledge that almost all of the main perpetrators have not even acknowledged any mistakes were made brings painful memories flooding back.

More importantly, the little participation we have seen from the current face of the school (in particular Katherine Watson and David Boddy) shows that today's St James is not fundamentally any different from the one we knew.

Hearing a current teacher describe Debenham as "a true Christian gentleman, a profoundly educated, humane and civilised human being, a polymath, a great teacher, and a man of deep wisdom" (see http://www.whyaretheydead.net/phpBB2/vi ... php?p=1781) shows that the current administration has learned nothing from our experiences. Can we have any confidence that today's pupils will not feel the need to post their own experiences on this forum in the years to come?

Knowing that a psychopath like Lacey is still there, and was even acting headmaster for a while, is deeply worrying.

Boddy promised an inquiry that would achieve "truth and reconciliation". It is clear from the miserably bad faith efforts we have seen to date that truth and reconciliation are as far away as ever.

Sarah M
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Re: SES Girls' school today

Postby Sarah M » Sat Jan 29, 2005 8:21 am

Vian wrote: The year after i joined St. James Ms Caldwell retired and Ms Hyde became headmistress. I told my mother about being touched and rubbed inappropriately by a male teacher.......needless to say she was upset and went to complain to Ms Hyde. I was summoned from lunch to see Ms Hyde and had to wait 15 minutes, presumably for her to finish speaking to my mother or possibly Mr A (although i doubt she actually even asked him about the incident).
Anyway.....long story short........she called me in and told me what happened to girls who lie.....that Mr A was a very good man and basically proceeded to shout at me for 20 minutes and call me a liar. ----x----


I'm aware this thread has moved on to another topic, but I want to go back and say to Vian, I applaud your courage in coming forward

and say to everyone...

a culture of silence allows children to be abused.

Speak out.

The perpetrators of these crimes should be brought to justice.

Tom Grubb
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Postby Tom Grubb » Sat Jan 29, 2005 1:54 pm

(I wasn't going to post anything on this particular thread but since the topic has now changed, I will.)

Thank you, Vian, for speaking out about this!

When this forum started, there were just a few posts from a handful of male former pupils and the focus was very much on abuses that took place long, long ago during the dark days of St Vedast. Now, a year later, the forum is huge - just look at the viewing statistics! - and it is becoming more and more obvious that abuse of boys and girls was (is?) going on at SES-run schools long after St Vedast closed down. My attempts recently to contact the relatively small number of former pupils on Friends Reunited have revealed many very angry people, harrowing tales of abuse and descriptions of their schooldays as the worst time of their lives. I have heard from people who have suffered severe mental problems in their adult lives which they link to their childhood abuse. I have heard from people who ran away from home and lived rough rather than return to school. Patterns are emerging among former pupils of antipathy towards authority, feelings of great anger when remembering their schooldays, bad dreams, identity crises, depression and hatred of organised religion. Depressingly, several report feeling for a long time that perhaps they were "the only one" to have suffered like this.

Thank you to everyone who has been courageous enough to tell the truth about SES-run schools on this forum! If you feel ready to post a testimony of your time at an SES-run school, please could you also put it on the 'Experiences at St Vedast (now St James)...' thread? This thread, I have been told, is read by senior SES members.

Tom

Peter Sanders Reynolds
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GROW UP 'OVER' MILITANTS

Postby Peter Sanders Reynolds » Sat Jan 29, 2005 1:55 pm

I think any comparison to Auschwitz is really completely tasteless. I think also to call the supposed 'abuse' CRIMES so unthinkingly is pathetic. Get real. Having your leg sawn off is a crime. I suppose being hung up on a coat peg is a minor crime. But I think some of the rhetoric on this site is lazy. Yes there were some really stupid unthinking and harmful things done but were they CRIMES? Maybe they were CRIMES. That is what this supposed inquiry is SUPPOSED to find out. Also it wasn't anything like Auswitzch. Has anyone read books about Auschwitz. Get real. If you exagerate it actually harms your own case because it makes you seem stuck in your own stupid and militant trip. Grow up and mature in the way you talk about these things/this case.
Some really unacceptable ways of teaching and attitudes to life were promulgated by St James and the S.E.S and that is what this site is addressing. Strong language is acceptable but to start going off about Auschwitz is bordering on a a counter robot mentality to as it were to match the S.E.S.

PSR

sugarloaf
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welcome to Vian

Postby sugarloaf » Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:14 pm

Hi Vian,

I was a pupil at St James from ?75, and throughout my miserable 10 years there I felt I was totally alone, with only the support of a few close friends. St James/SES, through their control of pupils families, were able to dictate every aspect of our lives, including who we were allowed to be in contact with.

Isolating children, as you and many others have described, was just one of their many methods of control, and allowed them to get away with anything they wanted to. The only way they?ve got away with it for so long is that people have remained silent. Thank you for having the courage to post you experiences here, and I hope many others will do the same.

Since coming across this forum at times I?ve been forced to think hard about what went on there, and what happened to me ? was it ALL so bad? Am I making more of a fuss about this than I should be?

No - it was an appalling way to treat children, and it?s totally inexcusable. And by recent accounts it looks as if it may still be going on, Its clear the SES ideology that caused all this has remained unchanged, and it is something they will have address, whether they want to or not.

Snowman
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Re: GROW UP 'OVER' MILITANTS

Postby Snowman » Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:18 pm

Peter Sanders Reynolds wrote:I think any comparison to Auschwitz is really completely tasteless. I think also to call the supposed 'abuse' CRIMES so unthinkingly is pathetic. Get real. Having your leg sawn off is a crime. I suppose being hung up on a coat peg is a minor crime. But I think some of the rhetoric on this site is lazy. Yes there were some really stupid unthinking and harmful things done but they were they CRIMES? Maybe they were CRIMES. That is what this supposed inquiry is SUPPOSED to find out. Also it wasn't anything like Auswitzch. Has anyone read books about Auschwitz. Get real. If you exagerate it actually harms your own case because it makes you seem stuck in your own stupid and militant trip. Grow up and mature in the way you talk about these things/this case.
Some really unacceptable ways of teaching and attitudes to life were promulgated by St James and the S.E.S and that is what this site is addressing. Strong language is acceptable but to start going off about Auschwitz is bordering on a a counter robot mentality to as it were to match the S.E.S.

PSR


PSR, my mention of Auschwitz was merely to highlight a point about how human beings deal with and react to traumatic experience. I plainly stated that there is no comparison between the events of Auschwitz and those of the SES schools. The only common thread is the way that human beings bury memories and emotions about a traumatic event - for whatever reason - until circumstances arise where buried memory and emotion return to the surface. This is an observation that I have made having visited and studied the concentration camp at Dachau several years ago and more recently watched, heard and read accounts of concentration camp survivors.

Incedentally at least two of my relatives (2 generations removed) were murdered by the Nazis in either Auschwitz or Belsen. I can assure you that I am in no way disrespecting the people, memories or suffering of those mistreated in Nazi concentration camps.

Accusations of lazy rhetoric are common on this forum as you say and you, in particular, should be wary of it.

Best

Snowman


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