#198 Australian Boarding School Trauma – Christine Jack

Following on from the highly acclaimed episode #164 with Nick Duffell about the reality and dynamics of Boarding School Syndrome, this week I traced the impact in Australia with Christine Jack.

Christine has spent 35 years in teacher education and educational history, authoring the book ‘Recovering Boarding School Trauma Narratives’.

In this conversation Christine tracks how the concept of boarding school came from England to Australia, as a colony of the British Empire, and then the ensuing impact within our education system and beyond.

Again, it was another great conversation about how difficult it is to put privilege and trauma in the same sentence.

Links

– Recovering Boarding School Trauma Narratives’ – https://www.routledge.com/Recovering-Boarding-School-Trauma-Narratives-Christopher-Robin-Milne-as/Jack/p/book/9780367819521

– Episode #164 with Nick Duffell – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPHxGYAqbuU

Read Full Transcript

Bryn Edwards 

Last year I had an amazing conversation with a guy called Nick Duffell about boarding schools and the traumas that they inflict on children. In that we talk very much about the process of what goes on, at boarding schools. We talked a lot about my own experience. But we also looked at it in terms of the trauma that sits at the centre of the psyche, the British psyche that is, so in this conversation, I wanted to take it more local, I wanted to bring it back here to Australia.

 

And so I had a fantastic conversation with a lady called Christine Jack. Now, Christine has spent 35 years in teacher education, and is an educational historian, she’s even written a book Recovering from boarding school trauma narratives, which talks about her own experience.

 

So in this conversation, what we did was we really looked at how that whole concept of boarding school came from England, into Australia as a colony of the British Empire. And and how that really settled and percolated and the impact that that now has, within our within our own education system, and also spreading further out into our governments and stuff like that. Again, it was another great conversation about this tricky convert tricky subject of how would you stick privilege and trauma in the same sentence. So enjoy, Christine.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Hello, and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host, Bryn Edwards. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Christine jack. Christine, welcome to the show.

 

Christine Jack 

Hi, Bryn. Nice to be here. Indeed, indeed.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So today’s topic of conversation is going to be about boarding schools, but boarding schools in Australia. So last year, I was very fortunate on several levels to a realise there is such a thing as boarding school syndrome. And then and then pay have a conversation with Nick, the foul about this. Sorry, NACA you, Indeed, indeed. And we had quite a conversation about how, even at the very basic level how you get to stick the word privilege and trauma in the same sentence, in reference to going to a boarding school. And that was an extremely well received conversation, because there’s not that many out there. And it’s one of the episodes that still ticks away with on a weekly basis in terms of the views or the downloads, and it, yeah, it’s very well received. But one of the things I’m particularly interested in looking at because in that Nick not only talked about the dynamics of it from a psychological level, but he also talked about the psycho history of it. And then we also started to look at how that sits within the core of the British psyche, particularly when it’s going off and building empires and stuff. One of the things I was particularly interested in, because obviously, I’m here in Australia now where I’m a citizen, is how that played out here in Australia. And, and we connected up recently, and given your background as an educational historian who has some battle scars from this area. So I thought that would be a great extension from that, to actually look at how that’s played out in Australia. So I guess let’s just start. For anyone who’s coming into this by let’s just recap what are some of the key dynamics in terms of the impact of going to boarding school as you see it?

 

Christine Jack 

Well, I think the first thing is a terrible shock. I was sent where I just turned seven. And I think it’s the terrible shot because a child of seven has no idea even if they’re told about bodies go which I really wasn’t. I didn’t know anybody who’d been to body school, the shock of actually going there. So I think first of all, you’re going to shock when your little child when this is in the 19 1957 when I went so I got put on a train and sent off, you know, with a group of children I’d never met before to boarding school where I’d this school where I’d been once in the country, so a couple of hours out. So first of all shot, then I think this terrible grief. Well, no actually probably be before that. This kind of suddenly a recognition which I think Nick and Joe Chevron, I’m not sure whose time it is called a sort of threshold, memory or a realisation of what’s happened to See you, then Oh, my God. This is where I am, you know. And so a sense almost of captivity, which Joyce Chevron talks about, and then there’s grief. Then there’s the terrible, terrible grief that comes over you, which you usually have to keep hidden to yourself, which I did you have to cry I cried in the toilet, I did a lot of that. Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy. And then and then you learn how to cut used to go into that toilet and say this time will pass this time will pass. I I often think it’s the beginning of my historical consciousness in the sense that this was time this was a period of life and it would pass which was pretty insightful for a little kid. And then you just learn how to cope. And you learn to get by and as you know, talking to Nick, some people become compliers some people become rebels. And some people become crushed. crushed. I became I became a rebel in my, in my primary school years. I think I got crushed in secondary school. But what happens really issues shut down, because you are what your parents have sent you. I mean, a psychiatrist said to me many years later, why didn’t you ask to come home and I went, Oh, never occurred to me that I could. Like, who asked to come home.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I didn’t realise that option was on the table.

