MY HOSTEL LEGACY

CHANNELING AND GROUNDING ADOLESCENT ENERGY

Is ‘limitation’ and ‘focus’ necessary for the growing up process?  I see this issue as the interaction between human energy and the multiplicity of points of interest available to the human being. Babies are bundles of energy facing endless choices of interest, and showing extremely short attention spans as they try to become aware of the numerous things streaming across their eyes.  Toddlers add another kind of energy – the enquiring type (who, what, why, whose). This is all unchanneled energy, searching for ready answers and trying to experience all the possible interest opportunities. I call this ‘unruly’ energy. Some call this ‘unruly’ state ADHD, and treat it as if it were some kind of mental issue. To me it is just unchanneled, ‘unruly’ energy.

At some point in our adolescent years, for the most of us, our ‘unruly’ energy gets channeled into a limited number of interests, and we develop our personalities around accomplishment in those interests. This channeling is critically important. It appears that ‘living’ and personality development depends on accomplishment, because accomplishment defines the person. Channeling and focus leads to accomplishment; indeed little would be accomplished if our choices were not limited. The top class athlete narrows his events to one or two so that he may focus on them for maximum accomplishment. Well, what about you? Has there been anything in your life that you have accomplished, and done it without limitation and focus?

In ‘Wheels of Life’, Anodea Judith writes: “Limitation is a necessity for manifestation. It is a constant exercise of choice, a constant creative process, and a constant use of will. Grounding is a harmonious acceptance of natural limitation. ….crucial to the development of consciousness.” And the author quotes the “I Ching” (Hexagram 60: Wilhelm Baynes version): “Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man; if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man’s life needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted.”

Chapter 2 of the GBSS Hostel book begins: “The first lesson of the Hostel was that its occupants operated within boundaries. These set “frames within which the boys were free to conduct themselves.” The GBSS Hostel channeled our adolescent energy into study, sports, and community living. And this kept us in the “here and now”. And accomplishments, perhaps more importantly, the process of choice, focus, etc. involved, not only unfurled our personalities, but also prepared us for life after the Hostel.

I posit channeling of adolescent energy as a principle applicable to every child. I recognize, of course, that a few will chase multiple interests, In this case, I agree with the recommendation of matching the ‘right [structured] “environment” to “flexibility of interest” – fit the institution to the children rather than vice-versa.

So do you think that is limitation and focus are important in life? The Hostel set boundaries for Hostel Boys – is home a good or as good and environment for boundary setting? Are some youngsters simply averse to boundaries, or is it that they will accept boundaries of their choice?

Someone joked: “try to multitask when cooking”!!

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17 Responses to MY HOSTEL LEGACY

  1. admin says:

    Thanks for your comments..couldn’t get all of it

  2. admin says:

    Did not get all of the comment, but Thanks.

  3. I greatly appreciate every one of the informative read on http://www.myboardingschoolblog.net. I most certainly will spread the phrase about your site with people. Cheers.

  4. Johnny says:

    Thanks for the post, Bobby. I agree that some form of limitation/focus is necessary for success…

  5. Collis "Tony" DeCoteau says:

    There are those kids who are so focused that few things could ever distract them whether they are or aren’t in a structured environment. And then there are others who without that structure, end up blaming its absence for their failure. The Hostel provided us with that structure whether we needed it or not. Many of us who used to gripe about getting up at 6:00 am for PT, or studying every week-night whether we were up to it or not, are now thankful for the discipline it helped to inculcate in our lives, the result of which we are now appreciating as adults. I don’t need anybody, not even an alarm clock, to wake me up today at that hour. I do it naturally to go to take my daily three mile walk in my neighborhood park.

    But perhaps the most important thing about the Hostel as far as I’m concerned was the sense of belonging that you felt, even later on in life. On my first day in Canada back in 1967, I was virtually stuck in Toronto airport as the bus that was supposed to pick me up and take me to McMaster University in Hamilton failed to show up. Fortunately, I had the phone number of a Gouyave friend in Toronto, so I called him and explained my predicament.
    Within a relatively short time, a beat-up Volkswagon bug pulled up on the sidewalk and in there was not only my Gouyave friend, Leroy Baptiste, but also to my surprise were George “Jube” Hamlet and Bernard “Stinky Joe” Bullen who welcomed me to Toronto with open arms. Being an old Hostel Boy never felt so good!!! The guys made me stay with them for almost a week, and accompanied by Bernard who was doing his masters degree at McMaster, I eventually moved on to Hamilton.

    What’s important here is, I couldn’t remember ever interacting with Jube in the Hostel. That’s the way it generally was between seniors and freshmen. As my senior, he seemed so far removed from me that he was one of the last persons I expected to come to my aid when I most needed it. But there he and Stinky Joe were.
    Hey Bobby, here is a perfect translation of that Hostel Thing that you were at length trying to describe in your book. Years later it was still playing out!! Jube and Stinky Joe, my heartfelt thanks again after all these years.

