No academic versions of Phil and Kirstie here although, thinking about it that might be a great idea? I can see it now. Tonight’s show will feature Phil and Kirstie looking for the best possible school and education available for two twelve year olds… It could be fun you know, then again perhaps not.
Before going much further can I implore the non-Scots amongst you to please stick with this? Yes? Thanks.
We are all either in education, have been in education or are waiting to go into education, a no brainer really. We all have differing experiences of the education we got or are getting to some extent or of course, we may get. In Scotland there has long been a belief that our education system is one of the best in the world however, and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely to be the case at the moment. It hasn’t always been this way. We did have the best education system in the world but we have to look at history to find it.
The quality of Scottish education began to improve following the enactment of the Scottish parliament 1696 Act for Setting Schools. This required every parish in Scotland to supply a “house for a school” and a “salary for a teacher”. Within a generation nearly every parish had a permanent school with a regular teacher. Although teaching was elementary, most pupils learned to at least read and write and their education was provided free for the most part. By 1750 literacy levels in Scotland had risen to around 75%. Amazing! Incredible! Phenomenal! Scottish education was recognised as one of the best in the world. All the more impressive in that it took England until 1880 to achieve the same literacy level.
It’s obvious that if you can read you will want to have books. In fact, at that time, Scottish people of modest means had their own book collections and what they couldn’t afford was readily available at the local library, which again by 1750 every town of any size enjoyed. The list of “thinking” Scotsmen who owe their success to the improvements in literacy and education in general and then the Scottish Enlightenment in particular is long and contains some of the most distinguished minds in history.
Can we repeat this? Can we find a likely catalyst that could enable us to create a modern Scotland with an appropriately well educated population?
Perhaps Scottish Independence could provide a rare and unique opportunity? Perfect? Okay, maybe not perfect but it could be a potential focal point at least? Perhaps there’s no “could” about it and it has to be a significant prerequisite? Independence will bring a majority together and the time scale is long enough to allow the necessary strategic planning and development which, after all, will form the foundations of Scotland the New.
The present focus is, quite rightly, on winning independence but there is a significant amount of work required to win over the Scottish people. Financial powers, taxation levels, oil exploration and extraction, industrial and commercial development are all critical areas but are only a part of the strategies and policies which will be needed to share the vision of how Scotland will be post Westminster. This will require huge amounts of well thought out detail. Time, effort, innovation, intellect, pragmatism, appreciation of the differing needs of our geographical population? How long have we got? Well we know the answer to that. Four years probably with the fifth year being set aside for arguing the toss of achieving the separation with the EU and Westminster I’d suspect.
Now for those non-Scots who have stuck with this so far, here is the interesting part for you. This same opportunity is also going to be available to you whether you reside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The English population in particular must be really ticked off. As you know in Scotland the SNP have been able to get policies through which actually made and continue to make a difference to people’s lives. Dave, on the other hand seems to be playing catch up in the rare moments when he’s not changing his mind. If I were English I would be ticked off.
So maybe the potential of in a modern “Enlightenment” could be UK wide. Maybe it would be an ideal vehicle to drive a better economic future for everyone living in what used to be the UK. I’m certainly not suggesting we sit down and plan it with the other parts of the UK, that would defeat the purpose of independence but surely there would be ways we could work positively together? Surely it’s better to have neighbours who create wealth and trading possibilities and who can take advantage of whatever Scotland can offer?
Maybe in the Scotland Office or St Andrews House or some other such place there’s a detailed plan already worked out. All nice and detailed with diagrams and all the boxes ticked and the questions answered. That would be disappointing since we all want a say? But it could be a useful starting point. If there’s nothing in existence at all then when do we start? Yes WE. You, me, the other visitors to this blog and all the other bloggers, voters, people in the street, politicians, business people…. and the temporarily unconvinced hangers on obviously!
Maybe we could once again have one of the best education systems in the world? Maybe educationalists from much richer and larger countries would visit to Scotland to find out how they could copy the techniques used in our schools, colleges and universities? Now that would be a fabulous recognition of success would it not?
We can do this. We can achieve this. And most of all we HAVE to do it for everyone’s sake.
Today is a good day to start so, as Mrs Merton used to say “let’s have a heated debate”. Let’s throw some ideas around. Blue sky thinking. Clean sheet. Maybe we should hold the puns tho!!!!!!
If you enjoyed this blog article please link to me on Twitter account “@TediousTantrums”. I will then tweet you as more political articles in the same vein are published.
Please leave a comment and/or Tweet, email or text the location of this article to people you think would also enjoy it.