Are our Ministers and Generals really scholars?

I continue to be amused by the word “Scholar” being used freely in social media, including TRE, whenever reference is made to our ministers and generals, especially those who were educated at taxpayers’ expense through scholarships.

None of them deserve the accolade as none of them were or are scholars.

A scholarship is a grant, usually in the form of money, by a benefactor, organization or taxpayer, to help a student pay for his education in a college or university, with or without conditions. Scholarship recipients are students, they study for their degrees, like other students funded by their parents. They are not scholars. You go to university to study, regardless of who pays the cost, the word “student” is a cognate of “study”.

The only exceptions I have come across are “Rhodes scholar” and “Fulbright scholar”.

These are prestigious scholarships given to post-graduate students for advanced research and study. Many former Fulbright scholars have won Nobel Prizes. (As far as I know none of our ministers or generals have ever won a Rhodes or Fulbright scholarship).

A scholar is a well-educated intellectual and thinker who spends his entire life studying, thinking about and researching a particular field of interest, (mostly humanities). He writes books which are still read long after they were published, he teaches followers, he influences those who come after him in the same field, and his ideas endure and help to advance knowledge and the human condition.

Examples of some famous scholars through the ages are Herodotus, Marcus Aurelius, Thomas Aquinas, Samuel Johnson, Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith, and in more recent tines, John Maynard Keynes, F.A. Hayek and Karen Armstrong. I could go on.

Which of our ministers and generals fits the above description of a scholar?

So stop calling them scholars. They are about as scholarly as every person you meet on the street who went to university.

Thomas Pain

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