Let's Study Rabbie ... in Sex Education; Burns' Life Becomes an Unlikely School Topic

Daily Mail (London), February 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

Let's Study Rabbie ... in Sex Education; Burns' Life Becomes an Unlikely School Topic


Byline: Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

HIS appetite for sex and alcohol is almost as legendary as his poetry.

In one famous letter, Robert Burns boasted of giving his heavily pregnant lover Jean Armour - later his wife - 'a thundering scalade that electrified the very marrow of her bones'.

Some say he drank himself to death at the age of only 37.

Now - somewhat improbably, given these credentials - the life of our national Bard is to be used to teach sex education and alcohol awareness..

Teachers believe that telling children about his promiscuity could help drive home the 'safe sex' message.

His formidable consumption of alcohol could be used to discuss the dangers of reckless drinking.

Schools are being encouraged to download a teaching pack of Burns-themed activities as part of the Scottish Executive's Homecoming celebrations.

There is certainly no shortage of material for sex education lessons based on Burns' life. He fathered 12 children by four different women and heavy drinking formed a major part of his life before his premature death in 1796.

The new teaching pack has been provided by the Executive-funded Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) curriculum advisory body.

The material can be accessed online via the official Homecoming website designed to encourage Scots expats to visit their homeland.

Rather more tenuously, the guidance suggests secondary school pupils can learn about measuring distances by throwing a haggis around the classroom.

It also encourages teachers to explore environmental and farming issues through study of Burns' poem To A Mouse, in which he famously describes an encounter with a 'wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie'. …

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