Grasping the roots of history

2nd October 1998 at 01:00
IT IS little short of tragic that so many pupils know so little about their past, an Edinburgh modern studies teacher told delegates. Graham Sutherland demanded a place for Scotland at the core of history teaching.

A study by Northern College of 4,000 fourth-year pupils found that 37 per cent believed Scotland had been conquered in 1707, 24 per cent that it had always been Protestant and 27 per cent that Red Clydeside was named after the colour of the buildings. There was nothing in curriculum guidelines to place Scottish history at its core.

Rachel Martin, a Musselburgh assistant primary headteacher, said: "Some primary schools do not teach any Scottish history at all, not even the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider. Nothing."

Many teachers themselves knew little or nothing of Scottish history. They needed training and support to rectify the deficit.

Paul Scott, former party vice-president and president of the Saltire Society, criticised the "distorting attitude" brought about by teaching Scottish history as part of British history. It was viewed as an adjunct to English history.

"It gives our children the impression that everything important in the world happens somewhere else and nothing important happens in Scotland at all. It is undermining of their self-confidence. And it is also false. No country of its size has contributed so much to the civilisation of the world," Mr Scott said.

He called on the Government to speed up publication of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum's report on the Scottishness of the curriculum.

Anne Lorne Gillies, a Strathclyde University lecturer and European parliament candidate, said lack of knowledge about their past sapped Scots' self-confidence.

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