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The Writings of John Corlette
With appreciation to all who gave their time to compile this condensed collection of John Corlette's writings. Special thanks for the photos, many of which appeared in Aiglon 25 (created in 1974 by Patrick Roberts) Special thanks to Norman Perryman for giving his permission to include several of his paintings Please download the ebook and pass it along to parents, students,
educators and directors of schools. Go to JohnCorlette.com and click on “download ebook” Please turn to Chapter 2 and participate in the exercise. This document is a condensed version prepared for distribution at Veni Vidi Roma, the fabulous gathering organized in part by Sandro Corsini (‘75). Bravo, Sandro! We wish you a mega-attendance of alumni in May 2011.
Contents 1: The Speech (July 1973) 2: The Exercise 3: Some Meditations 4: Other Writings The Rule Book 5: More about JC 6: What’s Next? Invitation to join the JC Society
The Writings of John Corlette
John C. Corlette was born John Hubert Christian Corlette on 21 June 1911 and died 9 December 1977. He was an English architect who, in 1949, founded the private English-style boarding school Aiglon College in Switzerland. The school is registered as a not-for-profit charitable institution, with an international student intake. Corlette was a former pupil ("Stoic") of Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, and a former teacher at Gordonstoun, a private school in Scotland. He included some of the latter school's educational ideas in the formation of Aiglon. Corlette's death in 1977 came after an extended illness. His legacy is the school that he founded.
1: The Speech (July 1973)
THE GOAL OF EDUCATION AT AIGLON An address by the director given at the graduation ceremonies and prize giving in Exeter Hall, 3 July 1973 Some of you probably without thinking too much about it, will have assumed that the goal of education is the acquisition of a body of knowledge which will enable you to pass the examinations set by universities, technical colleges or other such bodies. You believe that success in these examinations may enable you to earn a better living and make more money so that you can more effectively satisfy your physical needs and desires and such other needs and desires as can be satisfied by these means. Whilst we agree that the ability to earn a good living is a necessary and important accomplishment we do not regard this as the goal of education but as a by-product of it. We believe that the goal of education is, or should be, the development of the spiritual man, that is of that part of each one of us which, with development and training, is capable of a vision or direct apprehension of the purpose of life, of the true nature of ourselves, of the world in which we live and of such other worlds or states of being as may exist besides. If we are able to achieve such illumination, the business of everyday life and its problems will be taken care of as a by-product, and such physical wealth as we may need for our passage through this life will follow the spiritual wealth which we have worked to achieve. Hence, although we can and do and should work to equip ourselves as efficiently as possible with the tools necessary for earning our living, we shall do this with
The Writings of John Corlette
the more success, and at the same time achieve for ourselves lasting happiness and peace of mind, if we set as our primary goal the acquisition of spiritual wealth or the development of the spiritual man. The organisation and practice of any educational establishment should therefore be such as to recognise this as the goal, and such as to contribute towards its achievement. So, if an educator is to have any success in the accomplishment of his mission, he must take into account not only the basic aim of the development of the spiritual man, but also the nature of man and the practical means whereby he may help him towards his goal. Now, man's nature is complex, but for the sake of simplicity and to provide a practical basis for action it can be divided into four main aspects, each of which influences and reacts to all the others. They are the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Each of these four main aspects, if well nourished and well exercised, can help us to develop our spiritual side, help us to perceive truth which, as we approach it more nearly, will bring us closer to perfection or closer to the Eternal One, to identity with cosmic intelligence, cosmic energy, creative principle or Ultimate God according as you like to describe it. This is the ultimate destiny of us all and the reason and purpose of our lives here on earth. It follows that any education which helps to prepare man to fulfill the purpose of his life on earth, must nourish and exercise all four aspects of his nature and regard them of equal importance in the development of the whole man and in the satisfaction of his profoundest aspirations. The joy and happiness which all men seek
can be attained only in this way. This is the path to selfrealisation and through this to god-realisation which is our ultimate goal. All other satisfactions are either a means to this end or are a mistaken attempt to attain happiness by concentrating on one of these aspects, or perhaps two, and neglecting the others. This results in imbalance and dis-harmony and dis-ease. So, how, in practice, and in a school, and with the material, human and otherwise at our disposal, do we set about this task? Nothing, or very little, we do at Aiglon is haphazard, or done because other people do it or somebody has said it ought to be done that way. Everything we do has been carefully thought out with reference to our basic aim and developed from first principles, and whenever new problems or questions arise, we seek their solution within the same context. We ask ourselves, "Is the solution proposed consistent with our basic aim and principles?" Since this point is not always well understood by those associated with the school, be they parents, staff, students or outsiders, it is perhaps worth giving a few examples of how it works out in our practice here. For example, taking the physical aspect, we start from the premise that the body is the temple of the spirit. This can be stated in different ways. It is the house which "we" inhabit during the short span of our life on earth. It is not "us." It is an instrument which "we" use to express or manifest the various aspects of truth as "we" perceive them. Therefore, the more perfect the body is as an instrument for this purpose, the greater will be its
