So Why Is It That Scotland, a Nation So Immersed in Its Own History, Is Producing Generations of Children Deliberately Starved of All Knowledge of Their Rich, Varied Past?

Daily Mail (London), January 20, 2007 | Go to article overview

So Why Is It That Scotland, a Nation So Immersed in Its Own History, Is Producing Generations of Children Deliberately Starved of All Knowledge of Their Rich, Varied Past?


Byline: ALLAN MASSIE

IN 1827, Sir Walter Scott began writing a history of Scotland for his young grandson Johnnie. The boy's father, J G Lockhart, had removed to London to edit a magazine there and Scott was anxious that little Johnnie should not grow up ignorant of the history of his own country.

This was not a view that would subsequently be shared by the old Scottish Educational Department - nor, indeed, does it appear to have commended itself to the Scottish Executive today. So Scotland is one of the very few European countries where children can pass the whole of their school career without ever studying the history of their own country.

Indeed, it is possible that in this respect Scotland is unique.

Consequently, many are wholly ignorant of Scotland's past, or such knowledge as they think they have is patchy and often inaccurate. So, for instance, in the summer of 2004, a Fife councillor was banned from his local pub for abusing some English visitors. He explained that he disliked the English on account of the 1746 Battle of Culloden.

If he had studied Scottish history at school, he would have known that Culloden was a battle in a British civil war, that there were Scots (and English) in both armies and that the victorious Duke of Cumberland was hailed as a hero in Lowland Presbyterian Scotland, given the Freedom of the City of Glasgow and made Chancellor of St Andrews University in the councillor's own county of Fife.

He might have realised that the idea that Culloden was a battle fought between Scots on one side and English on the other is, historically, as soundly based as Mel Gibson's film Braveheart.

For many, over several generations, Scott's Tales of a Grandfather supplied them with a knowledge of Scottish history that their schools denied them.

(For younger children this might first have been provided by HE Marshall's Scotland's Story, itself owing much to Scott.) So, for instance, the novelist Compton Mackenzie, who would become one of the founders of the SNP, said that his sense of Scottish patriotism was first inspired by being given the Tales of a Grandfather when he was eight, and the late, lamented Magnus Magnusson avowed his own excellent and entertaining history of Scotland was an attempt to bring Scott's work, which he had loved as a boy, up to date.

It isn't that there is little interest in Scottish history.

In the past 30 or 40 years, the academic study of Scottish history has flourished. A great many books have been written. Some of them have been bestsellers here in Scotland and some of their authors have become media celebrities, always ready with an article on some appropriate anniversary or on some topic currently in the news.

This month's tercentenary of the Treaty of Union has brought a flood of books and articles and the bank balances of our academic historians have benefited. It has even been claimed that Scottish history is now a sexy subject - but not in our schools.

There it still languishes in obscurity and pupils are more likely to learn about the Russian Revolution and the Rise of the Nazis than about the Reformation in Scotland or the Scottish Enlightenment.

Even the Wars of Independence may remain a closed book to them and so they may imagine that Braveheart is good history.

In one way, the neglect of Scottish history used to be, to some extent, excusable. Such school histories of Scotland as there were would stop in 1707 with the Treaty of Union, or in 1746 with the defeat of the last Jacobite rising.

SOME histories intended for adult readers did so, too. It is easy to see why. As long as history dealt chiefly with war, politics, diplomacy and constitutional developments, there was indeed very little that could be called distinct Scottish history after 1707. The same might, of course, be said of English history, too. Scotland and England were no longer independent states, but were joined together in the United Kingdom and so its history was British. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

So Why Is It That Scotland, a Nation So Immersed in Its Own History, Is Producing Generations of Children Deliberately Starved of All Knowledge of Their Rich, Varied Past?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.