The write moves

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Dr John Cameron’s critique of current education practice is spot on (Letters, 26 July). He and I will remember the days when standards were impeccable – but the “prizes” were only for those at the very top of their game, and the rest, no matter how hard they had worked, were ­ignored.

The idea that education should involve positive feedback as well as criticism was an honourable one, but unfortunately, as often happens, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. I
remember being told by a primary teacher in the 1990s that it was “wrong” to correct children’s spelling as it “damaged their creativity”.

The obvious answer is that the two are not mutually exclusive, and writers who set out to break the language rules, like James Joyce (an English language teacher), knew exactly what rules they were breaking.

The result of this ill-thought out education policy is that we now have a whole generation of teachers who have never been taught to write properly, so cannot be expected to teach
students.

Consequently, we find that even stunning projects like the current Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition are marred, as previous correspondents have pointed out, by a significant number of grammatical glitches and generally poor writing.

I have written several times to publishers about poor proofreading and editing even in the books of well-known authors, and offering my services to assist them, but so far none has taken me up on the offer.

Interestingly, though, apart from the occasional “typos” which will always slip in, I have generally found The Scotsman’s journalists write well. Maybe there is an ancient, white-bearded chap in a cupboard somewhere in the office who checks all the copy?   

(Dr) Mary Brown

Dalvenie Road

Banchory, Aberdeenshire