The Writings of John Corlette
contribution towards the attainment of our goal. We should therefore learn to care for it, nourish it, and exercise it in a way which will help it to function in the best possible way for this purpose. So we have Morning PT, so called. This should be a few minutes gentle jog-trot or the equivalent whose purpose is to stimulate the circulation of the blood after a night of relative stagnation, so that it may carry away for elimination some of the toxins accumulated during rest, and at the same time, circulate fresh oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body, thus helping to keep them in optimum condition. Then we have the cold shower. The skin is one of the major organs of elimination of toxic wastes from the body, and also acts as a kind of thermostat or controller of the body temperature. To fulfill these tasks the skin must be kept in top condition. Owing to the artificial kind of life that man today leads and the clothes he wears, the skin does not have the constant practice of having to respond to the forces of nature such as heat, cold and wet which in more primitive societies kept his skin healthy. It is therefore necessary to do this deliberately, hence the cold shower to stimulate the operation of the thermostat for the control of body temperature, to stimulate the irrigation of the glandular and lymphatic systems and to stimulate the circulation of the blood. With regard to Sports, games and expeditions. Because of their value in developing and training different aspects of the character as well as for their value in the development of the body and the maintenance of health, every student is required during the course of the year (unless some medical reason prevents it) to:
a) Take part in at least one team game. b) Ski during the winter and take part in ski expeditions. c) Take part in expeditions on foot when snow and climatic conditions permit. d) Follow a course of gymnastics appropriate to his ability. These physical activities contribute also to the intellectual, emotional and spiritual development of the student. Intelligence is required to perform physical activities well. Considerable emotional satisfaction can also be had from them, from the physical pleasure of doing, as well as from the satisfaction derived from successful performance, and from the companionship with and service to others. All the foregoing plus the contact with nature also make their contribution to the spiritual development of the individual. Now Food and Drink. This is of the greatest importance, but owing to the bad feeding habits of modern civilisation and the resultant falsifying of natural instincts it is very difficult to handle correctly. quite apart from the difficulty of finding good produce, and cooks and housekeepers who understand what is required and are able and willing to carry out the policy. Ideally all the raw materials for meals should be fresh and biologically grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers. They should then be eaten raw where possible or conservatively cooked in such a way as to preserve the maximum amount of the nutritive elements in the food, especially in relation to vitamins, mineral salts and trace elements. All refined foods such as white bread, white rice, white sugar, and anything made with or containing them should be eliminated from the diet as well as stimulating or toxic materials such as coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol
The Writings of John Corlette
(including wine or beer) and "soft" and carbonated drinks, all of which contain sugar or chemical compounds of various kinds. Efforts should be made to dissuade students from absorbing these things and candy and chewing gum, etc. between meals and when not in the school. Since most children are brought up to value those unhealthy substances, the task is not an easy one. A pure blood stream is the greatest defence against disease both of body and of mind. The old tag "mens sana in corpore sane" - a healthy mind in a healthy body, has a great deal of truth in it. Another of our basic principles is that we believe that it is the business of those who direct the school, first to set the standards which they believe the students should be aiming at, and state them in no equivocal fashion, and secondly that they should provide a method of grading for each aspect which will enable the student to know what progress the school authorities think he is making. This grading should, if necessary and where possible, be accompanied by explanations which will help the student to understand his assessment and plan his future progress. And so we have our different grading systems concerning the activities which are designed to help in the development of the four aspects of man's nature. First we set standards for the students to aim at, then by grading, we let them know how we think they are doing. The object of grading is not to stimulate Competition with others but to let the student know what progress he is making. Hence we have a grading system for studies, academic and artistic and practical, another for sports, games and the adventure training programs or expeditions, and a
