English patience

14th July 2000 at 01:00
I TRULY sympathise with those in the Scottish Qualifications Authority like Bridget Loney (Opinion, July 7) who, having been landed with the administration of Higher Still, find themselves forced to swallow their own best instincts, advocate the inadmissible and remediate the irredeemable. If internal assessment is, once more, not to be addressed, then the SQA's latest attempt merely to tinker with Higher Still English is not a "consultation" and it will come to grief. Modular approaches are, by definition, anti-educational - readers are referred to Hugh Noble's paper on this topic, on http:www.tartanhen.co.ukessaysmodule.htm.

As for Hugh MacDiarmid, if I may borrow one of the great man's metaphorical pronouncements, if Higher Still has been a volcano emitting a great deal of rubbish, it has failed to produce the slightest tit's egg of educational worth.

And why? Because Higher Still's purpose is to remove the last vestiges of genuine educational value from Scotland's school because such values do not fit with the needs of the "global knowledge economy" (which has, of course, nothing to do with genuine knowledge and has only the ost superficial claim on the word "global"). Except, of course, for the privileged classes whose children attend private and "leafy suburb" state schools which will, alone, be able to offer the Advanced Highers whose other purpose is to remove the Scottish four-year degree.

We are regrettably far, far away from the aspirations of Shelley's "Skylark" in the current educational context where inappropriate business methods hold sway. It is, rather, Auden's desperate words which come to mind: "intellectual disgrace stares from every human face". Especially from the faces of Sam Galbraith, the Scottish Executive, HMI, the Higher Still Development Unit, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Educational Institute of Scotland "leadership" and, I am sorry to say, the SNP "opposition".

We teachers of English will continue, patiently, to indicate what is going wrong and others will join us and eventually the tide will turn. I only hope it will not be too late for Scottish education.

Tony McManus

Chairperson, Scottish Association of

Teachers of Language and Literature,

co Buckstone Crescent, Edinburgh

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