Banning children using Scots language ‘damages education’

Scots Scriever Hamish MacDonald with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education. Picture: Callum Bennetts
Scots Scriever Hamish MacDonald with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education. Picture: Callum Bennetts
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To tell a child that the Scots language is corrupt is potentially damaging and hold back educational attainment, the Scots Scriever has said.

Hamish MacDonald, who has a residency at the National Library of Scotland to promote the Scots language, was speaking at the launch of the Wee Windaes website, which tracks the language across the centuries to its current day use.

MacDonald said: “Any practitioner in Scots say that bairns struggling in the classroom will shine when given the opportunity to express themselves in Scots.

“To tell a child that their Scots language is slang or corrupt is potentially damaging, a falsehood and a bar to educational progress.”

MacDonald, appointed in 2015 by Creative Scotland, created the website with the library’s Learning Team to raise awareness of Scots.

The site which uses Scots language material from library’s collections, the oldest being a performance poem The Buke of the Howlat from the 1440s to the 20th century writings of novelist and playwright Jessie Kesson. Examples of contemporary writing by writers such as Irvine Welsh and James Kelman will be added later.

David Christopher Allan, 16, a pupil at Broughton High school in Edinburgh, who gave a reading in Scots of The Man in the Boat by Betsy Whyte, said: “I was brought up to speak both Scots and English. Speaking Scots words gives you more identity.

Nicola Daniel, head of English at the school which teaches Scots to 2nd, 3rd and 4th pupils, said: “Kid who don’t feel valued get a sense of worth in Scots language classes as it gives them a chance to come into their own when with more affluent children.”

John Swinney, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education, who launched the website said: “The Scots language is an essential element of our nation’s culture and heritage and this Government is committed to promoting and preserving it in all its distinct regional and local variants, which are spoken by around 1.5 million people.

“I very much welcome the launch of the Wee Windaes website, which shines a light on the breadth of Scots influence on our rich literary heritage through the centuries.”

Dr John Scally, National Librarian, said: “The Scots language is very much part of our cultural identity and we are keen to help it thrive.”

Janet Archer chief executive officer of Creative Scotland, said: “Wee Windaes is a braw way to give the language further prominence. It captures the breadth and variety of Scots in all its variants and dialects.”