I've been meaning to write
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THIS past six months I have been doing a great deal of travelling in Great Britain, attending conferences, courses, visiting educational establishments and accepting invitations to look at various training plans at a number of centres. It is always vitally important to get around the country as much as possible, since it is so easy to remain "stuck" in the London region where so many developments are taking place. The result is that problems at centres outside the south-east region tend to be disregarded. A proper perspective of transport training and education can be gained and a much keener appreciation obtained of some of the real difficulties encountered in a wide range of areas.
I have been particularly surprised during my travels by the large number of people who have said to me: "I've been meaning to write to you but I have been overwhelmed with matters of immediate concern, and somehow I've never got around to it". It was pleasing to know, for example, while attending two large conferences recently that a great many readers had given cogent thought about a suitable syllabus for the proposed transport Diploma within the Open University's courses. But the trouble was that none of these people had put pen to paper to give me the benefits of their ideas. When, a month ago, I last wrote on the subject of the Open University Diploma course, I did mention that the quality of the replies to my request for advice on a suitable syllabus had been excellent but the quantity rather disappointing. These belated suggestions are now coming forward so that I can gain a much clearer perspective of the views of operators and transport educationists about the content of this Diploma course.
This question of asking readers to comment about an Open University syllabus raises the important issue of receiving suggestions, ideas and criticisms from readers. All regular columnists and Editors of journals bemoan, from time to time, the lack of volume in letters from their readers.
On the whole, however, I have been fortunate with the number of letters coming in and these have assisted tremendously in shaping this column by giving me some guidance on what to pick each week over such a wide range of topics in road transport training and education, But what really concerns me are the letters which have not been written but very nearly saw the light of day. I know so well how easy it is to let correspondence which is not absolutely vital slip into the background until the purpose of the original letters has lost its importance. The only answer is to write there and then regardless of whether the comment is in deep anger or hearty agreement. Indeed, I always like a sharp disagreement of view—in this great formative period in road transport education there is obviously room for a wide divergence of opinion.
What has rather perplexed me are those who have been virtually "afraid" to voice adverse criticisms, imagining perhaps that I would be gravely offended and would utterly ignore such contributions. Nothing could be further from the tcuth—occasionally readers have really rounded on me and it is these letters of disagreement which are more often published than those which will echo my sentiments. Obviously, space only permits a minute proportion of letters to be published but I always write to correspondents whatever their particular problems or viewpoints taken.
I want to know from readers which areas of road transport education they feel are being neglected and could with profit be given more coverage. On the other hand, it is very helpful. to be aware of opinions that certain aspects are being "overplayed" and should be given much less prominence. But above all else, keep writing—and the moment to write is when the thought of sending a letter first strikes.