third for "the whole man." This last is of course the key one and combines all the others in its assessment. It charts the course of the development of the boy or girl as regards his character, sense of responsibility, maturity and general development in relation to the basic standards of conduct and morality which we lay down and which are derived, as far as we are able to understand them, from the teachings of Jesus Christ and other great teachers. This assessment has come to be known here as the Rank System, and is absolutely basic to the idea of education at Aiglon. The term is, I think, unfortunate and misleading, with its military overtones, and perhaps someone can think of a more felicitous way of describing it. It may be objected that an assessment of this kind must necessarily be subjective and therefore unfair. Of course it is subjective, but so are all our judgments, except possibly in the case of mathematics where it can be argued that two will make four regardless of what anybody thinks about it. However, this is no reason for teachers to avoid the responsibility of judging their pupils' work and progress, moreover this is precisely how promotion is accorded to us in real life outside school. We get promoted in our business or occupation and our salary increased precisely as we are able to convince our superiors in the hierarchy of our merits with reference to their requirements. The exception to this is of course if we are members of a trade union, in which case, as things are today, our salaries are increased, not according to our merit, but according to the seriousness of the threats with which we are able to menace our employers. There have been attempts by students in some schools to follow this example by
The Writings of John Corlette
threatening the school authorities in various ways if they do not give them what they want. This could not happen at Aiglon for the very simple reason that we would rather close the school than abandon our principles. I hope these examples will give you some idea of how we arrive at the various practices which we employ at Aiglon. Given our aim of the education of the whole man and our belief that the lynch pin of this is the development of the spiritual man, we believe that the solution of this problem ultimately rests in the development of the spiritual life of the individual, This can be nourished through many channels. First and foremost, of course, come the various world religions, the various denominations of the Christian Church, Judaism, Buddhism, Mohammedism, Janism, Hinduism -- to name some of the principal ones. Then there is today an increasing number of groups all seeking the spiritual life along more or less independent lines, some owning allegiance to or at any rate inspiration from, one of the great religions or great Masters, others owning no specific allegiance but drawing inspiration from the wisdom of the ages wherever it may appear. Other means for the development of the spiritual man lie in such techniques as contemplation, meditation, prayer and the growing insights of psychology and parapsychology. Intimate contact with nature, too, is important, and a realisation of our living relationship with it. Hence our adventure training programme. The development of sensitivity to and the practice of art in all its forms provides a very positive channel for the development of the spirit; that is through music, painting, sculpture and all forms of craft -- to all of which
of course we attach great importance here. Absolutely essential too is a positive and loving relationship with all other people regardless of their origin, background or beliefs, and a positive and loving relationship with everything in the world and in the universe around us. This was after all essentially the message which Jesus Christ brought to us. At Aiglon we try, imperfectly no doubt, but always trying to do better, to put these ideas into practice. So, next time you think something we do is stupid and won't help you to pass your exams or get a better job, just stop and remember that the education which we offer, whilst it does this, is designed to go far beyond it, to develop the whole of you and not just a part, to help you to become truly and intensely alive, to help you to a knowledge of and understanding of that part of you which I call the spiritual part, by attention whose dictates you can attain to much more than success in examinations and a good job, that is to lasting happiness. J.C. Corlette 3 July 1973
The Writings of John Corlette
2: The Exercise
by David Rhodes The goal is to define the essence of the Corlette system and invite the next generation to learn about the man and his methods. Imagine you had never heard of or knew John Corlette. Imagine, also, that your memories of your student days have been wiped out, except for the barest details like the Swiss village Chesières, the O/A level exams, camping in the mountains, etc. Let's assume, then, that you have no EMOTIONAL recollection of the educational value of your time in Chesières, whether it was a rewarding time in your life or not - all those things which loyal alumni feel so strongly when they reminisce. What's the point of this exercise? You have in your possession a copy of Corlette’s 1973 graduation address in which he sets out the goals of his educational philosophy. It's the longest document produced by JC and it can give us insight into what he was trying to do in setting up his school. You are not allowed to rely on your memories of the man himself because they have been erased. You read this document with a detached, analytical eye. You are looking for those educational insights that strike you as deeply valuable and relevant to today's young people, in particular for your own children, godchildren or friends' children. Try to keep your sentiments and feelings out of it. You are allowed to choose only two insights from this document that strike you as the most important for today's world. Step 1: Re-draft them in your own words, in a way that makes them sound less archaic and more in line with today's jargon. Step 2: Explain your reasons for your choice of these two insights. …You are now allowed to re-connect with your emotions about the school. They come flooding back,
