I remember once Wullie received some jeans from his "Yank uncle". Delighted, he ditched the dungarees, and was soon moseying along in his new cool identity.
It lasted less than a day. Soapy, Eck and Bob couldn’t understand why their pal would want to dress like a "foreigner"; even PC Murdoch had a quiet word. Wullie recognised that, for all the lure of the American dream breeks, he was, after all, a Scot, and the dungarees were re-established.
I don’t want to overstate Wullie’s role in Scottish culture, and it should be remembered this happened before the Mad Men became so omnipotent, and McLuhan’s Global Village had encompassed Scotland.
Today, of course, Wullie and his pals would have been crazy for the 21st dentury equivalents of the jeans; the idea that the way we dress, speak, or interact might have a close relationship with who we are and where we come from, is fading fast.
In some ways, this is to be welcomed; today’s Scotland is incalculably more inclusive than the somewhat dreich nation of the 1950s. On the other hand, if we are not sure where we have come from, mapping the way forward becomes increasingly more difficult.
To place Scottish Studies in the curriculum is a positive means of raising awareness of what it means to be a Scot; an opportunity to reflect on our developing culture and give pupils a pride in their history going beyond football and CU Jimmy hats.
Most importantly, it’s a base to help us reflect on who we are, rather than who we’re not.
Pupils should be given a chance to celebrate the diversity of Scottish culture -- not just historically, but in the present.
I hope Scottish Studies -- while giving due regard to our proud achievements -- will also shine a light on the strength brought to our society by Asian Scots, Italian Scots, the Gaels, and many others who have made their homes here...including our neighbours in these islands. It’s all part of a cultural heritage of which we can be justifiably proud.
You can’t brainwash people into the parts of their culture they choose to follow -- but you can ensure they are aware of its many strands. Countries with shared languages and larger neighbours will always have to take care that, whilst operating internationally, they don’t lose their distinctiveness. There is strength in diversity but, also, in a sense of belonging.
We were once the crossroads of the world -- in transport, and industry. Nowadays we are well placed to play the same role culturally. We may be small, but we should be big enough to know who we are, without promoting tartanised hubris.
Informed by Scottish Studies, as well as the wider curriculum, I’d like to see a generation of weans who ask ‘Wha’s like us?’ in a reflective, inquisitive tone, rather than as a bellicose challenge.