 

Christine Jack 

Never on the table. So you just learn to enjoy it. So you shut down. And by the time I left body school, just turned 15 I was in an absolute mess. And I had the most terrible long term consequences for my life. That’s in a summary how I see it.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, I think I concur with you. I think the other interesting coordinates within the whole interaction of it all is that Yeah, there’s that separation from the key loving, nurturing sources that are in your life. So that is severed. And then you are handed over to a system.

 

Christine Jack 

Yeah, institution, an institution. You know, that’s Yeah, institutional principles of, you know, time restraints, and rules and regulations. And, you know, at home, you’ve got everything, not only loving people, hopefully. But you’ve got your bedroom, or you’ve got your pets or you’ve got your toys, or you can go and lie under your bed or lie on the floor, or

 

 

just help space

 

Christine Jack 

time out to kind of process life in a funny sort of way.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. And so. And I know some people say, you know, you’re handing yourself over to the parents handing their kids over to other people to raise. I guess, for me, it’s more like, you’re handing your kids over to an institution, which is being conveyed through other people. It’s not like the other people bring in their caring, nurturing side that they might have with their family that they go back to at the end of the day. It’s more they are these extensions or agents of an institution.

 

Christine Jack 

Oh, absolutely. And I grew up in a convent. So those are the teachers are subject to institutional life, big time in a Catholic convent. So the nuns weren’t allowed to talk to us except by way of duty. So even if they wanted to offer consolation, and care, they weren’t allowed to that was not allowed to, because they had to learn not to have any close emotional connections, not only to us, but not to each other, you were not allowed to have what were called particular friendships. So it was a pretty emotionally barren place. But of course, there are emotions there. They’re just all underground.

 

Bryn Edwards 

They. So with that recap, let’s let’s get into the guts of it from a historical point of view, because as we discussed with Nick, you know, this is a very English protocol, let’s just call it that for the time being and lessons a better word. And this has been in place for, you know, several 100 years is considered with great prestige, and privilege. Particularly for those in the somebody’s the upper middle and upper class. And also available to, you know, people forces and background and things like that. And so, with that playing out, and that firmly embedded, it stands to reason that this will move out to the colonies during the British Empire. So, so I guess the question is, how has that played out in Australia as you see it from a historical point. Have you?

 

Christine Jack 

Well, the question is quite the answer is quite a lengthy one. And I have to look at it from two perspectives. And the first perspective I want to look at it from is the Well, first of all, the fact that these sort of regimes or protocols, as you call them, are carried by people, people bring them, they don’t just, you know, people carry these ways of operating in the world. So let me talk about two significant people in Australian history.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So I guess that point is so clear. What you’re saying is, there are their collective narratives their collective means that we’re buying into,

 