as if you're recovering from a bout of emotional amnesia. Read again your choice of the two most important principles and the way you re-stated them in modern terms. Are you still happy with your choice, in light of your vivid emotional memories? And finally, ask yourself whether your feelings about the value of your education and your choice of the two most important JC principles are the feelings of (a) the young person you were when you were sent away to a Swiss boarding school, or (b) the feelings of the older, more mature person you have now become, or both. When you have done all this and you're completely happy with your response, please send it to JohnCorlette@gmail.com and David Rhodes firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you didn't attend the school before 1977, you can still read the speech, complete steps 1 and 2 and email the result. You will be invited to join the JC Society and we will seek your permission to post your analysis of the speech on the website.) Some comments: Here are some examples of comments that the JC Society has received so far (as of December 2010). They are excerpts – read the complete statements online (JohnCorlette.com): Building Character and Body: JC points out the objective, behind the ranking, was to let students know what progress he or she was making. It was not structured to be a competition among students. The rank system leveled the playing field within the community and set goals for students to progress, judged by the staff and their fellow students. The second element I consider important was JC’s concern for good nutrition. My guess is his choice of organic fruit and produce related to his own delicate health. I also think a respect for food was developed
The Writings of John Corlette
through the in-house dining system. A staff member sat at the table to ensure students ate some of all the dishes which would include vegetables! There was discussion at table and at the end of the meal the students would be dismissed. This was not an assembly line buffet which can lead to bad eating habits and encourage a social grouping at meal times of selfselected students. Noel Thompson ’70, supplier of high-quality foods through CampoBelloDoro.com Character: I'm all for the reinstatement of a ranking system that involves "Character Feedback." With all of its poor application through time, maybe it's the application process that should be adjusted, not the concept of whether it exists. Two suggestions about which I've thought include: 1) Not referring to rank changes as "promotions" or "demotions" but rather as "evolutions," and; 2) Not ranking everyone but rather only 20% of the student body. I've learned that it is only 20% that "do." In every community in which I've lived, and Corlette thought of the world as a community, it is the same 20% that do all the volunteering and maybe another 20% that do the "leading." I don't know what the ranks should be named, and how one works towards recognition, but that is for the system to figure out. Good luck to that person that tries. In my opinion, Corlette was also driven by what he disliked. One thing he disliked was War. He took things that generated conflict and turned them into an understanding. He achieved this by concentrating on the positive and turning it into a philosophy of education. Reflecting on it, his conversion process was a remarkable achievement. Pulling out the essence of JC's thoughts and communicating them so that they are understood in today's world is an important and valuable task. One
challenge that I see is communicating across the cross cultural differences of understanding that exist even within the Anglo-Saxon world. The objective is to reach agreement about JC's objective so that it becomes understood by Russians, Germans, Iranians, British, Indonesians, Americans and others. John Vornle ‘76 God is Our Strength: Although being an ignorant, selfish rebel most of my time at Aiglon there was always this openness to spiritual searching in meditation, in discussion and in wearing a blazer that said "God is my strength" that permeated daily life there. I personally believe this is the core of Aiglon's success. It goes beyond knowledge and encouraged us to search much deeper through inward contemplation, exposure to such visual beauty every day and the challenge of adventure through expedition. On expedition one unconsciously becomes aware of the inner joy of companionship, simple food and a hot drink, the warmth of a fire, and the stars at night. Absolutely priceless education that guided me on a long journey to a place where I have found contentment, peace and joy. If I had not had a taste of them at Aiglon, I would probably not have known what to look for. Jeremy McWilliam ‘76 International Perspective: This is one of the core values of Aiglon that remained with me thanks to David Rhodes: it was crucial to learn to get along with all different nationalities, creeds, personalities, mental abilities, apparent wealth and status. These values were taught at home but I struggled with them. David’s proposed exercise is another way to get students to learn about Aiglon values. A non-graded but corrected essay could be written about what current students value the most at Aiglon each year in their English classes.
The Writings of John Corlette
One by-product of an Aiglon education is that no matter what else we may have gotten out of our expeditions we all developed a lifelong reverence for Nature and its awesome beauty. I would propose a yearly contest for students in which they could share the creative products of their experiences whether in essay, photographic or artistic format visible to all in a display in the Meditation Hall. My proposal is to get Aiglon students to actively invest in their education while they are there, not just when they mature to the age when they understand long-term consequences, so they may appreciate the immediate worth of their education and still continue to reap its benefits throughout their lives. Elaine De Martin-Webster email@example.com Morning Meditations Were Important: It was not the structure or procedure of Morning Meditation that I respect: It was the effort to go beyond academics and “the transfer for culture” to the next generation. I respect JC’s awareness of the teenager’s limited capacity to absorb new information that he’s initially not interested in. Morning Meditation was one way to sneak up on the teenager and surprise him. Steve Conger 1973-76, applicant to the John Corlette Society.
