More questions than answers

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
While I have no particular axe to grind with regard to the consultative document Education for Citizenship in Scotland - and indeed must confess to not even having read it - I feel bound to express considerable concern at some aspects of Fred Forrester's latest critique of it (Letters, February 9).

He seems to have a sadly limited view of the range of topics that are appropriate to a school curriculum, and in particular to eschew all reference to "current, political, moral, scientific and ethical issues" on the somewhat specious grounds that "objectivity" is indeed "hard to achieve" in the presentation of such topics.

He fails to appreciate that the pedagogical purpose of introducing such controversial areas of study into the classroom, as most history and moder studies teachers would surely confirm, is not to present a one-sided conclusion to any particular issue but simply to stimulate thought - so that our pupils or FE students will eventually be able to contribute effectively to public discussion in the wider adult society in which open-ended debate is the lifeblood of democracy.

One is reminded of the episode in Catch-22 in which new US Air Force conscripts who kept pestering the current affairs lecturer with difficult questions were banned from asking any more questions - with the inevitable result that these educational sessions were themselves eventually abandoned because nobody was asking any questions, and it was presumed that nobody really wanted to know anything.

Ian Bayne Clarence Drive Glasgow

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