Scots in the doghouse;Letter

20th August 1999 at 01:00
ROBIN JACKSON states (TESS, August 13), with reference to our book Scottish Education: "Nowhere in the 1,040 pages is there any reference to the role of Scots language in the curriculum." He cannot have read it very carefully.

In our own chapter, "The distinctiveness of Scottish education", we refer to work on attitudes to Scots and Gaelic and note the development of a growing range of Scottish curricular materials.

Again, Brian Boyd in his chapter entitled "Scottish school pupils: characteristics and influences" quotes William McIlvanney's novel Docherty to illustrate the traditional gulf between the approved language in the classroom and the natural speech of many working-class pupils, and goes on to argue that "the place of Scots has become less marginalised".

And in the chapters dealing with the teaching of English in primary schools (by Sue Ellis and Gill Friel) and secondary schools (by Jim McGonigal), there is clear recognition of the complex issues surrounding native language teaching in a Scottish context and specific reference to the work of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum which Robin Jackson cites.

No doubt Dr Jackson would argue that the subject deserves fuller treatment and we would agree that it is certainly an important issue to debate. In fact, we support a number of the points he makes.

However, he does his cause little good by making statements that are demonstrably erroneous.

(Professor) Tom Bryce University of Strathclyde (Dr) Walter Humes University of Glasgow

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