RECENT discussion has described the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) as having resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum (“Sobering’ report card for Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence”, heraldscotland, February 20) and then as being a suitable basis on which “to broaden the curriculum" (Letters, February 21).

Another correspondent has concluded, not surprisingly, that the CfE is not a curriculum at all (Letters, February 23). The one thing that is certain is that the operation of the CfE has coincided with the significant reduction of Scottish education’s standing in international tables.

I once read the CfE document and found a surprising lack of specific direction as to what was to be taught to and learned by Scottish school pupils. That absence seems for one thing to preclude the level playing field which is required for objective national examination and assessment.

Successful teaching and learning are hard work but every now and then some educational expert comes up with a new invention that seems to avoid or minimise the need for that laborious input. I once researched the Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA) and found that that initiative lead to a generation in which many could not spell.

The same phenomenon manifested itself in tertiary/higher education in the shapes of Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) and Problem Based Learning (PBL), both of which purported to offer successful education with, at least, less of the the traditional drudgery of having to learn stuff.

CfE with its lack of rigorous content seems to be another magic bullet that just does not fire.

Unfortunately, if you miss out on the relevant hard work, then you miss out on the education and your nation plummets in international standing. Every pupil or student that misses out on the education which should be available to them is a personal tragedy and a weakened resistance to the even more heinous falsehoods that lurk in social media and the internet in general, not to mention the sectarian and discriminatory attitudes which blight many lives.

The best starting point might be the creation of a properly prescriptive curriculum as to what has to be taught to and learned by Scottish schoolchildren and how that education should be delivered and assessed.
Michael Sheridan, Glasgow

Don't pander to the snowflakes

WHAT on earth is going on with the increasing demand to censor or to rewrite passages in all types of literary work ("Issue of the day: First Dahl, then Blyton", The Herald, February 27)?

This particular rush to judgment presupposes that readers are incapable of coming to their own conclusions about the subject matter of any books they take up to read.

All books reflect the culture in which the writers have grown up and the language employed therein will be characteristic of that particular time embellished by the writer's own take on life experiences. To rewrite books in the way operating today deprives readers of the experience of making contact with the perspectives of yesteryear in the raw.

Instead of rewriting a text, it would be much more beneficial to provide a glossary to highlight how words have changed their meanings since any book first saw the light of day along with helpful footnotes to explain how the attitudes represented in any book contrast with current attitudes.

That would be a much more mature approach to words and passages likely to be found offensive to some modern readers, whose sensitivities would make them quail upon confronting attitudes at variance with modern outlooks without warning.

We should not be pandering to the snowflake generation with trigger warnings to prevent them having a touch of the vapours when coming across opinions so out of touch with those living in a supposedly more enlightened age.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs

The curse of the QR codes

PLEASE sign me up as a founding member of Christopher Ruane's proposed campaign against the replacement of timetables at bus stops with QR codes (Letters, February 24). And I nominate Border Buses as the campaign's first target.

This firm used to be amongst the best for passenger information, but the QR code has changed that. Now, if you arrive at one of its bus stops – as I have done – with no way of scanning the code, it is impossible to know if the next bus is a few minutes away or is yet to leave the depot.

It's not just bus companies that are going down this road. Scottish Water is busy digging up roads for sewer renewals in my area. The company provides useful information about how and when each road will be affected. But the only way to access that information is by scanning the dreaded code.

It's the same story with many council services, NHS services and visitor attractions. Last year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe went over to an email-only system of ticket sales, to the frustration of many would-be patrons who for one reason or another could not access their email while visiting the city. I've even heard of restaurants that require you to download an app to order your meal.

According to recent figures from, 540,000 adults in Scotland do not own a smartphone. And those who do will sometimes have flat batteries, or no internet connection, or no credit. I'm all for using technology to save paper when it is sensible to do so. But not if it means putting obstacles in the way of obtaining essential information at the point where it is needed.
Mike Lewis, Edinburgh

Sic transit gloria?

TO maintain the momentum of the correspondence on schooldays Latin, in the 1960s I was a pupil at a Liverpool secondary school, whose motto was "Non sibi sed omnibus" ("Not for oneself, but for all").

Needless to say, this was translated as "Don't be sick on the bus".
Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot

• STEWART Swanston’s letter about school mottos (February 25 ), reminds me of a tale told to me many years ago by an obstetrician, whose veracity I would not have dared to question, about a young new mother who when asked her wee treasure’s moniker, proudly announced: "It’s Kog.”

When asked if that was a Greek island she revealed that it was the location where presumably the “earth had moved” for her.

A sign which read “Keep off the Grass”.
R Russell Smith, Largs


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.