Scottish history enlightened

August 23, 2002

Young Scots are failing to develop an interest in Scottish history because schools have not picked up on the lively research being done in higher education.

At the Edinburgh book festival, Rab Houston, professor of early modern history at St Andrews University, said Scottish history seemed to attract disproportionate numbers of mature students, which he suggested stemmed from a "paring-down" of history in schools and little work inspired by academic writing.

"The history curriculum in schools is worthy, but it is also episodic and not exactly fascinating. It badly needs an injection of some of the livelier strains of social and cultural history writing from recent years," said Professor Houston, who is co-editor of the New Penguin History of Scotland .

The ferment of ideas and social change in the Enlightenment was one major Scottish contribution to the world that had been analysed by scholars in recent years, but formed no part of the school exam syllabus, Professor Houston said.

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