Small-group teaching nurtures self-confidence by teaching men and women how to think for themselves, rather than how to become convincing compendia of others' ideas and prejudices. In one-to-one supervision, a student can test out ideas without inviting the derision of Henry-the-swot. Lasting self-confidence comes from intellectual competence, an agile and well- stocked mind and a relish for knowledge, which is fuelled by genuine curiosity about the world rather than by an introverted, solipsistic quest for "achievement". An "easy on the ladies" approach (call it positive discrimination or what you will) will not nurture that self-confidence. How could it, when its beneficiaries would suspect they had been indulged as their male equals were not?
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