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gaelic education

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

  1. However, they are a self-selecting, rather middle class group whose parents have made a positive choice to send them to Gaelic medium. It may include children from low income families, but not from families who are totally disinterested in education.
    Also missing from the survey are the children who, having started in Gaelic medium, find it all rather a struggle, and whose parents then move them to mainsteam school.
    Sadly, there are parents who think that sending their children to Gaelic medium will automatically make them do well. Some will be disappointed.
  2. Ah so we turn the argument to class. Interesting.

    Who knows how the cohort of pupils referred to in the article would have faired in mainstream... however if Gaelic Medium schools motivate pupils to succeed then that's only a further benefit as far as I'm concerned whatever the perceived class of their parents. If pupils are moved back to mainstream education then that's their choice and that of their parents and hopefully they'll go on to succeed having gained some knowledge of the language.

    Same is true for many parents sending their children to the many 'good' schools around the country, I certainly wouldn't send my children to a gaelic medium school with the primary motivation of academic success and I can't believe others would be any different.

    All this assumes that the sole motivation of gaelic medium education is attainment - it's not. Those of you who don't see the point probably won't ... and don't want to .

    Suffice to say it's part of the wider Scottish disease that we should feel the need to diminish an important part of our country's culture and heritage. Gaelic has been served a great injustice and it's time to attempt to redress the balance.
  3. Personally, I think that they would have fared much the same in mainstream and I would argue that it was coming from a supportive home where education was encouraged and seen to be important, which motivated the pupils to succeed.
    Obviously, pupils move into mainstream for all sorts of reasons but if the reason is that they are struggling to cope in two languages, that is quite sad. I don't know how having gained some knowledge of the language effects children one way or the other if they have been withdrawn in, say, P3. I am thinking of children of non-Gaelic speakers here BTW.
    I can. And, some may be influenced to do so by the Highland Council report that you refered to.
    Maybe so, but I am not entirely sure how Gaelic medium education actually does this. It is a kind of separate development with no cross over. You either go into Gaelic medium and do everthing in Gaelic or you go into English medium and learn not one word of Gaelic and very little, if anything, about this country's culture and heritage.
  4. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    I think they are.

    I grew up in New Zealand, where Maori was almost a dead language by the 70's/80's. But then a little group of grandmothers got together and started a small scheme called Kohanga Reo, teaching wee children the language through stories and traditional songs. The idea grew and blossomed and was (VERY eventually) supported in other parts of the education system and media.

    I'm not Maori, but I learnt it as a child. It was all the signs in my high school, just as Gaelic is on all the signs in the school I now work in. Maori broadcasting these days is fantastic, with incredibly interesting programs, which lots of non-Maori watch. Have any of you ever watched Eorpa (or other such programs) here? They delve in to all sorts of issues around the UK and Europe which no other mainstream media outlet seems to.

    Equally, I think that in the East, Doric should be encouraged and developed. It is also a valuable indigenous language. Or up in Shetland, their traditional way of speaking should be preserved, because as plenty of people here have pointed out, the language is an aspect of the LIVING culture of the area. Songs, literature, art, all aspects intimately connected with the language.

    If you let it die (or force it too, with deliberate inattention) you will have nothing but a bland 'culture', represented by nothing more than shortbread tins and tartan, with no depth or value to it.

    The little grandmothers who resurrected the Maori language were not focused on MONEY. They wanted to preserve and promote what had value. Sure there are plenty of issues relating to Gaelic provision in this country, but that's to be expected considering how far behind you are down this road. Countries like NZ have gone through this and come out the other side. But these discussions are important ones to have.

    The Central Belt rules the rest of us. What works for you, frequently does not work for the rest of the country, so it's natural for people to chaff against directives either way.

    Seriously, do ya want such a bland boring country?
  5. Excellent post, Navigator. No, I do not want to live in such a boring country - or world, for that matter.
  6. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    I hope I didn't sound too insulting!!

    I was born in the Highlands of Scotland, but didn't grow up here. I returned as an adult to see what it was like to live here ("It rains alot and there's fog. Why do you think we left?" said my father...more than once).
    Scotland is a wonderful country, and surprisingly diverse. But I do worry about the 'blanding out' of the country. Relying on internationally recognised 'brands' (like Nessie, tartan, shortbread and whiskey) to pull in the tourists ultimately doesn't have any depth. I work with young traditional musicians, who NEED Gaelic and Doric and the SHteland version of Old Norn in order to develop their music. I worry that this incredible richness will be lost under grey corporate it-has-no-monetary-value-therefore-it-is-worthless ideology.