Christine Jack 

absolutely and, and significant that was carried particularly for in in the kind of bodies and memories of experience of two significant people in Australia history. Laughlin McQuarrie, the first governor, and Charles Sturt, the Explorer. So when Laughlin McQuarrie came in, he was really committed to education, because when he was 14, his father died. And his uncle sent him to live with a boarding school master. So he had an experience of being a boarding school boy at 14, a suddenly separated not only from the loss of his father, but then the loss of his family. So that happened at 14. And then he went on and went into the Navy, I think Army Navy, and so live that kind of institutional life. So he had that experience. And when he came to Australia, he while he valued education, he saw thought the idea he developed the idea of having native Institute’s for Aboriginal children. So he set those up, and really wanted the parents to send their kids and of course, the parents were really interested at first and did send their kids. But then I realised that really, the intent was to separate them from their children. And actually, at one stage, I think Macquarie says he, he built a fence around the school with sort of openings in the fence so that the parents could gaze upon their children. So they were removed, and that so that’s the beginning of the whole removal of Aboriginal children. Now, it was not only look, Laughlin quarry, but also Charles Sturt, the well known Explorer. Now, Charles Sturt, was born in Bengal, and his father was a judge there. And at five, he was sent back to England and sent to boarding school at Hara, right. And he said, as soon as he saw Aboriginal children, they must be removed from their families, all contact with their parents, they must be removed. So you’ve got the beginning of the body school experience of indigenous people being carried in the consciousness of key players in Australian history, such as Macquarie and Sturt. And then, of course, their whole history goes on with the removal of Aboriginal children, which know so well from, you know, the Royal Commission, etc, and the appalling impact on impact on them. So that that really, that really occurred was it’s a transnational movement, and it was carried by people who’ve been to boarding school. And the other thing you’ve got to remember is remember, when Aboriginal people were removed, and put in, you know, in a later period and put into institutions where they were trying to be servants, they were sent back to white families to be nannies sort of to look after the little children. Now, that’s what had happened to a lot of the people, like stirred I mean, stirred when he was living had been gone, he would have been looked after by an AI, he wouldn’t have been looked after by his mother. So there the experience of a lot of well to do people was to be brought up by nanny. So you know, you can remove the Aboriginal children, you can get them away from the influence of their culture, and then you can train them to be nannies. So that continuing of that discourse of children are best read by people other than their parents. So developing a workforce, shall we say, girls to look after children. So that’s, that’s the beginning of that story. And then we’ve got the other story on the other side of it, where, you know, people came over from England not not being transported, but when people started to emigrate, but they came from England, with the whole notion of what it means to be successful. And to be successful is to have servants and to go to boarding school. So you see the whole development in the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s. You can read it in advertisements in papers, these ads for boarding schools. You know, where children are going to be educated, you know, in, in fresh climates, you know, a wave in the country, which, of course, is what happened in England. So the whole English discourse of you could privilege your child by sending the child away to a country. And you’ve got to remember this and truth to it, because it’s before the beginning of antibiotics. So children did die of nasty things like dip theory or, and polio, etc. So there was some, probably some American in separating them out of busy cities. But so you get the whole development of the body school mentality in the growing middle classes, and upper and the upper classes. And in fact, when secondary schools started to be developed here in Australia, they were paid, there were articles in papers, often taken from English papers about why children should be sent to boarding school, because it will toughen them up, away from the softening influence of their mothers, not only for boys for girls, you know, saying if girls stay at home, they’ll become selfish, and you know, there’ll be indulge. So their whole discourse, it was that Nick talked about in England, of the body schools, you know, toughen them up the making of them as his first book was called. So we get the replication of that, in Australia. And of course, it starts to be equated with privilege, as it was in England and saying that the whole replication of what happened in England, the transnational movement of it into Australia, the only thing is, we don’t recognise it here. There is very little discussion in Australia about boarding school trauma. And I’ve written about and believe that part of this is because we’re so ashamed of the trauma of the removal of indigenous children, that to talk about the trauma of privileged children seems I’ve said unseemly and irrelevant. So there’s

 

 

Sorry, it’s hard to place it.

 

Christine Jack 

And it will, it is in our context where you don’t have that agenda in England. So there’s more, there’s no competing, horrific story in England. So they’re, in a way, this kind of more around freedom to talk about it than there is here that I think needs to be talked about here. And I’ve written about it, as you know.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And, obviously, the way it arose in England, is, was set in the context of a very old and established modern society. But you’re taking these things from England, and then you’re bringing them into this new world of Australia. And, you know, I’m talking about Australia, as we know, it totally dodgy as hell did. Is?

 

 

Has it? It?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Has the boarding school system almost being a captured time capsule of what came over that time that we incur in Australia now? Or has it mutated into something else as well? Do you see where I’m going with that?

 

Christine Jack 

I think I do you sort of thinking has it changed? Well,

 

Bryn Edwards 

has it changed? Or is it? Is it actually that we’re looking at a even older version of it? Because it’s getting captured in time from that? Did you see what I mean?

 

Christine Jack 

I know exactly what you’re saying. Because often with migration that happens, you get caught in the past? I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I certainly think it probably was so in the 50s and 60s, and perhaps even into the 70s years. But I think that there’s been attempts as they have been in England to soften the experience of boarding school to try and have house mistresses on masters or to and of course, you know, children now can ring up home and they’re more likely to see their families. So I don’t think it’s a time capsulation but I think it’s still got the same problems in the model is that it’s a separation from family. And, you know, I mean, a lot of country people still send their children to boarding school, not not only country people, of course, but they do and it’s a tradition for them. I know, a girlfriend of mine who was at boarding my secondary boarding school was quite delighted to tell me recently that her grandchildren have all just come up to the boarding school age and they’ll be sent at 12 know, and quite excited because it’s almost like a rite of passage. You know, it’s it’s an initiation. It’s what happened to all of us. I went and my daughters went and my son Winter now their their children are going. And that’s what we do in our family. And Won’t that be? Won’t that be good? Because they’re uninformed. I mean, leek talks about the importance of you would think that we’re going at 12. Well, they’re pretty old, you know, that’ll be fine. But you know, not some 12 year olds or 13 year olds are more vulnerable than others, I have a girlfriend, that I went to secondary school who was sent away at 12. It’s traumatised her life. Wait. But there’s also a next talked about the loss of kind of growing up in a family where hopefully, this is healthy sexual relationship between the parents. And so sexuality is welcomed, because sexuality is not welcomed at boarding school. So again, it goes underground. And it is lived out in ways that are often not healthy at all. And you’ve also got to remember that priests were sent away to boarding school at 14, the seminary began at 14, and sexuality was pushed underground there. And that’s where you get a lot of the problems associated with the abuse of children in in those kinds of settings, because because of that experience, in sort of really seminaries for boarding schools where, you know, 14 year olds wind. That makes sense. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So I probably got two questions now, if you know, where we are today. The first one is, how, how prevalent is the protocol of sending kids to school? In Australia now? I mean, he talked about the rural context. But if you if we look at Australia as a whole at the moment, is it? Is it still a widespread practice that is associated with? We don’t quite have classes, but we probably have something similar,

