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gaelic education

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by versingetorix, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. Am I alone in thinking that giving Gaelic Education a national priority status is totally misguided?
    The unpalatable truth is that Gaelic is a dying language. There is no practical purpose in trying to 'save' the language, other than perhaps for tourism. I feel it is sentimentality, nostalgia and notions of patriotism which fuel attempts to revive the language.
    I'm not saying Gaelic should be eradicated or anything. I just think that with most urban schools unable to maintain a grass sports pitch, fears for literacy (in our first language) and numeracy, a recession which is slashing school budgets and let's face it, a whole host of more practical and relevant needs for learners in Scotland, there must be better things for taxpayers to be spending their money on.
     
  2. Am I alone in thinking that giving Gaelic Education a national priority status is totally misguided?
    The unpalatable truth is that Gaelic is a dying language. There is no practical purpose in trying to 'save' the language, other than perhaps for tourism. I feel it is sentimentality, nostalgia and notions of patriotism which fuel attempts to revive the language.
    I'm not saying Gaelic should be eradicated or anything. I just think that with most urban schools unable to maintain a grass sports pitch, fears for literacy (in our first language) and numeracy, a recession which is slashing school budgets and let's face it, a whole host of more practical and relevant needs for learners in Scotland, there must be better things for taxpayers to be spending their money on.
     
  3. Amen to that....I could never figure out why the BBC Scotland spends so much on a language that only 40 odd thousand can speak. The Scottish people has voted with their feet (and tongues) over the past 100 years and I'm afraid it has become an anachronism.
    Also if kids are learning Gaelic at schools, what else has to make way in what is already an overcrowded curriculum?
    PS - Tenuous claim to fame...I used to work in the same office as the guy who did the voice of Padhraig Post (Postman Pat).
     
    realteuchtar likes this.
  4. Not exactly sure about that - I think that the incidence of Gaelic speaking is actually on the increase, but don't know where to look to confirm that or otherwise.
    Personally I can't see the problem with it. We, as in 'the authorities', are legally bound to provide services in all sorts of 'non-indigenous' languages, so what's wrong with indulging in a bit of 'looking after your own'?
    If we can fret over whales dying out, what's wrong with a bit of concern over what is, after all, a native language dying out?
     
  5. I regret the erosion of the Doric, so would have to support Gaelic as a community language. Unlike other European countries, we're not good at looking after our cultural heritage.
     
  6. Every time a language dies out, the oral traditions, the histories and music and rhythms of a culture die too. To suggest that languages should just e allowed to wither for "practical" reasons is as shallow-souled and short sighted as allowing endangered species to die out for economic reasons. The result would be a world without natural and human beauty. This planet has been successful because of its vast, gorgeous diversity - and you don't want to pay a few quid preserving that?
    Am more than happy to agree with railroad on this.
     
  7. What a great post, Ray. You have changed my opinion on this.
     
  8. Aye, thus spake the Colonial Administrator ". . . no practical purpose in trying to 'save' the language".
    Whit "practical purpose" is there in ony o the English system o education at's bin forced doun wir necks in Scotland ower hunners o years? Eh?
    Nane.
     