    That said, I've lived here for 7 years and the extent of my Gaelic vocabulary is "Failte" and "agus". Bad, BAD teacher!
  7. You're absolutely right, Navigator. Every time we lose a language, we lose that language's culture, music, history, stories and soul...
  8. cariadwch

    cariadwch Established commenter

    That is true and regretable, yet if no-one is using that language...what have 'we' lost. What is lost is surely only really lost to those who have a direct memory of that language and culture. There is probably enough interest to ensure gaelic is cherished and a core of speakers remain but the numbers are probably too low now for its continuity as a living community language. How many future Gaelic speaking young people will have partners who are also Gaelic speaking and remain in their communities with their children. Welsh appears to be in a far healthier position and the census suggests it is resurgent, yet even with being the most subsidised minority language in the world, in its heartlands, like Gaelic before it, it is being annhilated as a community first language. It now has more people who claim to speak it but their fluency or even ability is highly doubtful. The number of fluent speakers and importantly communities where it is used it on a routine basis is seriously declining.
  9. You're assuming that "we" are only ever be interested in our own culture and history. Given the popularity of History series on the TV - various channels have prime time documentaries on ancient Egypt, for example - I think it's clear that many, many people are not so blinkered and culturally-centric.
    How much of ancient Egyptian culture did we lose until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone? Is it a good thing that happened? I would suggest yes. How much do we struggle to understand ancient civilizations like the Minoans because their language died out. Would it be a good thing if we could understand their language? I would suggest yes.
    Let's not presume that no-one cares about other cultures just because some of "we" don't.
  10. cariadwch

    cariadwch Established commenter

    But we are, aren't we -'culturally centric'. You and I may find the loss of Gaelic or Welsh a cultural tragedy, but would it really mean much to anyone outside Britain or particularly Scotland or Wales (or their diaspora)? Similarly, does the inevitable and imminent loss of the Chylum language of Siberia mean anything to you? Languages are dying all the time, ten or twenty have become extinct already this year. Around 7000 living languages are spoken in the world today...half of those will be extinct by the end of century. The good thing is Gaelic and Welsh are likely to survive the next 100 years.
    Making sense of those great civilisations will always have a value to us and may be the subject of research and popular TV documentaries throughout the world, but thousands of languages have died that had no written or archaelogical record and they have no TV producers investigating their loss. While the study of the ancient world is important, a more important priority for the world today is probably not the study of ancient Egyptian but to learn living Arabic if we wish to understand how others think.
  11. We are only culturally centric if we want to be.
    Does the extinction of the Chylum language mean anything to me? It means as much to me as hearing that a rare frog in South America has become extinct because of human activity, and I believe that is a tragedy. Just because I won't ever speak Chylum or see South American frogs doesn't mean that I don't think both are absolutely vital to maintain the stunning diversity that makes this world so wonderful.
  12. cariadwch

    cariadwch Established commenter

    I'm pleased that I must stand corrected minivan!
    In fact there is a documentary film on Chulym! There are 42 speakers left, the youngest of whom is 53 years old. Prof K David Harrison's (Living Tongues institute) work involves travelling the world recording and investigating endangered or presumed recently extinct languages.

  13. Thanks for the update, cariadwch! [​IMG]
  14. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    That was my original point though - that Maori as a living language was nearly extinct, until a small collection of grandmothers started teaching their grandchildren in groups, from nursery. Even their own children were oft-times unimpressed and contemptuous. It can be done.

    But I suppose the original question posed on this thread was SHOULD it be saved. I have students from the islands who chat together regularly in Gaelic. But only a few. Others have to make a real effort. But why is it wrong to encourage a language?
  15. But they won't.
  16. cariadwch

    cariadwch Established commenter

    the comparison with Welsh is irrelevant. there are 9 times as many Welsh speakers as Gaelic speakers...and Wales' population is half of Scotland's. That means Welsh speakers have 18 times the political voice of Gaelic speakers to maintain the Cymraeg subsidies from primarily English taxpayers to keep the language going and fund Welsh medium classes and schools. To stop paying the subsidy now is probably not worth the political trouble, just look at the tiptoeing around S4C.

  17. OK I wandered in here by accident, thought I was clicking the other opinion But I started reading this and have to put my (English) two peneth in.

    Actually being bilingual does give you a knowledge of linguistics because you are working in two languages. One of the problems facing native English speakers is that they compare their new language with English as a default, but English lacks this found in other languages such as gender agreement.

    You are also linked to history and culture through references and idioms.

    BTW in Scotland you also have British Sign Language, which has it's own Scottish signs.

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