STAN Grodynski’s timing of his letter (May 10) about “dissing our schools” couldn’t have been worse. On the day you reported that we have a “rising crisis" of violence against teachers that’s described as an escalating crisis ("‘Rising crisis’ of violence against teachers revealed", The Herald, May 10) Mr Grodynski tells us we’re not just focusing on academic qualifications but on creating confident and inquiring individuals. How’s that going so far?

After hundreds of words in his letter he eventually hits us with the usual predictable punchline that we’re better than the UK. Maybe some of us believe the basic education we had allowed us to go through life confident in our ability to read, write, communicate and do mental arithmetic.

Maybe we believe that discipline and rules created a productive learning environment and taught us to respect our teachers. This is what made us confident, inquisitive individuals ready to face life without creating havoc in the classrooms.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

Case for a liberal approach

I NOTE that Tim Cox, writing from Switzerland, makes a passionate defence of the Kate Forbes school of thought that the answer to success in learning is hard work (Letters May 9).

However I feel he may have taken my counter-argument (Letters May 8) out of context. For example, I am a male living in East Dunbartonshire and the most recent statistics show that I should have the highest life expectancy in Scotland. However if I drive only a few minutes away I cross the boundary into Glasgow which has the lowest life expectancy in Scotland.

En route I first pass Bearsden Academy which has the highest Higher grade exam performance of any local authority school in Scotland. The first Glasgow secondary school I come to, only a short drive further on, is Drumchapel High School, which historically has relatively very much lower exam results.

If Mr Cox believes that the difference is that the intakes of pupils in Bearsden are consistently able to work “harder” than their near neighbours I have to disagree. The reasons for disparities in pupil performance are very complex and have many influences from birth. However I believe that we should not define exam performance at school as the only algorithm for success in life.

The assertion by Mr Cox that young people should love their work and that “young people who miss that mark are serfs and prisoners of futility” does perhaps only strengthen my case for a more liberal approach to education.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

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Give us music before maths

AS a teacher with more than 50 years' experience from working with children with learning difficulties, adults with dementia and university students at the highest musical level, I must respond to the letter from Doug Clark (Letters, May 9) re his admiration for Rishi Sunak pledging £7 million into the teaching of maths.

Learning maths gives you numeracy skills above all else.

Playing in a band teaches you to work with others, playing sport develops teamwork, acting on stage gives you confidence.

Learning a tune, a poem, a new sporting skill, a foreign language, exercises the brain with all these activities shown beyond doubt to enhance mathematical skills.

Why then waste millions on maths?

Richard Michael BEM, Kirkcaldy (Former Head of Music, Beath High School; Director, Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, Honorary Professor of Jazz, St Andrews University).

Banks are not our friends

AS is now widely understood, banks create money from thin air when they make a loan. No longer are they the respected intermediaries in towns or villages, entrusted with the savings of widows and orphans, or the canny holders of money carefully invested to provide pensions for the retired.

Hence the closure of their branches that are now a legacy of such picture postcard activity, as they move into the modern age where printing money to pay for government lunacy and the financing of wars yields profit for little real skill or effort other than working a computer.

And even this new money they create is so-called "fiat" currency. Just paper or computer numbers issued by government and accepted as good by the receiver, when in fact it is worthless. Not real currency backed by anything such as gold, as was the case in a century past.

This unbacked fiat money can also be created in any amount that may be needed, thus allowing politicians to spend a billion here or there on whatever wins a vote, or to finance wars worldwide where death and destruction are the outcomes.

A friend for life? Not my life, anyway.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.

The Herald: Are music lessons better value than maths?Are music lessons better value than maths? (Image: Getty)

Old age is interesting

NEIL Mackay’s recent rage against the dying of the light ("Pulp Fiction is 30. But just how did I get to be so old?", The Herald, April 30) certainly resonated with me.

I am nine years ahead of Mr Mackay in calendar years but at the rate that time seems to speed up as we age we will be in the same age bracket in, well, no time at all.

As a last-minute warning, then, I would tell him that on passing the 60 threshold snipers will appear on his horizon and in his peripheral vision. They start with warning shots, then some flesh wounds as they get their eye in. Knees may be the next target just to slow you down a bit and then a direct hit (in my case to the lower back) just to confirm that you are older.

I have lived through the entire arc of many sports stars' careers from Kenny Dalglish to Sir Andy Murray taking in Seve, Tiger Woods, Paul Sturrock, the Williams sisters and Joe Calzaghe along the way. A tipping point came when my sporting heroes began to be younger than me.

It's not all bad though and I have a great bank of “I was there" memories. Grand Slams in 1984 and 1990, the 18th green at St Andrews in 1984 when Seve did his iconic fist pump (no smartphone to record it but I can close my eyes and am back there in an instant….the noise and passion it generated was almost primeval).

I was also there (blubbering and useless of course) at the births of my three children. The youngest is now 27 so I ask myself: how did I get here?

I ponder that my own past is now history. Some insensitive youngsters may add "ancient” to that.

It’s not that I object or find it alarming. It is just a strange sensation to know that I was alive when this that or the other event happened.

It is said that old age is not for cissies, but no one tells you how curiously interesting it can be.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.