 

Christine Jack 

mostly at class. Economic levels,

 

Bryn Edwards 

economic path system? Yeah.

 

Christine Jack 

Well, in 2016, I think the Financial Review reported that 26,000 children were in boarding school in Australia. Most of them are secondary school, but there’s still quite a number where children go as young as nine. And there’s, I think there’s only one school where they go at the age of seven or eight. So we still send children at a relatively young age, but we certainly send them off in secondary in secondary school, I think 26,000. So a fair number. And what I know that I’m not good at working out that now. But I mean that. And we’ve also, of course, and not included in that number is indigenous children who were sent away. And now because of the remote settings in indigenous communities, where it’s virtually impossible to get a secondary education in the way they live on country, the children are sent away often 1000s of miles, sometimes they get scholarships to your more elite schools in Sydney. So they might be in, you know, the Northern Territory, and they’re sent off to Sydney. There is a bit of research being done around it. But you know, hatch, we one of the things we know about the body score research that’s been done by Joe Chevron, and Nick, and Nick delfield, is that short children don’t have a language to talk about it unless you give somebody the language to understand what’s happened to them. They can’t talk about it when you’ve talked about the fact that it’s sort of a new discovery for you, because suddenly, you you saw something or read something and you went up there. And that was the same for me. So you know, even if you’re doing that research, oh, it’s hard to know whether you’re really going to pick up enough if you’re interviewing kids at boarding school, because do you want to go and you know, kind of lead children along by the stream to kind of say, you know, to really teach them about trauma or no, so you’re going to have a problem kind of getting drilling down into that research until later, until many years later. And as we know, it usually takes about 20 years for trauma to surface after

 

Bryn Edwards 

the event. So how prevalent now than this, this is one for next sort of series of questions, how prevalent they are now are people becoming aware of you talked about 26,000. But if we go back 20 years, to the 1980s and before, which is when probably a majority are 1920s 1990s 19 1980s 1990s when that 20 year sort of awakening or under Standing of the true impact of it, how prevalent is that now becoming within the Australian society?

 

Christine Jack 

No, no. I mean, I, you know, my book is the first book published on a systematic exploration of Bali school experience in Australia, you know, theorised and I did an interview with Julian Morrow. And then they do did an ABC News article, the number of people who found I’ve attached to Charles Sturt University, the number of people who found their way to me at Charles Sturt University and told me about the horrific experiences was quite a lot. And, you know, I had an elderly lady who wrote letters to me, you know, about how traumatised, she’d been. I had a man in remote Queensland somewhere who I mean, the impact has been shocking for him, including prison. And he said, you know, he’s had psychological health for years. And finally, when he read that book, my book, and he couldn’t read any of the books on body skull trauma, it’s not particularly online, but read something about it, he went, Oh, my God, that’s what happened to me, that explains what happened to me. So I think there are an enormous number of people walking around, who just have not really heard and had access to the information that you and I have had access to. So they don’t realise it. And sometimes they’re in denial. I had a man who were his wife thought that he had body skull trauma. So I sent off Nick’s book to him, you know, the making of the making of them. And he read it, sent it back. And I thought, Oh, well, there you go, you know, saying it was very interesting. And that hopefully, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. That’s all right. And then he happened to go out with somebody who went to body school, and then at his age, these men are in their 70s. And he said to him, did you find body school to be difficult, and he said, I spent my life in therapy trying to overcome it. Suddenly, the gates open because another man admitted to it, he could now admit it, the book went back in he now identifies as a boarding as a body score survivor. But I’ll tell you something, a really interesting story. When I first started doing this research, I’d done research in the 1990s. But the focus wasn’t so much on body score. But I’ve written a previous book that incorporate some of that. But when I really got serious about body school trauma, and started writing papers, etc, I went to a conference and educational history conference. And somebody had found some archives, little by little Preparatory School in chatswood, and done a little history on this Preparatory School. Anyway, they found an old boy who went to the school and thought, what could I do, we’ll launch the book. And we’ll get this old boy to come out and launch it now this man would have been willing to ease at so he came out to the lectern to launch this book, and he started crying, and he couldn’t stop. He could not stop howling, and they just had to lead him away. And I, I nudged the person next to me. And I said, That’s what I’m talking about. People just don’t there. So that you, I don’t think he would have even been able to explain why he was crying, I think it would have taken a long time for him to identify that. So now, I think there is discussion of it in Australia. And it’s, it’s difficult,

