Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alasdair Allan needs lessons in prioritising his to do list.

So, Alasdair Allan, Scottish Schools minister has decided that our kids need lessons in Scottish Studies to make sure they learn about their culture and history.

To be fair, he may have a point. I know my education is some time ago, and things have definitely got better based on my daughter's experience, but we learned about the Picts and the Jacobites in history and very little in between.  We learnt a half decent Dashing White Sergeant and Gay Gordons in PE, but we didn't do much in the way of Scottish literature. I mean, I went to Wick High School and we didn't do one single Neil Gunn book. How crazy is that?

Having said that, it strikes me that the whole point of the Curriculum for Excellence is to give more autonomy for teachers and rather than have a Scottish Studies subject, teachers are free to use all sorts of different resources across the whole range of classes. Also, what would you take out of the timetable in order to fit Scottish Studies in?  Less PE?  Not when we need to get fitter. Less cookery? Not when we learn to eat healthier. The SNP has to answer these questions. Especially when PE can include Scottish dances and sports, cookery traditional Scottish cookery which, contrary to popular belief, goes beyond deep frying Mars Bars.  A wee bit of imagination and giving free rein to teachers and you could do all sorts.

Labour have accused the SNP of trying to "politicise" our kids. I presume that they think that teaching them Scottish culture automatically means that they'll be pro-independence. Frankly, I despair of that sort of talk. How dare he suggest that Scottish culture and history is the preserve of the SNP. It belongs to us all and that sort of talk is vacuous and dangerous.

However, my argument is that there are much more pressing things on Alasdair Allan's desk than inventing new subjects. Yesterday we had Education Scotland  tell us that too many schools were coasting, and that kids from deprived backgrounds could be as much as 18 months behind kids from affluent backgrounds when they start school. Dealing with that should be our most important priority. After all, if kids grow up not able to read properly, they're not going to be able to enjoy the best of our culture and history. The entire focus of the education department should be on closing down that gap and making sure every child can reach their full potential.

Sounds like Mr Allan needs some training in time management and working out what's important.

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