3: Some Meditations
The Aiglon Meditation I have many times been asked for an explanation of the Aiglon Meditation, why we have them and how we conduct them, both by those called to lead them, and by others interested in the idea. The following, therefore, is a brief explanation which I hope may be helpful to those interested. The Meditation takes the place of morning prayers or morning assembly in other schools. It has been practised at Aiglon since the school's foundation in 1949. I regard it as the centre of the life of the school, and the point from which its whole character and sense of purpose stems. Members of the staff are therefore required to attend at least twice a week, and many attend every day if they can. All the boys and girls, regardless of creed, are required to attend. At the beginning of each scholastic year I give an explanation of the nature and purpose of the Meditation and go through the 'drill' of physical and mental relaxation and of placing the mind in an attitude of quietness and contemplation. There are, of course, days when the Meditation 'takes' better than other days, and periods when individuals are more susceptible to its influence than others, but this is what one would expect. Leaders of the Meditation should be chosen with care as not everyone can do it successfully. A suitable senior student can occasionally be invited to take a Meditation. In the notes which follow, I hope you will not think that I consider that I myself come up to the standards I here lay down. I am only too aware of my own shortcomings in this as in other things, but one can only make
The Writings of John Corlette
progress if one has clearly fixed in one's mind the goal at which one is aiming. Notes for those taking Meditations Purpose: To bring boys and girls into direct contact with spiritual influences so that they may the better know and understand God. Form: The Hall door is shut at 8.03 and boys and girls take their places; 8.05 the person taking Meditation walks up to the platform, which is the signal for silence. Staff should take their places by 5 minutes to 8. 1st Silence: After taking his place on the platform, the leader should hold a silence for a minimum of 1 minute up to about 3 minutes, 1 and a half minutes being a fair average. He should in any case not speak until absolute stillness has supervened and been held for long enough to be 'felt'. Talk: The purpose of the talk is to drop one, single pregnant idea into the silence which precedes and follows it. It should not occupy more than at the outside 10 minutes, including silence, and can be no less than one minute. The idea can be a quite simple one. The leader may stand for the talk. Alternative to talk: Once a week, on Saturday, a 'Musical Meditation' is held. The talk is then replaced by a brief but significant phrase followed by a suitable piece of music lasting not less than 6 minutes and not more than 10 minutes. The music should be followed by a second silence as usual. Finally as the leader prepares to leave the platform he will announce the title of the music and the composer. 2nd Silence: This should be held for a minimum of 2 minutes up to about 5 minutes. The longer period should be aimed at. After a brief period of silence the
assembly may appear restless. If the silence is persisted in, this period will usually be passed through, and a much deeper and more vital silence achieved the other side of it. The leader may sit for the silence. The Silence. The central and most important part of the exercise is the silence. For most people only when the mind and body are stilled can the voice of God be heard, or, to put it differently, can we pick up the direct signals concerning the truth about everything which are constantly being sent out but to which we are normally insensitive. This is what meditation is, laying ourselves open to receive the truth about something, direct from the source and origin of all truth. Hence, the first place taken by the silence. The Talk. The purpose of the talk is to indicate to the assembly a subject for meditation, very briefly, very simply, in the fewest possible words. It is not a lecture. It is extremely difficult to do well. To boil it down to one idea 5 minutes in length may take 2 hours of preparation and hard thought, whereas a 15 minute talk or a talk of a discursive nature can be done with little or no preparation and fails completely of its purpose. It is better to have no talk at all than one which is too long or too discursive. The silence alone, without any talk, would be much more creative, provided, of course, that the leader is willing to listen, but they are not willing to be bored and (as we all know) their powers of concentration are limited. Thus talks that are over-long or over-complex defeat the purpose. It should also be remembered that they are required to listen every morning. Suggestions: Stand or sit straight in a relaxed, easy and natural attitude. Do not bend down in an attitude of prayer or homage. The attitude should be one of quiet thoughtfulness, contemplation, meditation, and a recollection of the presence of God or the power of truth
The Writings of John Corlette
in the room. Try and project this attitude into the room. Delivery. Most people, even those accustomed to speaking in public, do so very badly, and other people are usually reluctant to point out their faults, which are often very simple and easily corrected. The following faults are very common and very easily put right: 1 Speaking too softly: this puts a strain on the audience. They miss certain key words and give up. 2 Speaking too loudly or harshly: this is irritating and inaesthetic. 3 Speaking the stressed syllables loudly and the unstressed syllables softly so that the words are difficult to identify. Result, audience strain. 4 Monotony. The tone and pitch of the voice varying within only very narrow limits, or repeating the same sequence of rise and fall, so that such modulations of the voice as. there may be lose any significance. The voice should be used as a musical instrument and the speed, tonality, emphasis and phrasing very carefully studied so as to enhance the meaning of the words or bring out the significance of the passage. 5 Diction. This is frequently appalling, the words being slurred, blurred, or swallowed. Each syllable must be slowly and independently articulated regardless of whether it is stressed or not. You can then be heard without strain at the back of the room even when speaking comparatively softly. This allows much more room for dynamic variation. 6 Speaking is an art, and should be treated with all the care and thought an art demands. To sum up, remember that the purpose of the morning
assembly is to develop the spiritual life of those taking part, that the means employed is silent contemplation or meditation, and that the talk is to be regarded simply as an aid to this by providing the mind with a creative idea to work on as a start. The talk should therefore be short and designed to present only one idea to the mind for contemplation. It should be expressed with as much lucidity, simplicity and artistry as the leader can summon Since the silence is the central part of the exercise, the art of producing and holding a creative silence should be studied. J. Corlette From The Aiglon Meditation: An Anthology (1989)
Our Lives Are What We Make of Them
Within a few years all you people will be leaving school and setting out on a new chapter in your lives, and it is not going to be as different as you think. However, this is not what I want to talk to you about this morning. What I want to draw your attention to is the fact that an awful lot of so-called grown-ups, many of whom are really only children with grown-up bodies: an awful lot of these grown-ups spend an awful lot of time complaining about their own lives, how uninteresting their lives are, how they never meet any interesting people, how dull their jobs are, how small the pay is, how silly their wives are, how idiotic their children, how unreliable their cars, how tasteless their food. Well, all this may be true, and a lot more, but if they are complaining to other people, and invariably they do, they are complaining to the wrong person. They should be complaining to themselves, for they are themselves to blame.