 

Bryn Edwards 

then how do I put this it’s difficult then to poke into a more when, you know, for those who didn’t go, could not understand what it’s about. And the majority are affected. I mean, you know, like, Nick, and you mentioned earlier on, there’s the three classes. And the conformist is very much the person who’s going to not realise and understand the impact on them, because they’re like, I went, it was a bit. Enjoy, but look at me more self sufficient. And, you know, I’ve travelled the world and look at the things I’ve done, and you know, the achievement focus that we’re talking about. And, and so, if you’ve got a thing whereby those who didn’t go down, and those who even went there, don’t realise it. It’s it’s so difficult, isn’t it? You’re all you almost get close to worrying, wondering, am I making this stuff up? And then you then you interact with people and then you’re like, No, I’m certainly not.

 

Christine Jack 

Well, one of my close girlfriends who were the one who sent away at 12, who has no doubt that she’s been impacted by this being you know, psychiatrists seeing psychiatrists at various times. alive. As you know, when my book was published, recovering body school trauma narratives, I sent her a copy. And she was so thrilled to have it. She can’t read it. She said, I just can’t read it, Chris. I just can’t read it. She said, I can’t understand how you wrote it. That’s how traumatised she is. Now, eventually she may. She may. She may read it. I hope she does. But you know, in her own time, my best friend from primary boarding school, as soon as she knew I would, she participated in the first book I wrote, and did some in it viewed for her deck for that quite extensively. After the book was published, he said, You know, I didn’t tell you everything, you know, it was far worse than that. I wanted to protect the nerves. God knows why. But she did. Anyway, when she heard, you know, that I was doing this work with almost with ceased communication. She doesn’t want to know about it. She just said, No, I’ve recovered from it now. No, well, I mean, I don’t believe it because I don’t if you’re traumatised, and there’s no doubt that she was traumatised, you are never recovered. You, you you are working at it to recover that it’s why I caught my book, recovering body skull trauma narratives, you’re recovering them, you’re not recovered, you’re recovering always there’s something more that has to be done to recognise the impact of it on you. And you have to look at that, understand it and assimilate it and come to terms with it.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So is there a learning point?

 

Christine Jack 

Now? I don’t believe there is no, I think, I think that I think there’s a point where you can come you can be peaceful about it. I feel very peaceful about it. I I’m not angry, I was very angry at 28. I’m 71. Now, I was very angry at 28 when it emerged and furious with my with my parents, and that anger. And then finally I sort of packed it away when I was about 31. But I think over my life and being an educationalist and working in developmental psychology as well. And also historical and sociological and understanding contexts of which people live that influenced the decisions that you make. I am very I am very more than compassionate loving towards my parents, you know, my father is dead, but my mom is 100 and still alive. And I understand my dad was sent away to boarding school at seven and said our By the way, on the way out the door, you’re adopted. So, and then he didn’t come home in the holidays, he was left he was left at boarding school. And my mother was removed because of she had two horrible hospital experiences with diphtheria and scarlet fever. And of course in those days, you know, you’ve got central hospital ward, nobody was allowed to see you. And it was traumatising for her. So, both my parents had that kind of trauma. And also my mother was born into a house of grief because to her older siblings have died before her. And so you know, when you start to contextualise things, if you develop great compassion and understanding but of course, you have to have compassion towards yourself too. You have to be careful you don’t overdo the compassion towards other because you have to have compassion towards the very hurt charged within yourself. And abandoned charge. You can’t deny that. And I think the more you accept that, the more peaceful you become a more loving towards yourself as well as those around you.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, I think one of the things that’s helped me and it probably came out early in some of the language, when I interjected earlier on is that it’s, it’s easy to blame your blind person yet, is a collective narrative of imaginary and meme that exists the people that consumes people, and it’s difficult to get it’s easy to get angry with a person, it’s difficult to get angry with me. It’s difficult to actually Forgive me or any of the grief process that one has to go through. When you’re talking about something that’s not necessarily physical. I mean, yeah, you know, there’s this big I went to this school with a big red bricks and, and all of that, and that that is the physical manifestation of this institution. But the institution itself doesn’t, you know, it just exists in in the heads of people rarely and comes out. And so I think that delineation has been super helpful for me, because then I can look upon things compassionate. to myself, but then more importantly to my mother and father, and and the other mothers and fathers who sent their kids at the same time that I was there. And the other kids that were there that sometimes were pretty wonky to me.

