The ban by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum on the report it had commissioned from a review group chaired by its own chairman provoked widespread anger after it was revealed in The TES Scotland last week. Scrutiny of its aspirations, which many teachers would regard as desirable, or at least unexceptional, raises questions about why the council got cold feet.
Mike Baughan, its chief executive, rejected suggestions that political interference and Government concern about boosting nationalism were responsible.
Mr Baughan said that the review group's remit had been too narrow and with the imminence of the Edinburgh parliament the council "needed to develop a wider social vision for the future of education in Scotland, encompassing such notions as active citizenship, sustainable development, education for work and the inclusiveness of Scottish society".
The report, however, states that "the lessons of environmental education are best revealed through attention to the Scottish environment, the decoding of its messages and the discovery of its necessities". Analysis of Scottish society through modern studies would encourage pupils to "play an active role in society".
The 22-member review group was set up to consider 400 responses to a survey about the meaning and place of Scottish culture in schools. Eighty-three per cent of respondents agreed that all pupils should experience a curriculum with some emphasis on Scottish culture.
This is given expression by the review group in a "statement of entitlement" (see panel) by which young people would learn about their country and the histories, languages and writings of its peoples as well as gaining insight into faiths, beliefs and the arts. The entitlement is based on a similar one developed in Wales.
The report endorses regional diversity and the place of the Gaelic and Scots languages. "A curriculum taught through Scots and English will add to cognitive and affective learning," it states.
While emphasising Scottish content in history, geography and English classes, the report focuses on subjects such as technological education and mathematics and sciences where Scottish contexts could be used and the achievements of Scots illustrated.
The new health of the arts should be celebrated. They "were often, and occasionally still are, purveyors of representations of Scotland based on bland or unduly sentimentalised accounts of Scottish people and their lives. Newer, more challenging representations have been emerging for at least a century across the whole continuum of the arts in Scotland. This has been accompanied by a major regeneration which parallels, but is without obvious connection to, the revival in the sense of our own Scottishness."
The review group says that staff development has been "patchy and spasmodic". Another obstacle is "cultural apathy". This, it is said, may be the most serious deficit of all, arising from years of neglect and the slow erosion of a sense of cultural identity. "A Scottish curriculum needs popular support as much as it needs the support of the profession."
Leader, page 16
WHAT THE REVIEW RECOMMENDED
Young people should be entitled to a curriculum that recognises the value of Scottish culture and helps to promote:
* A knowledge of Scotland and the histories of its peoples.
* Feelings of belonging and of shared experience.
* Scotland's languages, their texts and an understanding of the parts they play in the creation of personal, social and cultural identity.
* Innovation, creativity, enterprise, initiative and a Scottish community alert to their claims.
* The Scottish arts and their expression.
* Senses of emotion, the spiritual and the aesthetic.
* An appreciation of the Scottish natural and built environments and of the need for sustainability.
* The faiths and beliefs found in Scotland, their practices and the conditions which have shaped them.
* An understanding of the concept of Scottish culture and debates surrounding it.
* A knowledge of Scotland as a nation with distinctive cultural characteristics, established within UK, European and world perspectives.