Seldon & Character Building

Anthony Seldon has a curiously off-target piece in the Guardian.

Character in public schools is formed far less from breeding and connections than by a whole variety of methods which should become available to all. It is built in ways that some on the left find distasteful, and they’d better get over it. Competitive sport is vital: it teaches resilience, teamwork and trust. Leadership training and mentoring should become widespread in schools. Young people should be given tough challenges, mental as well as physical – it will mean some will fail, just like sport means some will lose. That’s life, but it’s how people learn.

Cadet training, so much reviled by those who know nothing about it, will teach even the most disadvantaged young person every bit as much about mental strength as the Eton wall game. Hikes and gruelling expeditions should not be the domain just of the posh. Boarding, free of charge, should become much more prevalent throughout the state sector and is being considered seriously by government…. The experience of living side by side with fellow students, and in conditions of relative deprivation, is profoundly character-building.

I’m not sure I know where to begin. Tough challenges, yes. But hope too. And an appreciation of why. It is very, very easy for those last two to disappear in a boarding school, however media-friendly the head.