 

Christine Jack 

I’m absolutely i mean, you put a group of kids together, I mean, Lord of the Flies, it could be Lord of the Flies, almost.

 

 

Yeah, I.

 

Christine Jack 

Yeah, I mean, I agree, it’s some. It’s a tricky journey, just on the anger thing. One of the things that’s important to know about anger is it’s a secondary emotion. Anger covers up our vulnerable, our intense feelings of loneliness, despair, vulnerability, etc. So, anger is kind of an easy place to be in. Because it’s energy, it gives you energy, and you can direct that out at somebody. But it covers up those awful feelings of abandonment and despair and inadequacy, etc. And they are so hard to face and swallow, and shame, you know, all those things. So it’s so much easier to be angry than to face our own vulnerable selves.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, wounded hurt self. And if we go out to, because one of the things I found interesting talking to Nick, and I’d be interested to talk about an Australian context is, is that he pointed out that, you know, many, many of the people that have hold the institutions of governance within England went through this experience. And so therefore, this isn’t just kids going to school, then these behaviours play in our national, systematic influencing level, is that the same here?

 

Christine Jack 

Well, I mean, I think where do you want your talk? You’re talking really badly to generational patterns where

 

Bryn Edwards 

those that are in the higher offices of government and Prime Minister

 

Christine Jack 

here, I mean, Malcolm Turnbull went to boarding school had a terrible time, was really picked on there. I often wonder whether that’s why he found it hard to stand up to the right, that who knows. But he certainly did. But you’ve also got to remember that a number of people in power, not everybody, but a lot of people in power went to elite schools, not necessarily as borders, but it’s all part of the same. Isn’t it? You know, it’s the same ilk? Exactly. So it is part of that, and boarding is just Oh, yes. Or there were borders. There were borders there. And people went to body school, so they just kind of can’t get their minds around it. I don’t think so. I do think that that’s there. And also, I think, you know, Morrison didn’t go to an elite school, to a, you know, a private fee paying body school, but I think he went to an elite government school. And they, they almost seek to replicate to, you know, to replicate the, the elite schools. So that kind of discourses around what’s called elite education. They, they’re alive and well, in the Australian environment, and certainly alive and well, in, in those the kind of ruling classes, the successful classes in our, in our society.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And I guess, use the word elite education who, given living in a economically driven economic rationale driven West like caste system. This little wonder that as we look upon our child with knowing what we know about the world that they go to go into there anything that offers the opportunity for them to get to get ahead. Get up get ahead. Yes, privilege. By buying Off you go.

 

Christine Jack 

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s exactly. That’s exactly it. And that’s why it’s understandable, in a way, isn’t it? Except people don’t read the research, you know, that shows that you know, that your educational, except success is more tied to your parents level of education and the school you go to, No, it doesn’t. You can’t go to schools that are terrible and have terrible teachers. But hopefully, if you’ve got an educated parent, they’ll go whoops, wrong school, wrong teacher and move the child somewhere else. So yeah, you know, the schools don’t necessarily guarantee educational success. And I bet you know, and I know a lot of people who’ve been to these schools who have not been successful. It was a bit of a disaster for them.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Absolutely.

 

Christine Jack 

And their parents paid all that money for that guarantee. Yes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. So what does what is required?

 

Christine Jack 

Well, I’d love to say that boarding schools to be closed down. I really pretty much again, on on the other hand, there are some children where their home situation is so appalling that they have found going to school, better than being at home a woman I interviewed. For my first book, Grant good Catholic girls, she, her parents were very social. And so she went when she went to boarding school as a little child, I think she was only four when she went to boarding school. The Nan’s really costly, with so little that kind of took her under their wing and gave her a lot of tension, because she was little, and it was in the early days of this little convent. So she laughed at that. So she stayed, she became a nun stayed there. And she was still at the school, where she went as a child. may not, I don’t know that that’s a good thing or not. I mean, I suspect it’s problematic on one level. But, you know, there are places there are parents that but I mean, I guess it’s a bit like removing children, you know, we’ve got children who are in appalling situations, and we talk about the removal of kids, you know, we should be removing kids. And I’m sure we should be removing some kids so they don’t get died, don’t die or get abused or whatever. But we know that the best thing to do is to wrap services around people, you know, so that you, you know, you really help people to become better parents. I mean, we know that practically everybody who goes through school is going to be a parent. Most people, you know, probably that the numbers are going down now than they used to. But do we really educate that we know a lot about how to bring children up, and we don’t teach it in schools? Now, I think that’s a really lack. I think there needs to be a tremendous amount of education given to young people about about parenting. But then, of course, I suppose the horror is that what if you start teaching kids that they’ll suddenly realise that their parents are not doing such a great job? And that can be problematic in itself? So I guess probably, it’s really educating people when they have children, and there are agencies trying to do that. But we kind of assume that it’s intuitive. Oh, you know, we know, you know, everybody, it’s natural, how you bring up kids? Well, it’s not. It’s not, we have some good ways of interacting with children, usually, and some poor ways. It’s like our communication patterns. Some of them are good. And some of them are jolly awful. And we need to learn better ways of communicating. Same with paying parents. So, yeah, it’s not an it’s not an easy answer. But then you can. And also, when you think of indigenous kids in remote settings, I mean, they need to be educated, their parents want them to be educated, they’re committed to education. But it’s tough, you know, to try and educate, I think they need to have schools at least that are closer to home, so that the children can go home much more regularly, and are growing up in an environment that’s more attuned with their own culture.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I think for me, one of the interesting parts is that it demonstrates that this almost like

