In the 1960’s, the author received a phone call from Dr.S.Meiring Naude, then president of four pre-eminent South African scientific institutions, most notably the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Dr. Naude was seeking information about her brother Trevor Lloyd Wadley’s early development. He wanted to know what Wadley was like as a child and adolescent. The reason for his curiosity, he explained, was that he frequently had occasion to assist in deciding which science students should receive the substantial bursaries offered by various universities. However, he was concerned that the criteria for selecting students for bursaries was at fault because many recipients with brilliant academic results-for example, six A’s for matric- had turned out to be disappointing students and some had left science, after benfitting from a science bursary, to pursue a career in some totally unrelated discipline such as art or music. Dr. Naude hoped to uncover the character traits and experiences in Wadley’s youth that presaged the future flowering of his dedication and brilliance.

The author believes that one should inquire what an individual did with his/her spare,unfettered time at ages 12 or 13 years in order to ascertain what the driving force of that individual’s life might be, and this before academic achievement becomes an issue. Wadley’s early teenage years so clearly illustrated what his lifelong passion would be. He took infinite pains in pulling to pieces, examining, constructing and poring over any type of machinery and particularly electrical equipment. He also refused to engage himself in anything that did not interest him, but pursued relentlessly anything that did. This characteristic he carried through into adult life and he nearly failed the Matriculation Examination en route ! It was suggested to Dr.Naude that these considerations be taken into account when bursaries are awarded.

Academic brilliance in many spheres can also be misleading, and there is always the danger that a career unsuited to the temperament can easily be recommended and then chosen purely on an individual’s sheer ability. In such a case success would then come at the expense of happiness. Fortunately Wadley never had to face such a dilemma. He never had to compete for a bursary, and he pursued his ordained profession in a state of constant euphoria, so grateful to have been given the stage on which to play his significant part in the scheme of things.


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