This will be a peculiar year. Despite the all-pervasive gloom of the global recession - or perhaps because of it - there are signs that it could be just the time for blue-skies thinking. That is not how it looks on the surface. As will undoubtedly be confirmed over the next few weeks, local authorities will face unprecedented pressures on their budgets. The impact on schools will be considerable, as headteacher Rory Mackenzie writes in his letter this week - a Pounds 100,000 reduction in spending for an average-sized secondary school in his city. Low inflation, zero interest rates and plunging oil prices will not necessarily come to the aid of councils locked into expensive contracts.
Good cheer will certainly be hard to find, which is why we can expect the Homecoming celebrations to be loudly trumpeted by ministers desperate for a feel-good factor and keen to give Scotland a good sense of itself. It will kick off this weekend with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, which has kept some schools busy (p16).
But desperate times will call for desperate measures, as President Obama has no doubt been contemplating all week. So perhaps it is better to look at things differently and consider whether unprecedented times might stimulate innovative measures. Some green shoots, to coin a phrase, are already visible. Discussions are under way among councils in the west of Scotland, for example, to share services, with the intriguing possibility of East Renfrewshire and Glasgow collaborating on education (p2). And North Lanarkshire Council is looking at "creative ways" to fund its vocational education programme (p8).
The premium is certainly going to be on those who can think out of the box. A Curriculum for Creativity, anyone?