The Writings of John Corlette
Our lives are what we make of them, and if they are dull and uninteresting, frustrated, colourless and unsatisfying, it is because we make them so. Our lives are what we make of them, and it is no good blaming those mysterious people 'they' at whose door we like to lay so many of our misfortunes. It is no good blaming God, who is only too ready to help us to put our lives in order and to see us enjoying them if we will let Him. As Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar, 'the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.' What then must we do to lead full and fruitful lives about which we will not wish to complain? The first thing (and this is the first step in being really grown-up) is to understand that our lives are what we make them, and the credit for a good life is ours, just as the blame for a bad one is ours also. The second thing is to know ourselves. We are not all the same, we are all different. We have not all got it in us to be leaders, nor should we have. Most of us will be followers of one sort or another, and to be a good follower takes just as much character and courage as to be a leader. We have not all got the kind of mind that makes a scientist, the sensitivity which makes an artist, or the coordination and quick reactions \\-hich make a sportsman. But there is no one who has not got qualities, gifts and talents of one sort or another, and we must find out and know what our own talents are. If the second thing we must do if we are to lead full and fruitful lives is to know ourselves, the third thing we must do is be ourselves.
It is astonishing how few people have the courage and self-confidence really to be themselves. Yet, unless they are, they can never have full, fruitful and happy lives; for a full, fruitful and happy life is a life of self-fulfillment, a life in which the qualities, gifts and talents we possess and which are our own, are developed and used by us to the full. So many people spend most of their time and energy trying to be somebody else, trying to keep up with the] Joneses. Never mind about the Joneses, they are somebody else. You can never be like them. Do not try. Be yourself, and you will be a much better person than you will ever be by trying to be like someone else. Know yourself, and, with God's help, fulfill the nature of your own being; be yourself. Our lives are what we make of them. The Black Sheep Every now and then we have a boy at Aiglon who gets into pretty serious trouble. It may be stealing, it may be smoking, it may be breaking into a chalet or damaging property, it may be persistent bad work or a persistent refusal to co-operate with the school. In such cases, I have to decide whether to send the boy home or keep him and give him another chance. Such a decision is not easy to make. What does it depend on? Well, first and foremost, it depends on one's attitude towards people who do these kinds of things. Are they to be regarded as worthless, no-good people who deserve no consideration and should be removed without more ado, or should we consider them as unfortunate people who are the victims of anti-social habits which they have failed to control and who are deserving of our compassion and of our support?
