Co-editors - - - - D. J. WILSON, P. K. SEN.
Assistant Editor ------ D. ASHTON.
QUITE RECENTLY a national newspaper published a short letter which was headed "Courtesy ". The correspondent reported: "Today I saw a youth of about sixteen intervene when a West Indian on a bus had not enough money for his fare. The boy paid the difference and refused to give his name so that be could be repaid". Very seldom does one come across such items in the national press ; too often do we see such glaring headlines as "More Teddy-boy Riots" and "This Ill-mannered, Spoon-fed Generation ". In fact, it seems that the whole aim of certain sections of Fleet Street is to blacken the character of the young people of today, and to overlook completely their merits. There is no doubt that modern teen-agers differ in many ways from their counterparts in former decades. But despite these differences, they are certainly not more wicked than their predecessors. Recent surveys have shown that, of the millions of healthy, hard-working teen-agers, only two per cent. are delinquents. The majority accepts discipline without argument, and rarely deviates from the law. But, of course, juvenile delinquency cannot be overlooked. The statistics, however, can often be very misleading. Nowadays even the most trivial offences, which have always been committed by young people but which previously were dealt with most effectively at the scene of the "crime", are brought before the juvenile courts. In 1955, two thirds of the teen-agers convicted in Britain had done nothing more than trespass or commit traffic offences on bicycles. Yet the statistics give the impression that they were juvenile criminals. If we turn to the activities of the majority, what do we see? First, Britain's young people recognise the value of education. Not only are there almost a million teen-agers in Britain regularly attending evening classes, but also more and more boys and girls are staying longer at school. An example of this is provided in this very School where there is now a large sixth-form of eighty-six. Over two million young people take an active interest in such organisations as the Boy Scouts' and the various youth clubs. Initiative and interest in civic affairs and politics is shown by the 125,000 members of the youth movements of the three major political parties. A substantial proportion of the present members of Parliament graduated into politics through their respective youth groups. The churches also depend to a large extent on the enthusiasm of teen-agers who serve at the altar, sing in the choirs, and help in the various outside activities. A B.B.C. survey has found that an increasing number of young people are attending meetings for discussions and debates on religious topics. This surely indicates a healthy future for the Church. One of the most serious charges so often levelled against modern young people is that they are lethargic and apathetic towards their work Again these allegations ignore the facts and cite only the exceptional few as examples. Provided that authority continues to recognise enthusiasm and does not clamp down and extinguish every spark of initiative, the present younger generation will remain lively and hard-working and eventually be more than capable of taking over the reins from their fathers. Young people have ambition: they want responsibility, and once they are given it they respond to their task enthusiastically. Examples of this enthusiasm to he of service are abundant. Not long ago some boys from this School helped to carry out a traffic census along with thousands of other teen-agers all over the country; and they did the job very efficiently. Then there are thousands of boys and girls with paper-rounds and part-time jobs on Saturdays. Clearly the average teen-ager does not want to he entirely dependent upon his parents; he wants to earn a little for himself. All these facts indicate that young people do not want an easy, irresponsible existence. They have abundant initiative, self-reliance and responsibility. Provided these qualities are nurtured carefully, there should be no fears for the future. Continual criticism does not help matters; appreciation, advice and guidance are the greatest needs.
Assistant Editor: D. ASHTON.
The mid-twentieth century has brought many great technical triumphs such as controlled nuclear fission, thermo-nuclear fission, radar, colour television, jet propulsion, supersonic flight and the possibility of space travel, but none of these disturbs men's imaginations as much as the word 'automation'. Many people have come to hate the word because it signifies to them a threat to their social and economic relationships, a threat, in fact, to their livelihood. Actually, if the word has any meaning at all, it means no more than the advanced mechanisation of our period. Mechanisation increases productivity, and productivity is continually advancing. For example, between 1948 and 1954 we learned how to make about one and a half times as many motor vehicles as were made previously, and in order to do this it was found necessary to increase the labour force by only ten per cent. This was called 'rising productivity' and the country was proud of itself. Now it is called 'automation' and the country is anxious. There is no need for anxiety. The most that need be expected from automation is a smooth advance in productivity. It has been calculated, in fact, that in any one year the introduction of automation will affect less than one per cent. of the labour force of this country. More than five times that number, however, would reach retiring age and be replaced by young persons. In general terms, it appears that the normal process of retirement and recruitment will compensate for any displacement of work men by automation. But the main question is whether automation will come soon enough to deal with the most pressing problem. Education will inevitably become more prolonged and young persons will be older before they enter industry. Men will live longer but their working careers will become shorter. There will therefore be a large non-working population; relatively fewer workers will each do less work per lifetime. It can only be hoped that the introduction of automation will come sufficiently rapidly to solve the problem by stabilizing the economy. Last year the Department of Industrial and Scientific Research published a report on automation, and the general conclusion was that there need be no limitations on the introduction of new, automative techniques. However, there is one serious defect, which is likely to hinder future advance in productivity, and that is the all-too-common shortage of technically trained persons. But the outlook is promising; more young people are seeking to prolong their education and qualify as technologists. The educational facilities are there, and the youth of today are responding. In fact, the young scientist's future is perfectly secure. I am still wondering what the future will have to offer us poor, unwanted members of the Arts Sixth.