    • bobby says:

      Tony,
      The real problems are the extremes of the spectrum – too focused or too unfocused. The Hostel did provide us with a structure that focused our attention in a few (broad areas). We accepted it , willy-nilly. Remember the statement: “Grounding is a harmonious acceptance of natural limitation…”? Tthe hostel structure made us accept even when we grumbled, and as you say, we are mostly all grateful for the experience.
      (2) your experience with Jube and Stinky Joe is an expression of the “hostel thing”. This bond was born out of eating together, studying together, playing together, literary-“leagueing’ together, and in general, living together.

  6. Jubé says:

    Congrats. You have really started a movement there. I can’t think of any othe institution that has this sort of thing. Glad to know I am included. The Hostel took me from the brink of total failure and made something of me. I AM A SHINING EXAMPLE!

    • bobby says:

      Jubé,
      Our good friend ‘Hip” Wells (RIP) expressed the experience that applies to any Hostel Boy: “So many of us came to the Hostel as brash, crude,’ ignorant’, unhewn base metals, and left as polished gems”.

  7. I attended the GBSS from 1953 to 1959. Those were the best years of my life. I did not live in the hostel, but most of my friends did. Bobby, Popees, Mongoose, Pie, Beans, Bluggo, Mario and many of my colleagues and idols did. I can think of no other influence that was so far reaching in establishing a firm foundation upon which I built everything else that I did or accomplished in life.

    The hostel was a special culture that was the envy of others. To listen to the tales that were told by the students was to feel that we were missing so much. Whether the story line was literary, athletics, social or a series of pranks, there was always keen interest.

    Bobby must be congratulated for capturing an sharing such a significant aspect of the GBSS mystique.

    • Dalton McGuire says:

      I have not yet read Bobby’s book but I look forward to doing so soon.

      Your profile, comments and sentiments closely matches mine so there is not much more I can say. However, one thing bothers me – the idea that one should “fit the institution to the children rather than vice-versa”. In my view, the G.B.S.S. and its pupils have been victims of just that in recent decades. I hope and pray for a reversal!

      • Bobby says:

        Dalton,
        Greetings. The statement had a context – see below:
        A child with ADD, says Hartmann and other experts, does not suffer from disordered attention, so much as s/he suffers from the inability of “traditional” schools to meet the needs of a difference in attention. What’s needed, says Hartmann, is a model for understanding ADD that focuses on its gifts and does not make a child think s/he is diseased or brain damaged. A residential school that understands and specializes in meeting the needs of ADD/ADHD children can correct misconceptions and bring out the best in your own young Edison.
        The articles is linked in the text. Regards.

        • Dalton McGuire says:

          Point taken; but permit me to delve a bit deeper into the statement “fit the institution to the children rather than vice-versa”. Also please forgive the direct reference to the G.B.S.S. rather than the hostel.
          The G.B.S.S. of the fifties focused on attaining the highest educational standard for the maximum number of pupils. In attempting to fit this institution to all pupils, the model has now changed. Its focus now is to provide an education for the highest number of pupils. The question is this: is it now failing the average boy? My view is that it is. It has become a “Jack of all trades and master of none” institution.
          Its a pity. Help!

          • bobby says:

            Dalton,
            It’s ok to talk about the GBSS; no problem. Your statement can carry many interpretations. For example, to me it implies that the number of students at GBSS has increased so much that trying to meet student needs with the available resources is resulting in a lower educational standard? Is this a reasonable understanding? And can you expand some more?

  8. Went to the Grenada Boys Secondary School from a rural village of LaDigue in the largest Parish of St.Andrews in 1956, 3 months after the most devasting hurricane Janet hit an island that did not have the communication facilities and or infrastructure to warn or deal with the disaster.

    One hundred percent of the island was affected economically and psychologically and that event helped to speed up the diversification of Agricultural Production from Nutmegs, Cocoa and Spices to Banana production. One has to know that it took 25 years for a Nutmeg Tree to reach maturity prior to the newer faster growing trees of modern times. International aid which flowed to the island helped speed up Rural Electrification and triggered the begining of modernization of the island.

    It was in this environment that I went to the capital of St.Georges where the GBSS was located at that time which was traumatizing for me at 11 years old and for many of our friends who came from the rural areas to the city and the bright lights and the new life style of the city of St Georges.

    Personal development meant a keen sense of observation and play by the rules and yes to an extent it had to be channeling. There was no counseling and that structure in the Hostel helped us to focus, maintain and grow to what today seems like a miracle given the many successes.

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