The Writings of John Corlette
If you take the first view, there is no problem. You just shoot them out and say good riddance to bad rubbish. But, if you take the second view, as I do, and want to try and help them over their problem, and put them back on their feet, then you immediately have a whole lot of other questions you have to answer. First of all, is it possible? You don't know, of course, but you want to try. Secondly, if you keep the boy, what effect will this have on the rest of the school? Will the other boys understand? Will some of them be tempted to follow the bad example of the boy you are trying to help? If you keep such a boy, what will the parents of the other boys think, what will the general public think? Will the reputation of the school suffer? How far are you justified in running any of these risks? If you decide to take these risks, how are you going to set about helping the boy master his problem or escape from his slavery to a bad habit? Should you punish him? If so, how? Should he have psychiatric treatment? Should a master or another boy take him in hand and give him moral support? The answers to these questions will be different with each individual boy and will vary according to the prevailing circumstances. And, having embarked on such a rescue operation, at what point do you admit that you have failed, or alternatively at what point do you recognise that the damage being done to other boys or to the school no longer justifies you in continuing? If you decide this, the boy has to go anyway. But, if the boy who has been in trouble begins to keep out of it; if the boy who was doing badly begins to do well; then all the trouble you have taken and the risks you have run will seem worthwhile. This sort of thing is going on all the time to a greater or lesser degree and I suppose at one time or another we
have all of us been in this sort of position. And when we have been in trouble, how bitter and discouraging it was to be rejected out of hand by some people, and how grateful we were for the sympathy, encouragement and support of those who tried to help us. So, when you see anyone in trouble, think of this and think, "Is there anything which I can do to help him to straighten himself out?" Very often the most valuable thing which you can offer will be your friendship. Meanwhile, you will not always know what other people are doing to help and it will not always be possible to tell you. So, try and understand. We cannot always succeed in being of service to other people, for in the end each man has to work out his own salvation, but we can and must always try. The Price of Folly Not so long ago, I visited Davidson College in North Carolina, a very pleasant small college with a good reputation. When I had had my lunch, it was such a lovely afternoon that I decided not to take the big, threelane Interstate highway back to South Carolina where I was staying, but to make my way to Spartanburg along the ordinary country roads which pass through the villages and farms, and from which one can get the feel of the countryside in a way which is impossible from the big highways. The country was so beautiful with its brick-red earth and the trees silhouetted against the blue sky, and the sun was so warm, that I decided to stop and enjoy the peace of it for a while. I accordingly stopped the car well off the road, because you are not allowed to park your car on the highway anywhere in America, and walked quite a long way across a field until I came to some
The Writings of John Corlette
trees and bushes beside a stream. There I sat down on a grassy bank in the sun and listened to the silence, which was broken only by the barking of some dogs on a distant farm. After a while, I heard some rustling in the bushes nearby and quietly turned to look. It was the birds who had gone to cover when they heard me coming, beginning to move out again. First came the little chickadees, with their white fantails and their chirrupy chatter, chasing one another from branch to branch. Next came the big blue jays with their spectacular brilliant blue plumage and, finally, to my delight, a cardinal, quite a big bird, which had the most gorgeous deep red plumage all over. And then, suddenly, I remembered what was happening to the birds - that they are being poisoned all over the civilised world by us, by man. They are being poisoned by the poison sprays which we use on the crops to destroy the pests. But, in poisoning the crops, we poison the birds who feed on the crops, but who also feed on the pests which attack the crops, and so help to keep the pests down. And as the birds die, the pests that they would help to control, multiply and get worse. The balance of nature, which is very delicate, has been upset. Not only that, but the cattle absorb the same poisons which have been sprayed on the crops whether as pest controls or weed killer, in their feed. And we eat their meat and feed on the crops and absorb the same poisons into our bodies. It does not kill us quickly as it does the birds because we are bigger and more resistant, but it undermines our health and is the cause of a great deal of disease and suffering. Moreover, these poisons are accumulative in their effect. It is estimated that we have all now accumulated in our bodies an appreciable quantity of DDT, one of the most deadly and dangerous of these poisons. This accumulation is going to increase steadily, with
incalculable consequences for the future of the human race, unless something is done to stop it. The same is true of the hundreds of different chemicals which are put into our food and into the soil which grows it and whose cumulative effects upon the human organism no one yet knows. What are we doing? What are we playing with? We are playing with life and death. We are interfering with the very roots of our livelihood without knowing what we are doing, without knowing what the consequences will be. God knew what he was doing when he created the world and everything that is in it. Everything created by God has a purpose and our business is to find out what that purpose is and to co-operate with it. If we run counter to God's purpose, if we go against his intentions (as we are doing not only in the realm of nature as I have described, but in the realm of the mind and the spirit as well): if we go against God's purpose, we shall lay up for ourselves nothing but pain and suffering in body and mind and spirit. We may not pay at once, but do not be deceived: sooner or later we shall pay. Fear This morning I want your minds to dwell upon the subject of Fear - the emotion or feeling of being afraid of someone, of something, of some idea, of being afraid of loss, of criticism, or of something which you believe to be a threat or menace to you or to something which you value. Fear is the most destructive of all the emotions, and most of the other emotions which destroy the soul, such as jealousy, hatred and avarice, spring from fear. Fear destroys happiness. Fear destroys peace of mind.
