What IS a university for?

In a routine school exam, we were once asked to write an essay on the topic: Examine the characters of Brutus and Cassius and say which in your opinion is better.

Cassius, I concluded in my essay. I was a teenager then; I saw the world in black and white terms. And from that worldview, I preferred the clarity of motive of the staunch Republican, Cassius, to the fence-straddling vacillation of Brutus and his “Not that I loved Caesar less…”. (There were other reasons, but they are not relevant here.)

When the answer papers were returned to us, I found that mine had a big red slash right across it. And a 0/10 mark. My father was appalled. First, because I had gotten 0 in an English exam. Then, after he had read the essay, he was just appalled, period.

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