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No need for cultural Caledonian cringe

Michael Russell did not "order" anyone to introduce a mandatory Scottish literature question (Scots Question is not the answer, Comment, November 18).

It was in fact the recommendation of the Scottish Studies working group with a wide representation from our cultural and educational communities, including teachers and former teachers. How ironic therefore that critics should accuse the Scottish Government of political interference in education or even worse, "nationalism gone mad". I suspect it is more a case of some people with North British prejudices who have gone mad over this. They have certainly lost all sense of perspective to see this as somehow undermining the Curriculum for Excellence, removing choice and attempting to manipulate teenagers.

In comparison with other countries, including our nearest neighbours, what the Scottish Government has proposed is very modest: at least one Scottish text chosen from a list of prescribed texts, in order to complete one answer out of two in the literature paper, which means the Scottish answer would account for 20% of the total. The list of prescribed texts, currently being discussed, would actually help to widen choice as far too many schools still offer the same predictable range of GCSE texts year after year.

And how sad to see Ian Bell apparently supporting the cultural cringers and naysayers who think this is pointless, counter-productive and possibly harmful. Yes, we should indeed beware of the Shakespeare effect, which is almost endemic in our schools, but to extrapolate from this to argue that any list of prescribed texts will destroy all love of literature, regardless of how it is taught or assessed, is quite absurd.

John Hodgart


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