The Writings of John Corlette
Fear eats into the heart and mind and spirit, and gradually warps and twists and finally destroys it. Fear is the enemy of life. How can we overcome fear? We can find the answer, as we can find the answer to all our problems if we will, in the teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "Perfect love casteth out fear." What did he mean? Fear is rejection. When we are afraid of something we reject it, we try to run away from it, whether it is a person, a thing, a duty to be performed, or an idea. Fear is an absence of faith. We have no faith in the thing of which we are afraid. You can easily see this if you consider, as an example, the fear of failure. For fear of failure is really a rejection of the idea of success, it is an absence of faith in success, an absence of faith in yourself and in your ability and will to succeed. If you have faith or confidence in success you cannot fear failure. Faith and fear are opposites. Faith brings life; fear, death, and faith and love are the same thing, for you cannot love a person or thing or idea unless you have faith in it. And if you have faith in it and love it you will not fear it. "Perfect love casteth out fear." Why is this? How is this? Whilst your fear rejects things, pushes them away from you, love does the opposite. Love embraces, draws things to you. What then must you do, when you are afraid, to overcome your fear? Instead of rejecting, running away from the thing which you fear, you must, by means of an act of faith, go out to meet it, to embrace it, to draw it to you in confidence and affection, in other words you must love it. And if you do this you can see that fear will already have disappeared. Fear cannot live where love is, because you cannot reject and run away from something whilst you are embracing and drawing it to you. "Perfect love
casteth out fear." And do not imagine that you can only feel the emotion of love towards people. You can, and must, love everything that is. Not only must you love everybody, but you must love every thing you see, and touch, and know. If you do this, not only will fear disappear from your life, but both you, and the people and things you love will be transformed. For love is life, where fear is death. And "perfect love casteth out fear."
4: Other Writings
Selections from the Rule Book We present parts of the Rule Book that might be linked to general principles in JC's system of education. Rules and Ranks “God is My Strength” The following are certain specific rules which govern the community and you are expected to obey them. If you observe these, it does not mean you can do anything else you like. You are expected to behave with common sense and decency and to observe the customs of the community, even if they are not written down. Guide to Conduct
1. Consider the comfort and convenience of other
people. This is the hallmark of courtesy and good manners.
2. Don't make unnecessary or exaggerated noise. 3. Don't draw attention to yourselves. Never be
loud or vulgar. 4. Show restraint in your dress.
The Writings of John Corlette
5. See that your clothes are neat and clean and appropriate to the occasion. 6. Don't loiter or lounge about or look sloppy. 7. Always make way for others and defer to older than yourself. 8. Notice if anyone else is in difficulties and if you think you can be of service, offer quietly to help. 9. Show respect to everyone you meet, regardless of their social position, nationality, color or religion.
5: More about JC
Memories of John Corlette By Norman Perryman (Head of Art, 1966-73) In 1972 I proposed that he sit for a portrait and he agreed. It was a fascinating challenge to paint this amazingly complex personality. I think he felt flattered and he may have enjoyed the process more than I did, as I wrestled with form and expression. He believed I was an “old soul”, so we had some great conversations on a similar wavelength. JC had a handsome tan when he was in good health, but I saw his personality as olive-green. I observed two distinct halves in his face: on his right side the calm gaze of a philosopher, mystic, visionary. On his left side a variety of conflicting expressions, the clever schemer/architect, a bit of a dandy, the sensual upper lip that would lift on one side as he formulated an esoteric concept, the sense of humour with the wrinkles around those pale greenishgrey eyes, large ears and an extraordinarily thin neck and narrow shoulders. Try laying your hand over one half of the face, then the other. These are two different men (aren’t we all?). More can be found online
6: What’s Next?
Invitation to join the JC Society
Now it’s your turn. Read the speech again and take time to do the exercise (devised by David Rhodes). How relevant is JC’s philosophy of education today? What might be done to bring some of the elements “up to date” with recent research? For students and teachers who worked at JC’s school in the 1960s and 1970s: What worked? What didn’t work? JCS aims to record the memories of people who knew John Corlette. The purpose is to capture the spirit of his vision (because JC did not write widely about his methods) and share the materials with everyone on the planet. Please send your comments to JohnCorlette@gmail.com. An expanded version of this document was prepared for distribution on scribd.com: Full-page (8.5 x 11); small-book format (trimming to roughly 6x9); booklet (5.5 x 8.5, saved in a folio so that when it is photocopied, it can be stapled through the center of the booklet). If you find typographical errors, please report them to firstname.lastname@example.org. With special thanks to Joyce Lowe, Christopher Reynolds and the many others who helped JC create a special community of learning. Future projects: If you knew JC, please write about what you remember asking JC and a summary of what he said to you. We want to compile a book of “Conversations With JC.” If you don't have time to write the memory, feel free to call us so we can make a quick transcription of your thoughts. +1 954 646 8246 The JC Society Please support the Aiglon network of alumni by looking for their products and services on MyAiglon.com and other sites, such as the Ning network email@example.com Printing and distribution of this document were sponsored by MyAiglon.com, GuideOnTheSide.com, VisualAndActive.com and CampoBelloDoro.com.