Education: Word Of Mouth

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The Independent Culture
Dreams of youth

WHEN BRIAN Swallow, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside, questioned 244 pupils at a large north of England comprehensive school about their likes and dislikes in life, almost one third picked on relationships.

A 12-year-old wanted to "get married when I'm 22, have kids when I'm 23 and live in a little house in New York". Boys dreamed of being successful at sport and playing for their favourite football team; girls valued their friends and family. One 14-year-old's humble wish was "to get a hamster". Another said she wanted to "meet Des Lynam for a cup of tea in Leeds".

On the flip side, 35 per cent of the sample feared death more than anything; 26 per cent feared school. Family disturbances, such as divorce was among other fears mentioned.

Although 30 per cent said winning the lottery would be the best thing to happen (which I suppose is what most adults wish for), most of them concentrated on family values and relationships. There is hope for us all, yet.

Women at the top

IT OCCURRED to me the other day when I was listening to Diana Warwick, chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors that we now have a whole regiment of women at the top.

Take the education unions, for instance. President of the Association of University Teachers is Penny Holloway from the University of Ulster; then there's Moira Carr, also from Belfast, who is the president of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education; and Alison Shepherd, president of Unison, an administrator at Middlesex University.

Then there are the school teachers: president of NASUWT is Margaret Morgan from Ilfracombe Community College, Devon; the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' president for a few more weeks is Hazel Saxton, a geography teacher from Leeds; and the National Union of Teachers also has a woman at the helm: Maureen Skevington, a South Shields deputy head. The Secondary Heads Association's (SHA) incoming president is Judith Mullen, a Cambridgeshire head; and the Professional Association of Teachers not only has a woman in the chair - Ros Griffiths, a Portsmouth primary teacher - but will be the first schoolteachers union to have a woman general secretary: Kay Driver, the deputy general secretary of SHA. A veritable regiment, indeed.

Never too late

WHEN EVE Kind was 14, she left school to become the family's breadwinner. Later she married and lived happily with her husband until he died shortly after their 55th wedding anniversary. "I was shattered when I was left on my own. I had to do something," she says. So she decided to return to learning. "It gave me a new interest in life."

Now she has been presented with a special award at the regional adult learners' awards ceremony at Sheffield. Kind is studying at the Division of Adult Continuing Education and, at 85 years old, is the oldest student at Sheffield University.

Alan Whitworth, who obtained an MSc in research education from Bradford University in 1970, also has proved that age is no barrier to an active life. After retiring as senior lecturer in chemistry from Chesterfield College of Technology, he picked up his pen and started writing books - on sequence dancing. Today, and six books later, he is among the most prolific authors and publishers in this field. His latest, Learning the Essential Sequence Dances, is available from 42 Newbold Back Lane, Chesterfield, Derbys, S40 4HQ, for pounds 8.50.

Good and ready

WHEN RICHARD Slade left Allerton High School in Leeds at 16, he had nothing but three O-levels. So he joined a couple of friends and kept sheep. Today, aged 31, he and his partners have 45 Texels on 30 acres of land. Oh, he also has a first class honours degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Leeds. And at last week's Great Yorkshire Show he not only displayed some of his sheep, but was presented with this year's Yorkshire Agricultural Medal for for being the most meritorious graduate. Richard decided to return to education when he was good and ready and took a foundation year at Airedale and Wharfedale College before going to university. He will continue farming but has signed up for a PhD, researching pig nutrition and the problems involved in weaning piglets.

Saving on shaving

BEARDS ARE becoming popular among vice-chancellors. Professor Derek Fraser at Teesside has a neat full facial, and Colin Bell, who has been senior vice-principal of Edinburgh and has just become vice-chancellor of Bradford, has a neat one. Sir John Hanson, Warden of Green College, Oxford, has grey whiskers covering his chin. Brian Roper at the University of North London sports a black beard that gives him a slight Svengali air - but none can compete with Arthur Lucas, principal of King's College, London University. If advertising folk ever need a new Cap'n Birds Eye, Professor Lucas is your man!