Alexander McCall Smith on education

Well, one of his characters in The World According to Bertie, really. Dr Macgregor finds that his daughter does not know where Abyssinia (or Ethiopia) is.

And he realised, of course, that it was not her fault. His daughter belonged to a generation that had been taught no geography, and very little history. And no Latin. Nor had they been made to learn poetry by heart, with the result that nobody now could recite any poems by Burns, or Wordsworth, or Longfellow. Everything had been taken away by people who knew very little themselves, but did not know it.

Someone of my age has great sympathy with Dr Macgregor! And that even includes the mention of Longfellow. ‘Tell me not in mournful numbers’, and ‘A Slave’s Dream’ were favourites of my very young self, and the end of  ‘A Slave’s Dream’ still brings a lump to my throat.

But it was the passing mention of Latin that made the excuse to quote the paragraph here.