I QUESTIONED various aspects of Scottish education in a recent Herald on Sunday interview with Neil Mackay – and seemed to spark wide discussion. While some criticised my views, others nodded in agreement. Many who read beyond the headline reached out privately in agreement, expressing concerns and thanking me for candidly raising issues. The silent majority is a significant issue for society and democracy in Scotland.

We only have to consider how some educators have chosen to express concerns – anonymous letters, pseudonym social media addresses, if at all. It reminds me of supporting a young professional from Eastern Europe. She had written a non-controversial article for a publication I was editing about young people’s ideas. I had to agree to publish her piece anonymously as she was scared of the repercussions of exercising her human rights of thought, expression and speech.

Amidst what was described as “attack dogs” responding to me online two Sundays ago, was some reasoned discussion. A well put-together letter response to my interview featured in last weekend’s Herald on Sunday. Whilst I contest small aspects of it, mutual challenge is what helps to progress civilisation and evolve knowledge – critique, reflection and ongoing revisions.

Stuart McMillan, an Inverclyde SNP MSP, also gave a thought-provoking, balanced Scottish history in schools parliamentary motion this week. In particular tributes were paid to those who keep history interest and awareness alive.

Reason – the ability to think, understand and form judgement logically – needs to a key part of education. Critical thinking is vital in a post-truth world of corruption, crime and chaos.

In that regard, my interview offered potential reasons for why minor curriculum changes had not yet happened. No value was placed on any option by me.

Jamie Hepburn MSP made clear that political direction did not influence the curriculum. Some will look at legislation and examples like government/SQA decisions around Covid-era exams to consider where education and politics intersect and whether there needs be de-politicisation.

Meantime, if we assume some influence of nationalism, subtle or otherwise, is not the reason for not making small curriculum changes, why are changes not progressing? Is it bureaucratic inertia? It was said Woodrow Wilson thought it easier to move a cemetery than change a curriculum.

It was pleasing to hear the Minister for Higher Education Jamie Hepburn note an upcoming SQA consultation in the planning. Some may see this as kicking the matter into the long grass.

However, it could be important if it emerges and is framed openly. Hepburn noted the consultation would look at “non-European” and “diverse perspectives”. We certainly need the ‘multi-perspectivity’ that I called for – ‘think global, act local’ as Professor Patrick Geddes advocated.

As such, we need a full review of history education – broad general education to qualification to lifelong learning embracing heritage, history and archaeology.

Let’s review local to global. Curriculum for Excellence is currently being reviewed by OECD. Alongside it, the component parts that make up that body of knowledge and skills need reviewed. Now is the time for history to consider its future, fully and frankly. It takes a village to educate a child, and global villages to enlighten vibrant curricula. Grappling with complexity and seeing multiple perspectives comes from broad historical learning. Thank goodness for it.

Neil McLennan is an educator, former President of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History and regular Herald columnist.