 

 

rational,

 

Bryn Edwards 

unconnected approach has significant impacts, that leads you to the conclusion that it doesn’t actually work. And we are a lot more human than we realise. And that we need things like connection and safety and place. And loving support network around us. And in the absence of very significant negative health impacts occur, whether that health is physical, mental, emotional. And so in that recognition, we can just go a bit more easily.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Christine Jack 

Well, I mean, I think, you know, part about that problem. I think you hit it on the head recently, where you said that, you know, parents want the best opportunity for their kids, you know, you know, kind of economically driven society where we only measure it in terms of economic success, not in terms of quality of life. You know, You can see the trap for parents want to send their children there, and that the whole of the environment is geared towards that. And I think, you know, we, I think they call it the triple line, the bottom line where we need to look more at measures of quality of life. in society, but, but we, we don’t do that we just deny that part of ourselves, which is, you know, I think why we get in such a mess, you know, of not being able to get on with other countries, get on with other cultures, get on with people who are different from our selves, being able to accept other people’s stories and being able to understand that people have very diverse experience, and that there’s a wonder in entering into people’s diverse experience. I mean, if you sit and listen properly, to somebody talk about something that’s important to them, you really like them after a while, because you’ll get even if you didn’t like them before, because you’ll get such insight into them as a person and you develop compassion for them as a person. But we’re often busy talking about our successes, aren’t we?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, we’re talking about meaningless shit with the greatest respect.

 

Christine Jack 

In English, it’s not that nothing is real, and certainly nothing that makes you vulnerable. Yeah, I mean, you know, I grew up in a school in a family where Thou shalt not be vulnerable. You know, that’s not what we were allowed to be. And that’s, that’s, you know, it was my word alone. It was what people did in those days, you know, they just didn’t talk about feelings.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. And it’s interesting, because I delve back into what, what are the dynamics around voice? One of the things I sat with, and I read about this was that all abilities where you’re putting something out, don’t know what outcomes going to go one way or the other. And, interestingly, back to some of the other compart coordinates of schooling, let alone boarding school experience, where it’s true, you know, the major focus is being driven. Right? You know, you’re correct in scores, you’re correct in everything that you do, and you’re marked on the level of correction, correctness interesting. That you’re driven towards, and with correctness, you know, a sense of certainty, and stuff like that. So it’s little wonder, you know, how often would we put down in a match? I think the answer might be 72. I’m not sure. But I’ll just stick it out there and see what happens. No, you do the workings. You put it in, and then you go, right, I’m pretty sure that that’s going to be right, you get the tick, and you’re off. And so the concept of vulnerability of venturing into the unknown, where you don’t know whether it’s going to be correct or not, and and we’re talking about feeling so there is no correct or incorrect, although you will find out what’s socially incorrect. From time to time. So, yes, this whole concept of DNA, even just spending some time understanding the coordinates of that is just a complete antithesis to school, let alone boarding school.

 

Christine Jack 

I tell you, my daughter, who is an expert teacher, you know, there’s a category in New South Wales, that expert teachers who work with other teachers to develop their capacity, and she works at one of the most underprivileged schools in Sydney. And there’s, you know, we know that if you are able to reflect on your mistakes, you learn from it, you know, you really learn more from your mistakes than more than getting things right. And she teaches these little children, that when they make a mistake, their brain grows. So that when she’s in with these little kids, and they make a mistake, they go, Oh, Miss, my brain just grew. So she’s actually teaching them to have a go at something and make a mistake, is actually an empowering thing to do. Not just coming up with silly answers, but trying to think about it and say, You know, I think the answer might be 72. And a teacher saying, Well, I know you’ve thought about it a lot. But let’s explore how you got to that. And let’s look at other ways, because it’s not right, but let’s see how you might have got there. You know, that the child realising under to learn something from this mistake, that I just made it so well, you can teach children that mistakes are really valuable and those kids out near Penrith are learning that.

