Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The language of learning

The debate over the teaching of the Scots language in schools rumbles on, with a letter in today's Scotsman calling for its inclusion in the curriculum because of its importance as an "indigenous language" which should be restored. It's further claimed that this would "re-establish the esteem" of Scots, would increase the confidence of those who use it and also "improve attainment".

Sounds great on paper, but what about the real world rather than that of idealistic kailyard self-indulgence? Schoolkids generally don't seem to have any problem with speaking the Scots language, but would teaching them to read and write it proficiently represent an appropriate use of scarce resources?

More to the point is this regard are the real difficulties many schoolkids have with both spoken and written English, not to mention other problems such as basic numeracy. Of course, this has implications for obtaining an appropriate education and qualifications, not to mention later success careers-wise and with life generally.

Moreover, the ongoing difficulties over free school meals and lowering class sizes underline that diverting scare resources into teaching the Scots language would represent a triumph of idealism over realism.

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