  9. Oh dear, it's prety sad that there are people who hold such views in this day and age. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence to back it up. So here's some facts:
    • The census states that around 100 000 Scots have at least 'some knowledge of Gaelic'.
    • Gaelic medium pupils have greater attainment, not least in English. This replicates similar findings in Wales and the Basque Country. For more details on the advantages of bi-lingualism, see the report from Dick Johnstone's report on GME attainment. See also the work of Anabella Sorace, chair of linguistics at Edinburgh Uni on the advantages of bi/multi lingualism. See also the well documented work by Noam Chomsky. A recent Scottish Government report on educational attainment in Scotland showed the best acheivers were Asian, Chinese and Gaelic medium.
    • Gaelic medium does not infringe on other areas of the curriculum! Duh! Kids have to be educated - teaching them to learn, think and speak in only one language is a criminal waste of their cognitive abilities. Again, go and read Sorace and Chomsky. Or better, go and visit some Gaelic medium kids.
    • Bringing up children with 2 or 3 languages is very good value for money. Unfortunately, most kids in Scotland are still brought up with ony one tongue. This holds them back in an increasingly multi-lingual workplace.
    • How can you teach kids about Scotland and her environment without Gaelic? Even where i live, in the Lothians, Gaelic names are everywhere - Calton Hill, Torphichen, Balerno, Craigmillar, Craigentinnie, Craigour, Gilmerton, Drem, Dunbar, Corstorphine etc...
    • Part of the reason for the decline in Gaelic stems from the fact that the education act of 1882 made it virtually illegal to teach in Gaelic - even when it was the only language of the community. Even until the 1970s, Gaelic speaking kids were still being belted for speaking their only tongue.
    Lets hear less of the bigotry on TES. Suas leis a' Ghàidhlig.
     
  10. That's less than 2% of the population. And what does "some knowledge" mean? I have some knowledge of French, German, Spanish, and Italian in that I can order 2 beers in a pub but I wouldn't say that made me a speaker.
    Given that the majority of Gaelic medium pupils are taught in small schools where the teacher / pupil ratio is significantly higher than in urban settings, this is hardly surprising. Do the studies take account of demographics / class sizes?
    Fair enough...but if they are going to be multi lingual, why not equip them instead with the languages I mentioned above that will allow them to work in avenues such as commerce or tourism within the EEC? Tourism is now Scotland's biggest export industry but how many people working in it can speak another language? Compare this with any other tourist destination in Europe.
    That's as may be, but 120 years on we are where we are. We are being challenged to provide an updated and relevant curriculum for our children that will equip them to take their place in the modern world.
    Seonaid, I respect your views on the matter, I simply have differing ones. That does not make me a bigot.


     
  11. .
    Sadly you are not alone. Having lived and worked in the central belt for a long time I have been both sadden and angered by the insular and parochial attitude towards Gaelic and its culture by many people I have encountered. I personally have no objection to money being spent on continuing a language which has influenced many of us - as a non gaelic speaker myself I only wish I had this opportunity myself.
     
  12. Go and find out. If you have the courage of your convictions.
    There are roughly 66000 speakers. Thousands in the Highlands and in the cities use it on a daily basis. Why should they be ignored?
    Some GM classes are smaller, some arent. The Gaelic schools in Inverness and Glasgow are full already. The unit in Condorrat is in the middle of a council scheme and the GM pupils there are from the same social grouping, if you deem that to be important.
    Educating kids in another language has huge benefits - go and read the sources i mentioned - plus it equips them for learning a third or fourth language. Something most people here cannot do. Maybe that's why you only have 'some knowledge' of other languages.
    And, the 1970s is not 120 years on. And today, we still hear the same views from the likes of you. And, if our views against Gaelic are simply because we are in a 'minority' then that makes you a bigot. It's actually incredible that someone can have 'anti Gaelic views' - surely all languages have value, as do people? Maybe it's money? Well, i don't know any Gaels who haven't paid taxes too and i know a lot who've paid taxes and fought in Britain's wars and received nothing in return in their own tongue.
    I wonder what other 'minorities' we could single out for denying equal services because of their 'lack of value' or 'worth'?
    As the Proclaimers once sang:
    What do you do
    When Democracy's all through
    What do you do
    When minority means you?

     
  13. Sorry, Seonaid, if you cannot accept a view differing from your own without resorting to infantile name calling, then you do your own argument a great disservice.
    "Help Help, I'm being opressed!" - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
     
  14. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    I must be missing something here. I don't see the Government providing other minority groups with education in their own languages. I've never seen an Urdu medium school or a Marathi medium school, or a Polish medium school.
    I agree that being brought up bilingual is good for children and makes it easier for them to learn other languages later on. Surely, though this is most evident when the root of the language is the same? So, a child brought up speaking French and English in the home would be at an advantage learning Italian, as an example. I personally (and this is an opinion forum so I am entitled to express an opinion, informed or not!) can't see why we are investing so much taxpayers' (and license payers') money in Gaelic.
    I agree that the ethnic cleansing of bygone days was atrocious, however, as a previous poster said, we are where we find ourselves and should be equipping our children with languages useful in their lives in a modern work place.
     