 

 

Awesome. Awesome. How is it?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Question I like to ask at the moment is how is it being Christine who knows and feels this stuff and looks into the world and still seeing its occur.

 

Christine Jack 

Oh, well, it makes me sad. You know, I, I suppose it’s why I keep on doing what I’m doing. I keep on writing, doing interviews, talking to people, I tried to talk about real things. I mean, I have a son who has autism and schizophrenia. And, in fact, I’ve just been through the most appalling 10 days where he had a full blown paranoid attack, it was really awful. We’ve got him stable again. But it was really scary and exhausting. And I ended up breaking my foot. It’s a result that, I think because I was just so stressed. But you know, I worked in the area of disability for quite a bit. And so I’m really, you know, I say to people, quite openly that I have a child who has this kind of issue, rather than hiding it. And it’s really interesting. When I talk to people they got Oh, actually, my cousin has that, oh, I have a daughter who has problems with mental illness, etc. So the more you talk about real things, the more it’s just like a ripple. I guess you just have to be positive. And see, you know, you’re putting you’re putting ripples out into the environment. And if we all like you are doing work on talking about real things and putting those ripples out. It does have some sort of impact. Yeah, it’s it’s between it’s that place between hope and despair.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because he says, easy to be mindlessly home.

 

Christine Jack 

Yes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, it’s that? Well, yeah, even like this. Yeah, there was there was this conversation there was there was so much interest in in the conversation with Nick, then to actually bring it here. So it’s not just that thing that happens over there. This happens here as well. And you know, this conversation that we’ve opened up a space for, and then recorded will now sit here and then that will have ripples.

 

Christine Jack 

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Hmm. So the last question, I asked myself, Oh, my guess? Is this a reflective question, which I quite enjoy. So it’s reflective hypothetical question is, if I could just slow everyone down. And that’s everybody, right, and for five or 10 minutes, and I could let Christine upload a question into the collective consciousness. So everybody just chilled out for five or 10 minutes and thought about it. What would that be?

 

 

Oh,

 

Christine Jack 

well, I mean, I’m committed to, to growth, psychological growth. I think it’s, it’s an exciting place to painful, difficult, challenging place to work with. But I think once you start on that path, you can’t turn back. I think Scott big pick, wrote a wonderful book called The road less travelled, don’t push somebody onto that path. Because once they go, there’s no turning back. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think I would say, Where are you most wounded? Because where you’re most wounded? Where do you hurt the most? I mean, psychologically, where is the place that causes you the most pain? And that is probably the place that where you have the most growth? Yeah, I can feel that place in myself. Yeah.

 

 

Yes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I like that. Where are you most? Because that’s the place where you’re most bleeding on all those accounts.

 

Christine Jack 

Yes, where you can be hurting people. And unintentionally, but also, you have the opportunity to show how messy You are so that other people can be messy too. I’m not entirely messy. I have a lot of really good things about me, and I need to celebrate that. But I also have messiness to, you know, and then we, you know, that somebody taught me that community is built on shared vulnerability, you know, so that when we share our vulnerability, we feel so much closer to people, no barriers. So the woundedness is a place of growth.

 

 

I like that.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And this has been awesome to talk about this again. Yeah, the the previous conversation with Nick was great and challenging for me personally, anybody who’s watched it will realise there was a whole lot of me and that More than there normally is in one of my podcasts. And but yeah, to actually bring this and contextualise it in Australia, and to see that it is a live issue. I it for me it didn’t take a great. It didn’t take a number of steps of logic and rationality to realise our will if that’s happened there is got to happen here. It’s it’s still interesting to try. And I think I think in England, it was easy to spot other people here, it’s, I think I’m yet to be attuned to that. But they they’re obviously very present. But it’s a very real issue. And given that part of part of the drive behind these conversations is to open up a space so people can consider things so they can live more consciously and move with ease and grace, and have more meaning in their life. I think there’s a large port, they’ll most likely be a large pool of people who don’t quite understand why that ease and grace is not there for them. And I hope that this conversation serves as a gateway towards that.

 

Christine Jack 

Well, I think you’re doing marvellous work, and I really celebrate what you’re doing.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Thank you very much. If people want to reach out and connect, how can they do that? Well, you

 

Christine Jack 

can find me at Charles Sturt University just a Google Christine trimming. Because I publish under trimming him jack Christine trimming can jack and just look for me a Charleston uni and you’ll find your way to my email address.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Excellent. Christine, thank you so much for your time.

Pleasure. Bye

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