Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SNP to dictate students' their national identity?

I was fortunate enough to attend one of Northern Ireland's more liberal grammar schools, which meant (in those comparitively less liberal times) I got a pretty good grounding in both Irish literature and history. I've been told that it's just a question of time before Irish gaelic will be taught there as an optional subject.

I think studying the likes of O'Casey and Behan and having to put ourselves in the shoes of Pearse and Connolly in 1916 helped us attain a more rounded view of both the island and our own place in it. But context was also taught. Irish literature and history, after all, don't exist independent to the rest of the world. Pushing "national" history, literature and language into one narrowly defined category of "Irish studies" would have for that and other reasons been a retrograde step:
A new subject of ‘Scottish studies’ would be introduced in the country’s schools under a plan to increase youngsters’ awareness of their national identity, the education minister has said.

Speaking at the SNP’s pre-election conference, Mike Russell said children would learn about Scottish history, geography and literature, as well as the Scots and Gaelic languages, under a single banner.
And that also would be a retrograde step. Attempts to "isolate" Scottish literature, geography and history (language obviously falls into a different category) will, if it succeeds, foster a national identity of separateness that would be totally at odds with the values which should be prevalent in 21st Century democratic Europe:
“We will wrap those things up into an offering for schools called Scottish studies and we will link it to all other subjects.”
Why not teach Scottish literature, geography and history as integral parts of their respective wider subjects? Why not leave the attempted social engineering and brain-washing alone and let the students develop their own version of their national identity?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I took Scottish Gaelic as an elective at college last year. I have quite good (Ulster) Irish but struggled very hard with Scottish spelling. They should 'update' the spelling, like they did with Irish in the 50s, and make it mutually comprehensible with Irish. Most main European languages were essentially standardised in the 18th and 19th centuries anyway.

Crazy that they would seek to amalgamate Scots with Gaelic - a Germanic and a Celtic language with almost nothing in common. Gaelic is so difficult for English speakers, unlike French or German (English is basically a semi-Romance and semi-Germanic language) that it could really only be learned properly by complete immersion.