Shaking off the Calvinist cringe

18th November 2005 at 00:00
alf full or half empty? For Scots, it appears glasses are always on the empty side, and that includes a highly critical media which is now the bane of the educational community (see above). As Carol Craig asserts (page five), Scots are naturally gifted at self-deprecation and put-downs and find notions of ambition and success difficult, almost alien, concepts. She labels this the "Scottish cringe", a characteristic acknowledged by Jack McConnell, the First Minister, when he addressed the Young Enterprise Scotland gathering on Monday.

Mr McConnell is, as he put it, "determined to succeed" in changing the Scottish culture towards more open and enterprising attitudes. His administration is pumping in millions to ensure young people are more confident, and to "be all they can be" in a global world. Fine aims but, according to Dr Craig, there are inherent Calvinistic barriers to that, not least the pessimism among many in a teaching profession that continues to fight against a negative and damaging public profile.

Headteachers also question how far the profession has moved on after picking up the post-McCrone cash (page three). It is claimed some dimensions of schools have yet to improve and a profession under fire has still to extend its commitments and engage in new ways of working. Perhaps that is natural with an ageing workforce but, as Dr Craig argues, many teachers have still to believe that pupils' difficulties are not cast in stone.

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