I was on a course all day yesterday about the damage done to children who are sent to boarding school. It was called Privileged Abandonment led by Nick Tufnell.
I learned a few things such as there are many similarities between those children and those who have been through the state care system. In terms of the damage done to attachment capacity, ability to feel and process emotions, to core self worth, to sense of self.
Being sent to boarding school age 8 must give a child the message that their feelings don’t matter. Among other things.
A big difference is the ‘privilege’ label that the children know is a part of the deal, so that skews their ability to correctly process and appraise accurately what has been done to them.
They are supposed to feel grateful for it all, for belonging to part of the wealthy and elite in society, and they all find out fairly quickly it costs their parents a lot of money sending them to the schools and that they belong to an exclusive niche in society. This has trouble of its own, for example, at least the children in the state care system have someone to blame, some kind of narrative of being victims of unfortunate circumstances.
Unlike the state care system, the boarding school institutions prepare children with an expectation of high achievement. So the kids often end up as adults in positions of power and influence in society, as that’s what they have been trained for.
So, a kind of strange psychological warfare being waged on this sector of society too. This is their preparation for leadership positions. And who we are led by are those who have been through this system and treatment. I can see how it is argued that a war being waged on all sectors of society, by design. Though I’m not sure about that, I think it has evolved more unconsciously than that.
Half way through the course I decided to get out to the park, so put it on my phone with headphones, much better. I wondered around the trees by the river, flowers, birdsong. It’s the only place I feel properly 100% okay recently. The headache was there yesterday again, and today it is nearly gone and I’m celebrating that right now.
I walked and meandered through nature, pondering the way we have designed society, in a manner that restricts potential from the lower classes to the upper class. Taught to restrict the ability to feel…to experience happiness, joy, creativity, love.
I went to the museum and got some lunch and sat outside, walked then sat for an hour in the sun on a grassy bank. At times just lying back and being. Just happy to be there listening to the course. The guy was from the boarding school system himself. I had doubts about him being the best person to be running it because of that, despite his inside knowledge.
I asked a question at one point ‘Does it damage everyone? Has he met people who it hasn’t damaged?’ . I was thinking of my cousin who seems to be okay after being a boarder at Eton, and my sister’s husband who went through the boarding school system and who seems to be completely fine. He appears to be well balanced, a loving father, good enjoys good relationships, has many friends, seems happy, enjoys his successful job. He said no, that there is always a cost. Maybe so.
I think about the people I know, like 2 of my uncles who were both boarders from a young age, 5 I think in both cases. And both ended up pretty not okay, both big drinkers, one very successful and went to the top of the academic hierarchy the other it probably broke and he died young.
This morning I just had a therapy session with a client and we have moved way into non-duality, potential, flow and self actualisation territory. The word enlightenment hasn’t been mentioned but she is on fire with it all, and lapping everything up I send her and say. I just sent her Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul book to investigate. It’s an amazing interesting peculiar experience for me. I don’t know what else to say about that, still processing.
I am originally from the UK and have had very mixed feelings about sending children away to boarding schools, at least as they were in the 60s and 70s. You highlight the dilemma well here. It is seen as a privilege, and often a sacrifice to the family. Many of the kids go onto top universities and have positions of power but there is often an emotional and psychological cost. I have read a biography of C.S. Lewis and an autobiography of Oliver Sacks and both of those carried lifelong scars related to being in boarding schools. I’m sure things are very different today, and not all kids have the same experiences … but it is something to think about.
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