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Scots as a leid o education

In this airticle, we’ll leuk at the faisibility o the uiss o Scots in education. Syne whan haes it been uised in education? In whilk wey it is uised in education? An is it siclike wi ither leids? For tae answer thae quaistens, we can leuk at the history o Scots an its uiss in education . . .

Fae the middle o the nineteent hunneryear till the end o the twintiet hunneryear, Scots wisnae gien a place in Scots scuils ava; it wis whiles doun-hauden even.1

On the ither haund, Scots wis a fair feck mair uised in Scots scuils afore the 18t hunneryear, as we can see fae this quote fae The Register o the Privy Seal o Scotland:2

“Ane instructioun for bairnis to be lernit in Scotis and Latene…” (1559)

Maist ferlie amang the legal mentions o Scots in education airticles is the legislation estaiblishin scuilin oot-throu Scotland. Scuils in ilka pairish, ’ithin the means o the local council, wis fordert by the 1616 law. This wis follaed by the 1646 law whaur the council wis ootricht obligate tae big an mainteen the scuils. The last o the 17t hunneryear laws wis the 1696 act3 that stuid on the record beuks till 1872.4

We can see that, continuin on fae the 1559 statement, the leids uised in the air Scots scuils wis Scots an Laitin:5

“Mr. Adame . . . takis . . . vpone him the charge of ane scoolemaister . . . for learning of Scottis and Latine;” (1646 quote fae the Minute beuks o the Burgh o Kirkcudbright)

This law wis byordinar important for education history, as it wis the first law that estaiblisht scuils oot-throu a kintra.6 The law meant that Scotland could be amang the first kintras in the warld whaur maist fowk wis literate.7 This is forby thocht o as bein a catalyst for the Scots Enlichtment. An it’s throu thir laws that the Scots education system, richt eneuch, gained a nameliheid o bein democratic, in the sense that it wis appen tae aw the fowk, an no juist the high heid anes.8

This law wis a skaith an aw, hooseomeiver: the 1616 law wis misfortunate for Scots Gaelic as the law disnae forder the Gaelic, anither hamelt leid o Scotland. The law wis e’en designtly cockit at the Gaelic, ettlin at its eradication.9

Gaelic is the extant leid that haes been uised in Scotland for the langest time. Gaelic, like ony leid, pits ower thochts in different weys fae whit ither leids dae, an produces the associations o thochts that ither leids disnae.10

Sae, on the ae haund, the air Scots education laws wis innovative legislation producin a nation hunneryears afore ithers, an pruif o the fact that the writers didnae denigrate their ain leid. On the ither haund, it is misfortunate pruif that the writers o the selsame laws denigrate a hamelt leid an cultur o the kintra. It can e’en be hypothesised that it wis this skaithin attitude taewart a pairt o Scots cultur that hinderly remuived Scots fae Scots scuils.

Sicweys we can see that the place o Scots in the Scots education system haes chynged ’ithin the past hunneryears syne the pittin in place o the first kintra-wide education system till bein pairtly re-introduced in this hunneryear.

It’s faur fae impossible tae see Scots as a leid o education, gien its place at the springheid o Scots education.

It haes its relation wi sociolinguistic phenomena an political decisions, like the decision anent in whilk leid bairns will be eddicate. It can occur acause o sociolinguistic phenomena whaur fowk is rewairdit for giein up the leid o their mithers an faithers. Whither it’s throu the education system or legal system, Scots haes been affroadit. An economic incentives wis gien tae ‘speak proper’.11

There is mony ither leids whaur tendencies can be estaiblisht acqueesh the population that speaks the doun-hauden leid an the unnercless, the doun-hauden clesses.

As can be read in Hagège’s Halte à la mort des langues (‘Reest the deith o leids’), uiss o a leid in scuils is ane o the factors that mean it can contina existin, an even floorishin. Likeweys, the doun-dingin o the uiss in scuils can be a factor in connachin the leid.12

Onywey, ony leid can be uised in education.

Even gif theoretically the wirds is missin, we can find them. Leids can be developit for tae conteen the wirds they need: we can see this process in ither leids. Ae ensaumple is the Icelandic, whaur they invent new wirds aften for tae fit in wi the phonological, lexical an grammatical contex that exists awready. French an English wisnae leids uised in education in the air Middle Ages aither. An, efter, screivers in English an French haes taen wirds fae Laitin, bigit new wirds wi hamelt material amang ither techniques for giein a leid a haund. An wirds is bein inventit thir days in English an aw: ‘blog’, for ensaumple, wisnae kent a few year syne. But thae leids were developit; their growth wis fordert.

An, as Du Bellay says in his Défense et illustration de la Langue française, that is mibbe the main thing that lats a leid be uised in a particular contex: whether its uiss is fordert.13

Scots is a leid that, while it can be associate wi a lack o education thir days, is nae less suitit tae sitiations o education. Acause ony leid can be uised for education, nae leid is wirth less. An it isnae juist a leid that can theoreticly be uised for education, but it wis ane o the twa leids uised in the first modren nationwide education system. This is a fact that can be uised tae shaw that Scots haed its place in the Scots education system, syne the air laws anent education in the Middle Ages. It can forby be uised tae shaw that Scots misfortunately haed its place in the cultural displacement o the Hielands. The lang an the short o it is that Scots can be uised in a education system nae less nor ony ither leid.


James McDonaldJames McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an their forderin, whether it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in scuils, helpin bairns wi their hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contact him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.

Glossar

Scots English
affroadit discouraged
air early
acqueesh between
byordinar extraordinary
connachin destroying
designtly deliberately
doun-hauden oppressed
ettlin endeavouring, trying
forder(t) promote(d), drive(n) forward, help(ed) on
hamelt native
hinderly eventually
hooseomeiver notwithstanding, nevertheless
hunneryear century
leid language
nameliheid reputation
nor than
reest bring to a halt
selsame very same
skaithin harmful, damaging
springheid source, origin
syne then, ago, since
  1. Huw David Jones, The Media in Europe’s Small Nations (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Jun 26, 2014)
  2. Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue entry on ‘Scottis’
  3. Michael Lynch, The Oxford Companion to Scottish History (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  4. Charles W J Withers, Gaelic Scotland: The Transformation of a Culture Region (Routledge, Dec 14, 2015)
  5. Siclike citation 2
  6. The Connecticut Common School Journal and Annals of Education, Volumes 1-2 (Board of Commissioners of Common Schools, 1841)
  7. Editors Tony Fitzpatrick, Huck-ju Kwon, Nick Manning, James Midgley, Gillian Pascall, International Encyclopedia of Social Policy (Routledge, 2013)
  8. Lyne‚ Lewis Gaillet, Scottish Rhetoric and Its Influences (Routledge, Jul 22, 2016)
  9. Siclike citation 4
  10. Claude Hagège, Halte à la mort des langues (Odile Jacob, 2002, p209-212)
  11. Scottish Rhetoric and Its Influences (siclike citation 8), p5
  12. Hagège (siclike citation 10) p229
  13. Louis-Jean Calvet, La Guerre des langues et les politiques linguistiques (Hachette, 1999)