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Friday, 6 February 2009

Pattern for Leaders

Bloody but unbowed Clay Cross made another stab at winning friends and blowing it. But was I getting too close to his mindset? I had to read the Guardian afterwards then realised I preferred Clay Cross.

Pattern for Leaders

I feel obliged to make some form of response to an article by June Moore on May 31st. In it she displays an attractive compassion for the neuroses of the modern student, a compassion that is illogical, misplaced and - dare I say it in this brave new world of burnt bras - predictably feminine.

She can however be commended upon highlighting a most important issue, namely the role of a university in this century of turmoil and stress.

The highest spiritual achievements of man have always involved struggle – a struggle not only with his own inchoate fears but with the forces he strives to overcome.
Struggle involves pain, also sacrifice and distress, and there will always be casualties, those that never quite make the grade. But it is my contention that the stresses – I prefer to call them challenges – do not go nearly far enough in moulding the present generation. What we seem to be offering them is an undemanding liberalism, thoughtless and pallid in its uniformity.

Do not think however that I am finding fault with the student youth of today, most of whom are as seriously minded as my own generation.

The fault is rather with the system that pushes kids into university when they lack both worldly experience and maturity. Further education is designed as a means of achieving these attributes but, in my view, a period of national service – be it in the armed forces or in organised community activities would do the job far better.

In his book ‘Who Needs a Degree?’ Dr. H. S. Sputz reveals, after selective studies of students on the campuses of ten US colleges, that only 15% expect to put the knowledge gained at University to any practical use.

He also makes the point that many students agreed that national service, with its character building properties, is essential as a forerunner of the university course if the student is to achieve ‘full realisation of academic benefit potential’

I would then, very seriously argue that an imaginative integration of academic pursuits with the rigors, hardships and comradeship of military training would create a pattern for the leaders that the needs of this century demand.

Clayton Z Cross, Manley Road. Newport

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