  15. Good to see Auld Grumpies agruments have dried up. So i'll leave him to wallow in his bitterness.

    Si Tiffnick, the point about Gaelic is that if it dies here, it dies. Polish and Urdu are important and their families here should continue to use the home languages, but those languages are not under threat. This point was well made by the late Ali Abbassi of BBC Scotland, himself a native Urdu speaker who learned Gaelic to fluency.
    You defeat your own argument too about Polish and Urdu. How close are they to English, yet thousands of young 'new' Scots can speak both. Basque and Spanish are completely different (at least, Gaelic, Welsh, English, Polish etc all share common roots in Sanksrit - Basque is non-indo-European) yet most Basque kids can now switch easily between Basque, Spanish AND English. And, as to roots, the roots of English are German and not French, despite the huge amount of Latin loanwords.

    Yes, you're welcome to your opinion, but remember, we pay taxes too and it's only in the last 2 or 3 decades that we've started getting something back in our own tongue. Plus, like i said earlier, Gaelic is the key to the probably the major part of Scotlands history, topography and iconography. Personal and placenames from Gaelic are everywhere, even in the Lowlands. Even many of our sonds in Lallans/Scots were originally Gaelic, according to musicologist John Purser. Plus, kids have to learn. GM kids don't 'learn' Gaelic, they pick it up naturally like they do English, therefore if the entire curriculum is IN Gaelic, then it doens't infringe on any subject. My kids can easily discuss anything from the Egyptians and philosophy to maths in either Gaelic or English. Their attainnment is high. They get French in P5 and they soak that up too.
    How can this not be good value for money?!
     
  16. That is always assuming that the sole purpose of educating children is to prepare them for the workforce - which, in my opinion, it isn't - but that's a separate argument.
    As you say, we are where we find ourselves - and we find ourselves in a society that cares more than it has historically ever done. We find ourselves in a society that generally places a higher value on quality of life within than the cost of providing life within. And we find ourselves in a society that no longer takes a delight in marginalising a minority of its own people - and 60,000 or so would be a rather large number to marginalise.
    So that would explain the higher achievement of (for example) Korean/Asian speaking children in this country when compared to our own?
     
  17. Topical:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/6382285.stm

    http://www.bilingualism-matters.org.uk/home.html
     
  18. Sorry...can you direct me to the parts in my posts where I come over as "bitter"? The fact remains that you have had to rely on ad hominem attacks on me to shore up your arguments. Who is really the bitter one here?
    The difference between us is that I agree that you have made some valid points about teaching languages in schools in general, but still disagree with you. I would not dream of calling you a bigot just because your views (to which I acknowledge that you are totally entitled) do not coincide with mine.
    Tell you what, you fix your rudeness and I'll go and read up on some of the stuff you quoted.
    Then we both will have gained.
     
  19. I very much disagree with you - like an other poster I believe that Gaelic culture and history have had a profound influence on much of Scotland and I believe that there should investment in the language to perhaps to redress the balance of the disservice done to the language particularly during the 20th century. I have a Gaelic speaking mother and it is of deep regret to me that I have only a limited knowledge of the language. As I have previously stated I have often encountered great prejudice against Gaelic - is it not typical of we Scots, that we cannot value an important aspect of our country without bringing it down,
     
  20. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I was trying to say was that a child brought up speaking French as well as English would have an advantage learning another language with a commonf rootto the additional language, such as Italian.

    My point about Urdu or Polish schools is that these children learn their mother tongue at home, and study through English. We don't pay for that education to be duplicated in their home tongue. Why should we pay for this duplication in Gaelic?

     

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