Monthly Archives: February 2014

Students divided… over Scotland (?)

I wonder how many Scots considered while counting down to the New Year that it could be the last time they’d do so as members of the United Kingdom. Now, with Hogmanay long-gone and gotten over the reality of the impending decision that our fellow-islanders are due to take this September must be looming large. David Cameron was evidently feeling it this week when he was compelled to urge the rest of us to lean on our Scottish friends and dissuade them from doing ‘the unthinkable’.

My own thoughts on the issue of Scottish Independence are not particularly interesting so I will spare you having to read them. My students, on the other hand, are up in arms.

A week ago I set the students an essay along the lines of ‘Scotland deserves to make the choice… Discuss’, as the topic related loosely with something we had been doing in class. I had not spoken to the students at any great length about it and was expecting some discursive essays with model, balanced-view structures of the sort we have covered in class many times before. What I received, however, was so exhilarating to read that I reintroduced the topic in the following lesson and had the authors explain their differing viewpoints.

With his kind of thing, one always has to be a bit careful about ‘stoking the fire’, as it were, among representatives of different factions embroiled in a similar debate in their own country (Spain being the obvious one). The debate that followed in our class, heated though it was, took place among students of various nationalities who I felt I knew well enough to entertain such a consideration. Indeed, the arguments, though passionately articulated, were not as black and white as one might imagine, and demonstrated a keen sense and understanding of the issue at hand. The anonymous correction that we did together at the end was a nice way to bring everyone back together and regain some distance from a subject which, as a few students commented jokingly later, doesn’t really effect them much anyway.

Have you broached this topic with your students yet? What was the response? Has a debate ever got out of hand and if so, how did you deal with it? All experiences and opinions are welcome ad ever!

Tristan Francis
Director of Studies

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