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Monster myths are old hat

Pre-school children should be exposed to Scotland's contemporary culture rather than stereotypical images such as Robert Burns and the Loch Ness monster, Liz Cullen, a senior university teacher at Glasgow University, told the early years conference.

Advocating the development of children's citizenship from early years, Ms Cullen said: "Children are part of the global village, but for their cultural identity it is important that young children experience first hand aspects of Scottish culture whether through art or other ways.

"Why are there so many sunflowers by Van Gogh on show but not the Scottish Colourists?"

Ms Cullen, Glasgow University's co-ordinator in early childhood education, said that young children should be taught about different communities - for instance, by looking at pictures of a bridge in the Highlands over a stream, another spanning a river in a city, or one linking the mainland to an island. "We want to encourage children to look at real life in Scotland - a multicultural Scotland. That fits in with the idea of an informed country - of pride and citizenship."

While the Children's Scotland Act 1995 was aimed at giving vulnerable children the right to express their opinion on matters affecting them such as adoption or family break-up and did not specifically cover education, Ms Cullen argued that the principles should have weight, even in the pre-school context.

This did not mean a licence for children to do what they wanted, particularly on health and safety issues. But they should be able to express their opinion and take part in decisions.

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