Abraham Lincoln School / Philosophy Day School religious philosophy, New York City, NY

From Hinduism Today (www.hinduismtoday.com) an online newspaper, April 1995:

On behalf of the Abraham Lincoln School, located in New York City, I would like to thank you for your coverage of the activities of the St. James School [January ’95]. Our school, which opened its doors in September 1994, is closely affiliated with the St. James School in London, following a similar model and applying the guidance of both the St. James faculties and of the Shankaracharya. Like the St. James School we offer our student body the best education has to offer, combining it with the “deep spirituality” that you so accurately attribute to that institution. This includes the study of Vedic mathematics and basic Sanskrit as part of the regular curriculum, as well as prayer from various traditions, East and West.

Barry Steingard, Chairman of Board of Trustees, Abraham Lincoln School, New York, NY, USA

–excerpted from http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/4/1995-4-08.shtml

NB: the Abraham Lincoln School changed its name to the Philosophy Day School in 2003. It is completely controlled by the SES affiliate in NY, the School of Practical Philosophy 12 East 79th Street, NYC, NY 10021, EIN 13-3107679.

St James Independent Schools’ religious philosophy

From Hinduism Today (www.hinduismtoday.com) an online newspaper, January 1995:

St. James School in Central London is an excellent institution in the finest tradition of English education. The student body (30% Hindu) is from decidedly upscale families-witness the Rolls and Mercedes dropping off students each morning-able to meet the relatively stiff fees. Prominent UK Hindus such as C.V. Patel send their children here. The academic and character building standards are high; discipline is strict. Meals are healthy and all vegetarian. There are actually four schools here with separate facilities and under separate headmasters-junior and senior boys; junior and senior girls-about 200 students in all. It appeals to Hindus because of its philosophically Vedic orientation; however, it is not a “Hindu school,” and according to Senior Boys Headmaster Nicholas Debenham “not a Christian one either. It is not a religious anything. It is intended to be something new. It is a philosophic teaching that should appeal to anyone, that would strengthen their own faith.” The school’s origins are unique.

St. James’ founder, Leon MacLaren, first founded the “London School of Economics” [actually the School of Economic Science] in 1920, a philosophy school based on the mystical teachings of Gurdjieff and his disciple, P.D. Ouspensky. St. James was begun as a place to educate the children whose relatively affluent parents belonged to the London School of Economics. Consequently, it has from the beginning been an unusual blend of the British upper crust and deep spirituality. In the 1960s MacLaren met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and through him, Swami Shankarananda [Shantananda] Saraswati, the previous Shankaracharya of Jyotir Mutt in India, with whom he developed a close association. Shankarananda [Shantananda] offered much guidance for St. James. As a result, the school is permeated with Advaita Vedanta philosophy, plus teachers and most students participate in daily meditation following Maharishi’s TM method. Students study the Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita. An authentic form of Vedic mathematics is taught as well. Basic Sanskrit is a required subject and Sanskrit chants begin and end the day.

The school has an eclectic approach to religion. It is formally associated with the Church of England, and most teachers are members. The senior boys’ assembly has a 15-minute period of worship which includes the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, who art in heaven…”), responses, hymns and psalms-all drawn from the Church of England prayer book. The senior girls have the same service; the junior boys and girls do a Sanskrit prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and a scriptural reading which is most often from the Christian Bible, but also from Hindu scripture. Debenham said a few Muslim (but no Hindu) students had challenged the mandatory attendance and were told if they did not go to the assembly, they could not attend the school. He believes there is nothing in “the prayers that would upset anyone.”

On the other hand, ten years ago the Standard, a prominent UK newspaper, wrote a series of articles (later made into a book) accusing the school of being “some kind of cult.” The paper said they wear uniforms like a British school, call themselves St. James, but teach Hinduism-a backhanded compliment as far as Hindus are concerned.

So Hindu parents must weigh the benefits (first-class education and a spiritual environment) against the drawbacks (mandatory participation in Christian prayer and the predominance of Christian scripture) in deciding to send their children here.

–excerpted from http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/1/1995-1-03.shtml

Channel 4 News report on St James and the SES

Channel 4 News feature on St James Schools and the SES. Social Affairs correspondent Victoria Macdonald interviews former pupils who were abused as well as the current headteacher and a representative from the SES. (2006)

Click on the images below for parts 1 & 2 respectively.


Channel 4 News Report: Part 1 (WMV video file: 20MB)

Channel 4 News Report: Part 2 (WMV video file: 20MB)

Channel 4 News Report: Part 2 (WMV video file: 20MB)

The Townend Inquiry into abuse at St James and St Vedast Schools

Here is the full text of the Report of James Townend Q.C into abuse at St James and St Vedast.  The original location of this report is at www.iirep.com.

Click on the image below to open the Report.  It requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (already installed on most computers).

Townend Inquiry Report (PDF file: 331KB)

Townend Inquiry Report (PDF file: 331KB)