Laura Green is ain English teacher an Scots Language Enthusiast workin fir West Lothian Cooncil. Ye can fun oot mair aboot her @fairpechtoot . Aw views are hur ain.
When Ah went fir the interview fir ma PGCE qualification at Strathclyde University, we hud tae gie a presentation. Ah decidit that Ah wid speak aboot something close ta ma ain hert – yaisin Scots the English classroom.
Ah mind talkin aboot how Ah wid yaise wan o Matthew Fitt’s poems (Ah think it was this wan here) an get the weans in the class tae ask their maws, das, grannies an grandads tae tell them o Scots words that they yaised. Ah suggestit that the weans wid respond well tae literature written in their ain leid.
Fast-furrit some thirteen years later an ma opinion husnae chynged. Ah regularly yaise literature written in Scots tae spark debate an inspire scrievin aboot personal experience, identity, setting, history an tradition. Ah yaise Scots tae teach Senior students shades o meaning an connotations; an find Scots awfy useful in teachin students how tae determine the meanin o a word yaisin context.
Scots is in ma classroom in August when Ah start teachin Alan Spence’s Sailmaker tae ma Nat 5 weans; at Halloween when ma BGE weans are listenin tae scary stories by Alan Bissett an ma Senior weans are learnin aboot the origins o the word guiser; in November when we’re participatin in the St Andrew’s Day Challenge; in January when ma BGE weans are keekin roon Rabbie Burns’ Hoose an ma Senior weans are comparin Burns’ Holy Willie’s Prayer an its condemnation o religious hypocrisy tae MacCaig’s Asissi; in the Spring when ma BGE weans are debatin the merits o usin Scots an ma Senior students are readin challengin Scots texts tae practice analysin the connotations o effective word choice.
So why place so much emphasis oan Scots? Whenever Ah start a new topic Ah aye ask the weans in front o me why they think Ah’m teachin it – ‘Whit’s the point?’ Ah say. Well – the English and Literacy Review, published by Education Scotland in 2015, states that:
Learning Scots can often improve learners’ engagement in learning and their development of wider literacy skills. Through Scots, learners can explore language in more depth, making connections and comparisons with the linguistic structures and vocabularies of other languages. Scots as a context for learning can also provide an engaging platform for children and young people to explore language, register and audience. It can encourage reluctant readers and writers to become involved as texts in Scots can capture the imagination and speak to them in a familiar voice.
Last October, when Ah asked ma class why they thoat we were learnin aboot the Scots Language, wan laddie put his haun up an said ‘Because we’re Scottish.’ That pretty much summed it up fir me. Fir English teachers, we are especially interestit in literacy skills – helpin the weans tae hone their skills in readin, scrievin, talkin an listenin. Indeed, Education is aw aboot literacy, numeracy, health an wellbeing. Part o that is celebratin tradition, identity an culture – no forgettin oor ain. Ensurin that the Scots leid has a place in the English curriculum helps us dae aw o the above an mair.